The Apollon

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The Apollon by Joseph Story
Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

22 U.S. 362

The Apollon

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Georgia. March 13th.

THE cause was argued by the Attorney-General, [a] for the respondent, and by Mr. Harper and Mr. Clay, [b] for the appellant. March 17th.

Mr. Justice STORY delivered the opinion of the Court.


^a  He cited Church v. Hubbart, 2 Cranch, 187. 234. Locke v. U.S., 7 Cranch, 339. 1 Mass. Rep. 27. 1 Gall. Rep. 111. 315. 5 Cranch, 311.

^b  They cited 2 Cranch, 122. 3 Cranch, 490. 3 Dall. 335. 3 Rob. 208. 5 Rob. 43. 4 Rob. 72. 1 Gall. Rep. 427. 3 Wheat. Rep. 559. 3 Dall. 133. 1 Rob. 241. merchant at Charleston, who was also the consignee. Upon her arrival off the port of Charleston, the master ascertained, that the French tonnage duty act had passed, (act of 15th of May, 1820, ch. 125.) and, therefore, declined entering the port. He had on board some specie belonging to the Bank of the United States, which, by the permission of the collector, was brought on shore by the revenue cutter. Having obtained information from the collector, that Amelia Island was not deemed an American territory, he sailed for that place, under the direction of the consignee; and there the ship lay for a considerable time, while the master proceeded to St. Augustine, a distance of about eighty miles, where he entered his ship and cargo, and paid the regular duties required by the Spanish authorities. While at this port, he ascertained, that the local authorities had it in contemplation to establish a new port of entry, to be called St. Joseph's, on Belle river, within the Spanish territory, and to appoint officers of the customs to reside there. The unquestionable object of this establishment, as disclosed in some correspondence between the immediate agents, which is inserted in the transcript, was to have a convenient depot, for the purpose of carrying on an illicit trade, in fraud of the revenue and navigation laws of the United States. Indeed, it is manifest, that there could be no other object, for there was no commercial population in the neighbourhood whose wants were to be supplied in the regular course of commerce. Of this object, perhaps, Captain Edon was not ignorant; but he does not appear to have participated in any of the schemes connected with it. His own avowed object was, to transship his cargo into the United States, and to receive from thence a cargo of cotton, without subjecting himself to the payment of the French tonnage duty. Part of the cargo was sold at St. Augustine, probably to pay duties and charges; and upon Captain Edon's return to Amelia Island, under the advice and instructions of the Spanish officers of the customs, he removed his vessel from Amelia Island up Belle river, about six or eight miles; and after having lain at anchor near St. Joseph's for eighteen days, the ship with her cargo was there seized by the collector of St. Mary's, and carried to the latter port for adjudication. Admiralty proceedings were instituted by the attorney for the United States, in the District Court of Georgia, to subject the ship to the payment of the tonnage duty, and the cargo to forfeiture; but upon the hearing of the cause, the Court awarded a decree of restitution of the ship and cargo. From this decree the Government interposed an appeal, but the appeal was finally abandoned before any hearing in the appellate Court. In the mean time the present libel for damages was instituted, and some difficulty arose as to the propriety of entertaining it during the pendency of the other suit, because in that suit it was competent for the Court to award damages, if the seizure was without reasonable cause. The objection was well founded; but it was withdrawn, from the anxious desire of the Government to have the cause speedily adjudged in the proper tribunal, upon the substantial merits. Upon the hearing of this cause, the District Court pronounced a decree for damages, from which an appeal was taken to the Circuit Court; and from the decree of the Circuit Court, confirming the decree of the District Court, with an addition of thirty-three and a third per cent. to all demurrage allowed by the latter, the present appeal was taken, and the cause now stands for a final decision.

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).