« 上一頁繼續 »
1824. in the words of the law, a transfer, “by way of
trust and confidence,” to a foreign subject; the Margaret. trust and confidence being, that the vessel should
be reconveyed to the American owner when the special purposes of the transfer were entirely consummated. That a reconveyance would be decreed in an American Court of justice, upon such a transaction with a foreign subject, in a foreign port, in violation of the municipal laws of his country, is a point which we are by no means disposed to admit. It is sufficient for us, however, that the case is brought within the very terms of the act of Congress, which does not require a beneficial or bona fide sale, but a transmutation of ownership, “ by way of trust, confidence, or otherwise.”. But it is said, that the case is not within the policy of the act. What the policy of the act is, can be known only by its provisions; and every section of it betrays a strong solicitude on the part of the Legislature to trace and inspectevery change of ownership; and, for this purpose, to require a public avowal of it, and an alteration of the ship's documents, so as to exhibit, at all times, the names of all persons who are the legal owners. The policy evinced by this course of legislation, is the encouragement of American navigation and American ship building, to the exclusion of foreign navigation and foreign ownership, and securing to American registered ships a preference, in all our revenue transactions, over all vessels which were not strictly entitled to the character. The Legislature foresaw that it would be impossible for the officers of government to ascertain the secret in
tentions of parties, or the object of ostensible 1824. transfers of ownership. Whether such transfers
The were bona fide, or colourable, for meritorious or Margues. illegal purposes, were matters of private confidence, and could rarely be ascertained by competent and disinterested proof. To admit secret transfers of ownership to any persons, and especially to foreigners, and allow, at the same time, to the ships the full benefit of the American character, would be hazarding the main objects of the act; it would invite all sorts of contrivances to evade the laws, and disable the government from possessing means to detect frauds. The correct course of legislation was, therefore, obvious. It was to lay down a strict and plain rule, requiring all transfers to be made known, from time to time, as they occurred; and a surrender of the American documents, when the legal ownership passed to a foreigner, whatever might be the secret trusts with which it was accompanied. The words of the section now under consideration, are direct to this purpose ; and so far from contravening, they support, in the fullest manner, the general policy of the act. They are not, then, to be construed in a more limited sense than their obvious purport indicates. .
But it is agreed that the proviso of this section shows, that the forfeiture inflicted by the enacting clause is not absolute, and that the trial ougl.t not to have been by the Court, as a cause of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, but by a jury, as upon an exchequer information, since a verdict alone can fix the forfeiture. The words of the
1824. proviso are, “ Provided, that if such ship or ves
sel shall be owned in part only, and it shall apThe Margaret pear to the jury, before whom the trial for such
forfeiture shall be had, that any other owner of such ship or vessel, being a citizen of the United States, was wholly ignorant of the sale or transfer to, or ownership of, such foreign subject or citizen, the share or interest of such citizen of the United States shall not be subject to forfeiture; and the residue only shall be forfeited.” Now, in the first place, this being a mere proviso, by way of exception from the enacting clause, it constitutes properly matter of defence, and need not be taken notice of in a libel, brought to enforce the forfeiture. The party who seeks the benefit of it, must, in his claim, insist upon it, so as to bring it as matter cognizable in the issue to the jury. In the next place, the very terms of the proviso apply only to the case of a part owner, and not to a sole owner, of the ship. The case put is, where the ship “shall be owned, in part only,” by a person ignorant of the transfer, such part shall not be subject to forfeiture. In the case before the Court, the claim is by Haley, as sole owner of the schooner, and all her American documents establish him as sole owner. He does not assert an ignorance of the transfer, nor claim in any way the benefit of the proviso. So that, whatever may be the true construction of the proviso, in other respects, it is plain, that it is inapplicable to his predicament, and might, on this account, be dismissed from the consideration of the Court.
But the other suggestion, in respect to jurisdic
tion, is entitled to scrupulous attention. The 29th 1824. section of this act declares, that all penalties and
The forfeiture incurred for offences against it, “shall Margare'. and may be sued for, prosecuted, and recovered, in such Courts, and be disposed of in such manner, as any penalties and forfeitures, which may be incurred for offences against an act entitled, 'an act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of vessels,' may be legally sued for, prosecuted, recovered and disposed of.” The act here referred to, is the revenue act of the 4th of August, 1790, ch. 35. which, in the 67th section, provides for the prosecution for penalties, and libelling for forfeitures, in the same general terms, which are employed in the revenue act of the 2d of March, 1799, ch. 128. on the same subject. Now, the judiciary act of 1789, ch. 20. in express terms, and as has been repeatedly adjudged, upon the most solemn consideration, by this Court, rightfully includes all seizures for forfeitures made under laws of impost, navigation, and trade, on waters navigable from the sea, by vessels of ten tons burthen and upwards, as causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, which are to be tried by the Court, and not by a jury. And seizures made under the revenue act of the 4th of August, 1790, ch. 35. as well as under that of 1799, ch. 128. have been uniformly tried in this manner. Where the seizures have been made on land, or on waters not so navigable, the trial has been by jury. It is true, that the first case in which the question as to
1824. the admiralty jurisdiction under the judiciary act
of 1789 came under consideration, did not arise Margaret. until:after the enactment of the ship registry act,
and, therefore, it may have escaped the attention of Congress, that such was the legal construction. But such a supposition is not lightly to be indulged, not only from the direct and unequivocal ianguage of the judiciary act of 1789, but also from the reference in the registry act to the revenue act of 1790, for the mode of suing for penalties and forfeitures. The latter act (s. 67.) takes an express distinction between penalties and forfeitures, confining the trial of any fact put in issue in suits for penalties, to the judicial district in which such penalties shall accruc, and then providing, in general terms, for libels, to enforce forfeitures, to be brought "in the proper Court having cognizance thereof;" thus pointing to the judiciary act, for the tribunal which is to exercise jurisdiction, and for the mode in which it is to be exercised. It certainly cannot be admitted, that the obscurity of a proviso like the present ought to repeal, by implication, the deliberate act of the Legislature, in settling the general jurisdiction of its Courts, and placing, with so much solicitude, causes of this .nature on the admiralty side of the Courts. The proviso is still applicable, in its terms, to all cases of seizures, on land and on waters, where the trial is to be bog a jury; and, perhaps, taking the whole language, it ought to be construed to include within its equity, cases, where the trial is by the Court,
a La Vengeance, 3 Dal. 297.