LETTER OF MARQUE AND REPRISAL, War. A commission granted by the government
to a private individual, to take the property of a foreign state, or of the
citizens or subjects of such state, as a reparation for an injury committed
by such state, its citizens or subjects. A vessel loaded with merchandise,
on a voyage to a friendly port, but armed for its own defence in case of
attack by an enemy, is also called a letter of marque. 1 Boulay Paty, tit.
3, s. 2, p. 300.
2. By the constitution, art. 1, s. 8, cl. 11, congress has power to grant letters of marque and reprisal. Vide Chit. Law of Nat. 73; 1 Black. Com. 251; Vin. Ab. Prerogative, N a; Com. Dig. Prerogative, B 4; Molloy, B. 1, c. 2, s. 10; 2 Woodes. 440; 6 Rob. Rep. 9; 5 Id. 360; 2 Rob. Rep. 224. And vide Reprisal.