One Hundred and Ninety-Nine Barrels of Whiskey v. United States

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

94 U.S. 86

One Hundred and Ninety-Nine Barrels of Whiskey  v.  United States

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Texas.

This was a libel against one hundred and ninety-nine barrels of distilled spirits seized at Galveston, Texas, March 18, 1867, as forfeited to the United States. The causes of forfeiture alleged are,--

1. That the spirits, being subject to the payment of internal revenue tax, were removed otherwise than into a bonded warehouse, without the payment of the tax.

2. That no lawful or genuine inspector's brand was ever put upon them, and they were removed for sale in fraud of the law, and with intent to evade the payment of the taxes thereon chargeable by law, and were fraudulently and illegally marked and branded.

3. That said barrels of distilled spirits, when found and seized by the collector of internal revenue, had never been inspected, gauged, proved, or marked, as required by law, and were fraudulently and illegally marked and branded.

To this libel a claim and answer were filed by Charles Andre, a resident of Matamoras, Mexico, in which he alleged that all the requirements of the laws of the United States relating to the spirits had been complied with previous to the seizure; that they had been duly proved and marked, gauged, and inspected, and the barrels properly branded by the lawful officers of the United States duly appointed for that purpose; and that all taxes required by law had been paid thereon. He also stated that he purchased the spirits in open market at Matamoras, Mexico, in the regular course of business, between the 1st and 12th of February, 1867; that the same having been delivered to him in Mexico, he applied to the United States collector of duties for the district of Brazos de Santiago for permission to import them in the packages as purchased, which permission was granted; that he accordingly transported them from Matamoras to Brownsville, entered them at the custom-house of that district, and by bond secured the duties thereon according to law, and that he secured from the proper officers of the custom-house the usual certificate given in such cases, and sent the spirits forward to Indianola and Galveston for a market.

The evidence produced by the claimant shows that he entered the spirits at the custom-house upon his importation as of the growth, production, and manufacture of the United States, exported on board of certain vessels named, from New York and New Orleans, upon which no drawback, bounty, or allowance had been allowed, and reimported from Matamoras, Mexico, free; that he executed a bond to the United States for the sum of $73,000, with approved sureties, 'conditioned that proper certificates to show that the articles were manufactured in the United States, and all taxes paid thereon, would be produced within six months thereafter, or that he would pay the customary custom-house duties required upon such articles of foreign manufacture;' that thereupon the proper landing certificate was issued, and the spirits were transferred from the ferry-boat in which they had been imported to the schooner 'Island Belle,' for transportation to Indianola and Galveston.

The evidence offered in support of the libel shows that Andre purchased the spirits at Matamoras, at the price of fifty-five cents per gallon; that they were shipped from New Orleans to Matamoras, June 20, 1866, on the British schooner 'Village Belle,' and, after being duly entered at the custom-house at Matamoras, were landed at that port. The district attorney of the United States then offered in evidence sworn examined copies of the original entry of the spirits by Andre at the Brownsville custom-house, together with sworn and examined copies of the bond given by Andre, and also of the certificates of the collectors of the ports of New York and New Orleans, upon which the bond was cancelled, and proved that the originals of the entry, bond, and certificates were on file at the custom-house in Brownsville, more than a hundred miles distant from Galveston. To the introduction of such copies Andre objected; but the objection was overruled, and they were admitted. The certificates showed shipments from New York to Matamoras, with no record of drawbacks, as follows:--

Oct. 1, 1864, B. G. H., 20 barrels.

Feb. 2, 1865, S. Y., 75 barrels.

Feb. 10, 1865, M. P., 50 barrels.

Jan. 14, 1865, 50 barrels.

March 11, 1865, S. <A> 100 barrels.

And from New Orleans to Matamoras,--

Feb. 4, 1865,

These shipments all corresponded with the specifications in the entry, except that marked S. <A>. In the entry this appeared to have been an exportation in the schooner 'Brazos,' but the certificate showed that it was in the bark 'Mary Schofield.' To explain this discrepancy, Andre made affidavit that in his entry he gave the name of the schooner inadvertently, the fact being that the exportation was in the bark. It is further proved, that, when the spirits were seized in Galveston, the barrels were carefully examined; that many of them appeared to be old molasses barrels; that many had on them the inspection marks of revenue inspectors at New Orleans and at Cincinnati; that the inspection marks, if ever there were any on some of the barrels, had been covered with dirt, and so obscured as to become illegible, but that most of the barrels contained the inspection marks, 'manufactured prior to 1st September, 1866.' Subsequently, when the barrels were taken out of the warehouse and delivered to the claimant, by order of the court, he affixed a new brand on the head of each barrel, to do which he had to wash the heads; and all but fifteen or twenty barrels were found to have been branded 'tax paid.' Pending the suit, the property was appraised and delivered to the claimant, in accordance with the practice in such cases, upon the execution of a bond with sureties, conditioned to abide and answer the decree of the court in the premises. Upon this testimony the District Court gave a decree of forfeiture July 21, 1868, and adjudged that the claimant pay into the registry of the court the appraised value of the spirits with interest from that date, and, in default, that execution issue against him and his sureties. From that decree an appeal was taken to the Circuit Court, where a similar decree having been entered May 27, 1874, the claimant appealed here. Mr. J. M. Burroughs for the appellant. Mr. Assistant Attorney-General Smith for the appellee. MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the Court.


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).