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United States Supreme Court

91 U.S. 7

Matthews  v.  McStea

ERROR to the Court of Common Pleas for the City and County of New York.

The original cause of action was (inter alia) an acceptance of a bill of exchange by the firm of Brander, Chambliss, & Co., of New Orleans, dated April 23, 1861, payable in one year to the order of McStea, and accepted on the day of its date by the firm, whereof Matthews, it was alleged, was then a member. The principal defence, and the only one which presents a Federal question, was, that, at the time when the acceptance was made, the defendant, Matthews, was a resident of the State of New York; that the other members of the firm (also made defendants in the suit, but not served with process) were residents of Louisiana; and that, before the acceptance, the copartnership was dissolved by the war of the rebellion. This defence was not sustained in the Common Pleas, and the judgment of that court was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Matthews sued out this writ of error.

Mr. John Sherwood and Mr. William M. Evarts for the plaintiff in error.

The war began in Louisiana, April 19, 1861. The Protector, 12 Wall. 700. The proclamation of April 19, 1861, declaring the blockade, was a notice of prohibition of commercial intercourse. The proclamations of April 17 and 19, and the act of Congress of July 13, 1861, do not contain any permission to trade, or any inference that such trade was permitted. Commercial intercourse during war being unlawful, it cannot be implied from the proclamations of the Executive and the acts of Congress. The Prize Cases, 2 Black, 635; United States v. Lane, 8 Wall. 185; Cappell v. Hall, 7 id. 542.

The copartnership of Brander, Chambliss, & Co., was dissolved, even if a limited intercourse was permitted. The courts of Louisiana were closed. The legality of commerce and the mutual use of courts of justice must be inseparable. Griswold v. Waddington, 16 Johns. 468.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).