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If any apology be needed for adding another volume to the already crowded shelves of our professional libraries, it may perhaps be found in the fact that, in the multitude of reports issued since the adoption of the Constitution, only about a dozen volumes of exclusively admiralty decisions are included; of these but one, viz., that of Mr. Newberry (of which the present volume is designed as a continuation) is devoted to cases arising upon the Western lakes and rivers. This volume was published in 1867, and is believed to be the last of the strictly Admiralty Series, excepting the 3d of Ware. By far the greater number of admiralty decisions are mingled with common law, equity, bankruptcy, and patent cases, and scattered through more than a hundred volumes of reports. Indeed this fact suggests the observation, that the present method of incorporating in the same volume these widely differing classes of cases is expensive, unpbilosophical, and unsatisfactory.
Few admiralty practitioners are interested in bankruptcy business, and yet to obtain the benefit of fifty admiralty precedents, they are obliged to purchase a volume containing at least an equal number of bankruptcy cases, and in the Circuit Court reports a still larger proportion of common law and equity cases.
The same is true of the patent lawyer, who is not infrequently compelled to purchase an entire volume to obtain the benefit of a single important case. Thus a great many who would gladly buy every book devoted to the branch of the law they particularly affect (and nearly every lawyer is more or less a specialist) are deterred by the expense from purchasing at all.
The reporter ventures to suggest to the profession that cases determined by the Federal Courts, instead of being reported by districts might more acceptably to the bar, and, in the end, more profitably to the publishers, be reported by classes, viz. :
(1.) Patent cases. (The most important of these have already been reported by the late Mr. Fisher.)
(2.) Admiralty cases.
(3.) Bankruptcy cases. (These are very acceptably collated in the Bankruptcy Register.)
(4.) Criminal cases and cases peculiar to the jurisdiction and practice of the Federal Court.
No mention is made in this classification of ordinary cases at common law and equity, as they are more satisfactorily, if not better, decided by the Supreme Courts of the several States, than they can be by a single judge.
The present volume contains the more important admiralty cases determined in the Sixth Circuit during the last. eighteen years. The accidents of compilation have limited it to cases arising in the two districts of Michigan and the Northern District of Ohio; but subsequent volumes, if published, will probably include cases from other districts. The faet that a large majority of these cases has arisen within the Eastern District of Michigan is due not more to the fortunate location of Detroit for admiralty business, than to the painstaking industry and marked ability of the late Judge Longyear. Without formal dedication to that effect, this volume is intended as a tribute of respect to the memory of that most excellent judge and upright citizen.
In selecting material, the following cases have been, with few exceptions, eliminated :
(1.) Cases turning solely upon questions of fact.
(3.) Cases affirmed by the Appellate Court and elsewhere reported.
(4.) Those reannouncing principles of law already well settled.
(5.) Cases reported in other volumes.
Probably some of the cases here reported were hardly worthy the consideration, but it is hoped the volume may prove useful to those interested in this branch of the profession.
I beg to acknowledge my indebtedness to my late partner Mr. Newberry, and to the several judges whose opinions are here published. Since the book went to press, the cases of The Free State (p. 251) and The Colorado (p. 393) have been affirmed, and that of The Sunnyside (p. 227) reversed by the Supreme Court. DETROIT, March, 1876.
H. B. B.