Scope and Content: Prize law is that part of international law which concerns the capture of enemy property by a belligerent at sea during war. In the United States the Judiciary Act of 1789 and the Supreme Court's decision in the case of "Glass v. The Sloop Betsey," (3 Dall. 6) in 1794 conferred all the powers of a court of admiralty "both instance and prize" on the district courts of the United States. The prize jurisdiction was expressly sanctioned by Congress in the Prize Act of June 26, 1812 (2 Stat. 759), which regulated the issue of commissions and letters of marque to private armed vessels of the United States and provided for the adjudication of prizes in the Federal district courts.
This series consists of libels for the condemnation of enemy property seized as a prize during the War of 1812, answers, motions, interrogatories, depositions, claims of owners and other interested parties regarding such property, statements of charges against prize vessels and cargo, interlocutory and other orders of the court, sentences of condemnation, accounts of sales of prize property, decrees, opinions of the court, legal notices in newspaper advertising by the court, and related papers filed in the district court in prize cases. In addition, case files may contain papers confiscated from the seized vessel, including crew lists, manifests and personal papers.
Records in this series have been digitized and made available online byFootnote.com, for a fee. The digitized records on Footnote.com are available free of charge in all NARA Research Rooms, including those in our regional archives and Presidential Libraries.
To find out what information may be available, and how to obtain it, contact:
This database contains an index to Federal cases involving property seized during the War of 1812.
Below you can search for a person's name, ship name, date, type of document, or description.
NOTE: Words to Search for can be surnames, ship names, or any other words. Individual words can be partial words ending with an * (asterisk) as a wildcard. It will NOT work if the asterisk begins a word, only if it's at the end of one. A phrase can be something like "Claim against property" or "Affidavit of".