The Seldom Told Tale of the United States of America’s First Federal Court

Federal Court History Final Exam (sample question) Question #100

What was the first federal court in the United States of America?

  1. U.S. Supreme Court
  2. U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  3. U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
  4. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  5. None of the above

Answer Key:
The correct answer is “e. None of the above”

Explanatory Note:

As a matter of objective fact, the first federal court in the United States of America1 was the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture, which was established in 1780.2 By way of comparison, the U.S. Supreme Court and the subordinate federal courts were created, almost a decade after the founding of this appellate court, by the Judiciary Act of 1789.3


History is truly the witness of times past, the light of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the messenger of antiquity; whose voice, but the orator’s, can entrust her to immortality?4

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.–43 B.C.), the great Roman philosopher, statesman, orator, advocate, lawyer, and political theorist, understood the function and importance of history. In our own time, our jurisprudential philosophy, and the institutions where we dispense justice, are framed by the legislators, judges, and legal landmark events that have preceded us.

Traditions and technical jargon (including law Latin) all have their proper place in our old and venerable profession. Paramount above all, however, ought to be a respect for, and adherence to, historical truth. As Cicero explained: “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

Prize Courts

Prize courts were a commonplace judicial institution in many war-waging nations during the 17th through 19th centuries. Cases arising under the jurisdiction of such courts would emerge during times of naval military action both in the Americas and in Europe.

Prize court jurisdiction in England and Wales is exercised by the Admiralty Court. That specialized court is a part of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice; in turn, appeals are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.5

In France, it is the Prize Council (Conseil des Prises) that possesses jurisdiction to determine the legal issue relating to a prize case. Thus, the council’s jurisdiction has been relegated to times of war. Appellate jurisdiction in cases of this type is wielded by the president of the French Republic, who, in such matters, acts as a judge.

To better comprehend the instant subject matter, a short primer as to the peculiar legal jargon of this area of law should prove constructive. Set forth below is a list of discrete terms that generally are associated with American prize court practice.

Admiralty Court: A court exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries, or offenses. Federal district courts have jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime matters.6

Articles of Confederation: The name of the instrument embodying the compact made between the 13 original states of the Union, operative from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789, before the adoption of the present Constitution.7

Capture: An act of catching or controlling by force, threats, or strategy. In international law, the taking or wresting of property from one of two belligerents by the other. Also, a taking of property by a belligerent from an offending neutral. Capture, in technical language, is a taking by military power; a seizure is a taking by civil authority.8

[Court of ] Last Resort: A court from which there is no further appeal is called the “court of last resort.9

Letter of marque and reprisal: An authorization formerly granted in time of war by a government to the owner of a private vessel to capture enemy vessels and goods on the high seas. The signatory powers to the Declaration of Paris in 1856 agreed to stop issuing such authorizations.10

Libel: Pleadings. Formerly, the initiatory pleading in an admiralty action, corresponding to the declaration, bill, or complaint. Since 1966, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Supplemental Admiralty Rules have governed admiralty actions and as such, admiralty actions are now commenced by complaint.11

Libelant: Formerly, the complainant or party who files a libel in an ecclesiastical or admiralty case, corresponding to the plaintiff in actions at law.12 The party corresponding to the defendant in an action at law was called a “libelee.”

Marque (Law of Marque): A sort of law of reprisal, which entitles him who has received any wrong from another and cannot get ordinary justice to take the shipping or goods of the wrongdoer, where he can find them within his own bounds or precincts, in satisfaction of the wrong.13

Pirate: A privateersman who accepted a letter of marque and reprisal from both belligerents of a conflict was regarded as a pirate.

Privateer: A vessel owned, equipped, and armed by one or more private individuals, and duly commissioned by a belligerent power to go on cruises and make war upon the enemy, usually by preying on his commerce.14

Prize: A vessel or cargo, belonging to one of two belligerents, apprehended or forcibly captured at sea by a war-vessel or privateer of the other belligerent and claimed as enemy’s property, and therefore liable to appropriation and condemnation under the laws of war.15

Prize Courts: Courts having jurisdiction to adjudicate upon captures made at sea in time of war, and to condemn the captured property as prize if lawfully subject to that sentence.16 (In the United States, federal district courts now have jurisdiction in cases of prize.)17

Sentence: The judgment issued by an admiralty court or prize court.

