prize cases

prize cases

(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.
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