The Constitution of the United States declares that the judicial power shall extend "to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction." Following this the Judiciary Act of 1789 confers "exclusive original cognizance of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction" upon the district courts. The language of the statute now in force gives to the district courts the right to hear "all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it, and to claimants the rights and remedies under the workmen's compensation law of any state." Both the Constitution and the statute, which confers jurisdiction in terms coextensive with the former, seem to assume that the words "admiralty and maritime jurisdiction" are well understood. Yet the federal courts have experienced no little difficulty and embarrassment when they have been obliged to define and fix precise jurisdictional limits.

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