The Federal Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture

During the prosecution of the American Revolution (1775–1783), the United States issued letters of marque and reprisal authorizing private vessels, known as privateers, to capture enemy ships and cargo as prizes. During the war, state admiralty courts presided over and adjudicated prize cases.

The United States, like many other countries, issued commissions to privateers to capture their adversaries’ merchant vessels after hostilities had broken out. Then, the captured vessels were “brought” before the various admiralty courts, which, in turn, considered and decided legal issues such as the capture’s legitimacy and whether the vessel was to be condemned and/or the ship and its cargo to be sold off, as well as the question of the distribution of the prize funds to the privateer as and for compensation.

Back in November 1775, several of the American colonies, including Massachusetts, established prize courts to exercise original jurisdiction over all cases (libels) of captures (prizes) consisting of enemy ships and cargo. Indeed, the establishment of such prize courts had been recommended by the federal (Continental) Congress on Nov. 25, 1775. Over time, however, Congress sought to monitor, and oversee, the state prize courts’ work-product and results.

The idea for a special federal court to handle appeals from the states’ prize courts had sprung from the mind of then General George Washington. During the American Revolution, Washington asked the president of Congress, John Hancock, Esq., on several occasions to take action. Sadly, it took years as Congress flailed and fumbled about, only to set up various committees within Congress to exercise such jurisdiction. Eventually, though, the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture was established by a Resolution of the Continental Congress on January 15, 1780,18 making it the first federal court in the United States of America.

As a technical matter, even though express power to establish the Court was granted to Congress by the Articles of Confederation (in 1777), the Articles had not yet been fully ratified by all 13 of the original states when Congress established the Court on January 15, 1780. Indeed, they were not ratified until March 1, 1781. However, the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled, in a 1795 case, that Congress nonetheless had possessed the inherent power, back in 1780, to establish the Court.19

A Short-Lived But Important Appellate Tribunal

As it turned out, the Court operated for a relatively finite period of time, from 1780 through its final cases in 1787 after the War for Independence had concluded. The Court ceased to exist following ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789,20 as that majestic document transferred federal judicial power to the newly created U.S. Supreme Court and such other inferior (to wit, lower) federal courts as Congress might establish.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Court served some important functions.

“Usually seeking out merchant ships, privateers tirelessly attacked the British during the Revolutionary War, motivated by a powerful cocktail of greed and patriotism. Because it was not always clear whether a captured ship was British, American, or neutral, and because more than one privateer sometimes participated in a capture, disputes over the spoils arose early and often.”21

Additionally, a number of scholars have pointed out that this court influenced aspects of Article III of the Constitution, promoting a better understanding of the need for a national judiciary, emphasizing the need for a separation of powers in the branches of government, promoting Congress’s war powers, and pointing the way to a single Supreme Court legally to rule over the entire land.22

Prize Court Appellate Jurisdiction

As previously noted, in fall 1775, Congress had flexed its legislative muscle and asserted federal appellate jurisdiction over prize case appeals. Regrettably, internal scheduling difficulties ensued. The first appeal, The Case of the Schooner Thistle, was received by Congress in August 1776. Congress attempted to hear such appellate matters by delegating jurisdiction over them to various special committees and, later, to a standing committee (but, as to the latter, not until January 1777).

About three years later, on Jan. 15, 1780, Congress established the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture to exercise this jurisdiction and sit as a court of last resort. On May 24 of that year, Congress transferred all remaining prize case appeals to the court and specified that all future appeals were to be filed directly with the court. Approximately six years down the road, on June 27, 1786, the court’s jurisdiction was again expanded to include rehearings and new trials where justice so required.23

The Court of Appeals “Rides the Circuit”

The court’s inaugural session was mandated to, and did, occur in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.24 Then, as a gypsy soul, the court could be likened to a traveling tribunal.

