send into port armed vessels, &c. which have attempted or committed piratical aggression, &c.boat, the crew whereof shall be armed, and which shall have attempted or committed any piratical aggression, search, restraint, depredation or seizure, upon any vessel of the United States, or of the citizens thereof, or upon any other vessel; and also to retake any vessel of the United States, or its citizens, which they may have been unlawfully captured upon the high seas.Merchant vessels may defend against aggression, &c. by any armed vessel other than a public armed vessel of a nation in amity.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the commander and crew of any merchant vessel of the United States, owned wholly, or in part, by a citizen thereof, may oppose and defend against any aggression, search, restraint, depredation, or seizure, which shall be attempted upon such vessel, or upon any other vessel owned as aforesaid by the commander or crew of any armed vessel whatsoever, not being a public armed vessel of some nation in amity with the United States; and may subdue and capture the same; and may also retake any vessel, owned as aforesaid, which may have been capturedVessels from which piratical aggression, &c. has been attempted or made, when taken may be condemned. by the commander or crew of any such armed vessel, and send the same into any port of the United States.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That whenever any vessel or boat, from which any piratical aggression, search, restraint, depredation or seizure shall have been first attempted or made, shall be captured and brought into any port of the United States, the same shall and may be adjudged and condemned to their use, and that of the captors, after due process and trial, in any court having admiralty jurisdiction, and which shall be holden for the district into which such captured vessel shall be brought; and the same court shall thereuponSale and distribution. order a sale and distribution thereof accordingly, and at their discretion.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That if any person or persons whatsoever, shall, on the high seas, commit the crime of piracy, as defined
To establish the crime of confederacy, there must be some proof of criminal intentions in the persons charged. Ibid.
The language of the 12th section of the law, implies compact and association with pirates, as well in relation to the past as to the future. Any intercourse with them which is calculated to promote their views, is within the provisions of the law. Ibid.
In order to affect all the officers and crew of a piratical vessel with guilt, the original voyage must have been undertaken with a piratical design; and the officers and crew have acted upon such design; otherwise those only are guilty who co-operated actively in the piracy. United States v. Gibert, 2 Sumner’s C. C. R. 19.
It would not be sufficient to affect them with such, if they had known the voyage was to be an illegal one, as in the slave trade, contrary to the laws of Spain. Ibid.
The simple fact of presence on board the piratical vessel, where there was no original piratical design, is not of itself sufficient to affect a party with the crime. All who are present, acting and assisting in the piracy, are to be deemed principals. Ibid.
The act of the 30th of April, 1790, ch. 9, sec. 8, for the punshment of certain crimes, passed by Congress, as well as the act of 1820, ch. 113, applies to all murders and robberies committed on board of, or upon American ships on the high seas. Ibid.
The indictment charged the piracy to have been committed “on the high seas within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, and out of the jurisdiction of a particular state.” Held, that this was a sufficient statement of the venue, without a further specification of the place. Ibid.
Under the act of Congress of 1819, ch. 77, any armed vessel may be seized which shall have attempted or committed any piratical aggression, &c., and the proceeds of the vessel when sold divided between the United States and the captors at the discretion of the court. Harmony et al. v. the United States, 2 Howard, 210.
It is no matter whether the vessel be armed for offence or defence, provided she commits the unlawful acts specified. Ibid.
To bring a vessel within the act, it is not necessary that there should be actual plunder or intent to plunder; if the act be committed from hatred or an abuse of power, or a spirit of mischief, it is sufficient. Ibid.
The word “piratical” in the act is not to be limited in its construction to such acts as by the laws of nations are denominated piracy, but includes such as pirates are in the habit of committing. Ibid.
A piratical aggression, search, restraint or seizure, is as much within the act, as a piratical depredation. Ibid.
The innocence or ignorance on the part of the owner of the vessel, of these prohibited acts, will not exempt the vessel from condemnation. Ibid.
The condemnation of the cargo is not authorized by the act of 1819. Neither does the law of nations require the condemnation of the cargo for petty offences, unless the owner thereof co-operates in and authorizes the unlawful act. An exception exists in the enforcement of belligerent rights. Ibid.
Where the innocence of the owners was established, it was proper to throw the costs on the vessel which was condemned, to the exception of the cargo which was liberated. Ibid.