Little v. Barreme

PETITIONER: George Little
RESPONDENT: Barreme
LOCATION:

DOCKET NO.: None
DECIDED BY: Marshall Court (1804)
LOWER COURT:

ARGUED: Dec 16, 1801 / Dec 19, 1801
DECIDED: Feb 27, 1804

Facts of the case

The USS Boston captured the Danish ship the Flying-Fish, which was then held in the Port of Boston. The Flying-Fish, which had left the French-controlled Haitian port of Jeremie, was suspected of being an American ship in violation of the United States' embargo on France. In the embargoes, the President was given the power to instruct the Navy to stop any American ships suspected to be en route to a French port. President John Adams, meanwhile, had issued a letter to the Secretary of the Navy to stop all American ships and ships suspected of being American travelling both to and from French-controlled ports. The federal district court judge freed the Flying-Fish, but did not award damages for its illegal capture. The United States Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and held that George Little, the captain of the Boston should pay damages.

Question

Did the President have the authority to issue the order to capture ships travelling from French ports?