Later sessions were conducted at other times and locations around the young country. Nonetheless, territorial boundary limits were imposed as to where the court could sit. Cases could not be heard farther East than Hartford, Conn., or farther south than Williamsburg, Va.25 As the years passed, other court sessions were held in Richmond, Va., and New York.26

The Court’s Procedural Rules

An appeal to the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture was commenced by an aggrieved party, as a threshold step, demanding an appeal in the trial court within five days after the issuance of a definitive Sentence. Next, within 40 days of the demand, as described above, the party had to lodge the appeal and tender an adequate security to the court.27

Jury trials were neither available nor authorized.28 However, trial by jury was authorized in some of the state prize (trial level) courts, where Congress initially recommended it, only to later recommend against it.

In order to pay for the expense of this federal prize case appellate court, a half percent of the value of a prize had to be paid into the Continental Treasury.

The Jurists on the Bench of the Appellate Court

The Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture was designed to be composed of a panel of three judges. Under the rules, however, in order to sit on and hear a case, a quorum of only two judges was required.29

At first, annual salaries were fixed for the judges and their expenses reimbursed. The Congressional Journal indicates an advance salary of $12,000 was paid per annum for each judge toward a $25,000 salary and expenses compensation package.30 As time wore on, the allowed compensation was changed to fixed daily rates, which included time spent “riding the circuit” in order to conduct the court’s calendar business.

By the end of December 1784, the court had disposed of all cases before it and lay dormant. That hiatus did not last for long. Henceforth, it was reconvened as necessary.

The judicial personnel for this appellate court were elected by Congress. The court was allowed to select its own register (clerk of court). As a formal matter, the judges serving on this court were mandated to swear an oath of office, administered by the president of Congress, as follows:

“You do swear [or affirm] that you will well, faithfully and impartially execute the office of one of the judges of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture, according to the best of your skill and judgment. So help you God.”31

Only five men ever served on this appellate court. Those gentlemen of the bar, hand-picked for this court by Congress, were some of the legal luminaries and prime politically pedigreed professionals of the age. The short biographical sketches set forth below should afford one with some idea of the sagacity and stature of these federal jurists.

Hon. William Paca (1740-1799): Though born in British America, Judge Paca was educated in England at the Inner Temple in London. He returned to these shores to read law in Maryland in 1761. A delegate to both Continental Congresses, he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Later, he was made governor of Maryland (1782-1785) and, thereafter, was appointed as the first U.S. district judge for the District of Maryland (1789-1799).32 During the period from February 1780 through November 1782, he was a judge on the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture.33

Hon. Titus Hosmer (1736-1780): Born and educated in Connecticut, Judge Hosmer read law and entered the bar after graduating from Yale. Both a Connecticut state assemblyman and later a state senator, he also was a delegate to the Continental Congress (1778). Elected to the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture on Jan. 22, 1780, he accepted the office on April 12, 1780.34 He died in office on Aug. 4, 1780.

Hon. George Wythe (1726-1806): Judge Whythe, a Virginia jurist and Founding Father, is notable for not serving on this court. Whythe, a judge for much of his professional life, was a classical scholar and is recognized as the first American law professor (he taught, among other historical giants, Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall). He was elected by Congress on Jan. 22, 1780, to the Court of Appeals but, disappointingly, he declined to serve.

Hon. Cyrus Griffin (1748-1810): Born in the Virginia Colony, British America, Judge Griffin’s legal education was obtained at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and at the Middle Temple in London. Over the years, he wore many legal and political hats, including being a member of the House of Delegates of Virginia35 and the president of the Ninth Congress of the Confederation (1787-1788). Later in life, he was appointed as the first U.S. district judge for the District of Virginia (1789-1810).36 Back in 1780, however, Congress elected him to be a judge of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture.37 He served on the court until 1787.

