Stratagem

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STRATAGEM. A deception either by words or actions, in times of war, in order to obtain an advantage over an enemy.
     2. Such stratagems, though contrary to morality, have been justified, unless they have been accompanied by perfidy, injurious to the rights of humanity, as in the example given by Vattel of an English frigate, which during a war between France and England, appeared off Calais and made signals of distress in order to allure some vessel to come to its relief, and seized a shallop and its crew, who had generously gone out to render it assistance. Vattel, Droit des Gens, liv. 3, c. 9, Sec. 178.
     3. Sometimes stratagems are employed in making, contracts, this is unlawful and fraudulent, and avoids the contract. See Fraud.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.