14 U.S. 62 (1816)

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U.S. Supreme Court

THE RUGEN, 14 U.S. 62 (1816)

14 U.S. 62 (Wheat.)

The Rugen.-BUHRING, Claimant.

February 20, 1816

APPEAL from the circuit court for the district of Georgia. The Schooner Rugen and cargo were libelled in the district court for that district, as prize of war, either as belonging to the enemies of the United States, or as the property of citizens who had been trading with the enemy. A claim was interposed by Mr. Buhring, a subject of the king of Sweden, on the ground that both vessel and cargo belonged to him, and were, bona fide, neutral property. This claim was rejected by the district court; which sentence was affirmed by the circuit court, and thereupon the claimant appealed to this court.

Charlton, for the appellant and claimant, stated, that the ship was formerly British, had been captured, condemned as prize of war in the district court, and sold by the marshal to one Bixby, who sold to Buhring, the present claimant. 1. He cited the case of the Sistersa as to the proprietary interest, and argued, that the regularity of the papers is prima facie evidence of neutrality, and conclusive, unless rebutted by contradictory proof. The primitive

a 5 Rob. 141.

Page 14 U.S. 62, 63

national character of the ship was changed by condemnation, and the sale to a neutral was legal.b Testimony was irregularly admitted, which was neither taken in preparatorio, nor found on board, nor invoked from any other captured vessel. 2. The voyage was strictly within the range of neutral rights. If the neutral character of the ship and cargo was established, the destination was immaterial, whether to an enemy or neutral port. But the ship was, in fact, destined to a neutral port, and diverted from her course by the enemy's vessel La Decouverte. False papers may be used, if not to cover enemy's property, or evade belligerant rights; c and this court is not bound to take notice of, or enforce, the revenue laws of other countries. 3. The property ought to be restored with costs and damages, because the documentary evidence proclaimed the neutral character of the ship and cargo.

The Attorney General and Pinkney, for the respondents and captors, stated, that this was one of the plainest cases for condemnation that ever came into a court of prize, upon two grounds:

1st. That the real property was not in the claimant, but in a citizen of the United States.

2d. That it was taken trading with the enemy.

1. In the Odin,d where the papers were complete, and the res gesta similar to the transactions in this

b 1 Rob. 104. The Welvaart.

c 1 Rob. 139. The Vrouw.

d 1 Rob. 208. [14 U.S. 62, 64]

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