Puslapio vaizdai

Per curiam. The action in this case is trespass. The defendants plead to the jurisdiction of this court, the plaintiffs demur generally, and the case presents, for the consideration of the court, the single question of jurisdiction.

It is incumbent on the plaintiffs to give jurisdiction to this court by proper averments on the record; that jurisdiction must be founded on circumstances of the persons, parties to the action or circumstances of the case. The averments intended to give jurisdiction are," that the president, directors and company are citizens of the state of Pennsylvania, and that the bank was incorporated or established by a law of the United States.” Upon the first of these averments it is to be observed, that this action must be instituted by the plaintiffs either in their individual or corporate capacity. In the former, it could not be maintained, or if at all, they must have sued by their baptismal names. In the latter, the individual is so totally sunk in their corporate state of existence, that though it were true in fact, that the president, directors and company were all citizens of the state of Pennsylvania, still they could not communicate their right of suing in this court to the corporate body of which they are members. The constitution takes no notice of corporate bodies in enumerating the cases in which this court shall exercise jurisdiction upon circumstances of the persons. A corporation cannot with propriety be denomi

. nated a citizen of any state, so that the right to sue in this court under the constitution can only be extended to corporate bodies by a liberality of construction, which we do not feel ourselves at liberty to exercise. As a suit in right of a corporation can never be maintained by the individuals who compose it, either in their individual capacity or by their individual names, how is the citizenship of the individuals of the corporate body ever to be brought into question by the pleadings? With regard to the jurisdiction of this court, as founded upon circumstances of the action, it is necessary, in order to vest that jurisdiction, that the case should be brought within the description of actions arising under the constitution or laws of the United States. The general principle is, that the states

retain all the powers of sovereignty, not expressly relinquished to the United States. The states have relinquished the right of taxing individual property held within their jurisdiction, under no possible circumstance, except where such a tax may come within the description of imposts or duties on exports and imports.

There is no question raised under the constitution; neither is it a question arising under the laws of the United States. No privilege or right created by the laws of congress is violated. The legal validity of the bank charter is not denied, nor any difference of opinion entertained of its effects. The act incorporating the bank contains no clause exempting the property of the bank from taxation, neither the construction nor constitutionality of any law of congress, arising under the law of the state of Georgia, in which we can see no clashing or interference with the laws or constitution of the United States. Counsel have argued, that it is a case arising under the laws and constitution of the United States, because we must look into the constitution and bank charter, to determine the question of jurisdiction; but if this prove any thing, it proves a great deal too much. For it would go to give this court jurisdiction in every possible case whatever. There would exist the same necessity of looking into the constitution and laws of the United States, in a case between citizen and citizen of the same state, or in the most ordinary question of state jurisdiction.

It is true, that this view of the subject may expose this valuable institution to some embarrassment; and it is to be regretted, that it cannot be better guarded, but it is to be hoped, that a just and temperate idea of the true policy of the individual states, with its real and extensive importance to the union, will always afford it ample protection; and if their rights are violated, the state courts are open to them.

It is also true, that there have been cases before the supreme court, in which corporate bodies were parties, that have undergone the review of that court, without any notice being taken of this question; but the answer is; that there were no pleas to the jurisdiction in those cases, and any objections that may have been raised upon the face of the record appear to have escaped the attention of the court and counsel.

We are happy in understanding that this decision is to be reviewed in the supreme court; its importance in every point of view entitles it to the notice of the highest court in which it can be considered. Plea to jurisdiction sustained, demurrer overruled, and


High Court of Errors and Appeals


JANUARY 14th, 1785.

Silas Talbot, qui tam, &c. v. the Commanders and

Owners of the brigs Achilles, Patty and Hibernia.

