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so intimately connected by commercial and political relations?
An act may be legal in one state which is not so in another. Every merchant must sensibly feel the inconvenience and perplexity which result from his ignorance of those laws by which his dearest rights and most important privileges are regulated. If he apply for advice respecting a contract which has been made in a different state, his counsel may not be able to procure the statute by which that transaction is governed: and if it be in his possession, he is still ignorant of the exposition or limitation which it has received from juridical adjudications.
It frequently happens that instruments of writing, which are duly authenticated according to the laws of one state, when opened in the courts of another, are found to be perfectly nugatory; and the unfortunate suitor, after incurring a heavy expense, is unable to assert his right or must submit to an unjust claim, because he was ignorant of the laws which prevail where the controversy has existed.
It would be an endless task to enumerate the inconveniences of this nature, which exist: they must be familiar to the experience of every one.
At the instance of several professional friends, the Editor has been induced to propose the publication of a Law Journal, on a plan which is calculated, in some measure, to remove the inconveniences which have been detailed. If he should be so fortunate as to attract the attention of professional gentlemen throughout the country, and be aided by the communication of such laws and decisions of general importance, as are enacted or adjudged in the respective states, the work,
which is now submitted to their patronage, may, in time, comprise the rudiments of a complete system of American jurisprudence.
All persons engaged in commercial transactions, as well as those who are attached to the bar, are interested in a publication of such extensive usefulness: and when it is promised that every effort of perseverance shall be brought to the task, the Editor may be permitted to express a hope, that his purpose will not be frustrated by indifference nor neglect. His pleasure will consist in the improvement which he expects to derive from this employment, and his reward will be derived from the consciousness of performing that duty, which every man owes to society according to the measure of his talents.
Hoc opus, hoc studium, parvi properemus et ampli,
Si patriæ volumus, si nobis vivere cari. It only remains for the Editor to indicate a few subjects for the attention of such professional gentlemen as may be willing to contribute to the success of this work. The feeble exertions of a youthful individual, unaided by the impressive sanction of experience, can effect but little without the cordial cooperation of those from whom he has some right to claim assistance.
A brief digest of such laws of the different states as are of general importance, particularly, of those which relate to negotiable paper, to the manner of executing legal instruments, such as deeds, letters of attorney, &c. and of authenticating them so as to make them evidence-adjudged cases in England or America--opinions delivered by eminent counsellors of any countrylists of English statutes which have been extended to the different states—early notices of new publications on subjects of law, commerce or politics—essays on legal or commercial subjects—biographical memoirs of distinguished characters—sketches of parliamentary and congressional debates, &c. &c. may not be uninteresting to those who would relieve the aridity of juridical inquiries by contemplating the various incidents of human life, admiring the scintillations of wit, the eloquence of the orator or the schemes of the statesman.
Law Journal and Miscellany.
Supreme Court of the United States.
FEBRUARY TERM, 1807.
Rhinelander v. Insurance Company of Pennsylvania.
ABANDONMENT_Total Loss. Where there is a complete taking at sea by a belligerent who has taken full possession of the vessel as prize, and continues that possession to the time of the abandonment, there exists a total loss; and the act of abandonment vests the right to the thing abandoned in the insurer, and the amount of the insurance in the insured.
The state of the loss at the time of the abandonment must fix the right of the insured to recover.
freight of the ship Manhattan from New York to Batavia, &c. and back. It was tried at the October sessions of the Circuit Court for the Pennsylvania district, and a verdict found for the plaintiff subject to the opinion of the court upon a case stated; which case was adjourned from the Circuit to the Supreme Court, and now came on to be heard. The case stated the Manhattan to be a neutral ship. On her return voyage, on the 10th of February, 1805, she was captured by the British frigate Busy William; the mate and 21 of the crew were taken
out and two British officers and 15 sailors put on board, and she was ordered to Bermuda. On the same day, the mate was put, by the captors, on board a vessel bound for New-York, where he arrived on the 26th February. The owners being informed of the capture, on the 2d March claimed a total loss by reason of the capture, and offered to abardon. On 2d April, payment was demanded of the office and refused. On 6th June, the action was brought.
The vessel after being carried into Bermuda was libelled as prize. On 20th April, vessel and cargo were acquitted and restitution ordered. From this sentence, so far as respected the cargo, the captors appealed, which appeal is still undecided.
The cargo was ordered to be delivered to the owners on their giving security. On the 8th May security was entered, and this was known to the owners before action brought; but the captain did not take actual possession of the ship till 11th June. The owners applied to the office for counter-security, which was refused.
The question referred by the case to the court was, Whether the plaintiff be intitled to recover for a total loss?
Rawle and Lewis argued for the defendants, 1st. That the stopping of the Manhattan on the 10th February by the Busy William, and ordering her to Bermuda, did not constitute a loss so as to authorize an abandonment. It was not a capture by an enemy, but merely a stopping on the high seas of a neutral by a belligerent for search; and a sending in for further examination. As the abandonment was made on the information of this taking only, without any knowledge of the subsequent proceedings, as it was made for this cause only, as this cause did not authorize it, and as no other abandonment has been since made, the subsequent transaction cannot relate back so as to give the plaintiffs a right against the underwriters.
. 2. The mere institution of judicial proceedings against a neutral vessel, unless followed by condemnation, gave no right to abandon.
3. That though after the vessel was acquitted on the 20th April, an appeal was entered as to the cargo, yet by the entry