Ex parte Bollman

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Ex parte Bollman
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Decided February 20, 1807
Full case nameEx parte Erick Bollman and Ex parte Samuel Swartwout
Citations8 U.S. 75 (more)
4 Cranch 75; 2 L. Ed. 554; 1807 U.S. LEXIS 369
Prior historyUnited States v. Bollman, 24 F. Cas. 1189 (C.C.D.C. 1807) (No. 14,622)
Subsequent historyNone
The petitioners' alleged conspiracy did not rise to the level of treason as defined by the Constitution.
Court membership
Chief Justice
John Marshall
Associate Justices
William Cushing · Samuel Chase
Bushrod Washington · William Johnson
H. Brockholst Livingston
Case opinions
MajorityMarshall, joined by Cushing, Chase, Washington, Livingston
Laws applied
U.S. Const. art. I, III, amends. IV, VI; Judiciary Act of 1789

Ex parte Bollman, 8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 75 (1807), was a case brought before the United States Supreme Court. Bollman held that the constitutional definition of treason excluded mere conspiracy to levy war against the United States.

Erick Bollman and Samuel Swartwout were civilians who became implicated in the Burr-Wilkinson Plot. This plot supposedly consisted of Aaron Burr and James Wilkinson attempting to create an empire in the United States, ruled by Burr. In 1806, Wilkinson informed Thomas Jefferson of the plot, ending whatever may have actually been planned. Bollman and Swartwout attempted to recruit others into the plot, but these individuals informed the military, which promptly arrested them.

See also[edit]


  • Eric M. Freedman, Milestones in Habeas Corpus: Part I: Just Because John Marshall Said It, Doesn't Make It So: Ex Parte Bollman and the Illusory Prohibition on the Federal Writ of Habeas Corpus for State Prisoners in the Judiciary Act of 1789, 51 Ala. L. Rev. 531 (2000).
  • Jean Edward Smith, John Marshall: Definer Of A Nation. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1996.

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