Annotate this Case
12 U.S. 169 (1814)
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U.S. Supreme Court
The Alexander, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 169 169 (1814)
12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 169
A vessel, owned by citizens of the United States, sails from Naples in the year 1812 for the United States with a cargo and a British license to carry the same to England. On her passage, hearing that war had broken out between Great Britain and the United States, she alters her course for England, is captured by the British, carried into Ireland, libeled, and acquitted upon her license, sells her cargo, and after a detention of seven months in Ireland, purchases a return cargo in Liverpool, sails for the United States, and is captured by a United States privateer. Vessel and cargo condemned as prize to the captors. Capture good, though only a prize master put on board.
The following were the material facts in the case:
The brig Alexander, William S. Picket, master, sailed from Naples on 22 June, 1812, with a cargo of brandy, wine, and cream of tartar, with a British license to carry the same from Naples to England. She touched at Gibraltar, and there left her deck load, consisting of brandy, and sailed from thence for the United States. On 3 August, 1812, she received intelligence of the war between the United States and Great Britain, and changed her course for England. She was afterwards captured by the British, and sent into Cork, Ireland, and acquitted, and there disposed of her cargo. After seven months detention in Cork, she proceeded to Liverpool in ballast. At Liverpool, she took in the cargo in question, purchased by Samuel Welles, one of the claimants, then in England, from the proceeds of the cargo brought from Naples, and sailed from Liverpool for Boston May 9, 1813. On 2 June following, she was captured by the privateer America, John Kehew, commander, and libeled as prize in the District of Massachusetts.
When the Alexander sailed from Naples, she and her cargo were owned one-half by the claimants and the other half by W. & S. Robinson of New York.
The master, on his examination upon the standing interrogatories, stated that the vessel belonged to J. & S. Welles and W. & S. Robinson.
He also stated that on his arrival in the United States, he delivered to the chief clerk of J. & S. Welles, of Boston, bills of lading, invoices, and letters relating to the vessel and goods. These papers were never produced by the claimants.
John Welles, of Boston, claims the vessel and cargo
for himself and Samuel Welles, alleging that Samuel Welles, in London, purchased, on their joint account of the agent of W. & S. Robinson their half of the brig and the proceeds of the Naples' cargo before the purchase of the cargo in question. The United States also interposed a claim to the vessel and cargo as forfeited under the nonimportation act.
In the district court the claim of J. & S. Welles was rejected, and the property condemned to the United States. From this decree the captors and claimants appealed.
In the circuit court the property was condemned to the captors. From this decree the United States and the claimants appealed.