The Hampton - 72 U.S. 372 (1866)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Hampton, 72 U.S. 5 Wall. 372 372 (1866)
72 U.S. (5 Wall.) 372
1. In proceedings in prize and under principles of international law, mortgages on vessels captured jure belli, are to be treated only as liens, subject to being overridden by the capture, not as jura in re, capable of an enforcement superior to the claims of the captors.
2. Neither the Act of July 13, 1861, providing (§ 5) that all goods &c., coming from a state declared to be in insurrection "into the other parts of the United States" by land or water shall, together with the vessel conveying the same, be forfeited to the United States, but providing also (§ 8) that the forfeiture may be remitted by the Secretary of the Treasury &c., nor the Act of March 3, 1883, "to protect the liens upon vessels in certain cases," &c., refers to captures jure belli, and neither modifies the law of prize in any respect.
An Act of Congress of July 13, 1861, [Footnote 1] passed during the late rebellion, enacted that goods, chattels, wares, and merchandise coming from or going to a state or section in insurrection by land or water, along with the vessel in which they were, should be forfeited, but gave the Secretary of the Treasury a right to remit. And another, passed March 3, 1863, [Footnote 2]
"That in all cases now or hereafter pending wherein any ship, vessel, or other property shall be condemned in any proceeding, by virtue of the acts above mentioned or of any other laws on that subject, the court rendering judgment shall first provide for the payment of bona fide claims of loyal citizens."
In January, 1863, the schooner Hampton and her cargo were captured by the United States steamer Currituck in Dividing Creek, Virginia, and having been libeled in the Supreme Court for the District of Columbia, were condemned as prize of war. The master of the vessel was her owner, but interposed no claim; nor did anyone claim the cargo. One Brinkley, however, appeared and claimed the vessel as mortgagee. The bona fides of his mortgage was not disputed, nor that he was a loyal citizen. But it was set up that neither by the laws of war nor under the acts of
Congress, could the claim be allowed. After a hearing, the claim was dismissed by the court, the question involved, however, being certified by it to this Court as one of difficulty and proper for appeal. The matter was accordingly now here on appeal, taken by Brinkley, from the order dismissing his claim.