The Santa Maria, 20 U.S. 490 (1822)
U.S. Supreme CourtThe Santa Maria, 20 U.S. 7 Wheat. 490 490 (1822)
The Santa Maria
20 U.S. (7 Wheat.) 490
A question of fact respecting the proprietary interest in prize goods captured by an armed vessel fitted out in violation of the statutes of neutrality of the United States. Restitution to the original Spanish owners decreed.
This was a libel filed in the District Court of Maryland by the Consul of his Catholic Majesty for the Port of Baltimore in behalf of the Spanish owners of certain goods alleged to have been captured on the high seas and taken out of the Spanish ship Santa Maria by the privateer Patriota, illegally armed and equipped in the United States. The evidence in the cause established the fact that the capturing vessel was owned by citizens of this country and that she was armed, equipped, and fitted out in violation of the laws and treaties of the United States. But there was some contrariety in the testimony as to the identity of the property, which the claimant, Burke, insisted upon his title to hold as a bona fide purchaser under a condemnation and sale in some prize tribunal at Galveston. There was also some evidence tending to show that Burke was a part owner of the capturing vessel. The district court dismissed the libel and ordered the property to be restored to the claimant, but this decree was reversed by the circuit court and the cause was brought by appeal to this Court.