The Sylvia Handy v. United States

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

143 U.S. 513

The Sylvia Handy  v.  United States


This was a libel filed in the district court of the United States in and for the district of Alaska, September 15, 1887, alleging the seizure by the commander of the revenue-cutter Bear, duly thereto authorized, of the schooner Sylvia Handy, of San Francisco, her tackle, etc., on September 2, 1887, 'within the limits of Alaska territory, and in the waters thereof, and within the civil and judicial district of Alaska, to-wit, within the waters of that portion of Behring sea belonging to the United States and said district, on waters navigable from the sea by vessels of ten or more tons burden,' as forfeited to the United States for the killing of fur seal 'within the limits of Alaska territory and in the said waters thereof, in violation of section 1956 of the Revised Statutes of the United States.'

Monition was duly issued and returned, and the owners intervened, and made claim to the schooner, her tackle, etc., September 19, 1887, and on the same day filed a general demurrer, which was overruled, and then an answer traversing the averments of the libel in general terms.

The right to publication and posting of notice of the libel and seizure of the property proceeded against was waived, as also the time of hearing. The cause having been heard, the following findings and conclusions of law were made and filed September 22, 1887:

'This cause having been tried and submitted, the court, from the evidence, finds the following facts and conclusions of law:

'(1) That on the 2d day of September, 1887, and theretofore, the master and crew of the defendant's vessel were engaged in killing and did kill fur seals in that portion of Behring sea ceded by Russia to the United States by the treaty of March, 1867, and within the waters of Alaska, in violation of section 1956 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, and that the promiscuous shooting of fur-bearing animals in the waters adjacent to the islands of St. Paul and St. George, and in that portion of Behring sea east of the 193d degree of west longitude, has a tendency to frighten and prevent said animals from going upon those islands, as they have been accustomed to do in the past.

'(2) That on the said 2d day of September, 1887, said vessel, her furniture, apparel, tackle, cargo, and 1,679 fur-seal skins were seized in said waters by the commanding officer of the United States revenue-cutter Bear, then and there engaged in the revenue marine service of the United States.

'(3) That said commanding officer was duly commissioned by the president of the United States, and made such seizure under the direction and by the authority of the treasury department of the United States.

'(4) That said property so seized was delivered by said commanding officer of said cutter to the United States marshal of the district of Alaska, and is now within the jurisdiction of this court.

'As conclusions of law the court finds that the plaintiff is entitled to a decree of forfeiture against said vessel, her tackle, apparel, furniture, cargo, and the said 1,679 fur-seal skins.'

A motion in arrest was filed October 3, 1887, and a motion for new trial and stay of proceedings February 14, 1888, which was overruled by the court, February 21st. An appeal to this court was allowed and perfected March 23, 1888.

Calderon Carlisle and Wm. G. Johnson, for appellants.

Atty. Gen. Miller and Sol. Gen. Taft, for the United States.

Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, 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).