Document Type


Publication Date



1817, Baltimore, commissioning, consul, Norfolk, privateer, public vessel, restitution


After the War of 1812, the maritime industry began to decline and merchants and mariners began serving as privateers for Latin American colonies ceding from Spain. This paper examines the Supreme Court decision in an action filed on behalf of the Spanish government seeking restitution for cargo seized from a Spanish vessel, the Santissima Trinidad, on the high seas by the Independencia Del Sud, a public vessel of Buenos Ayres. The Court holds that jurisdiction exists for neutrality violations as the goods were landed at Norfolk, Virginia and the public vessel had an illegal augmentation of force in a U.S. port. The case also set policy limiting a court’s inquiry into the examination of title for property held by a foreign sovereign. If the authenticated statements would suffice to prove ownership, the absence of an actual title is not an evidentiary defect.


Admiralty | International Law | Law | Legal History