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ties, which are apt to arise from misunderstandings and differences of opinion on this subject, and which are the fruitful source of wars, it ought to be a principle in every nation's policy, so long as there is a prospect of wars continuing, to insert in its commercial treaties with other nations what the parties mutually consider as contraband. If this were always done, there is no question, that wars would be less frequent.
It will be recollected, that these suggestions are made with the simple view of uniting our feeble aid, in concurrence with those, who are desirious of imparting to the Law of nations an aspect more favorable to the neutral, and consequently more pacific. We deny, that nations on the principles of the Gospel have a right to make war at all; but we do not wish to blind ourselves to the fact, that they will take time in coming to this great conclusion. In all great movements, involving whole communities, there will be currents and counter currents; sometimes uniting and helping each other, sometimes crossing each other's direction. In the authorities on the Law of nations, it can hardly escape notice, that there are some tides of opinion, setting in the direction of a pacific policy, and placing themselves in opposition to the predominance, which belligerent interests have hitherto maintained. In expressing our approbation of these opinions, and in doing what little we can to show their reasonableness, we conceive that we are aiding the great cause of peace.
FREE SHIPS, FREE GOODS.
It was formerly a principle of the public code, that the property of a belligerent, found on board the vessel of a neutral, was good prize. The consequence was, that neutral vessels were constantly liable to be visited and searched, in the expectation of furnishing more or less of spoil to armed ships, that might see fit to subject them to such vexatious proceedings. Wherever they went, armed vessels crossed their track; and their loss of property was hardly more intolerable, than the vexations and insults, to which they were exposed. The evils, attending the application of this doctrine, became at last so apparent, that an attempt was made to introduce a new and entirely different principle, viz., that the flag should protect the cargo; more generally known by the concise expression, FREE SHIPS, FREE GOODS. This principle rendered the property of an enemy under a neutral flag safe, but exposed the property of a neutral under a hostile flag to capture. This more recent doctrine has been frequently recognized in the treaties, which have been formed since the middle of the seventeenth century, particularly those made between France and other governments. Great Britain, probably for reasons connected with her great maritime strength, has always resisted the incor
poration of the doctrine, FREE SHIPS, FREE GOODS, with the public code. It was partly in reference to the course pursued by Great Britain, that the empress Catherine of Russia declared in 1780, that she was willing, if necessary, to enforce the new principle by arms. It was in support of this principle in particular, although some others of minor consequence were not lost sight of, that the Armed Neutrality was formed, of which Russia was the head. Denmark, Sweden, Holland, France, Spain, Prussia, Austria, Portugal, and Naples united with Russia in the pursuit of this object. Many commercial conventions, probably three fourths that have been made since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1668, have expressly recognized the adoption of the doctrine under consideration.* England, as already remarked, has always opposed it, and as she has been for a long series of years the predominant European power on the ocean, her opposition has rendered it uncertain, what at the present moment is to be regarded as the public law in this matter.
I,Upon these statements we may remark, FIRST, that the introduction of this new principle has undoubtedly a close connection with the cause of peace. The old principle, which authorized the seizure of enemy's property, wherever it might be found, was in its applications exceedingly vexatious. It furnished a pretext, of which there were always enough ready to avail themselves, not only to interrupt and perplex the commercial intercourse of pacific nations, but actually to seize and confiscate neutral, as well as enemy's property. Many wars can probably be traced to this source. And it is to be presumed, that what is called the new principle would be comparatively favorable to the repose and happiness of nations.
*Lyman's Dyplomacy of the United States, Vol. I, Chap. 3d, 2d Ed.
II, However desirable it may be, (and it is hoped it may eventually be done by pacific, not by warlike means,) to introduce the doctrine in question into the public code, it ought to be understood, that this is not by any means enough. That the flag of the neutral should protect the property, over which it floats, is right; it is agreeable to an enlightened common sense, as well as to the suggestions of humanity. A BONA FIDE merchant ship is a domicil; in the eye of well instructed reason and good will, it is and ought to be as sacred as any other human residence; and no foot ought to be allowed to plant itself there, which does not come in the spirit of amity. But this improvement, though a considerable one, is far from coming up to the line of the real claims of humanity. The private property of belligerents, (all the property of individuals which is held and is transmitted from place to place for private and pacific, and not for warlike purposes,) ought to be held sacred, not only on board neutral ships, but every where.
OF WAR ON PRIVATE PROPERTY ON THE OCEAN.
THE closing paragraph of the preceding Chapter leads us to remark more particularly on what we consider a contradictory and exceedingly odious feature in the code of international law. We refer, as what has been said will lead the reader to anticipate, to the taking of private property on the ocean, whether by public ships, or by the more odious practice of privateering. And by private property here, we mean not merely such as may happen to be embarked in neutral vessels; but also private property on board of the merchant ships of the parties at war.
In order to justify the severe animadversion, which we are disposed to pass on the practice of taking private property on the ocean, it is necessary to advert to the practice on the land. It is exceedingly gratifying to find, that the principles of the laws of war, so far as operations on land are concerned, have been gradually modified and improved; becoming more and more adapted to the improved state of society, and conforming themselves more strictly to the dictates of an enlightened justice. Large armies often pass through the territories of their enemies in war, and meet each other in desperate conflict, without committing devastations on the property of