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prize court or as a court enforcing municipal regulations." 1


Under the early adjudications made in the Federal courts of New York and Massachusetts, during the existing war in the United States, upon captures made for violation of the blockade of the southern ports, an interesting and important question arose, as to the construction of the Executive proclamation, by virtue of which the blockade in question was set on foot.

It. was contended, with great earnestness and ability, by many distinguished counsel, representing the interests of claimants of captured property, that, by the terms of the proclamation of the 19th of April, 1861, a neutral vessel, having knowledge of the blockade, was not liable to capture for an attempted violation, unless that attempt were made after the vessel had been once warned of the existence of the blockade by one of the blockading vessels stationed off the port, and such warning had been indorsed upon her register.

The language of the proclamation, relied upon to sustain this position, is as follows:

"If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall attempt to leave any of the said ports, she will be duly warned by one of the blockading vessels, who will indorse on her register the fact and date of such warning;

1 Hose vs. Himdey, 4 Cranch, 272.

and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured, and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo, as prize, as may be deemed advisable."

It is obvious, that upon the peculiar phraseology here adopted, an argument of much plausibility and force may be presented, in support of the position taken.

In the determination of the question whether such construction can be maintained, it is proper, first of all, to consider its effect, as accomplishing or defeating the purpose of interdicting commerce with the ports of the insurgent states, for which the blockade was established.

And here, it is quite apparent, that if neutral vessels, with full knowledge of the blockade, may, without incurring the hazard of capture, enter and depart from any of the blockaded ports, as often a9 they can succeed in evading a warning by the commander of a blockading vessel, and an indorsement of the warning upon her register, such immunity would operate an utter defeat of the purpose of the interdict.

It would be, in effect, a universal license to all neutral traders, whatever their knowledge of the inhibition, so long as they could succeed in avoiding the fatal warning and its indorsement, to do precisely that which it is the expressed purpose of the proclamation to prohibit, namely, to enter and depart from the interdicted ports, accomplishing the purposes of commerce, and supplying the enemy with the means of continuing and prolonging his revolt, without being subjected to any peualty therefor.

It would be as if the Executive had thus proclaimed:

"I intend to set on foot a blockade of the southern ports, which blockade shall interdict all approach of neutral vessels, after its establishment, and they have knowledge of it, because, if allowed to approach, under any pretence, they will be sure to avail of that pretence to secure an entrance, with immunity from capture if unsuccessful. Nevertlieless, each neutral vessel of the world may once approach each one of these twenty or thirty blockaded ports, with full knowledge of the blockade—nay, with a view to violate it—and she shall be perfectly free from liability to capture, until after she shall have received a warning from the commander of one of the blockading vessels of the particular port she is attempting to enter, and such warning and its date, is indorsed on her register, and each vessel of every neutral nation is hereby expressly invited to violate the blockade of each one of these ports, and deliver a cargo tto he insurgent population, and purchase and carry away the produce of their country; and this she may do with entire impunity, as often as she can succeed in avoiding a warning from a naval commander off the port, and an indorsement on her register, "if the vessel succeed in getting in without such warning, no offence shall be held to have been committed subjecting her to capture; and if the same vessel in coming out, laden with cotton or tobacco, should be so unfortunate as to receive such warning, she will he liable to capture only in the event that she shall again attempt to leave or enter the same port."

That such would be the character of the blockade, under the construction claimed, no one will deny. Nor will any one deny that such could never have been the Executive intention. But, argued the advocates of a literal construction of the language of the proclamation, the well-settled rules of law do not permit a court, in the interpretation of a statute or public instrument, to look beyond the words and language actually employed—to interpolate or import into the statute or instrument words which are not to be found there—or to seek for the intention elsewhere than in the very words which have been employed to convey it. It was urged that this rule, as established by the authorities, was thus faithfully expressed by Lord Denman (in the case of Green vs. Wood, 7 Q. B., 178): "We are bound to give to the words of the legislature all possible meaning which is consistent with the clear language used; but if we find language used which is incapable of a meaning, we cannot supply one. It is extremely probable that the alteration suggested would express what the legislature meant, but we, looking at the word as judges, are no more justified to introduce that meaning, than we should be if we added any other provision."

This was appropriate to the case before the court; but here there is no langu;igo used which is incapable of a meaning, nor any occasion, in order" to avoid the construction contended for, of supplying a meaning, not fairly deducible from all the language employed.

The rule is tersely and better expressed by Vattel, thus: "It is not allowable to interpret what has no need of interpretation.'1 (Lib. 2, eh. 17, § 262.)

But better still by the Court of Appeals of New York, in the case of Newell vs. The People, 3 Selden, 97: "Whether we are considering an agree, ment between parties, a statute, or a constitution, with a view to its interpretation, the thing which we are to seek is the thought which it expresses. To ascertain this, the first resort in all cases is to the natural signification of the toords employed, in the order and grammatical arrangement in which the framers of the instrument have placed them. If thus regarded, the words embody a definite meaning, which involves no absurdity and no contradiction between different parts of the .same writing, then that meaning, apparent on the face of the instrument, is the one which alone we are at liberty to say was intended to be conveyed. In siwh a case there is no room for construction. That which the words declare is the meaning of the instrument; and neither courts nor legislatures have the right to add to or take away from that meaning."

And again, in the case of McClusky vs. Cromwell, I Kern., 601: "It is beyond question the duty of courts in construing statutes to give effect to the intent of the law-making power, and seek for that intent in every legitimate way. But, in the construction both of statutes and contracts, the intent of the trainers and parties is to be sought, first of all, in the words and language employed


Doubt, and Express Plainly, Clearly, and DisTinctly the sense of the framers of the instrument, there is no occasion to resort to other means of interpretation. It is not allowable to interpret what has no need of "interpretation, and when the words

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