Sec.15. When a prize is brought into a port, the captors make a writing, called libel, stating the facts of the capture, and praying that the property may be condemned; and this paper is filed in the proper court. If it shall be made to appear that the property was taken from the enemy, the court condemns the property as prize, which is then sold, and the proceeds are distributed among the captors.
Sec.16. All prizes, whether taken by a public or private armed vessel, primarily belong to the sovereign; and no person has any interest in a prize, except what he receives from the state: and due proof must in all cases be made before the proper court, that the seizure was lawfully made. In this country, prizes are proved and condemned in a district court of the United States, which, when sitting that purpose, is called a prize court.
Rights and Duties of Neutral Nations; Contraband Goods; Blockade; Right of Search; Safe Conducts and Passports; Truces; Treaties of Peace.
Sec.1. A neutral nation is bound to observe a strict impartiality toward the parties at war. If she should aid one party to the injury of the other, she would be liable to be herself treated as an enemy. A loan of money to one of the belligerents, or supplying him with other means of carrying on a war, if done with the view of aiding him in the war, would be a violation of neutrality. But an engagement made in time of peace to furnish a nation a certain number of ships, or troops, or other articles of war, may afterward, in time of war, be fulfilled.
Sec.2. A nation is not bound, however, on the occurrence of a war, to change its customary trade, and to cease supplying a belligerent with articles of trade which such belligerent was wont to receive from her, although the goods may afford him the means of carrying on the war. So if a nation has been accustomed to lend money to another for interest, and the latter should become engaged in war with a third power, the neutral would not break her neutrality if she should continue to lend her money. The wrong in any case lies in the intention to aid one to the detriment of the other.
Sec.3. This rule, it is believed, is universally admitted in cases of belligerents going themselves to a neutral country to make their purchases. But whether a neutral nation is at full liberty to carry the goods in the cases mentioned, is not so certain. A nation in a just war has a right to deprive her enemy of the means of resisting or injuring her, and therefore may lawfully intercept every thing of a warlike nature which a neutral is carrying to such enemy.
Sec.4. Articles which a neutral nation is not allowed to carry to an enemy, are called contraband goods. What these are, it is impossible to say with precision, as some articles may in certain cases be lawfully carried, which would be justly prohibited under other circumstances. Among the articles usually contraband, are arms, ammunition, materials for ship-building, naval stores, horses, and sometimes even provisions.