Gregory v. McVeigh by Morrison Waite
Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

90 U.S. 294

Gregory  v.  McVeigh

ON motion to dismiss, for want of jurisdiction, a writ of error to the Corporation Court of Alexandria, Virginia.

The case was thus:

Towards the close of the late rebellion, the United States filed a libel of information, under the act of 17th July, 1862, 'to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purposes'-the act commonly known as 'the Confiscation Act'-against certain real estate in Alexandria, Virginia, a State then within the government lines, belonging to one McVeigh, a person then in the rebel lines, to confiscate it.

This act authorized a seizure by the President, of the property in the then loyal States of any person giving aid and comfort to the rebellion, and directed that after the property had been seized, proceedings in rem should be instituted in any District Court of the United States, 'which proceedings,' said the act, 'shall conform as nearly as may be to proceedings in admiralty or revenue cases.' The act further directed that if, on such proceedings had, the property, whether real or personal, should be found to belong to a person giving aid and comfort to the rebellion, the same should be condemned 'as enemies' property,' and become the property of the United States, and be disposed of as the court should direct.

This 'Confiscation Act' was the subject of interpretation by this court in several cases which arose in December Term, 1867, [1] and in which it was adjudged that where the proceedings under the act relate to a seizure of land, they present a case of common-law jurisdiction, and are to be conformed in respect to trial by jury to the course of the common law.

In the particular proceedings now before the court, that is to say, the proceedings against McVeigh's land, McVeigh appeared by attorney, interposed a claim to the property, and filed an answer. The District Attorney of the United States submitted a motion that the appearance, answer, and claim should be stricken from the records, for the reason that the respondent was a resident of a place specified, within the Confederate lines, and a rebel. The court (Underwood, J.) granted this motion. A decree pro confesso was subsequently entered, the life interest of McVeigh in the property condemned and ordered to be sold, and sold accordingly; one Gregory being the purchaser. McVeigh then brought the case on error to this court; it is reported in 11th Wallace, page 267. The court, by Swayne, J., then said:

Notes Edit

  1. Union Insurance Company v. United States, Armstrong's Foundry, and United States v. Hart, 6 Wallace, 759, 766, 770.

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).

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