Carlisle v. United States
THIS was an appeal from the Court of Claims. The claimants there were subjects of the Queen of Great Britain, but had been residents within the United States prior to the war of the rebellion, and during its continuance. In 1864 they were the owners of sixty-five bales of cotton stored on a plantation in Alabama. This cotton was seized during that year by naval officers of the United States and turned over to an agent of the Treasury Department, by whom the cotton was sold and the proceeds paid into the treasury. The present action was brought in the Court of Claims under the act of Congress of March 12th, 1863, known as the Captured and Abandoned Property Act, to recover these proceeds.
The court found that the claimants were the owners of the cotton, and that it was seized and sold as stated, and that the net proceeds, amounting to $43,232, were paid into the treasury.
The court also found that the government of Great Britain accords to citizens of the United States the right to prosecute claims against that government in its own courts; but that the claimants were engaged, in 1862, in manufacturing saltpetre in Alabama, and selling that article to the Confederate States, and that they thus gave aid and comfort to the rebellion, and for that reason were not entitled to recover the proceeds of the cotton seized. Their petition was accordingly dismissed. The facts connected with the manufacture and sale of the saltpetre are thus stated by the court in its findings:
'From having, in 1860 and 1861, been engaged in the business of railroad contractors, they began in December, 1861, the manufacture of saltpetre at Santa Cave, Alabama, and continued engaged therein until the following April, when, owing to the presence of United States troops in the vicinity, they left the cave, and remained absent therefrom until the following October, when, immediately after the evacuation of Huntsville, Alabama, by the United States forces, they resumed work in making saltpetre at said cave, and continued it about two months. Their right to make saltpetre there was under a contract of lease between the owners of the cave and other parties, which had been transferred to the claimants, by whom it was, in May, 1863, sold and transferred to the so-called 'Confederate States of America' for $34,600. On the 28th of March, 1862, the claimants sold to the said Confederate States of America 2480 lbs. of saltpetre, at 75 cents per pound, in all $1860, and received payment therefor at Richmond, Virginia, on the 27th of June, 1862, from a rebel captain of artillery; and on the 30th of November, 1862, they sold to the said 'Confederate States' 4209 lbs. of nitre, at 75 cents per pound, in all $3156.75, and in the bill of the same, which the claimants receipted, it was expressed that the said nitre was 'for manufacture of gunpowder;' and the amount of said bill was paid at Larkinsville, Alabama, on the 24th of December, 1862, by the rebel 'superintendent of nitre and mining district No. 9;' and the claimants hired to the said 'Confederate States' wagons to transport the said nitre from Santa Cave to Rome, Georgia.'
From the decree dismissing the petition the claimants appealed to this court.
Messrs. Carlisle and McPherson, for the appellants; Mr. C. H. Hill, Assistant Attorney-General, contra.
Mr. Justice FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.