Declaration of War--Enemy property during war.
This American vessel was seized by the collector of the customs in the port of Halifax, on June 7, for an importation into Nova Scotia, contrary to law. Since that period, namely on June 20, the government of the United States, by a public instrument, has declared war against Great Britain.
In consequence of this event, before the Court can consider the question of importation, there are two more material points to determine. By the declaration of war, it is said, that the claimants are become enemies, and the ship and cargo enemy's property. That not only the parties therefore are disqualified from appearing in a British court of justice, but that the seizor is entitled to retain the ship and cargo, of which he has the bona fide possession, by the title of occupancy, as belonging to an alien enemy.
Here are therefore three questions to consider, first, whether by the declaration of war on the part of the United States, without any declaration made by Great Britain, American subjects are become enemies, and, secondly and thirdly, supposing them to be enemies, whether nevertheless such consequences as are alleged by the captors would attach upon their property and persons in the present case.
What shall constitute a state of war between two countries has been often debated, and the doctrines which have been laid down in our English law books may seem at first sight to be at variance with each other. If we look at the older authorities, we find it to be an established maxim, that no war can subsist without the concurrence