Young v. United States,
97 U.S. 39 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Young v. United States, 97 U.S. 39 (1877)

Young v. United States

97 U.S. 39


1. Cotton owned by a British subject, although he never came to this country, was, if found during the rebellion within the Confederate territory, a legitimate subject of capture by the forces of the United States, and the title thereto was transferred to the government as soon as the property was reduced to firm possession.

2. Within two years after the rebellion closed, if he had given no aid or comfort thereto, he could, under the Act of March 12, 1863, 12 Stat. 820, have maintained a suit in the Court of Claims to recover the proceeds of his cotton so captured which were paid into the treasury.

3. If he furnished munitions of war and supplies to the Confederate government, or did any acts which would have rendered him liable to punishment for treason had he owed allegiance to the United States, he gave aid and comfort to the rebellion within the meaning of that act, and was thereby excluded from the privileges which it confers.

4. By giving such aid and comfort, he committed in a criminal sense no offense against the United States, and he was therefore not included in the pardon and amnesty granted by the proclamation of the President of Dec. 25, 1888, 15 Stat. 711.

This suit arises under the Abandoned and Captured Property Act, 12 Stat. 820, and comes into this Court by appeal from the judgment of the Court of Claims against John Young, trustee in bankruptcy of Alexander Collie, upon the following finding of facts:

"I. Said Collie was a subject of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland at one time residing in Manchester, England, as a member of the firm of Alexander Collie & Co., but in the years 1862, 1863, and 1864, residing and doing business, in his own name, in London, England, and he has at no time been in the United States."

"II. In the year 1862, the said Collie engaged in fitting out, lading, and sending steamships to run the blockade of the ports in

Page 97 U. S. 40

states which were then in rebellion against the United States, and for about two years he continued engaged in that business, sending a large number of such vessels for that purpose, which succeeded many times in running the blockade, in and out, and carried into some of those ports general merchandise, which was there sold, and also munitions of war, to-wit, arms, gunpowder, armor plates for war vessels, army clothing, cannon, shot, ammunition, and quartermaster and medical stores, which were purchased in England by said Collie, or by agents of the so called Confederate States of America, to whom, in aid of such purchases, the said Collie made large advances of money, and when said munitions of war were run into said ports, they were delivered to the government of said Confederate States. The vessels so engaged in running the blockade took back from said ports, to said Collie, large quantities of cotton, partly received from said government in payment for the munitions of war, and other things received from him, and partly bought for him by his agents in those states, with moneys derived from the sales there of the cargoes of merchandise taken into said ports by the ships of said Collie. The cotton, for the recovery of the proceeds of which this suit was brought, was purchased by said Collie's agent in the said Confederate States, with moneys so derived."

"The said Collie, on the 1st of October, 1863, addressed the following letter to John White, special commissioner for the state of North Carolina, then in England:"


" 1st October, 1863"


" Special Comm'r for North Carolina:"

" DEAR SIR -- Being desirous of aiding in any way in my power the government of your state in its present struggle, it seems to me that the time has come when this can be done very efficiently, and, with this view, I now ask your careful consideration of the following propositions:"

" From all I can learn, the chief requirement of your country at the present moment, as far as concerns business here, is to receive supplies of railway iron, rolling stock, and a few other articles, with regularity, expedition, and economy. To effect this, I propose:"

" First, to furnish, with as little delay as possible, four steamers of the most suitable description for blockade running, of which your state will own one-fourth interest, the other three-fourths being held by myself and friends. "

Page 97 U. S. 41

" Second, to give up to the government of your state, when required, the entire inward carrying power of said steamers from the island to the Confederacy, at a moderate rate, to be fixed hereafter."

" Third, that the government of your state be entitled to one-fourth space of the outward carrying power of each steamer for cotton or other produce, and this arrangement will, I estimate, yield to your state funds sufficient to pay cost and all charges on inward cargo, cash of its share of outward cargo, and (if cotton of good quality be sent out) a very large surplus will be left at the credit of your state on each trip. If at any time there should be a deficiency of cargo for government or other account, freight will be taken, if procurable, from other parties and a due share of any freight so carried will be credited to the state. In a business such as that now sought to be inaugurated, it is manifestly impossible to provide for all contingencies which may arise; all I can at present do is to indicate the chief aims, objects, and conditions. The rest must be left to the good faith and honorable dealing of the government of your state on the one part and of myself on the other. I need hardly add that any proposition from your government for altering or amending any of the conditions you and I may agree to will be met by me in the most liberal spirit, and that I place the same implicit confidence in the good faith of the governor and government of your state I ask them to place in me."

