Friday, May 15, 2009

Paul Robinson Of Vermont Teamster 1817.

In 1814, Paul Robinson, was employed as a teamster to the detachment commanded by Colonel Isaac Clark, who marched into Lower Canada. While in that province, at a place called South River, at the house of Theophilus Morril, he received on his sleigh, by order of Colonel Clark, a puncheon of rum, which he was ordered to carry to Swanton, in the State of Vermont. He took the rum to that place, and delivered it at the guard house, and it was afterwards, as Colonel Clark states, issued to the troops. In March, 1816, He having business at Missisque bay, went to that place, and was there arrested, at the suit of Morril, for taking and converting to his own use the puncheon of rum.

Instead of waiting a regular trial of the cause, and finding himself much embarrassed to procure security for the satisfaction of the damages, if any should be found against him, he consented to have the case arbitrated. The arbitrators were accordingly appointed, met, and heard the parties by their counsel, and finally awarded against him to the amount of $344 33, which he states he has paid to the said Morril. He requests that Congress would pay him that sum, and $100 for his trouble and other expenses.

The committee are of opinion that the Government is under no obligation to pay to Paul Robinson, a claim for which he has made himself liable by his own voluntary act in submitting to the arbitrament and award of the arbitrators. Nor is it believed that the Government ought to indemnify the officer who took the rum, if it were private property, and if, in consequence of its being private property, damages were recovered against him. The United States have in no instance, while at war, justified the seizure or capture of private property belonging to a citizen or subject of the enemy. If any such capture has taken place, it was an offence in the officer, and a violation of a private right, for which the individual injured would be entitled to damages. If Morril was entitled to recover against Paul Robinson, it must have been upon the principle that the rum was private property.
The committee recommend to the House the following resolution:
Resolved, That the prayer of the petitioner ought not to be granted.
[February 7, 1817. Considered in the House of Representatives, and the word ( not ) in the resolution be stricken out.)

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