LETTERS OF MARQUE. CAPTURE. ADMIRALTY JURISDICTION. APPEAL. The owners of letters of marque are responsible for injuries committed on the high seas, by the commanders of vessels sent out by them, at least to the value of the vessels. In cases of capture from enemies, persons in other vessels acquire no right, merely by seeing the capture made. The judge of admiralty for this state may legally take cognisance in cases similar to this. The appeal, in such cases to the high court of errors and appeals for this state, is regular.*


ILAS TALBOT, commander of the armed sloop Argo,

belonging to, and in the service of these states, duly commissioned, sailed from New-London, in the state of Connecticut, the twenty-ninth of August, 1779, on a cruise. On the sixth

* It was contended by the counsel for the respondent, that the appeal lay to the court of appeals instituted by the United States; and by the counsel for the appellants, that the court of admiralty for this state had no jurisdiction in this case.


of September, after an engagement of three hours, he took as prize upon the high seas, an armed letter of marque vessel, called the Betsey, of two hundred tons' burden, with a valuable cargo, belonging to subjects of Great Britain, not being inhabitants of Bermuda, and bound for New York, then in possession of the British naval and land forces. He took the commander and eleven hands out of the prize, leaving three in her, and put on board a prizemaster and eleven other hands, with instructions to proceed to New London. The firing was heard, and the engagement for more than an hour seen, by persons on board three letter of marque brigs that had lately sailed from Philadelphia. During the engagement, the Betsey was perceived from the three brigs, bearing towards them. Her surrender was also seen from on board them. The prizee master, in obedience to his instructions, proceeded on his voyage, in company with the Argo, for New London. Some time after, the three brigs were discerned from on board the Betsey. Towards evening they chased the Argo and Betsey. The next day, early in the morning, the prize being in tow of the Argo, the three brigs were seen from on board the prize and the Argo, chasing them. The brigs approached fast, under British colours. Captain Talbot, finding it impracticable for the prize to escape, with a trumpet hailed her, directing the prizemaster to throw off the rope, and lie to with the prize, until the three brigs should come up with her, adding, that he with the Argo would run a little to leeward and lie to also; and that if the brigs should prove to be American, the prizemaster should endeavour to obtain permission for the prize to come down by herself, and inform him of the brigs being friends. In a short time, the brigs came up, and from one or two of them, under British colours, the Betsey was fired at twice, she then bearing British colours reversed, according to the custom of prizes, and being in the latitude of 39 degrees 4 minutes, and the longitude of 71 degrees 24 minutes. When first hailed, the people on board the Betsey answered, she was from Montserrat. Persons from two of the brigs, one of which had fired at the Betsey, boarded her. Among these was W.D. from the last mentioned brig. The commander of this brig was informed by the prizemaster on board the Betsey, that she was a prize to the Argo, commanded by captain Talbot; that the vessel then in sight was the Argo; that he was put on board the Betsey, as prizemaster, by captain Talbot. He showed him his written instructions as such; but, said the Bet. sey had been taken three days before. W. D. from on board the Betsey, told the said commander, that the prizemaster denied having seen the brigs the day before, or that she was then captured; but from every circumstance, and from the report of one of her English sailors, he was convinced, she was the same vessel seen engaged the day before. On board the brig, to the commander of which this information was given, were a boatswain and sailmaker, who had been taken by captain Talbot about ten days before, in a vessel from London, and sent by him prisoners to Philadelphia, and shipped there. One of the persons put into the Betsey by captain Talbot, knowing them, mentioned this fact in conversation on board the said brig, to W. D. The person thus put on board by captain Talbot also said, that the Betsey had been taken three days before. The papers on board the Betsey were examined by W. D. in behalf of the three brigs, and the number of names specified in the English papers, was found to correspond with the number of persons then on board. From these papers it appeared, that she was a British vessel, bound from Montserrat to New York. IV. D. made several other examinations on board the Betsey, on behalf of the three brigs, and in the course of them was informed by a seaman who belonged to her, while possessed by the British, that she was taken the day before. This sailor also said, she sailed from Montserrat. Before W. D. left Philadelphia, he had heard, in the coffee-house there, a few days before he sailed, that the Argo, a New-England privateer, had taken the Dublin cutter, fitted out full of men of war's men. While these examinations were made, the two other brigs chased the Argo, under all sail; upon which, captain Talbot, concluding they must be British cruisers, made sail before the wind and soon left them. The commanders of the three brigs took the prizemaster and hands out of the Betsey,

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