Gay's Gold
80 U.S. 358

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Gay's Gold, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 358 358 (1871)

Gay's Gold

80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 358

Syllabus

1. The Treasury regulation, No. 22, forbidding all transportation of coin or bullion to any state or section declared by the President's proclamation to be in insurrection, was valid, and was authorized by the act of May 20, 1862.

2. Gold coin in packages, and not used for traveling expenses, was merchandise in 1864 in point of fact, and was within the mischief to be remedied by the nonintercourse acts of July 13, 1861, and May 20, 1862.

3. The proclamation of pardon and amnesty of President Johnson of December 25th, 1868, was limited to persons" who participated in the late insurrection or rebellion" and to the offense of "treason against the United States or adhering to their enemies during the late civil war."

4. It did not, therefore, restore to a person not engaged in the insurrection property forfeited under the nonintercourse laws, although the property remained in court in proceedings not concluded when the proclamation was issued.

By a Nonintercourse Act of July 13, 1861, it was declared that "all goods, and chattels, wares, and merchandise," coming from a state proclaimed by the President in insurrection into other parts of the United States should be forfeited.

The 3d section of an Act of May 20, 1862, [Footnote 1] supplementary to the Act of July 13, 1861, just mentioned, enacted as follows:

"That the Secretary of the Treasury be and he is hereby further empowered to prohibit and prevent the transportation in any vessel &c. within the United States of any goods, wares, or merchandise of whatever character, and whatever may be the ostensible destination of the same in all cases where there shall be satisfactory reasons to believe that such goods, wares, or merchandise are intended for any place in the possession or under the control of insurgents against the United States, . . . and he may establish all such general or special regulations as

Page 80 U. S. 359

may be necessary or proper to carry into effect the purposes of this act; and if any goods, wares, or merchandise shall be transported in violation of this act, or of any regulation of the Secretary of the Treasury, established in pursuance thereof, or if any attempt shall be made so to transport them, all goods, wares, or merchandise so transported, or attempted to be transported, shall be forfeited to the United States."

By authority of the section thus above quoted, the Secretary of the Treasury, on the 11th of September, 1863, established, with the approval of the President, certain "Trade Regulations," by the 22d of which all transportation of coin or bullion to any state or section in insurrection was absolutely prohibited, except for military purposes, and under military orders, or under the special license of the President.

On the 25th of December, 1868, President Johnson issued a proclamation granting,

"Unconditionally, and without reservation, to all and every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion, a full pardon and amnesty for the offense of treason against the United States, or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution, and the laws which have been made in pursuance thereof."

With the acts and regulations already mentioned in force, one Denison, special Treasury agent, seized, in March, 1864, a package of gold coin, amounting to $5,000, on board a steamer then lying at New Orleans, about to go up the river, and caused the gold to be libeled in the district court, on the ground that it was being transported into a section of the country under the control of the rebels, in violation of the acts of nonintercourse, and of the Trade Regulations already referred to.

A claim was entered for the gold, on behalf of one Gay, by a certain Edwards, who made the necessary claimant's oath, denying in general terms that the gold was forfeited.

Gay was a merchant and planter, domiciled within the

Page 80 U. S. 360

federal lines in Louisiana. He asserted himself to be a loyal citizen, and his technical loyalty was not denied.

The evidence showed that Edwards delivered the gold on board the vessel to one Freeman, and Edwards and Freeman were the main witnesses on behalf of claimant. Edwards testified that he delivered the gold to Freeman to be carried to Gay, who resided within the federal lines, though near to the region declared by the proclamation of the President to be in insurrection.

Freeman seemed to have been an agent of Gay for the purchase of cotton, buying without regard to its location within rebel lines, and delivering it at New Orleans to Edwards, who was Gay's broker. He denied that there was any intent to use this special package of gold for that purpose, and said that he was to deliver it to Gay as directed by Edwards. Being asked on his examination where Mr. Gay got his cotton, the counsel of the claimant objected to the question as irrelevant, and told the witness not to answer; and he accordingly refused to answer; he also refused under like instructions to answer other questions, and when asked if he, the witness, had not said -- as one witness in the case, N. B. La Pointe, swore positively that he had said to him -- "that he was carrying the gold into the Confederacy to buy cotton with," answered that he "could not have told such a d__d lie, as the gold did not belong to him, and only took it as matter of accommodation to Mr. Gay." Freeman was apparently a man with no fixed occupation, having a room at the corner of Circus and Gravier Streets, in New Orleans, when he was in that city.

The district court, on the 29th of April, 1870, dismissed the libel, and ordered the gold to be restored. The circuit court reversed the decree and condemned it. From this latter decree the claimant appealed.

Page 80 U. S. 361

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