U.S. Supreme Court
Bas v. Tingy, 4 U.S. 4 Dall. 37 37 (1800)
Bas v. Tingy
4 U.S. (4 Dall.) 37
One-half of the whole value of an American vessel and cargo recaptured by a vessel of war of the United States after she had been captured by a French privateer on 31 March, 1799, allowed as salvage. chanrobles.com-red
On the return of the record it appeared by a case stated that the defendant in error had filed a libel in the district court, as commander of the public armed ship the Ganges, for himself and others against the ship Eliza, John Bas, master, her cargo, &c., in which he set forth that the said ship and cargo belonged to citizens of the United States; that they were taken on the high seas by a French privateer on 31 March, 1799, and that they were retaken by the libellant on 21 April following, after having been above ninety-six hours in possession of the captors. The libel prayed for salvage conformably to the acts of Congress, and the facts being admitted by the answer of the respondents, the district court decreed to the libellants one-half of the whole value of ship and cargo. This decree was affirmed in the circuit court without argument and by consent of the parties in order to expedite a final decision on the present writ of error.
The controversy involved a consideration of the following sections in two acts of Congress: by an Act of 28 June, 1798, 4 vol. 154, s. 2, it is declared
"That whenever any vessel the property of or employed by any citizen of the United States or person resident therein or any goods or effects belonging to any such citizen or resident shall be recaptured by any public armed vessel of the United States, the same shall be restored to the former owner or owners upon due proof, he or they paying and allowing, as and for salvage to the recaptors, one-eighth part of the value of such vessel, goods, and effects, free from all deduction and expenses."
By an Act of 2 March, 1799, 4 vol. 472, it is declared
"That for the ships or goods belonging to the citizens of the United States or to the citizens or subjects of any nation in amity with the United States, if retaken from the enemy within twenty-four hours, the owners are to allow one-eighth part of the whole value for salvage, . . . and if above ninety-six hours one-half all of which is to be paid without any deduction whatsoever. . . ."
And by the 9th section of the same act it is declared,
"That all the money accruing or which has already accrued from the sale of prizes shall be and remain forever a fund for the payment of the half pay to the officers and seamen who may be entitled to receive the same. "
The Judges delivered their opinions seriatim in the following manner: