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laws which govern the Court of Claims may be resorted to for relief, if any can be found applicable to such a case. This is upon the principle that a liability created by statute without a remedy may be enforced by a common law action. The Nichols case was distinguished upon the ground that the statute there had provided a special remedy.
So, too, in United States v. Savings Bank, (104 U. S. 728,) the Court of Claims was held to have jurisdiction of a suit to recover back certain taxes and penalties assessed upon a savings bank.
In Campbell v. United States, (107 U. S. 407,) it was held that a party claiming to be entitled to a drawback of duties upon manufactured articles exported might, when payment thereof has been refused, maintain a suit in the Court of Claims, because the facts found raised an implied contract that the United States would refund to the importer the amount he had paid to the government. There was here no question of tort.
In United States v. Great Falls Manufacturing Co., (112 U. S. 645,) it was held, following the observation of Mr. Justice Miller in Langford v. United States, that property to which the United States asserts no title is taken by their officers or agents, pursuant to an act of Congress, as private property for public use, there was an implied obligation to compensate the owner, which might be enforced by suit in the Court of Claims.
So, too, in Hollister v. Benedict Mfg. Co., (113 U. S. 59,) it was held that a suit might be maintained in the Court of Claims to recover for the use of a patented invention, if the right of the patentee were acknowledged. To the same effect are United States v. Palmer, (128 U. S. 262,) and United States v. Berdan Fire Arms Co., (156 U. S. 552.)
In Medbury v. United States, (173 U. S. 492,) it was held the Court of Claims had jurisdiction of an action to recover an excess of payment for lands within the limits of a railroad grant, which grant was, subsequent to the payment, forfeited by act of Congress for nonconstruction of the road.
In Swift v. United States, (111 U. S. 22,) the same right was treated as existing in favor of a party who sued for a commission upon the amount of certain adhesive stamps, which he had at one time purchased for his own use from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. See also United States v. Lawson, (101 U.S. 164;) Mosby v. United States, (133 U. S. 273.)
2. In their legal aspect, the duties exacted in this case were of three classes: (1) the duties prescribed by General Miles under order of July 26, 1898, which merely extended the existing regulations; (2) the tariffs of August 19, 1898, and February 1, 1899, prescribed by the President as Commander-in-Chief, which continued in effect until April 11, 1899, the date of the ratification of the treaty and the cession
of the island to the United States; (3) from the ratification of the treaty to May 1, 1900, when the Foraker act took effect.
There can be no doubt with respect to the first two of these classes, namely, the exaction of duties under the war power, prior to the ratification of the treaty of peace.
While it is true the treaty of peace was signed December 10, 1898, it did not take effect upon individual rights, until there was an exchange of ratifications. (Haver v. Yaker, 9 Wall. 32.) Upon the occupation of the country by the military forces of the United States, the authority of the Spanish Government was superseded, but the necessity for a revenue did not cease. The government must be carried on, and there was no one left to administer its functions but the military forces of the United States. Money is requisite for that purpose, and money could only be raised by order of the military commander. The most natural method was by the continuation of existing duties. In adopting this method, General Miles was fully justified by the laws of war. The doctrine upon this subject is thus summed up by Halleck in his work on International Law, (vol. 2, page 444): “The right of one belligerent to occupy and govern the territory of the enemy while in its military possession, is one of the incidents of war, and flows directly from the right to conquer. We, therefore, do not look to the Constitution or political institutions of the conqueror, for authority to establish a government for the territory of the enemy in his possession, during its military occupation, nor for the rules by which the powers of such government are regulated and limited. Such authority and such rules are derived directly from the laws of war, as established by the usage of the world, and confirmed by the writings of publicists and decisions of courtsin fine, from the law of nations.
The municipal laws of a conquered territory, or the laws which regulate private rights, continue in force during military occupation, except so far as they are suspended or changed by the acts of the conqueror.
He, nevertheless, has all the powers of a de facto government, and can at his pleasure either change the existing laws or make new ones."
In New Orleans v. Steamship Co., (20 Wall. 387, 393,) it was said, with respect to the powers of the military government over the city of New Orleans after its conquest, that it had “the same power and rights in territory held by conquest as if the territory had belonged to a foreign country and had been subjugated in a foreign war. In such cases the conquering power has the right to displace the pre-existing authority, and to assume to such extent as it may deem proper the exercise by itself of all the powers and functions of government. It may appoint all the necessary officers and clothe them with designated powers, larger or smaller, according to its pleasure. It may prescribe the revenues to be paid, and apply them to its own use or otherwise. It may do anything necessary to strengthen itself and weaken the enemy.
There is no limit to the powers that may be
exerted in such cases, save those which are found in the laws and usages of war. These principles have the sanction of all publicists who have considered the subject.” See also Thirty Hogsheads of Sugar, (9 Cr. 991;) Fleming v. Page, (9 How. 603;) American Ins. Co. v. Canter, (1 Pet. 511.)
