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It is equally well settled that, upon the termination of the war, obligations contracted before its commencement, between the respective subjects, though the remedy for their recovery is suspended during the war, are revived: Lawrence's Wheaton, p. 877, and the cases above cited. In Hanger v. Abbott, and Jackson Ins. Co. v. Stewart, this doctrine was applied to the Statutes of Limitation. In the former case, Mr. Justice CLIFFORD, speaking for the court, says: “When a debt has not been confiscated, the rule undoubtedly is that the right to sue revives on the restoration of peace, and Mr. Chitty says that with the return of peace we return to the creditor the right and the remedy. Unless we return the remedy with the right, the pretence of restoring the latter is a mockery, as the power to exercise it with effect is gone by lapse of time during which both the right and the remedy were suspended.”
Applying these doctrines to the present case, it follows that the war, in which the people of Mississippi on one side, and those of Connecticut on the other, participated, suspended this contract with all its incidents, including the condition set up in bar of this action, and all rights of action under it. In view of the result to which I have come, it is unnecessary to determine the precise date of the beginning of the war, when this suspension commenced. It is immaterial whether we take the 15th of April, as stated in the replication, the date of the President's proclamation calling for volunteers; or the 19th of April, when by proclamation he declared that an insurrection had broken out in certain states, including Mississippi, and declared his purpose to blockade their ports; or the 16th of August 1861, when in pursuance of the Act of Congress of July 13th 1861, he, by proclamation, formally declared the inhabitants of those states in insurrection, and announced the prohibition of all commercial intercourse between them and the inhabitants of the other parts of the United States. It is conceded on all hands that at least from August 16th 1861, this contract was suspended, both by the inevitable legal effect of the state of war, and by the interdiction of intercourse announced by the proclamation of that date. The rules of public law, as well as the Act of Congress referred to, lead to this result. Therefore, as the twelve months within which a suit could be legally brought on this policy had not expired when the war commenced, and thus imposed a disability on the assured, it becomes
essential to determine whether this disability has been removed, and if so, when that removal took place. It is conceded in this case that the disability has been removed, and the right to sue revived. The plaintiff not only admits, but must maintain, that this took place before October 31st 1866, when he brought this suit. Otherwise he could have no standing in court. As the contract and all remedies under it were absolutely suspended by the war, no suit could have been brought while that suspension continued. But the plaintiff goes further, and alleges, in effect, in his replication, that the war ended, so far as the state of Mississippi and its inhabitants are concerned, on the 2d of April 1866, the date of the President's proclamation to that effect, and not before. On the other hand, the defendants insist that it ended as early as June 13th 1865, when the President, by proclamation, appointed a provisional governor over the state of Mississippi, and directed the United States district judge for that judicial district to proceed to hold the courts.
Now, it must be remembered, that though this was a war between belligerents, attended while it continued by those legal consequences which public law always attaches to all legitimate warfare, yet it was a civil war in which the revolted party was defeated, and its organization as a de facto government under the name of the Confederate States of America, politically annihilated. No treaty of peace in the ordinary sense of that term could be negotiated, as but one of the parties which had waged the war was in existence as a treaty-making power at its close. Therefore no such treaty has drawn the line where the war ended, and suspended contracts revived. We must therefore look to the acts of the only surviving party to ascertain when those disabilities, legally imposed by the state of war, ceased. It is hardly necessary for me to say that the principle here stated lends no support to the doctrine put forth in some quarters, and which that distinguished jurist, Mr. Justice SPRAGUE, characterized as a “grave and dangerous error,”—that the suppression of the rebellion conferred upon the United States the rights of conquest,--the right to treat the states included in the rebellion as foreign territory acquired by arms, and permanently divest them and their inhabitants of all political privileges : Sprague's Decisions, II., p. 147. That notion has nothing to do with the point now under consideration. The United States, in suppressing the rebellion, destroyed the political organization known as the Confederate States, and not the individual states as political communities. But though the states remained after the contest ended, the belligerent power known as the Confederate States which had represented them in the war, disappeared at its close. Neither of the states which remained had the power, or attempted, to negotiate a treaty of peace with the United States. In determining, therefore, when the rights, suspended by the war, revived, we must look to the action of the only power in existence which could effectually deal with that subject. This power was the government of the United States.
