Radich v. Hutchins,
95 U.S. 210 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Radich v. Hutchins, 95 U.S. 210 (1877)

Radich v. Hutchins

95 U.S. 210


1. Carlisle v. United States, 16 Wall. 147, cited and approved.

2. A foreigner, domiciled during the year 1864 in Texas, who, in order to obtain permission of the rebel government to export his cotton, sold at a nominal price, and delivered to its agents or officers for its use, an equal amount of other cotton, which he subsequently redeemed by paying a stipulated sum therefor, directly contributed to the support of the enemy, and gave him aid and comfort. Out of such a transaction no demand against such agents or officers can arise which will be enforced in the courts of the United States.

3. The coercion or duress which will render a payment involuntary must consist of some actual or threatened exercise of power possessed, or believed to be possessed, by the party exacting or receiving the payment over the person or property of another from which the latter has no other means of immediate relief than by making payment.

This was an action brought by Radich against Hutchins and Wells. He alleges in his petition that he is a subject of the Emperor of Russia, and that he was, in 1864, the owner of four hundred and fifty bales of cotton of the value of $50,000 which he designed to export from Texas, where he then resided, to Mexico, and which were then in transit on their way to Matamoras; that the defendant Hutchins, claiming to be a lieutenant-colonel in the army of the Confederate States, and chief of the cotton office at Houston in that state, combining with the defendant Wells and others, had, without warrant of law, by a public notice, prohibited the exportation of cotton from the state except upon written permits from his office; that such permits would not be issued except upon condition that the person desiring to export cotton should sell to them an equal amount, at a nominal and arbitrary price, for the benefit of the Confederate States; that, being desirous to export and sell his cotton because of the risk incurred of its destruction or loss during the war, and knowing that if he should attempt to send it beyond

Page 95 U. S. 211

the frontier of the state into Mexico, the armed forces of the Confederate States, provided to carry out the illegal exactions of the defendants and their confederates, would capture and confiscate it, he was compelled to submit and did submit to the condition imposed, and accordingly delivered to the defendants one-half of his cotton -- namely two hundred and twenty-five bales -- at a nominal and arbitrary price as a consideration for a permit to export the other half, but upon a stipulation, however, insisted upon by himself, that he should have the privilege of redeeming the bales sold and exporting them upon the payment of such sum as the defendants might demand; and that afterwards he paid them $13,357 in specie and in goods, wares, and merchandise at specie values in redemption of the bales and for a permit to export them. He alleges that the amount thus paid was illegally and oppressively exacted, and that he submitted to the wrong because of the armed forces to support and enforce it.

The defendants demurred. The demurrer was sustained and the petition dismissed. Radich thereupon sued out this writ of error.

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