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1824.

(INSTANCE Court. SLAVE TRADE Acts.]

The Ernily

and the Caroline.

The Emily and The CAROLINE, BROADFOOT,

Claimant.

A libel of information does not require all the technical precision of '. an indictment at cominon law. If the allegations describe the .offence, it is all that is necessary; and if founded upon a statute,

it is sufficient if it pursues the words of the law. An inforination, under the Slave Trade Act of 1794, c. 187. (xi.)

s. 1., which describes, in one count, the two distinct acts of preparing a vessel and of causing her to sail, pursuing the words or

the law is sufficient. Stating a charge in the alternative, is good, if each alternative con

stitutes an offence for which the thing is forfeited. Under the above act, it is not necessary, in order to incur the forseit

ure, that the vessel should be completely fitted and ready for sea, As soon as the preparations bave proceeded so far, as clearly to manifest the intention, the right of seizure attaches.

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of South Carolina.

In each of these two cases, a libel of information was filed in the District Court of South Carolina, against the ship Emily and the brig Caroline, under the 1st section of the act of the 22d of March, 1794, c. 187. [xi.] prohibiting the carrying on the slave trade, from the United States to any foreign place or country; and on the 2d section of the act of the 2d of March, 1807, c. 77. [ixvii.] to prohibit the importation of slaves into the United States, after the 1st day of January, 1808. Each libel contained three counts, two upon the act of 1794, and one upon that of 1807,

1824. which are the same in their provisions, so far as

N respects this case; and the libels described the T'he Emily

and the offence in the alternative, pursuing the words of Caroline.

the law, “that the said vessel was fitted out within
a port or place of the United States, to wit, the
port of Charleston, or caused to be sailed from a
port or place within the United States, to wit, the
said port of Charleston, &c. for the purpose of
carrying on trade or traffic in slaves,” &c. A de-
cree of condemnation was pronounced, in each
case, in the District Court, which was affirmed in
the Circuit Court, and the causes were brought
wy appeal to this Court.

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The causes were argued by Mr. Harper, for the appellant, and by the Attorney-General and Mr. M.Duffie, for the respondent.

On the part of the appellant it was contended, (1.) That the informations were fatally defective; inasmuch as in all the counts, they charge alternatively, the commission of one or the other of two distinct and separate acts, each of which constitutes, under the statute of Congress, a distinct substantive offence; thus leaving it wholly uncertain to which of the charges the claimant was to direct bis defence and proof. (2.) That the proof did not sustain any of the counts, because it showed that neither of the vessels was actually sent from the port of Charleston, before the seizure; and did not show that eit! er of them was so fitted out

a The Caroline, 7 Cranch, 496.

there, previous to the seizure, as to be in a condi- 1824. tion to be sent. That the offence of fitting out, the mily was not complete when the seizure took place, and the

Caroline. and that a mere inceptive fitting out, or an attempt to fit out; did not constitute the offence created by the acts of Congress.

For the respondents, it was argued, (1.) That the charge, with the alternative, was sufficient, both of the alternatives being illegal. The note of the reporter, correcting the account of the decision, when one of these cases (the Caroline) was formerly before this Court, was referred to, in order to show that the Court did not mean to decide in that case, that stating the charge in the alternative, would not have been sufficient, if each alternative had constituted an offence, for which the vessel would have been forfeited by the law. The informations had been amended, and studiously avoided the difficulty heretofore made on account of the alternativeness of the charges. As they now stand, they are in conformity with the language of the statute which creates the forfeiture, and though still alternative in form, they are not so in substance; since both the facts charged are equally penal, and the latter part of the section merely makes either of the facts evidence of the illegal intention. The Legislature has thought fit to depart, in this instance, from the general principle of penal enactments; it aims at punish

a The Caroļine, 7 Cranch, 496. Note of errata at the beginning of the volume.

1824.

The Emily

and the · Caroline

ing the intention, and makes either of the two facts evidence of the illegal intention. Both, then, being illegal, the information has correctly charged the offence. (2.) The law requires nothing more to consummate the offence, than distinct acts, showing the quo animo. The offence is complete, when there is any overt act clearly indicative of the attempt to commit it. If this were not the case, and the crime were not to be considered as consummated until the preparations were complete, it would be impossible to define what was a complete preparation. Many articles might be purposely left unfinished, and completed at sea; so that the construction contended for, would furnish an effectual recipe for a fraudulent evasion of this part of the law.

Feb.841h. Mr. Justice Thompson delivered the opinion of

the Court.

These cases come before the Court on appeals from decrees of the Circuit Court, for the District of South Carolina, affirming the decrees of the District Court, by which the vessels in question were condemned as forfeited, under the laws of the United States, in relation to the slave trade. · The information, in both cases are the same,except as to the name and description of the vessels ; and the proofs differ in no respect, but in the state of preparation in which the vessels were found at the time of seizure; but this circumstance, according to the view taken by this Court of the law, under which these forfeitures have been incurred, is unimportant, and canpot vary the result. The cases have been argued together, and it is unne- 1824. cessary that they should be considered separately the emily by the Court.

and the

Caroline. The informations are founded upon the first section of the act of the 22d of March, 1794, c. 187. [xi.] to prohibit the carrying on the slave trade from the United States to any foreign place or country; and on the second section of the act of the 2d of March, 1807, c. 77. [lxvii.] to prohibit the importation of slaves into the United States after the 1st of January, 1808. Each information contains three counts; two upon the act of 1794, and one upon that of 1807. These acts, however, are precisely the same in those parts which are brought under consideration in these cases, and will not require to be separately noticed.

The objections on the part of the claimant, to the decree of the Circuit Court, are,

1. The insufficiency of the informations; and

2. That the proofs fall short of what is required, under the statutes, to work a forfeiture of the vessels.

The law (2 U.S. L. 383.) declares, that no citizen of the United States, or any other person coming into, or residing within the same, shall, for himself or any other person whatsoever, either as master, factor, or owner, build, fit, equip, load, or otherwise prepare, any ship or vessel, within any port or place of the United States, nor shall cause any ship or vessel to sail from any port or place within the same, for the purpose of carrying on any trade or traffic in slaves, &c. And if any ves. sel shall be so fitted out as aforesaid, for the said

Vol. IX.

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