Hon. George Read (1733-1798): Judge Read was born in Delaware and, indeed, later became a U.S. senator from Delaware (1789-1793), not to mention the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court (1793-1798). Read is just one of two American statesmen who had signed all three of this country’s most important papers of state—namely, the Petition to the King of the Congress (1774), the Declaration of Independence (1776), and the Constitution of the United States (1789). Judge Read was elected on Dec. 5, 1782, by Congress to the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture.38

Hon. John Lowell (1743-1802): Judge Lowell was born in the Massachusetts Bay Province, British America. After graduating from Harvard in 1760, he read law in 1763. He honorably served as a Major during the American Revolutionary War. After the war, he became a wealthy private attorney, mainly representing privateers’ claims before the Admiralty Court. Among many other public offices he held, he later served as the first U.S. district judge for the District of Massachusetts (1789-1801), and after that, he was elevated to sit on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1801-1802).39 Judge Lowell was elected by Congress to the Court of Appeals in Cases of Prize on the same day as Judge Read, Dec. 5, 1782; he accepted the office on Feb. 12, 1783.40

Representative Cases Decided by the Court

Congressional Committees handled matters of capture between September of 1776 and March 1780 (covering about 64 prize cases). The records of only around 50 cases have been excavated among the surviving records of this early court. Those matters that were lodged with and decided by the court include about a dozen cases that had been transferred from various congressional committees.

The earliest decision handed down by the Court of Appeals, as to which the written record is clear, was the case of Rathburn v. The Ship Mary, an appeal from the Judgment of the Maritime Court for the Southern District of Massachusetts Bay. The lower court’s decision was affirmed on June 23, 1780.

Ostensibly, the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture typically eschewed handing down formal, written opinions. Nevertheless, there exist a handful of opinions of the court that were published by the Supreme Court’s reporter,41 as illustrated in the following cases:

The Resolution, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) *1 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1781). This was a consolidated appeal from the Admiralty Court from Pennsylvania, decided during the August Session of 1781. The decision takes up legal issues such as prize, neutral property, recapture of a vessel and its cargo, illegal contract, capitulation, and allies.

The Resolution, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) *19 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1781). This was a rehearing of the above-cited appeal, decided during the December Session of 1781. The legal issues covered in this decision are rehearing; evidence, in case of prize; and neutrality.

The Erstern, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) *34 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1782). This was an appeal from the Admiralty Court from Massachusetts Bay, decided during the January Session of 1782. This decision dealt with the legal issues of prize and neutral property.

The Gloucester, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) *36 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1782). This was an appeal from the Admiralty Court from Pennsylvania, reported in January 1872. This decision dealt with the legal issues of prize money; distribution of the prize property was ruled to be made in accordance with, and in proportion to, the number, interest, and merits of the captors.

The Squirrel, 2 Dall. *40 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1783). This was an appeal from an Admiralty Court decided during the May Session of 1783. This decision dealt with the legal issues of sale of prize property in perishing condition; the schooner, her tackle, apparel, and furniture were ordered to be sold at auction for the use of the ultimately prevailing party.

The Speedwell, 2 Dall. *40 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1784). This was an appeal from the Admiralty Court from Rhode Island. This decision dealt with a capture that occurred after the operation of preliminary articles of peace; thus, the ship’s condemnation was reversed.

Luke v. Hulbert, 2 Dall. *41 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1787). This appeal was decided during the May Session of 1787. The appeal was not sustained (i.e., the petition was dismissed) in the court’s discretion, under authority of a congressional resolution of June 1786, as the judges were of the opinion that the interests of “justice and right” did not require the appeal to proceed.

The Experiment v. The Chester, 2 Dall. *41 (Ct. App. in Cases of Capture, 1787). This was an appellate rehearing during the May Session of 1787. It was an appeal from the Admiralty Court in South Carolina. Despite some irregularities in the proceedings, the court would not sustain the appeal because it did not appear that substantial justice would be prevented. In view of the fact that the captors of the vessel had engaged in some irregularities, however, and had thus “given color to the petition,” the court refused to award any costs to the respondents.

From a reading of this relatively small batch of hand-crafted opinions of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture, a few interesting factoids may be distilled.

First, the judges of the court are routinely referred to as “Commissioners” or “Presiding Commissioners,” and not “Judges,” in the written opinions. Second, the Judgment of the Court frequently is referred to as the “Sentence.” Third, notwithstanding the foregoing, the words “Decree” and/or “Judgment” also sometimes are utilized. Fourth, the decisions make it clear that this court allowed appellate rehearings upon presentation of new evidence. Fifth, new trials were allowed in the interest of justice. Sixth, most of the decisions refer to a two-judge panel; only a few mention a triumvirate of judges.

