Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on Law on Cargoes of Neutral Ships, 16 September 1804

by the law of nations, the goods of an enemy in the ship of a friend may be taken
the goods of a friend    in the ship of an enemy must be restored
contraband goods of a friend may be taken, because quoed hoc he departs frm neutrality

by the custom of nations immemorial, the mode of decision is establd.

viz. the Admiralty court of the state to whom the captor belongs.
this court proceeds 1. by the law of nations. 2. on particular treaties.
the evdce must in the first instance come from of ship itself, viz. papers, persons.

if a seisure be made without probable cause, the captor pays costs.

if with probable cause, as if the master & officers prevaricate }the claimt does not recover costs, or he may pay costs, according to the different degrees of suspicion.
if proper ship papers be not on board
if double papers
if papers be thrown over board
if from the ship papers & persons the property is not evident, time may be given
if the property is evinced by evidce not on board the ship, the captor is justified in bringing her in, & pays no costs: perhaps he may recieve them as circumstances may be

by the law of nations when two powers are at war, all ships may be stopped for examination

where judges are left free, & give sentence according to their conscience, though it should be erroneous, it is no ground for reprisal. on doubtful questions, different men think & judge differently, and all a friend can ask is that justice be as impartially administered to him as to the native citizens.

to justify reprisals the injury must be palpable, & in re minimi dubiâ
redress must be denied by all the tribunals
& by the prince himself.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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