The Legend of the Privateer Airship and the Currents That Lifted It

Green Bag 2d, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 287-304, 2015

George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 15-41

19 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2015

See all articles by Jeremy Rabkin

Jeremy Rabkin

George Mason University School of Law

Date Written: October 16, 2015

Abstract

The United States last issued a letter of marque in 1942. It authorized the Goodyear Company to deploy a helium filled blimp to hunt Japanese submarines off the Pacific coast. At least, that is the story reported in newspapers in the 1940s and embellished in books and articles over the following decades. But the story is not true – there were no letters of marque issued in World War II. The legend seems to have emerged from journalistic confusions, spawned by larger wartime controversies over legal limits on private involvement in military operations. The debates of that era have reemerged in our time – along with the notion of using letters of marque to unleash high tech combatants.

Keywords: adjudication, armed, attacks, Barbary Coast, belligerent, captured assets, Congress, Constitution, deck guns, Declaration of Paris, Hague Conference, havens, immunity, loot, merchant ships, piracy, pirates, powers, reprisal, Resolute, Santa Barbara, shipping lanes, Somalia, terrorism, warships

JEL Classification: H56, K14, K42, N40, N41, N42

Suggested Citation

Rabkin, Jeremy, The Legend of the Privateer Airship and the Currents That Lifted It (October 16, 2015). Green Bag 2d, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 287-304, 2015; George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 15-41. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2675327

Jeremy Rabkin (Contact Author)

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Dr
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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