Letters of Marque and Reprisal

Author:Dennis J. Mahoney

Page 1605

Letters of marque and reprisal are commissions that governments of belligerent powers grant to private ship-owners (called "privateers") authorizing them to seize the vessels and property of enemy subjects on the high seas. During the Revolutionary War both the STATES and the CONTINENTAL CONGRESS issued letters of marque; but the Constitution grants Congress the power to issue them and denies it to the states. Although not a signatory to the Declaration of Paris (1856), which condemned privateering as contrary to the law of...

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