Annotate this Case
16 U.S. 78 (1818)
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U.S. Supreme Court
The Star, 16 U.S. 3 Wheat. 78 78 (1818)
16 U.S. (3 Wheat.) 78
An American vessel was captured by the enemy, and after condemnation and sale to a subject of the enemy, was recaptured by an American privateer. Held that the original owner was not entitled to restitution on payment of salvage under the Salvage Act of 3 March, 1800, ch. 14, and the Prize Act of 26 June, 1812, ch. 107.
By the general maritime law, a sentence of condemnation completely extinguishes the title of the original proprietor.
By the British statute of 13 George II, ch. 4, the jus postliminii is reserved to British subjects upon all recaptures of their vessels and goods by British ships, even though they have been previously condemned, except where such vessels, after capture, have been set forth as ships of war.
The statute of the 43d George III, ch. 160, s. 39, has no further altered the previous British laws than to fix the salvage at uniform stipulated rates, instead of leaving it to depend upon the length of time the recaptured ship was in the hands of the enemy.
Neither of these statutes extends to neutral property.
The fifth section of the Prize Act of 26 June 1812, ch. 107, does not repeal any of the provisions of the Salvage Act of 3 of March 1800, ch. 14, but is merely affirmative of the preexisting law.
By the law of this country, the rule of reciprocity prevails upon the recapture of the property of friends.
The law of France denying restitution upon salvage after twenty-four hours possession by the enemy, the property of persons domiciled in France is condemned as prize by our courts on recapture, after being in possession of the enemy that length of time.
It appeared by the libel, claim, evidence, and admissions of the parties in this cause that the ship Star was captured by the American privateer Surprise on the high seas on 27 January, 1815. That the ship Star was then on a voyage from the British East Indies to London. That she was under the British flag, had British papers as a trading vessel, and a license from the British East India Company, and that her ostensible owners were British subjects residing in London. It further appeared that previously to the late war, and till and at the time of the capture and condemnation in the British
court of admiralty hereinafter mentioned, the said ship was a duly registered American ship and was owned by Isaac Clason, deceased, an American citizen, residing in New York, or by the claimants, his executors, who were also American citizens, residing in New York.
That soon after the commencement of the late war, the said ship sailed from the United States on a foreign voyage, and immediately after leaving a port of the United States on the said voyage was captured by a British vessel of war and carried into Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was regularly libeled and condemned as prize in the court of vice-admiralty of that province, after which she was purchased by the British subjects who claimed to own her at the time she was recaptured by the Surprise. This last mentioned capture having been made, the ship Star was brought into the port of New York and libeled in the District Court of New York as prize to the said privateer, upon which libel the appellants put in a claim, claiming the said ship as the property of their testator and claiming to have the said ship restored to them upon the payment of salvage, which claim was rejected, and the ship was condemned. The cause was then carried to the circuit court, where the decree of the district court has affirmed. It was then brought by appeal, to this Court.