1 U.S. 393 (1788)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

CAMP v. LOCKWOOD, 1 U.S. 393 (1788)

1 U.S. 393 (Dall.)


Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County

December Term, 1788

The Plaintiff and Defendant had both been inhabitants of Connecticut previous to the revolution, when the debt, for which this action is brought, was alledged to be contracted, and continued

Page 1 U.S. 393, 394

so for some time after the commencement of the war. Subsequent, however, to the declaration of independence, the Plaintiff joined the British army, and, on the return of peace, he removed with other Loyalists to Halifax, where he continues to reside. On the second Thursday of May in the year 1778, the Legislature of Connecticut enacted a law declaring that all the estate, real and personal, of any person or persons who had joined the enemies of the United States, or had assisted them, or should thereafter do so, should be confiscated; and that, with respect to those persons who had been inhabitants of the State (the last section of the act providing for the case of persons who had never been inhabitants) the County Court upon application was empowered and directed to give judgment, that all their estate should be forfeited to the Commonwealth, and thereupon to appoint admistrators (as in the case of intestates) who were to sell such confiscated estate, institute suits, recover and pay debts, and to deliver the surplus, if any, into the Treasury of the State &c. In September 1779, the Plaintiff was proceeded against under this law, as one who had been lately a resident of the town of Newhaven; and, it being duly adjudged that he was guilty of joining the enemies of the United States, his estate was declared to be forfeited for the use of the State of Connecticut, and certain parts of it were seized and sold; but no steps were taken to recover from the Defendant the debt said to be due from him to the Plaintiff, although the Defendant at the time of the confiscation, and for sometime afterwards, remained an inhabitant of Connecticut, and has always had property there, liable to legal process. Under these circumstances, Camp instituted this suit; in bar of which Lockwood pleaded, that the confiscation, by virtue of the act of Connecticut, had devested the Plaintiff's property in the debt, if any was due, and vested the same in the State: And to the efficacy of this plea the present argument was confined, upon a demurrer and joinder in demurrer. The point was first opened on the 16th of August, 1788, and finally argued by Ingersol, for the Defendant, and Rawle, for the Plaintiff, on the 21st of November following. Ingersol. The forfeiture of an enemy's estate, moveable or immoveable, and of his rights, corporeal or incorporeal, is a matter of strict sovereignty, although, by the curtesy of nations, debts are allowed to revive at the conclusion of a war. Lee on Capt. iii. The Plaintiff, however, comes not within the rule respecting an enemy, but having been proceeded against as a delinquent subject, he must be considered as an attainted traitor; and, by such attainder, all his estate, real and personal, were absolutely and irrecoverably forfeited. 3 Bac. Abr. 755. And a forfeiture of real and personal estate extends to things in action as well as in possession. 2 Bac. Abr. 577. in which general point of view the law of Pennsylvania has also expressly regarded the subject. 2 State Laws99. The act of Connecticut is as clear and comprehensive as words can make it, considering the party as actually dead, and appointing administrators of his [1 U.S. 393, 395]

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.