" I remain, dear sir, yours faithfully,"

" (Signed) ALEX. COLLIE"

"On the 27th of October, 1863, the said Collie and the said White entered into the following agreement:"

" With the view of carrying out efficiently the business indicated in the preceding letter of 1st instant, it is hereby agreed by Alexander Collie, for himself and friends, on one part, and John White, of North Carolina, for the governor of that state, on the other part, that Alexander Collie will furnish four steamers of suitable construction and speed, as soon as practicable; that one-fourth interest in each of these steamers will belong to the government of North Carolina, three-fourths owned by Alexander Collie and friends. The government will pay their share of the costs and outfit of such steamers by cotton warrants (Manchester issue) at par, and the working expenses of such steamers will be paid by the respective owners in their due proportion; that is, one-fourth of the working expenses will be paid by the government of North Carolina, and

Page 97 U. S. 42

three-fourths by the other owners, and if from any sufficient cause it should be deemed prudent to sell any of the steamers, the net proceeds of such sale or any money earned in the shape of freight will be duly credited in like proportion. Under this contract the Hansa and the Don, both most excellent boats, now running between Wilmington and the islands, will, on next arriving at the islands, be made over to the state in the proportion of one-fourth interest in each, and these steamers will be charged �20,000 sterling for the Hansa, and 20,000 sterling for the Don, this being the estimated total cost price of each at the islands, and considerably under the estimated value. Another screw steamer, similar to the Ceres, will be ready for sea in about four weeks, and in about two months the fourth will be dispatched. By this arrangement the chief objects sought to be obtained are:"

" First, to supply railway iron and rolling stock, and such other articles as may be needed by the state, at a moderate rate of freight, and in regular quantities."

" Second, to run out regularly a quantity of cotton for the state, to enable it to benefit from the very high prices ruling here."

" Third, to reduce the risk of capture as much as possible by dividing the interest of the government over four or more steamers. In order to secure the greater economy and the more efficient working facilities, the working management of the steamers will rest in the hands of Alexander Collie & Co., who, as representing the larger proportion, will appoint the captains and officers, but no important steps, such as disposing of any of the steamers or replacing any of them or adding to their number will be undertaken without the full knowledge and consent of Mr. White, the special commissioner here. Under this arrangement, the parties interested will have the benefit of a well trained and experienced staff of men at all points, and the government of the state, on its part, will give all the aid in its power to the efficient working of the business now inaugurated. It will give all the aid it can do to get transportation of cotton from the interior when required, and it will guarantee the undertaking from any restrictions or impediments being thrown in the way of full cargoes being obtained for each steamer of cotton or other produce with the least possible delay. The inward carrying power of the steamer from the islands will be at the service of the state, at the rate of �5 per ton, payable at the islands, for railway iron and rolling stock (one fourth of which will be duly credited to the state as its interest), and arrangements will be made immediately to lay down one thousand tons of railway iron at the

Page 97 U. S. 43

islands for this purpose. For fine goods, the rate will be �30 per ton."

" The government of the state will be the owners of outward cargo to the extent of one-fourth. Their cargoes will be purchased by the agents of Alexander Collie & Co., subject to the inspection of the government of the state, who will be debited for one fourth of the amount, and on safe arrival in England one-fourth of the proceeds will be duly credited to the state. The commission chargeable on this business will be the usual one of two and a half percent on purchases and realizing, and five percent on ships' disbursements, in addition to the usual brokerage, and such charges as incurred at the islands for transshipment and storing. The government will of course have the option of putting on board their own shares of the cotton, but for many reasons this is hardly desirable. If they do so, however, the buying commission of two and a half percent will be avoided. In cases when Alexander Collie & Co. come under cash advances for account of the state (in place of putting the cotton warrants in the market), Alexander Collie & Co. will be entitled to a further commission of two and a half percent for the amount of such advance -- interest at the rate of five percent to be charged, and the same rate to be allowed when there is cash in hand. This agreement to be in force till the steamers are sold, captured, or destroyed."

" (Signed) ALEX. COLLIE"

" (Signed) JOHN WHITE"

" Commissioner for the state of North Carolina"

"MANCHESTER, Oct. 27, 1863"

"In pursuance of this agreement, the said Collie sent out to Wilmington, N.C., four steamers loaded with shoes, army clothing, and other supplies which he bought for account of the state of North Carolina, and he received back cotton from said state in payment as well for the goods so sent as for the share of said state in said steamers."

"In the year 1863, the said Collie sold in London for the State of North Carolina obligations of that state delivered to him for that purpose by the said John White, known as North Carolina cotton warrants, which were obligations for the delivery of cotton at the port of Wilmington or at other ports then in possession of the Confederate States, and the said Collie disposed in England of large amounts of said obligations, giving with them his agreement to hold himself personally responsible to the parties to whom he sold them for their payment by the state of North Carolina, and

Page 97 U. S. 44

he also took some of said obligations in payment for the goods which he shipped to that state."

