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UNITED STATES V. MORA, 97 U. S. 413 (1878)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Mora, 97 U.S. 413 (1878)

United States v. Mora

97 U.S. 41


1. The third section of the Act of May 20, 1802, 12 Stat. 404, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to require reasonable security that goods should not be transported in vessels to any place under insurrectionary control nor in any way be used in giving aid or comfort to the enemy, and to establish such general regulations as he should deem necessary and proper to carry into effect the purposes of the act. Held that a bond taken by the collector of the port of New York, under regulations established by the Secretary of the Treasury, from a shipper and two sureties, in double the value of the goods shipped, to prevent such transportation and use comes within the reasonable security specified in said third section.

2. The right of the collector to refuse a clearance altogether included that to exact a bond. Such bond, when duly executed, is prima facie evidence that it was voluntarily entered into.

3. Where the conditions of a bond which are not sustainable are severable from those which are, the latter hold good pro tanto, and evidence to show a breach of them is admissible.

This is a suit by the United States on a bond dated and executed March 4, 1863, exacted by the collector of the port of New York, as a condition precedent to granting a clearance to the vessel Sarah Marsh, laden with a cargo of merchandise, bound to the port of Matamoras, in Mexico.

To support the issues on its part, the plaintiff proved that on the twenty-third day of May, 1862, the then Secretary of the Treasury had instructed the then collector of customs at the port of New York as follows:


"WASHINGTON, D. C., May 23, 1862"

"SIR -- In pursuance of the provisions of the proclamation of the President modifying the blockade of the ports of Beaufort, Port Royal, and New Orleans, and of the regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury relating to trade with those ports, no articles contraband of war will be permitted to enter at either of said ports, and you will accordingly refuse clearance to vessels bound for those ports, or either of them, with any such articles on board."

"Until further instructed, you will regard as contraband of war the following articles, viz., cannons, mortars, firearms, pistols, bombs, grenades, firelocks, flints, matches, powder, saltpeter, balls, bullets,

Page 97 U. S. 414

pikes, swords, sulphur, helmets, or boarding caps, sword belts, saddles and bridles (always excepting the quantity of the said articles which may be necessary for the defense of the ships and of those who compose the crew), cartridge bag material, percussion and other caps, clothing adapted for uniforms, resin, sail cloth of all kinds, hemp and cordage, masts, ship timber, tar and pitch, ardent spirits, military persons in the service of the enemy, dispatches of the enemy, and articles of like character with those specially enumerated."

"You will also refuse clearance to all vessels which (whatever the ostensible destination) are believed by you on satisfactory ground to be intended for ports or places in possession or under control of insurgents against the United States, or that there is imminent danger that the goods, wares, and merchandise, of whatever description, laden on such vessels, will fall into the possession or under the control of such insurgents, and in all cases where, in your judgment, there is ground for apprehension that any goods, wares, or merchandise shipped at your port will be used in any way for the aid of the insurgents or the insurrection, you will require substantial security to be given that such goods, wares, or merchandise shall not be transported to any place under insurrectionary control, and shall not in any way be used to give aid or comfort to such insurgents."

"You will be especially careful, upon application for clearances, to require bonds with sufficient sureties, conditioned for fulfilling faithfully all the conditions imposed by law or departmental regulations from shippers of the following articles, to the ports opened, or to any other ports from which they may easily be and are probably intended to be reshipped in aid of the existing insurrection -- namely, liquors of all kinds, coals, iron, lead, copper, tin, brass, telegraphic instruments, wires, porous caps, platina, sulphuric acid, zinc, and all other telegraphic materials, marine engines, screw propellers, paddlewheels, cylinders, cranks, shafts, boilers, tubes for boilers, fire bars, and every article, or any other component part of an engine or boiler, or any article whatever which is, can, or may become applicable for the manufacture of marine machinery, or for the armor of vessels."

"I am, &c.,"


"Sec't'y of the Treasury"


"Coll. of N. York"

That the following bond was taken by the said collector of customs as the condition upon which he had granted a clearance chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 97 U. S. 415

to the Sarah Marsh to proceed from the port of New York to the port of Matamoras, in Mexico:

"Know all men by these presents, that we, Leon Haas, Jr., as principal, and Foster Mora and W. M. Congreve, all residing and owning real estate in the City of New York, are held and firmly bound unto the United States of America in the sum of twenty one thousand eighty one 74/100 ($21,081.74) dollars, lawful money of the United States of America, to be paid to the said United States of America or their assigns, for which payment, well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators, firmly by these presents; sealed with our seals, dated the fourth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty three."

"Now, the condition of this obligation is such that if the ship or vessel called the Sarah Marsh, laden with various packages of merchandise , value $10,540.87, enumerated in the shipper's manifest of said Leon Haas, Jr., shall proceed from the port of New York to Matamoras, in Mexico, and shall land the same at the last mentioned port of Matamoras for consumption, and if the same shall be consumed within the Republic of Mexico, and if the said shippers shall, within seven months from the date hereof, produce satisfactory proof to the collector of the port of New York, by consular certificate or otherwise, that the same has been landed and entered for consumption, and actually converted to domestic use, within the Republic of Mexico, and the duties thereon paid, and if all laws and departmental regulations shall be strictly obeyed; and if all the conditions of the clearance of said merchandise shall be performed, and specially if said merchandise or any part thereof shall not be transported to any place under insurrectionary control, and if none of said merchandise shall be used in any way, with the consent or knowledge of the shippers or their agents, to give aid or comfort to parties now in rebellion against the United States, then this obligation to be void; otherwise to be and remain in full force and virtue."

The plaintiff having offered in evidence a partial manifest of the cargo of the Sarah Marsh relative to the goods represented by the bond -- which manifest showed the portion of the cargo in question to be of the value of $10,540.87, and also proved that she was a general ship, and that other parts of her cargo were owned by others than the principal and sureties on