But it is useless to multiply citations upon this point, since the authority to exact similar duties was fully considered and affirmed by this court in Cross v. Harrison, (16 How. 182.) This case involved the validity of duties exacted by the military commander of California upon imports from foreign countries, from the date of the treaty of peace, February 3, 1848, to November 13, 1819, when the collector of customs appointed by the President entered upon the duties of his office. Prior to the treaty of peace, and from August, 1847, duties had been exacted by the military authorities, the validity of which does not seem to have been questioned. Page 189: “That war tariff, however, was abandoned as soon as the military governor had received from Washington information of the exchange and ratification of the treaty with Mexico, and duties were afterwards levied in conformity with such as Congress had imposed upon foreign merchandise imported into other ports of the United States, Upper California having been ceded by the treaty to the United States. The duties were held to have been legally exacted.” Speaking of the duties exacted before the treaty of peace, Mr. Justice Wayne observed (p. 190): “No one can doubt that these orders of the President, and the action of our Army and Navy commanders in California, in conformity with them, was according to the law of arms and the right of conquest, or that they were operative until the ratification and exchange of a treaty of peace. Such would be the case upon general principles in respect to war and peace between nations.” It was further held that the right to collect these duties continued from the date of the treaty up to the time when official notice of its ratification and exchange were received in California. Owing to the fact that no telegraphic communication existed at that time, the news of the ratification of this treaty did not reach California until August 7, 1848, during which time the war tariff was continued. The question does not arise in this case, as the ratifications of the treaty appear to have been known as soon as they were exchanged.
The court further held in Cross v. Harrison that the right of the military commander to exact the duties prescribed by the tariff laws of the United States continued until a collector of customs had been appointed. Said the court: “The government, of which Colonel Mason was the executive, had its origin in the lawful exercise of a belligerent right over a conquered territory. It had been instituted by the command of the President of the United States. It was the government when the territory was ceded as a conquest, and it did not cease, as a matter of course, or as a necessary consequence, of the
restoration of peace. The President might have dissolved it by withdrawing the army and navy officers who administered it, but he did not do so. Congress could have put an end to it, but that was not done. The right inference from the inaction of both is, that it was meant to be continued until it had been legislatively changed. We think it was continued over a ceded conquest, without any violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that, until Congress legislated for it, the duties upon foreign goods, imported into San Francisco, were legally demanded and lawfully received by Mr. Harrison, the collector of the port, who received his appointment, according to instructions from Washington, from Governor Mason."
Upon this point that case differs from the one under consideration only in the particular that the duties were levied in Cross v. Harrison upon goods imported from foreign countries into California, while in the present case they were imported from New York, a port of the conquering country. This, however, is quite immaterial. The United States and Porto Rico were still foreign countries with respect to each other, and the same right which authorized us to exact duties upon merchandise imported from Porto Rico to the United States authorized the military commander in Porto Rico to exact duties upon goods imported into that island from the United States. The fact that, notwithstanding the military occupation of the United States, Porto Rico remained a foreign country within the revenue laws is established by the case of Fleming v. Page, (9 How. 603,) in which we held that the capture and occupation of a Mexican port during our war with that country did not make it a part of the United States, and that it still remained a foreign country within the meaning of the revenue laws. The right to exact duties upon goods imported into Porto Rico from New York arises from the fact that New York was still a foreign country with respect to Porto Rico, and from the correlative right to exact at New York duties upon merchandise imported from that island.
3. Different considerations apply with respect to duties levied after the ratification of the treaty and the cession of the island to the United States. Porto Rico then ceased to be a foreign country, and, as we have just held in De Lima v. Bidwell, the right of the collector of New York to exact duties upon imports from that island ceased with the exchange of ratifications. We have no doubt, however, that, from the necessities of the case, the right to administer the government of Porto Rico continued in the military commander after the ratification of the treaty, and until further action by Congress. (Cross v. Harrison, above cited.) At the same time, while the right to administer the government continued, the conclusion of the treaty of peace and the cession of the island to the United States were not without their significance. By that act Porto Rico ceased to be a foreign country, and the right to collect duties upon imports from that island ceased. We think the correlative right to exact duties upon importations from New York to Porto Rico also ceased. The spirit as well as the letter of the tariff laws admit of duties being levied by a military commander only upon importations from foreign countries; and while his power is necessarily despotic, this must be understood rather in an administrative than in a legislative sense. While in legislating for a conquered country he may disregard the laws of that country, he is not wholly above the laws of his own. For instance, it is clear that while a military commander during the civil war was in the occupation of a Southern port, he could impose duties upon merchandise arriving from abroad, it would hardly be contended that he could also impose duties upon merchandise arriving from ports of his own country. His power to administer would be absolute, but his power to legislate would not be without certain restrictions—in other words, they would not extend beyond the necessities of the case. Thus in the case of The Admittance (Jecker v. Montgomery, 13 How. 498,) it was held that neither the President, nor the military commander, could establish a court of prize, competent to take jurisdiction of a case of capture, whose judgments would be conclusive in other admiralty courts. It was said that the courts established in Mexico during the war “ were nothing more than agents of the military power, to assist in preserving order in the conquered territory, and to protect the inhabitants in their persons and property, while it was occupied by the American arms. They were subject to the military power, and their decisions under its control, whenever the commanding officer thought proper to interfere. They were not courts of the United States, and had no right to adjudicate upon a question of prize or no prize," although Congress, in the exercise of its general authority in relation to the national courts, would have power to validate their action. (The Grapeshot, 9 Wall. 129, 133.)
So, too, in Mitchell v. Harmony, (18 How. 115,) it was held that, where the plaintiff entered Mexico during the war with that country, under a permission of the commander to trade with the enemy and under the sanction of the executive power of the United States, his property was not liable to seizure by law for such trading, and that the officer directing the seizure was liable to an action for the value of the property taken. To the same effect is Mostyn v. Fabrigas, (Cowp. 180.)
In Raymond v. Thomas, (91 U. S. 712,) a special order, by the officer in command of the forces in the State of South Carolina, annulliny a decree rendered by a court of chancery in that State, was held to be void. In delivering the opinion, Mr. Justice Swayne observed: “Whether Congress could have conferred the power to do such an act is not the question we are called upon to consider. It is an unbending rule of law, that the exercise of military power, where the rights of the citizens are concerned, shall never be pushed beyond what the exigency requires."