ARMSTRONG'S FOUNDRY, 73 U. S. 766 (1867)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Armstrong's Foundry, 73 U.S. 6 Wall. 766 766 (1867)

Armstrong's Foundry

73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 766


1. A full pardon and amnesty by the President for all offenses committed by the owner of property seized under the Act of Congress of August 6, 1861, "to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes," and which makes property used in aid of the rebellion, with the consent of the owner, subject to seizure, confiscation, and condemnation, relieves such owner from the forfeiture of the property seized so far as the right accrues to the United States.

2. The proceedings under the act relating to a seizure of land present a case of common law jurisdiction, the proceedings in which are to be conformed, in respect to trial by jury and exceptions to evidence, to the course of the common law, and a final decision in which can be reviewed here only on writ of error.

Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the proceeding below being one for condemnation of property as used in aid of the rebellion, and resembling in its general features the case just disposed of. It was thus:

An Act of Congress passed August 6, 1861, "to confiscate

Page 73 U. S. 767

property used for insurrectionary purposes," * enacted that property used in aid of the rebellion with consent of the owner, should be the lawful subject of prize and capture wherever found, and made it the duty of the President to cause it "to be seized, confiscated, and condemned." It enacted further that

"such prizes and captures shall be condemned in the district or circuit court of the United States having jurisdiction of the amount, or in admiralty in any district in which they may be seized, or into which they may be taken,"

&c. And the attorney general or any district attorney was to institute proceedings of condemnation himself, or by aid of an informer.

Under this act, a libel of information was filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana in which it was charged that certain property in New Orleans, known as Armstrong's Foundry, had been seized as forfeited to the United States by reason of having been used, with the consent of the owner, in aid of the rebellion. This libel closed with the usual prayer for condemnation. A claim was interposed by John Armstrong as owner, and another claim was interposed by the Citizens' Bank as mortgagee. Armstrong also pleaded the amnesty offered by President Lincoln, and his acceptance of it and compliance with the terms. On the hearing, the plea of pardon was rejected and a decree of condemnation was rendered. Armstrong alone appealed.

Subsequently, and while the cause was pending in this Court, the President of the United States granted to

"the said John Armstrong a full pardon and amnesty for all offenses by him committed, arising from participation, direct or implied, in the said rebellion, conditioned as follows."

Certain conditions were annexed. At this term, Armstrong was allowed, in conformity with the usual course in admiralty cases, to plead the new matter and to file with his plea a statement of facts agreed between his counsel and the Attorney General, showing, among other things, that he had complied with all the conditions of the pardon granted to him.

Page 73 U. S. 768

The question now on the appeal was whether this pardon relieved from forfeiture the property seized.

Page 73 U. S. 769

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