The Gran Para
Annotate this Case
20 U.S. 471 (1822)
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U.S. Supreme Court
The Gran Para, 20 U.S. 7 Wheat. 471 471 (1822)
The Gran Para
20 U.S. (7 Wheat.) 471
Prizes made by armed vessels which have violated the statutes for preserving the neutrality of the United States will be restored if brought into our ports.
This Court has never decided that the offense adheres to the vessel under whatever change of circumstances that may take place, nor that it cannot be deposited at the termination of the cruise in preparing for which it was committed, but if this termination be merely colorable, and the vessel was originally equipped with the intention of being employed on the cruise during which the capture was made, the delictum is not purged.
This was a libel filed in the District Court of Maryland by the Consul General of Portugal, alleging that a large sum of money in silver and gold coins had been, in the year 1818, taken out of the Portuguese ship Gran Para, then bound on a voyage from Rio Janeiro to Lisbon, by a private armed vessel called the Irresistible, which had been fitted out in the United States in violation of the neutrality acts, that the said sum of money had been brought within our territorial jurisdiction and deposited in the Marine Bank of Baltimore, and praying that the same might be restored to the original Portuguese owners. A claim was filed by one Stansbury, as agent for John D. Daniels, master and owner of the Irresistible, stating him to be a citizen of the Oriental Republic, which was at war with Portugal, and that he was cruising under the flag
and commission of that republic at the time the capture was made, as set forth in the libel, and insisting on his title to the money as lawful prize of war. By the proofs taken in the cause, it appeared that the capturing vessel was built in the port of Baltimore in the year 1817, and was in all respects constructed for the purposes of war. On 16 February, 1818, after being launched, she was purchased by the claimant, Daniels, then a citizen of the United States. A crew of about fifty men was enlisted in Baltimore, and she cleared out for Teneriffe, having in her hold 12 eighteen-pound gunnades with their carriages, and a number of small arms, and a quantity of ammunition, entered outwards as cargo. The vessel proceeded directly for Buenos Ayres, where she remained a few weeks, during which time the crew was discharged.
Having obtained a commission from the government at that place to cruise against Spain, a crew was enlisted consisting chiefly of the same persons who had come in the vessel from Baltimore, and she sailed in June, 1818, on a cruise under the command of the claimant. The next day after she left the port, a commission from General Artigas, as Chief of the Oriental Republic, was produced under which the claimant declared that he intended to cruise, and that granted by the government of Buenos Ayres was sent back to that place. During this cruise several Portuguese vessels were captured, and the money the restitution of which was prayed for by the libellant was taken out of them. In September, 1818, the Irresistible returned to Baltimore,
and a large sum of money captured during the cruise was deposited in the bank.
Decrees were entered in the district and circuit courts restoring the property to the original owners, and the cause was brought by appeal to this Court.