Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

of 1674, contain the same provisions, in effect, in favor of neutrals as the treaty of Utretcht. Here is a clear admission of our doctrine by the celebrated Secretary Fox. President Jefferson, in his Message to Congress of January 17th, 1806, affirmed that Great Britain had admitted this rule of international law in reference to our republic. (See American State Papers, vol. 5, p. 211, 212.) The same principles of neutrality and freedom, comprehended in the maxim, “free ships make free goods,” admitted so often by Great Britain from 1674 down to 1797, were solemnly proclaimed in 1780 by Russia as part of the code of international law. This declaration was concurred in by Sweden, Denmark, France, Spain, Prussia, The United Provinces, Austria, Portugal and Naples. France and Spain by several treaties assented to the principle that free ships make free goods. Napoleon, wielding the power of France and her allies, reaffirmed the liberal doctrines of the treaty of Utretcht in favor of neutral trade, and he justly claimed for all private property and persons immunity from war on sea as well as on land. The United States in numerous treaties, in the 24th Article of our treaty of 1778 with France and the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Articles of our treaty of 1783 with Sweden, and other public acts, have shown their assent to these sound rules of public

[ocr errors]

law. If our republic and the continental nations of Europe have by treaties seemingly assented to British invasion of neutral rights, it has been the effect of force.

The efforts of Great Britain to overturn by force the admitted principle of the code of public law, “that free ships make free goods,” and to establish a municipal jurisdiction on the high seas, destructive of neutral rights and neutral trade, cannot be admitted as of any authority. Force and all acts resulting from it must be rejected in inquiries as to the true principles of the moral law of nations. The decisions of the British Admiralty so far as they support invasions of neutral rights, so long and so generally established, ought to be rejected as of no authority.

It must be admitted that our treaty of 1794 with Britain, by the 17th and 18th Articles, stipulated to suspend for a very short period the rule that free ships make free goods, and the definition of contraband as laid down by the treaty of Utretcht of 1713, in consideration of a grant to American vessels of 70 tons burthen of a right to trade with the British West Indies for the term of the limited arrangement. The latter grant by the 12th Article was a concession to our republic, but it has ceased and with it fell the 17th and 18th Articles, as the 28th Article of the treaty

[ocr errors]

uniting these subjects permitted. By the same Article our concession had the same limitation. These temporary mutual concessions having ceased long since, Britain shut her West India ports against us, and we re-assert the old and sound principles of the treaty of Utrecht. No principle of public law was conceded by either party.

Beside the rule for which we contend is ancient and generally concurred in. The States General of Holland, urged upon France the rule that free ships make free goods, and by treaty of April 1646, these powers agreed to this rule for four years. The Ottoman Porte, by a treaty with King Henry the 4th of France in 1604, had agreed to the same rule. The Porte by treaty with Holland in 1612, extended this rule in favor of neutrals. France and Holland again by treaty of 1646, in the 14th article, sanctioned this benign rule. The 23d article of the treaty of 1654, between England and Portugal, is to the same effect. (See 2d Azuni's Maritime Law, p. 162, 3, 4 and 5.) This old rule was laid down by the Empress of Russia in her celebrated declaration of the armed neutrality of the North. (See ib. p. 374.)

The freely declared opinion of the nations of Europe and America in favor of the liberal neutral doctrines of the treaty of Utretcht gives them

[ocr errors]

the sanction of public law and public opinion, as well as of reason and equity. They are clearly sanctioned by the moral law of nations. Our republic ought to maintain and enforce them as settled principles of international law.

Deeply do we regret that any American authori. ty should have been misled on this subject by the adjudications of the Admiralty of Great Britain which have uniformally supported the municipal jurisdiction of Britain over the high seas, with some slight limitations, from the day that she claimed to be mistress of the seas. It is to be hoped that for the future the Supreme Court of the United States, our statesmen and our writers on international law will firmly assert and steadily maintain the right of neutrals, according to the treaty of Utretcht, which Great Britain, by her treaties and her statesmen admitted for more than one hundred years. Our statesmen ought to in. sist upon the improved rule of the entire immunity of private persons and property at sea from capture. President Madison asserted, in his Message to Congress of May 25th, 1813, the protecting power of our neutral flag in these words : “ It is obvious that no visit or search, or use of force, for any purpose on board the vessels of one independent power on the high seas, can in war or peace, be sanctioned by the laws or authority of another

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

power.” This is the great practical principle of the treaty of Utretcht, which has received the sanction of Presidents Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams, May their example be followed, in this respect, by all American statesmen and jurists.

SECTION FORTIETH.

OF FREE TRADE AND FREEDOM

OF THE SEAS.

The right of neutral nations to free trade with belligerents in all commodities except contraband of war, and with all ports except blockaded ones, was strongly put forth by that eminent patriot and civilian, Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State under President Washington, in a letter of instructions to Mr. Pinckney, American Minister at London, dated September 71h, 1793. (See Jefferson's Works, vol. 3d, p. 287.) On another occasion Mr. Jefferson seemed not to have been aware that Great Britain for more than a century prior to 1792, had made many treaties and official declarations proclaiming the doctrine “ that free ships make free goods,” according to the principles of the treaty of Navigation and Commerce of Utretcht of 1713, and be unwarily and erroneously conceded the new rule which Britain has sought to establish by her arms and by her Admiralty since 1792. But in the letter of instructions above

« PreviousContinue »