Custody of the records from this appellate court initially were transferred over to the U.S. Supreme Court.42 Today, the National Archives is the custodian of the court’s records.43

The Court of Appeals Is No Longer in Session

In the aftermath of the U.S. Constitution (most particularly Article III thereof ), the death knell sounded for the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture. Stated otherwise, the new government signaled this court’s sudden obsolescence.

As it turned out, the last official session of the court was held on May 16, 1787. That event took place in Philadelphia, where the court had first convened upon its founding.

Under the Constitution and the pertinent statute(s), jurisdiction in prize cases was shifted to the new federal district courts. See Title 28, U.S. Code Section 1333, which today provides, in haec verba, as follows:

“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the States, of:

(1) Any civil case of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases all other remedies to which they are otherwise entitled.

(2) Any prize brought into the United States and all proceedings for the condemnation of property taken as prize” (emphasis added)

The federal courts continued to adjudicate prize cases long after 1789. One of the most famous was ruled on in 1863, during the American Civil War. In The Prize Cases, a matter involving several seized Confederate ships, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Northern forces’ blockade of the Southern ports, as ordered by President Abraham Lincoln, prior to any Congressional Declaration of War on the Confederacy.44 Those cases, however fascinating, are beyond the purview of this particular piece of writing.


In the 19th century, as Lord Mansfield explained in reference to the Court leet,45 “[t]hese Courts were very properly adapted to the customs, manners, genius and policy of a people upon their first settlement but, like all other human jurisdictions, vary in the course of progress and time, as the Government and manners of a people take a different turn, and fall under different circumstances.”46

A century or so later, Sir Winston Churchill, a staunch proponent of the life-long study of history, astutely observed: “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past trying to reconstruct its success to revive the echoes and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.”47 Nevertheless, with the advancement of time, of necessity, comes change; our courts and our judicial system must, and do, evolve.

As for us modern day attorneys and counsellors at law, we must diligently and scrupulously persist in the practice and tradition of the study of history. To best do so, we would do well to echo Cicero’s timeless and sage advice: “Read at every wait; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goest out. The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.”48

For Further Reading

J.C. Bancroft Davis, “Federal Courts Prior to the Adoption of the Constitution,” in 113 U.S. app. xix-xlix.

George Washington, Letters, in 3 The Writings of George Washington, 1775-1776 (Worthington Chauncey Ford, New York and London, G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1889).


