Where the Commander in-chief, in suppressing an insurrection, meets with such armed hostile resistance and a civil war of such alarming proportions as will compel him to accord to them the character of belligerents, is a question to be decided by him, and courts must be governed by the decisions and acts of the political department of the Government to which this power was entrusted.
Four vessels were severally captured and the district court pronounced a decree of condemnation, from which the claimants took an appeal. The first three ships sailed in waters during a blockade and claimed they were unaware of the war when they were captured as enemies' property. The fourth ship claimed it was intending to receive a permit to go to sea. While anchored, it was taken. On appeal, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the decree of condemnation except as to a ship which contained tobacco strips that were bought before the war broke out.
Was the President's exercise of political power in seizing vessels during insurrection within his authority?
The Court found that the President had a right to institute a blockade of ports in possession of persons in armed rebellion against the Government and that the vessels were bound to regard the blockades.