Annotate this Case
22 U.S. 658 (1824)
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U.S. Supreme Court
The Fanny, 22 U.S. 9 Wheat. 658 658 (1824)
22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 658
Case of capture by an armed vessel fitted out in the ports of the United States in breach of the neutrality acts. Claim by an alleged bonae fidei purchaser in a foreign port rejected, and restitution decreed to the original owners.
A bonae fidei purchaser, without notice, in such case is entitled to be reimbursed the freight which he may have paid upon the captured goods, and the innocent neutral carrier of such goods, the same having been transshipped in a foreign port, is entitled to freight out of the goods.
This was the case of a libel filed by the Consul-General of Portugal on behalf of certain Portuguese subjects, owners of a number of hides which had been brought from St. Thomas to Baltimore in the brig Fanny. The facts proved in the cause which the court considered to be material are the following:
Sometime in the year 1817, Robert M. Goodwin, Clement Cathill, James Halsey, and John R. Mifflin, all of them citizens of the United States and denominated "The American concern," fitted out, at Buenos Ayres, a brig, called La Republicana as a privateer to cruise against the subjects of Spain and Portugal under a commission obtained for her from Jose Artigas. Thus prepared, she sailed under the command of Obadiah Chase, also a citizen of the United States, and in February, 1818, she captured the Portuguese brig Aurora, which, with her cargo, were sent to St. Barts, and there sold as American property for about 20,000 dollars. With this money, thus raised, Goodwin proceeded to Baltimore, and there invested it in the purchase of a new brig, called the Athenea, which had been lately built at that port. Having changed her name to that of the New Republicana, both privateers shipped their crews at Baltimore, together with their munitions of war, except the cannon and carriages for the latter vessel, which, with a view of deceiving the custom house officers, were put on board of a small schooner and were transferred to this privateer a few miles below the 22 U.S. 66O fort. The commission, together with other papers belonging to the Republicana, were delivered to the New Republicana, and both the privateers proceeded to sea, the latter under the command of the above mentioned Clement Cathill, one of the owners. She soon after fell in with the Portuguese ship Don Pedro de Alcantara, laden with a valuable cargo of hides, sugar, &c., which she captured on 22 September, 1818, and ordered in to the Five Islands, there to await the orders of Goodwin. At this place, Goodwin transshipped the principal part of the cargo into several small vessels, which proceeded to the Island of St. Thomas consigned to Souffron & Co., merchants of that place. The residue of the cargo, except a small part which was afterwards taken, together with the Don Pedro, by Commodore Jolly, commanding a squadron belonging to the Republic of Colombia was also carried by Goodwin to St. Thomas in the old privateer, at which place it is probable the whole or a great part of the captured property was sold. Nathaniel Levy, the American consul at that island, purchased 4,004 of the hides, which, together with 555 logs of lignum vitae, he shipped in the brig Fanny to Baltimore, where she arrived in January, 1819, consigned to Lyde Goodwin. On the 21st of this month, the hides and lignum vitae were libeled as Portuguese property, illegally taken on the high seas, and on the 27th of the same month the lignum vitae was released from the operation of the libel.
To this libel a claim was filed by Lyde Goodwin, as agent of Levy, in which it is asserted that
the hides had been purchased by Levy, in the regular course of trade, from Souffron & Co., and all knowledge of the matters alleged in the libel is denied. On 15 March the hides were delivered upon stipulation, having been appraised at the sum of $12,000.
In the progress of the cause in the district court, the owners of the brig Fanny presented to the judge a petition setting forth that on 6 October, 1818, Nathan Levy entered into a charter party of affreightment with the petitioners for the brig Fanny, on certain terms stated in the petition, for a voyage from Baltimore to St. Lucie, and if required, to three other ports in the West Indies, and thence back to Baltimore. That under this charter party, the said brig took in a cargo at Baltimore and sailed to St. Lucie and to three other ports, and finally delivered the cargo to the said Levy, who afterwards shipped on board the said brig, at St. Thomas, 4,000 hides and 555 sticks of lignum vitae, to be carried to Baltimore, where she arrived on 17 January, 1819. That upon her arrival and when the master was about to deliver the cargo to the consignee of Levy, this libel and claim were filed, and the cargo was taken from the possession of the master by the marshal under the process of the said court. That there was then due to the petitioners on the said charter party the sum of $2,094.50, as admitted by the said Levy, which they pray may be paid out of the proceeds of the hides and lignum vitae. This petition was accompanied by an account dated 28 December, 1818,
signed by Nathan Levy, acknowledging a balance of $2,094.50 to be due the said brig Fanny on the charter party. Below this account is the following entry, not signed by any person: "The freight on the homeward cargo, consisting of 4,004 hides and 555 sticks of lignum vitae, $1,047.25." The court made an order that the agent of the claimant should pay the freight on the above goods to the amount of $1,047.25.
The district court decreed the claimants to pay to the libellant the appraised value of the hides, as mentioned in their stipulation, together with interest and costs, after deducting the amount of freight theretofore ordered to be paid. This decree being wholly affirmed by the circuit court upon an appeal, both parties appealed from that decree to this Court.