(1749–1845) ship captain and privateer during the Revolutionary War, born in East Hartford, Connecticut. Olmsted enjoyed considerable success in taking numerous prizes but is mainly remembered for his long-running battle to obtain the proceeds from one of them, the British sloop Active. Olmsted had been captured and put aboard the Active, but he led other captives in overthrowing their guards and taking over the sloop. He was leading it to port when it was taken by other American vessels out of Philadelphia, who claimed it as their prize. Despite several denials of his claim on the proceeds, Olmsted carried his appeal to the Supreme Court, which found in his favor, setting important precedents in maritime law (1790). He did not receive the ordered compensation from Pennsylvania, however, until President James Madison intervened in 1809.
From The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Warfare and Defence.