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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