« ZurückWeiter »
Vol. I. Page 49. Cross-examination began at top of page. 50. Re-direct examination“
« 19th line from top.
“ 22d line from top.
The Editor, in presenting his work to the profession and the public, feels it proper to state that it was undertaken at the instance of the owners of the Meteor, who have directed that no pains should be spared to give the most full and accurate report of all the legal proceedings.
In preparing that part of the first volume subsequent to the one hundred and thirty-second page, the editor has had the assistance of a copy of the testimony, exhibits, and record, as printed for the use of the Circuit Court on appeal. In preparing the earlier portion of the volume he was obliged to rely, for the most part, upon the reports printed in the New York World, which were based upon the notes of a stenographer. In some instances, as in the case of the arguments on the question of bonding, the stenographer's report itself was placed in his hands. The opening statement of Mr. Webster on the merits, and the decision of Judge Betts, are given as printed by authority.
In the second volume, the hearing on appeal is taken from the stenographic report, the arguments of counsel from authorized pamphlet issues, and the decision of the Circuit Court from the Boston Daily Advertiser.
The materials being thus authentic, the Editor feels that for any inaccuracy he alone is to be held responsible. He hopes that he has fallen into no errors of sufficient importance to materially impair the value of the Report.
The importance of the questions of law raised in this case can hardly be overestimated, and the able arguments of counsel upon those questions, give it a permanent value. The case was, however, finally decided on the ground that the evidence offered
by the government was insufficient to show a sale of the Meteor to Chile at New York, or an intended sale to her at Panama or elsewhere, and that, in consequence, it could not criminate the ship or her owners, upon any view of the law.
A summary of the evidence is appended, prepared by the Editor; but for a connected statement of the facts in the case, some of the most important of which do not come within the scope
of report of the legal proceedings, the reader is referred to the prefatory statement of the owners.
SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE.
BY THE EDITOR.
1st. The Meteor was a fast steamer, built for pursuit of Confederate privateers, pierced for and capable of carrying guns, but also suitable for a transport or for ordinary commercial purposes.
. Not being purchased by the United States, owing to the sudden close of the rebellion, she was employed for a time as a packet and in carrying troops between New York and New Orleans. A letter from R. B. Forbes, one of the owners, to a Mr. Schmidt, dated September 13, 1865, was put into the case, describing her characteristics as above, and saying he was open to an offer. It also appeared, independently of this letter, that she had been for sale since the close of the war.
2d. At some time not fixed, but before news of the war declared by Spain against Chile, on September 25th, 1865, the Chilian Minister visited the Meteor at the invitation of Mr. Jerome, one of the equitable owners, “who thought the occasion might turn up” when Chile might want to buy her.
3d. Rogers, Chilian Consul, and Mackenna, Chilian Confidential Agent, were, between November 19th, 1865, and the date of seizure, January 23d, 1866, busy with various projects against Spain, among others that of purchasing vessels and ordnance for war purposes, and were particularly desirous of buying the Meteor.
4th. Through different parties negotiations were twice opened with the owners or their agent Mr. Cary, for her purchase by Chile, but it does not appear that any definite offer was ever made. Mr. Cary speaks of want of money as having caused the failure
of the first negotiation, and the last negotiation broke off, from the same cause apparently, about the middle of December.
5th. McNichols, a claim agent, Conkling, a bounty broker, with Byron, a nondescript, and Nichols, an ex-volunteer navy officer,
had acted on behalf of Rogers in the second attempt to affect a purchase of the Meteor on behalf of Chile; the first three in hopes of a percentage, the last in hopes of a command under a privateer's commission, and they had employed as broker Mr. Charles L. Wright; and all these parties were much chagrined at the failure of their scheme. Their various conferences between themselves are given at great length. Rogers was anxious to get some capitalist to advance the necessary funds, his repayment to be contingent on the success of the enterprise, and thought that if this could be done, Mackenna would run one third the risk ; that Mackenna wanted the vessel delivered outside of Sandy Hook. Wright told Rogers he did not think a vessel armed as the Meteor was could be got out of New York.
6th. A day or two before the seizure, these adventurers suspecting, as it seems, that the Meteor had been sold to Chile without their agency, applied to Rogers (with whom and not with Mackenna they had come personally in contact during the negotiations) for information. He said that “ he knew nothing about it,” and
personally had nothing to do with it”; that “he believed Mackenna had made some arrangement for the Meteor; that he understood the Meteor was to clear next week for Panama, that she was to go to Panama, and there she was to be turned over and change commands”; that “ Mackenna had done his business through other brokers, and they thought they had got a good bargain in the Meteor, because they had got 750 tons of coal in the contract ; that he had no doubt Mackenna was getting a commission on her, &c."
Upon this Byron appears to have informed against the vessel, thus entitling himself and perhaps his fellows to one half the value of the ship in case of forfeiture.
7th. In the mean time Nichols called on Mackenna, and told him