crim. law. The act of congress of April 30, 1790, s. 8,
1 Story s L. U. S. 84, punishes with death any seaman who shall lay violent
hands upon his commander, thereby to hinder or prevent his fighting in defence
of his ship, or goods committed to his trust, or shall make a revolt in the
ship. What is a revolt is not defined in the act of congress nor by the common
law; it was therefore contended, that it could not be deemed an offence for
which any person could be punished. 1 Pet. R. 118.
2. In a case which occurred in the circuit court for the eastern
district of Pennsylvania, the defendants were charged with an endeavour to make
a revolt. The judges sent up the case to the supreme court upon a certificate
of division of opinion of the judges; as to the definition of the word revolt.
4 W. C. C. R. 528. The opinion of the supreme court was delivered by
Washington, J., and is in these words "This case comes before the court upon a
certificate of division of the opinion of the judges of the circuit court for
the eastern district of Pennsylvania, upon the following point assigned by the
defendants as a reason in arrest of judgment, viz. that the act of congress
does not define the offence of endeavoring to make a revolt; and it is not
competent to the court to give a judicial definition of an offence heretofore
unknown. "This court is of opinion that although the act of congress does not
define this offence, it is nevertheless, competent to the court to give a
judicial definition of it. We think that the offence consists in the endeavor
of the crew of a vessel, or any one or more of them, to overthrow the
legitimate authority of her commander, with intent to remove him from his
command; or against his will to take possession of the vessel by assuming the
government and navigation of her; or by transferring their obedience from the
lawful commander to some other person." 11 Wheat. R. 417. Vide 4 W. C. C. R.
528, 405; Mason s R. 147 4 Mason, R. 105; 4 Wash. C. C. R. 548 1 Pet. C. C. R.
213; 5 Mason, R. 464; 1 Sumn. 448; 3 Wash. C. C. R. 525; 1 Carr. & Kirw.
3. According to Wolff, revolt and rebellion are nearly synonymous; he
says it is the state of citizens who unjustly take up arms against the prince
or government. Wolff, Dr. de la Nat. 1232.
Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition