The Prize Cases

The Prize Cases - 1 U.S. Supreme Court Prize Cases, 67 U.S....

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1 U.S. Supreme Court Prize Cases, 67 U.S. 2 Black 635 635 (1862) Prize Cases 67 U.S. (2 Black) 635 Mr. Justice GRIER. There are certain propositions of law which must necessarily affect the ultimate decision of these cases, and many others which it will be proper to discuss and decide before we notice the special facts peculiar to each. They are, 1st. Had the President a right to institute a blockade of ports in possession of persons in armed rebellion against the Government, on the principles of international law, as known and acknowledged among civilized States? 2d. Was the property of persons domiciled or residing within those States a proper subject of capture on the sea as "enemies' property?" I. Neutrals have a right to challenge the existence of a blockade de facto, and also the authority of the party exercising the right to institute it. They have a right to enter the ports of a friendly nation for the purposes of trade and commerce, but are bound to recognize the rights of a belligerent engaged in actual war, to use this mode of coercion, for the purpose of subduing the enemy. That a blockade de facto actually existed, and was formally declared and notified by the President on the 27th and 30th of April, 1861, is an admitted fact in these cases. That the President, as the Executive Chief of the Government and Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, was the proper person to make such notification has not been, and cannot be disputed. The right of prize and capture has its origin in the " jus belli, " and is governed and adjudged under the law of nations. To legitimate the capture of a neutral vessel or property on the high seas, a war must exist de facto, and the neutral must have knowledge or notice of the intention of one of the parties belligerent to use this mode of coercion against a port, city, or territory, in possession of the other. Let us enquire whether, at the time this blockade was instituted, a state of war existed which
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The Prize Cases - 1 U.S. Supreme Court Prize Cases, 67 U.S....

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