“  in law, equity, revenue, and admiralty, and particularly all such powers and jurisdiction as belong to the District and Circuit courts of the United States, * * * * his judgments to be final and conclusive,” leaving no doubt as to either the comprehensiveness of its jurisdiction in respect to the subject-matters embraced, or the extent of its powers as to the conclusiveness of its judgments. This court went into operation in January, 1863. Its inauguration was announced by a proclamation of General Shepley, then Military Governor of Louisiana, in the following terms:
Under this order it will be seen that the powers conferred were the administration of justice, and that not according to any law designated or suggested. The civil institutions of the country having been swept away, the law theretofore in force there had yielded like the rest, and was no longer in force as the rule of conduct of men, or the guide in the administration of justice. The court therefore was to administer justice, not by any particular law, but in its own way, and to adopt its own rules or laws by which it would be guided in the administration of it; and this very early called for the adoption and promulgation by the court of a system of rules of action. The court considered it the purpose and duty of the government to govern the country held by its armies in a manner consistent with its own dignity and best interests, and the condition of things brought about by the war in which it was engaged; that in doing this it would have great respect for the interests of those to be governed; that in selecting the system of laws by which transactions between individuals should be governed and controversies decided, the interests of the people of the locality would be chiefly consulted; the government itself having but little interest, except to deal justly, preserve quiet, cultivate contentment, and give the people the system most beneficent for them under all the circumstances of the case. The government naturally looked to the system it found in operation there at the time of the conquest of the country. That system had been introduced there by the wisdom of the country, as best suited to the wants of the community, its habits and pursuits; and it was reasonable to suppose that the selection had been wise, and this circumstance would commend it to the favorable consideration of the government. That system had, moreover, been in force previously, and the transactions and contracts which would be the subjects of consideration in the court, had most of them been entered into while it had been so in force, and, as might fairly be presumed, with reference to it as the system by which they would be construed and carried into effect; and consequently that system (other things being equal) would be most just and beneficial in its operation in those cases; and not less so than any new system in respect to other cases more recently arisen, or those thereafter to arise. The court therefore declared that, as far as the altered condition of things would permit, the system of laws heretofore in Louisiana would be adopted as the one which would be the guide of the court in the administration of justice. The general orders of the General in command of the Department of course were binding as laws, and were to be respected as of paramount authority by the court. Those orders made numerous modifications of the law adopted as the basis of the system, and indicated the policy of the government in the many matters to which they related. They were the express or written law of the land for the time, and corresponded in most respects with the statutes enacted by the legislative power in a country under civil administration of government. All the power of the government being in the military arm, it followed that that arm had the power to dictate laws according to which justice should be administered, as well as to erect courts to administer it. For reasons similar to those which led the court to adopt the laws of
A proclamation.State of Louisiana, Executive Department, New Orleans, December 29, 1862.By an executive order, dated on the twentieth day of October, A. D. 1862, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, has constituted an “United States Provisional Court for the State of Louisiana,” and appointed the Hon. Charles A. Peabody to be a Provisional Judge to hold said court. By the terms of this order he is invested “with authority to hear, try, and determine all causes, civil and criminal, including causes in law, equity, revenue, and admiralty, and particularly to exercise all such powers and jurisdiction as belong to the District and Circuit courts, conforming his proceedings, as far as possible, to the course of proceedings and practice which has been customary in the courts of the United States and Louisiana; his judgments to be final and conclusive.” The said Judge is further authorized and empowered to make and establish such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the exercise of his jurisdiction, and to appoint a Prosecuting Attorney, Marshal, and Clerk of the said court. In the exercise of the authority conferred by this order, the said Judge has appointed George D. Lament, Prosecuting Attorney, Augustus De B. Hughes, Clerk of said court, and Isaac Edwards Clark, Marshal. Official notice is hereby given of the organization of said court, and of the appointment of the said Charles A. Peabody as Judge, and of the officers of the court by him appointed. All judgments, decisions, and decrees of said court, and all acts of said officers by them done under the authority of said order, are to be respected and obeyed accordingly.