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U.S. Supreme Court

Mauran v. Insurance Company, 73 U.S. 6 Wall. 1 1 (1867)

Mauran v. Insurance Company

73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 1


1. A taking of a vessel by the naval forces of a now extinct rebellious confederation, whose authority was unlawful and whose proceedings in overthrowing the former government were wholly illegal and void, and which confederation has never been recognized as one of the family of nations, is a "capture" within the meaning of a warranty on a policy of insurance having a marginal warranty "free from loss or expense by capture," if such rebellious confederation was at the time sufficiently in possession of the attributes of government to be regarded as in fact the ruling or supreme power of the country over which its pretended jurisdiction extended.

2. Accordingly, a seizure by a vessel of the late so-called Confederate States of America for their benefit was a "capture" within the terms of such a warranty.

Mauran brought suit in the Circuit Court for Massachusetts against the Alliance Insurance Company on a policy of insurance upon the ship Marshall for one year from the 29th November, 1860, covering the sum of $8,000. The insurance, as stipulated in the body of the policy, was

"against the adventures and perils of the seas, fire, enemies, pirates, assailing thieves, restraints, and detainments of all kings, princes, or people of what nation or quality soever."

In the margin of the policy was the following:

"Warranted by the assured free from loss or expense arising from capture, seizure, or detention, or the consequences of any

Page 73 U. S. 2

attempt thereat, any stipulations in this policy to the contrary notwithstanding."

The vessel was seized on the afternoon of the 17th of May, 1861, two or three miles inside of the bar at the mouth of the Mississippi River, on her way up to New Orleans, by the officers and crew of the steamer Music, belonging to the so-called Confederate States. Some persons on board the steamer at the time of the seizure hoisted the Confederate flag to the masthead of the Marshall and informed the captain and pilot that the ship was "a prize to the Confederate States." Verdict and judgment having been given in favor of the insurance company, the question here on error was whether this taking of the vessel by the naval forces of the so-called Confederate States was a capture within the warranty of the assured in the margin of the policy. If it was, then the loss was not one of the perils insured against, and the judgment below was right.

Page 73 U. S. 9

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