The William Bagaley
72 U.S. 377 (1866)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

The William Bagaley, 72 U.S. 5 Wall. 377 377 (1866)

The William Bagaley

72 U.S. (5 Wall.) 377

Syllabus

1. Personal property left in a hostile country by an owner who abandons such country in order to go to the other belligerent, and so to return to his proper allegiance and soil, becomes, unless an effort is made with promptitude to remove it from such country, impressed with its character, and as such liable to the consequences attaching to enemy's property.

2. The presumption of the law of nations is against an owner who suffers such property to continue in the hostile country for much length of time.

3. The effect of war is to dissolve a partnership subsisting between citizens of nations at war, and if the person abandoning the hostile country have had his property in partnership with citizens of the enemy country, it is his duty to dispose of and withdraw his interest in the firm. If he do not, such interest is subject to the rule above stated with regard to individual property.

4. Ships in time of war are bound by the character impressed upon them by the government from which their documents issue and under whose flag and pass they sail. The share of a citizen in a ship sailing under an enemy's flag and papers, and who has had ample time and every facility to withdraw his effects from the enemy country or dispose of such interests as could not be removed, but who has not attempted so to withdraw or dispose of them, is accordingly subject to capture and condemnation equally with the shares of enemies in the same ship. And where the cargo and ship are owned by the same person, the cargo follows the fate of the ship.

5. During the late rebellion, a loyal citizen domiciled at the time it broke out in one of the rebellious states and trading there as a member of a commercial firm abandoned it and removed to a loyal state. He never in any way aided or abetted the rebellion, but there was no evidence that he ever attempted or desired to withdraw his property from the rebellious region. In a year, more or less, after the rebellion broke out, the rebel authorities professed by one of their decrees to confiscate his interest in the firm, and the partners resident in the rebellious states -- he having no connection with or knowledge of their action -- loaded a ship which he alleged belonged to his firm when be left it and which, in attempting, under papers, flag, officers, and crew of the Confederate States, to run the blockade established by the United States, two years before, of the Southern coast, was captured by a federal cruiser.

Held that so much time having elapsed after the proclamation and before the confiscation and the capture, without effort on the part of the loyal owner to get it away from the rebellious region, his share in vessel and cargo was rightly condemned with the shares of the partners in rebellion;

Page 72 U. S. 378

that the alleged confiscation was no excuse for his not having previously made an effort to withdraw or dispose of his interest in the firm, and that neither his loyal domicil during the rebellion nor, under the circumstances, the confiscation, nor his want of connection with or knowledge of the enterprise, nor all combined, defeated the right of the captors.

6. In proceedings in prize, parties who were not in any way parties to the litigation in the district court and are neither appellants nor appellees cannot come into this Court and be heard as "intervenors."

The steamer William Bagaley -- with a register issued at Mobile, June 16, 1863, under the authority of the "Confederate States" and reciting a previous enrollment in 1857 and a present ownership -- "property having changed" -- by Waring and others ("citizens of the Confederate States" and "trustees of association of stockholders)," with a master appointed by these trustees, and bearing the Confederate flag -- sailed from Mobile, July 17, 1863, during the blockade of that port proclaimed April 19, 1861, by the United States, for Havana. Her cargo was of cotton, turpentine &c. No papers were on board, for "fear of being captured." The "cotton was shipped for the benefit of the owners in Mobile." All the officers and crew were, with one exception, "citizens of the Confederate States." The master had instructions to escape the blockading vessels, but not to resist.

Being perceived by the blockading squadron, she was pursued and, after a brisk chase, captured. Being brought into New Orleans and libeled for condemnation, a claim for one-sixth of the vessel and cargo was interposed by Joshua Bragdon, and of this sixth he prayed restitution.

The facts upon which he grounded his claim were that he was, and for many years had been, a resident of the State of Indiana, a loyal state; that the firm of Cox, Brainerd & Co., of Mobile, Alabama, a rebel state, were the sole owners of the captured vessel and her cargo, of which firm the claimant had been for several years a member, and owned one-sixth interest in all the property of the co-partnership, which interest

Page 72 U. S. 379

he had never in any way transferred. That he was and always had been a true and loyal citizen of the United States, and that he had never in any way aided or abetted the rebellion, and after the breaking out of the same had never exercised any act of ownership or control over the property or the captured steamer, and that he had no connection with or knowledge of the unlawful voyage of the steamer which occasioned her capture. That in consequence of his loyalty, the so-called Confederate government seized all his interest and property in said firm of Cox, Brainerd & Co., and by a decree and process of one of her pretended courts, "at some time during the year 1862 -- the exact date not known" -- confiscated the same. That all such acts and proceedings of the insurrectionary government were void, and that the title of the claimant to his property remains unimpaired.

On the trial, these facts were admitted of record by the District Attorney as true. The court dismissed the claim with costs and condemned both vessel and cargo.

No other claim having been interposed in the proceedings in the lower court for any portion of the captured property or its proceeds, the only question presented by the appeal was the legal sufficiency and merit of the claim of Bragdon for his one-sixth.

After the case came into this Court by appeal, however, the owners of the remaining five-sixths filed a petition asking to intervene for their interests. Their excuse for not appearing or putting in any claim in the district court, it may be here stated, was that they were residents of a state hostile to the United States, and had therefore no standing in that court; that this disability continued till after the case was removed into this Court by appeal. And they set up as reason for the restitution of their shares to them that since the appeal they had received from the President "a full pardon and amnesty for all offenses by them committed arising from participation, direct or implied, in the said rebellion."

Page 72 U. S. 402

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