"On the 13th of June, 1864, the said Collie entered into the following written contract with Colin J. McRae, agent of the government of said Confederate States:"

" Memorandum of agreement between Alexander Collie, of London, on the one part, and Colin J. McRae, as representing the government of the Confederate States of America, on the other part."

" 1. Alexander Collie agrees to provide four large and powerful new steamers, to carry out the following arrangements, with the least possible delay."

" 2. Alexander Collie will at once cause to be purchased, under Colin J. McRae's directions, quartermaster's stores to the value of �150,000 sterling, and ordnance or medical stores to the value of �50,000 sterling -- the one subject to the inspection of Major J. B. Ferguson, the other to that of Major C. Huse."

" 3. The delivery of such purchases to extend over a period of about six months, in proportionate quantities, and shipment to be made to the Confederate States with as little delay thereafter as practicable."

" 4. Inland carriage and packing expenses to be charged in the invoice, and two and a half percent commission to be chargeable also."

" 5. Colin J. McRae, on behalf of his government, agrees that, on arrival in the Confederacy of any goods purchased and shipped by Alexander Collie under this agreement, such goods will be immediately claimed and taken over by the government. Fifty percent advance will be added to the English invoice, and Alexander Collie, through his agent, will immediately receive in exchange cotton at the rate of 6d. (sixpence) sterling per pound."

" 6. Such cotton to class 'middling,' and to be delivered alongside the steamers as required, compressed, packed, and in good merchantable condition."

" 7. Full cargoes of cotton, received in exchange for goods delivered under this agreement, may be shipped by Alexander Collie, through his agent, free from any other charge or restriction whatever beyond the now existing export tax of one eighth of a cent per pound."

" 8. No steamers to have priority in any way over those employed by Alexander Collie in this service, and more than the four

Page 97 U. S. 45

above mentioned may be used if Alexander Collie can arrange to put them on."

" 9. Colin J. McRae further agrees that, to cover the expense of Alexander Collie's agencies abroad, he (Alexander Collie) is to have the privilege of providing and bringing out other cotton than that received under this agreement, to the extent of one tenth part of the cargo space of the respective steamers, and such cotton (or tobacco) may be shipped on same terms as indicated for government cotton, viz., free from all other charges or restrictions whatsoever excepting the before named export duty now existing."

" 10. This agreement is to be construed by both parties in a spirit of confidence and liberality. The one will purchase and send forward the supplies indicated with the least possible delay, the other will deliver cotton as required in the same way, and neither party will withhold necessary supplies on account of any temporary shortcomings on the part of the other."

" 11. Alexander Collie's agents, with the necessary staff for attending to this business, are to be allowed the privilege of residing in the Confederacy, free from liability to conscription, and every reasonable facility is to be allowed them for effectually carrying out the terms of this agreement."

" (Signed) ALEX. COLLIE"

" C. J. McRAE"

" Agent C.S.A."

" LONDON, June 13, 1864"

"Under this contract, in the winter of 1863-64 and the spring and summer of 1864, divers steamers were supplied, and importations of supplies and munitions of war for the Confederate government were run by them into Wilmington, and return cargoes of cotton, on account of that government and of said Collie, were run by them out of that port to England."

"In March, 1864, the said Collie sent, as a present to the Confederate authorities at Wilmington, on one of his steamers engaged in running the blockade into that port, a Whitworth gun for field service, with carriage, caisson, limbers, and all other customary appendages, together with a large quantity of shot of the proper caliber for the gun, in regard to which he wrote to the Governor of North Carolina as follows:"

" I have shipped on board the Edith a new kind of gun which is reported to be particularly destructive, and I have to ask the authorities at Wilmington to accept it as a 'substitute' for

Page 97 U. S. 46

some of our people who, but for our business, would have been doing business in another capacity."

"This gun was received by the Confederate authorities in Wilmington and used in defense of that port and in aiding the entry into it of blockade running steamers by repelling the vessels of the United States engaged in pursuing those steamers."

"In the year 1864, the said Collie sent on one of his blockade running vessels to the government of said Confederate States as a gift from himself two Whitworth guns, which were received by that government and used in its service."

"In the same year, the said Collie made a donation to that government of $30,000 to aid the needy and the suffering in the insurgent states, and more particularly those who had been made so through the war."

"III. In the years 1862, 1863, and 1864, the said Collie, through an agent in the insurgent states sent out by him in 1862, purchased, with money derived from sales of cargoes run through the blockade into ports in those states in said Collie's steamers, 3,096 bales of upland cotton and 1,757 bales of sea island cotton, all of which was stored in Savannah at the time of the capture of that city by the military forces of the United States in December, 1864, and was there seized and taken by those forces, and thence shipped to New York, where it was sold by an agent of the United States, and the proceeds thereof, amounting to $950,076.71, were paid into the Treasury of the United States. "

Page 97 U. S. 58

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