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natural current, kept in repair by the nation holding its shores below. The latter predicament is not supposed to be that of the St. Lawrence at this day, since it is not known that any artificial constructions, looking simply to its navigation, have yet been employed, either upon its banks, or in keeping the channel clear. This has been the case, in connexion with other facilities and protection afforded to navigation, with the Elbe, the Maese, the Weser, the Oder, and various other rivers of Europe that might be named, and the incidental right of toll has followed. It may be mentioned, however, as a fact, under this head, that the prevailing disposition of Europe defeated an attempt, once made by Denmark, to exact a toll at the mouth of the Elbe, by means of a fort ⚫ on the Holstein side, which commanded it. The sound dues have been admitted in favor of Denmark, but not always without scrutiny, and only under well established rules. We know that, under some circumstances, and with due precautions, a right is even allowed to armies to pass through a neutral territory for the destructive purposes of war. How much stronger, and more unqualified the right to seek a passage through a natural stream, for the useful and innocent purposes of commerce and subsistence! A most authentic and unequivocal confirmation of this
doctrine, has been afforded, at a recent epoch, by the parties to the European alliance, and largely, as is believed, through the enlightened instrumentality of Great Britain, at the negotiation of the treaties of the Congress of Vienna. It has been stipulated in these treaties, that the Rhine, the Necker, the Mayne, the Moselle, the Maese, and the Scheldt, are to be free to all nations. The object of these stipulations undoubtedly has been, to lay the navigation of these rivers effectively open to all the people dwelling upon their banks, or within their neighborhood, and to abolish those unnatural and unjust restrictions by which the inhabitants of the interior of Germany have been too often deprived of their outlet to the sea, by an abuse of that sovereignty rather than its right, which would impute an exclusive dominion over a river to any one State not holding all its shores. These stipulations may be considered as an indication of the present judgment of Europe upon the point, and would seem to supersede further reference to the case of other rivers, and from their recent, as well as high authority, further illustration of any kind. They imply a substantial recognition of the principle, that, whatever may sometimes have been the claim to an exclusive right by one nation over a river, under the circumstances in question, the claim, if founded in an alleged
right of sovereignty, could, at best only be supposed to spring from the social compact: whereas the right of navigating the river, is a right of nature, pre-existent in point of time, not necessary to have been surrendered up for any purpose of the common good, and unsusceptible of annihilation. There is no principle of national law, and universal justice, upon which the provisions of the Vienna treaties are founded, that does not apply to sustain the right of the people of the United States to navigate the St. Lawrence. The relations between the soil and the water, and those of man to both, form the eternal basis of this right. These relations are too intimate and powerful to be separated. A nation deprived of the use of the water flowing through its soil, would see itself stripped of many of the most beneficial uses of the soil itself; so that its right to use the water, and freely to pass over it, becomes an indispensable adjunct to its territorial rights. It is a means so interwoven with the end, that to disjoin them would be to destroy the end. Why should the water impart its fertility to the earth, if the products of the latter are to be left to perish upon the shores ?"
Finally, the United States feel justified in claiming the navigation of this river, on the ground of paramount interest and necessity to their citi
zens-on that of natural right, founded on this necessity, and felt and acknowledged in the practice of mankind, and under the sanction of the best expounders of the laws of nations. Their claim is to its full and free navigation from its source to the sea, without impediment or obstruction of any kind. It was thus that Great Britain claimed, and had the navigation of the Mississippi, by the seventh article of the treaty of Paris, of 1763, when the mouth and lower shores of that river were held by another power. The claim, whilst necessary to the United States, is not injurious to Great Britain, nor can it violate any of her just rights."
The British reply to this protocol of our government denied that the United States had a perfect right to the free navigation of the St. Lawrence, and asserted that the stipulation of the Congress of Vienna was in this manner: "The powers whose states are separated or crossed by the same navigable river engage to regulate by common consent, all that regards its navigation." They insisted that our right was an imperfect one.
Mr. Clay, reviewing this illiberal British state paper, in his letter to Mr. Gallatin, our envoy in June, 1826, fully replied to it. The following are extracts from this able paper, giving fully the liberal and just views of President Adams and the distinguished Secretary of State:
"The navigation of the St. Lawrence from the territories of the United States to the sea."
"The government of the United States have seen, with very great surprise and regret, the manner in which the assertion of this right of navigation, through Mr. Rush, during the former negotiation, was met and resisted by the British Plenipotentiaries. The President has respectfully and deliberately examined and considered the British paper which was delivered in by them, and which is annexed to the protocol of the 24th conference, and he has been altogether unable to discern, in its reasons or its authorities, any thing to impeach the right of the United States, or to justify the confidence with which the exclusive pretensions of Great Britain are brought forward and maintained. What is the right claimed by the United States? The North American lakes are among the largest inland seas known on the globe. They extend from about the 41st to the 49th degree of north latitude, stretch over sixteen degrees of longitude, and thus present a surface, altogether, of upwards of eighty-three thousand square miles. Eight states of this Union, (three of them among the largest in it,) and one territory, border on them. A population already exceeding two millions, and augmenting beyond all example, is directly and deeply interested in their navigation.