Ware v. Hylton

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Ware v. Hylton
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Full case name Ware, administrator of Jones, Plaintiff in Error v. Hylton et al.
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Ware v. Hylton, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 199 (1796) is a United States Supreme Court case where a divided court ruled that an article in the Treaty of Paris, which provided that creditors on both sides should meet no lawful impediment when recovering bona fide debts, took precedence and overruled a Virginia law passed during the American Revolution which had nullified such debts. The full title of the case is Ware, administrator of Jones, Plaintiff in Error v. Hylton et al. It is also known as the British Debt case.

"The treaty of peace concluded between the United States and Great Britain, in 1783, enabled British creditors to recover debts previously owing to them by American citizens, notwithstanding a payment into a state treasury, under a state law of sequestration. An individual citizen of one state cannot set up the violation of a public treaty, by the other contracting party, to avoid an obligation arising under such treaty; the power to declare a treaty void, for such cause, rests solely with the government, which may, or may not, exercise its option in the premises."[1] Justice Iredell delivered the controlling opinion of the Court.

"Patrick Henry, John Marshall, Alexander Campbell, and James Innis appeared for the American debtors, and Andrew Ronald, John Wickham 'the eloquent, the witty, and the graceful,' and Starke, and Baker, for the English creditors."[2]

John Marshall's argument before the bar won him great admiration at the time of its delivery, and enlarged the circle of his reputation.[3] Flanders also added the reader of Marshall's argument "cannot fail to be impressed with the vigor, rigorous analysis, and close reasoning that mark every sentence of it."

Oral argument in the case was reenacted at Mount Vernon in 2011, with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito presiding. Historic Mount Vernon and the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society cosponsored the event.[4]

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  1. ^ Reports of Cases Ruled and Adjudged in the Several Courts of the United States and of Pennsylvania Held at the Seat of the Federal Government, Volume III, edited by Dallas, Alexander J, Banks Law Publishing, New York, 1905 p. 198.
  2. ^ Quoted Flanders, Henry The Life of John Marshall, pp 30-31, Philadelphia, T. & J. W. Johnson & Co., 1905.
  3. ^ Quoted Flanders, Henry The Life of John Marshall, p 38, Philadelphia, T. & J. W. Johnson & Co., 1905.
  4. ^ Bookout, Ann, "Annual Report of the Regent," Mount Vernon Ladies' Association Annual Report, Two Thousand Ten (Mount Vernon, Va. 2011), pp. 15-16.

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