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(1863) Legal dispute in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Pres. Abraham Lincoln's seizure of ships (prizes). In April 1861, three months before Congress declared a state of war, Lincoln authorized a blockade of Confederate ports. In that three-month period, several merchant ships ran the blockade and were captured by the Union navy. The legality of the seizures was challenged in court; on appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the president had acted legally to resist insurrection, sanctioning presidential use of emergency powers.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on prize cases, visit Britannica.com.
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