It is a settled rule with the courts of the United States, in ascertaining whether or not war exists, to look to the action of those departments of the government to which that subject is confided by the Constitution. Courts never inquire, when investigating questions of this character, when active hostilities ceased. The termination of war, and the establishment of the relations of peace, are political acts, to be performed exclusively by the departments of the government to which political powers and duties are intrusted. The action of these departments, when within the authority conferred by the Constitution, is conclusive and binding on the courts as well as citizens. When war has existed between the United States and a foreign country, its termination is easily ascertained by a reference to the treaty of peace which follows it, and which is consummated by the President acting by and with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate. such treaty did, or could, mark the close of this civil war, we must look to the action of the President, or Congress, or both, and from that action ascertain when the war ended, and when the legal consequences which flowed from it ceased to act in any given
I have already shown that by the rules of public law universally recognised among civilized riations, as well as by the decisions of our own courts, the existence of this war suspended all contracts between the citizens of the respective belligerents, entered into before it commenced. It rendered, for the time being, all commercial intercourse between the citizens of two sections unlawful, and converted them into enemies. But in addition to this, Congress passed an act, July 13th 1861, authorizing the President in certain cases, by proclamation, to declare the inhabitants of a state in insurrection against the United States, where
upon all commercial intercourse by and between the same and the citizens thereof and the citizens of the rest of the United States should become unlawful. In pursuance of this statute the President, on the 16th of August 1861, issued his proclamation declaring the inhabitants of certain states, including Mississippi, in insurrection against the United States. By force of this proclamation, then, and the statute authorizing it, as well as by the legal effect of the war then existing, all pre-existing contracts between the people of the respective belligerents, including the right to enforce them by judicial proceedings, were thenceforth suspended. In progress of time hostilities ceased, and the executive department of the United States commenced a series of acts recognising a change in the relations of the government towards the inhabitants of the states lately in rebellion. May 22d 1865, the President issued a proclamation raising the blockade of most of the closed ports, and removing “all restrictions upon trade heretofore imposed in the territory of the United States east of the Mississippi river, save those relating to contraband of war, to the reservation of the rights of the United States to property purchased in the territory of an enemy, and to the 25 per cent. upon purchases of cotton.” The same proclamation declared that all provisions of the internal revenue law should be carried into effect by the proper officers.
May 29th 1865, the President proclaimed amnesty and pardon to all persons in the late revolted states, except certain specified classes, with restoration of all rights of property, except slaves, and in cases where legal proceedings had been commenced for the confiscation of property of persons engaged in rebellion, on condition that they should take and subscribe a certain oath.
On the same day he issued a proclamation appointing a provisional governor for North Carolina, and prescribing his duty and authority.
June 13th 1865, he issued a similar proclamation relating to Mississippi.
On the same day he issued a proclamation appointing a provisional governor over Tennessee, and declaring, among other things, “that all restrictions upon internal, domestic, and coastwise intercourse and trade, and upon the removal of the products of states heretofore declared in insurrection, reserving and excepting only those relating to contraband of war, as hereinafter recited, and
also those which relate to the reservation of rights of the United States to property purchased in the territory of an enemy, heretofore imposed on the territory of the United States east of the Mississippi river, are annulled, and I do hereby direct that they be forth with removed." The other provisions of this proclamation it is not necessary to notice here.
April 21 1866, the President issued a proclamation formally declaring the insurrection that had existed in certain states, including Mississippi, at an end, and to be thenceforth so regarded.
It should be remarked that there was no executive declaration that the insurrection was ended, before that of April 2d 1866, in any state except Tennessee. On the 13th of June 1865, he lid, in the proclamation already cited, declare it terminated in the last-named state. In a proclamation of the same date relating to Misssssippi, and in the one of May 29th 1865, relating to North Carolina, he spoke of the armed forces of the rebellion as having been “almost entirely overcome."
We must now inquire into the legal character of the proclamations of the President restoring commercial intercourse to and with the states which had been engaged in the rebellion, and the rest of the United States. And, first, as to bis authority to issu? such proclamations. I think there can be no doubt on that point The Supreme Court of the United States recognised the power of the President to, in effect, declare the inhabitants of the disaffected states in a state of insurrection as early as April 19th 1861, when he set on foot the blockade of certain ports, including those in Mississippi (The Prize Cases, 2 Black 670). In the opinion in these cases, Mr. Justice GRIER, speaking for a majority of the court, says :-“Whether the President, in fulfilling his duties as commander-in-chief, in suppressing an insurrection, has met 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 this court must be governed by the decisions and acts of the political department of the government to which this power was intrusted. He must determine what degree of force the crisis demands. The proclamation of blockade is itself official and conclusive evidence to the court that a state of war existed which demanded and authorized a recourse to such a measure, under the peculiar cir