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Baltimore shipping, marine insurance, privateers, Napoleonic Wars, Maryland Court of Appeals, Richard Caton


This essay contextualizes the case of The Baltimore Insurance Company v. McFadon, tracing the dispute from its origin to its disposition in the Maryland Court of Appeals in 1815. The case, which centered on whether mutual claims could be set-off against each other in a suit involving an open insurance policy, is illuminating as to the evolution of marine insurance, trade between Baltimore and the West Indies in the late eighteenth century, and the impact of the Napoleonic Wars on American mercantile enterprise. By examining the case through the lens of this historical study, it becomes apparent that the result the Court of Appeals reached was not only just, but also practical in light of the needs of a booming port town.


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