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United States v. Diekelman, 92 U.S. 520 (1875)

United States v. Diekelman

92 U.S. 520


1. Unless treaty stipulations provide otherwise, a merchant vessel of one country visiting the ports of another for the purpose of trade is, so long as she remains, subject to the laws which govern them.

2. Where, in time of war, a foreign vessel, availing herself of a proclamation of the President of May 12, 1862, entered the port of New Orleans, the blockade of which was not removed, but only relaxed in the interests of commerce, she thereby assented to the conditions imposed by such proclamation that she should not take out goods contraband of war nor depart until cleared by the collector of customs according to law.

3. As New Orleans was then governed by martial law, a subject of a foreign power entering that port with his vessel under the special license of the proclamation became entitled to the same rights and privileges accorded under the same circumstances to loyal citizens of the United States. Restrictions placed upon them operated equally upon him.

4. Money, silver plate, and bullion, when destined for hostile use or for the purchase of hostile supplies, are contraband of war. In this case, the determination of the question whether such articles, part of the outward-bound cargo of the vessel, were contraband devolved upon the commanding general at New Orleans. Believing them to be so, he, in discharge of his duty, ordered them to be removed from her, and her clearance to be withheld until his order should be complied with.

6. Where the detention of the vessel in port was caused by her resistance to the orders of the properly constituted authorities whom she was bound to obey, she preferring such detention to a clearance upon the conditions imposed, held that her owner, a subject of Prussia, is not "entitled to any damages" against the United States under the law of nations or the treaty with that power. 8 Stat. 384.

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