1“The name of this Confederation shall be the United States of America.” William Safire, No Uncertain Terms: More Writing From the Popular “On Language” Column in the New York Times Magazine 38 (Simon & Schuster 2004) (quoting second draft of the Articles of Confederation, June 17, 1776).
216 Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, Jan. 15, 1780, at 61-64 (Worthington Chauncey Ford ed., Library of Congress 1905).
3The Judiciary Act of 1789, ch. 20, I Stat. 73, adopted by the first U.S. Congress on September 24, 1789. Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution prescribed that the “judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and such inferior Courts” as Congress saw fit to establish. It made no specific provisions for either the composition or procedures of any of the court organs, leaving such matters for Congress to determine.
4Historia vero testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia vetustatis, qua voce alia nisi oratoris immortalitati commendatur? Cicero, De Oratore, Bk. II, section 36
5See Prize Courts Act 1894, 57 & 58 Vict. (UK); Senior Courts Act 1981, c. 54, §§ 20(1)(d), 27, and 62(2) (UK).
6Admiralty Court, Black’s Law Dictionary 43 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
7Articles of Confederation, Black’s Law Dictionary 102 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
8Capture, Black’s Law Dictionary 192 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979). A “captor,” in international law, is one who takes a prize at sea.
9Court of Last Resort, Black’s Law Dictionary 794 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
10Letter of marque and reprisal, Black’s Law Dictionary 814 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979). See also Edgar Stanton Maclay, A History of American Privateers 7 (1899).
11Libel, Black’s Law Dictionary 824 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
12Libelant, Black’s Law Dictionary 825 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
13Marque (Law of Marque), Black’s Law Dictionary 876 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
14Privateer, Black’s Law Dictionary 1076 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979) (A privateersman who accepted a Letter of marque and reprisal from both belligerents was regarded as a “pirate”).
15Prize, Black’s Law Dictionary 1080 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
16Prize Courts, Black’s Law Dictionary 1080 (Special Deluxe 5th ed. 1979).
17See 28 U.S.C. 1333.
18Journals of the Continental Congress, supra note 2, at 61.
19See Penhallow v. Doane’s Adm’rs, 3 U.S. 54 (1795). Under current U.S. law, pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §§ 7651-7681, U.S. district courts exercise exclusive jurisdiction over prize cases.
20Id. (holding that the existence of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture terminated with the old government of the United States of America).
21Deidre Mask & Paul MacMahon, The Revolutionary War Prize Cases and the Origins of Diversity Jurisdiction, 63 Buff. L. Rev. 477, 480 (2015).
22See, e.g., Robert J. Steamer, The Legal and Political Genesis of the Supreme Court, 77 Pol. Sci. Q. 546, 561 n.21 (1962).
2330 Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, June 27, 1786, at 355-56 (Worthington Chauncey Ford ed., Library of Congress 1905).
24Journals of the Continental Congress, supra note 2, at 61.
26Journals of the Continental Congress, supra note 23; see also 24 Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, Jan. 29, 1783, at 98 (Worthington Chauncey Ford ed., Library of Congress 1905).
2717 Journals of the Continental Congress 1774–1789, May 24, 1780, at 459 (Worthington Chauncey Ford ed., Library of Congress 1905).
28Journals of the Continental Congress, supra note 2, at 61.
31Journals of the Continental Congress, supra note 27, at 458.
32See Federal Judicial Center, Biographical Directory of Article III Federal Judges, (last visited Nov. 12, 2020).
33Journals of the Continental Congress, supra note 2, at 79.
35Virginia was the largest of the 13 original colonies and, later, states. In 1776, Virginia extended its claims far westward to the Mississippi River, as well as north to the southern boundary of the Hudson Bay Company, Canada.
36See Federal Judicial Center, Biographical Directory of Article III Federal Judges, (last visited Nov. 12, 2020).
3716 Journals of the Continental Congress 1774–1789, Jan. 22, 1780, at 61-64 (Worthington Chauncey Ford ed., Library of Congress 1905).
3823 Journals of the Continental Congress 1774–1789, Dec. 5, 1782, at 765 (Worthington Chauncey Ford ed., Library of Congress 1905).
39Federal Judicial Center, Biographical Directory of Article III Federal Judges, (last visited Nov. 12, 2020).
40Journals of the Continental Congress, supra note 38, at 765.
41The first and second Supreme Court Reporters (Dallas and Cranch) acted in unofficial capacities. The first Reporter, Alexander J. Dallas, Esq., handled the task for the first decade, from 1790-1800. He edited Volumes 1-4 (aka “1-4 Dallas”).
42Second Militia Act of 1792, ch. 36, 1 Stat. 275, 279 (transferring the custody of the records from the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture to the U.S. Supreme Court).
43The Revolutionary War Prize Cases: A Record of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture, 1776-1787, microformed on M162 (Nat’l Archives). On 15 rolls of microfilm publication are reproduced the records of prize cases heard on appeal from Colonial and state courts by committees of the Continental Congress (1776-80) and by the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture (1780-86).
4467 U.S. (2 Black) 635, 17 L. Ed. 459, 1862 U.S. LEXIS 282 (1863). The full name of the case was: The Brig Amy Warwick; The Schooner Crenshaw; The Barque Hiawatha; and the Schooner Brillante.
45A historical court of the barons (to wit, a manorial court) in England, Ireland, and Wales (late 13th to late 20th century).
46Colebrooke v. Elliott (1765) 3 Burr. Part IV., at 1863.
47Sir Winston Churchill, Speech to the House of Commons in tribute to Neville Chamberlain (Nov. 12, 1940).
4820 Best Marcus Tullius Cicero Quotes, Magazine 365 ( July 6, 2016),

Republished from The Federal Lawyer, November/December 2020

Scroll to Top