Page images
PDF
EPUB

an

battle of Manassas Junction on the 21st. waging civil war. If there had been no Can any one suppose that if the Procla. Proclamation, the fact would have remation had not been issued that battle mained the same, and belligerency would would not have been fought ?

have had to be recognized either on be. The charge of premature recognition half of the Northern States, by admit. on examination reduces itself to this, ting the validity of captures on the high that the Proclamation ought not to have seas for the carriage of contraband or been issued until Mr. Adams arrived, or breach of blockade, or on the arrival of until some event called for it. Against the “Sumter," or some similar vessel, in this is to be set the fact that the Procla- a British port. mation was considered by some friends In no case can it be really supposed of the Northern States as a step taken that the recognition of belligerency, in their interests, and that it was further which, unless neutral nations abandoned pressed upon the Government by Mr. their neutrality and took an active part Dallas's communication of Mr. Seward's in the contest, was inevitable, materially circular. Moreover, Confederate priva- influenced the fortunes of such a fearful teers were at sea, and British vessels and protracted civil war. being made prizes by the Federal block. At all events, if it did, the Confede. ading fleet.

rates never acknowledged it; the recogBesides the assertion of the premature nition of belligerency they regarded (as recognition of belligerent rights, the de- indeed was the case) as a right which spatch states that maritime enterprises could not be denied to them. What in the ports of Great Britain, which they sought was not the mere technical would otherwise have been piratical, title of " belligerents,” but a recognition were, " by virtue of the Proclamation," of independence; and when they found rendered lawful," and thus Great Britain that it was hopeless to expect England became, and to the end continued to be, to accord it, they cut off all intercourse the arsenal, the navy-yard, and the trea- with this country, expelled Her Majesty's sury of the insurgent Confederacy." Consuls from their towns, and did every

Mr. Fish, in a preceding passage, ad. thing in their power to show the sense mits that national belligerency is which they entertained of the injury existing fact,” and he might have added which they believed had been inflicted that it exists independently of any official upon them. The result being that while proclamation of neutral Powers, as is one side has blamed us for doing too shown by the records of the American much, the other side has blamed us for Prize Courts, which continually recog- doing too little, and thus an assumption nize the belligerency of the South Ame- of neutrality has been regarded both by rican States; although, as Mr. Seward North and South as an attitude of hos. stated in one of his despatches, the tility. United States have never issued a Pro. As to the Queen's Proclamation renclamation of Neutrality except in the dering lawful the despatch of the “ Ala. case of France and England in 1793. bama,” “ Shenandoah,” and “ Georgia This was proved in the civil war by the from British ports, to which it is to be reception at Curaçoa of the Confederate presumed the expression "maritime en. vessel " Sumter" as a belligerent cruiser, terprises ” refers, it is to be remarked though the Netherlands had issued no that it is exactly against such enterprises Proclamation of Neutrality. It was this that the Proclamation reciting the terms recognition of the “Sumter," after her of the Foreign Enlistment Act was indeparture from New Orleans (July 6, tended to warn British subjects. Instead 1661), at Curaçoa, and at Cienfuegos, of rendering them lawful it rendered which first practically accorded maritime them additionally unlawful, by giving belligerent rights to the Confederates, a notice of their illegality. fact which is overlooked when it is alleged There would be no difficulty in show. that Confederate" belligerency, so far as ing by precedents from American Prize it was maritime," proceeded “from the Courts that no proclamation of neutrality ports of Great Britain and her depen. is required to confer belligerent rights dencies alone."

on vessels commissioned by a de facto Indeed, it is not going too far to say Government. that the Confederates derived no direct It is admitted that at the time these benefit from the Proclamation. Their "enterprises” were undertaken “hostili. belligerency depended upon the fact (a ties” in America were being prosecuted fact which, when we are told that the “on a scale of gigantic magnitude." civil war left behind it two millions and After, therefore, the “Alabama" es. a half of dead and maimed, is, unfortu. caped, on the 29th of July, 1862, she nately, indisputable) that they were became, by virtue of her Confederate

[ocr errors]

commission, undoubtedly a belligerent “ Permission or negligence which en. cruiser, irrespective of any acknowledg. abled Confederate cruisers from her ment of belligerency by Great Britain, ports to prey," &c. and was received accordingly by the “Great Britain alone had founded on French authorities

at Martinique, where that recognition a systematic maritime she first touched after leaving Liverpool. war."

“A virtual act of war.” A pirate is hostis humani generis, one "Suffering the fitting out of rebel owing obedience to no authority. If the cruisers." “Alabama” had been really a pirate The fact being that only one vessel, depredating on American commerce, it of whose probable intended belligerent would have been the duty of the French character the British Government had to seize her and execute justice on her any evidence, escaped-viz. the “Ala. commander and crew, a pirate being bama." triable wheresoever found.

The “Shenandoah” was a merchant Judge Nelson, in the case of the Con. ship employed in the India trade under federate privateer “Savannah," ruled the name of the “Sea King." Her con. that though Confederate privateers were version into a Confederate cruiser was pirates quoad American jurisdiction, they not heard of until more than a month were not pirates jure gentium, and, in the after she had left England. case of the “Golden Rocket," in which The Georgia,” or “Japan," was the owner brought an action in an Ame. actually reported by the Board of Trade rican Court against an insurance com- surveyor, who had no idea of her destina. pany for the capture of his ship by the tion, to be built as a merchant ship, and “ Florida,” he being insured against to be rather crank. Nothing was known piracy but not against war risk, it was of her proceedings until she had taken decided that captures by Confederate her arms and crew on board in Morlaix cruisers were not "piracy” within the Bay, and reached Cherbourg. Her real usual meaning of the word, and that the point of departure, as a cruiser, was company was not liable.

France, and not England. The American Courts having thus The “ Florida" was detained at Nassau conclusively dealt with the matter it is on suspicion, but discharged by the local unnecessary to pursue the subject fur. Admiralty Court, there being no evi. ther. What is probably meant is, that dence of her being any thing but a block. if the Confederates had not possessed a ade-runner. She was fitted out as a de facto Government, and had not been ship-of-war at Mobile. belligerents in the sense of waging On the other hand, the British Go. public war, vessels under their Com. vernment prevented the outfit of the mission would have been mere roving Rappahannock," prosecuted and deadventurers, pursuing merchantmen for tained the “ Alexandra," seized the the sake of private plunder-in short, "Liverpool” rams, and stopped the “Pampirates; but by the admission that pero,” besides investigating carefully " hostilities” (the very word to which every case of suspected outfit brought exception is taken in the Neutrality forward by Mr. Adams, and he comProclamation) were being prosecuted on plained of nineteen, as well as every case a great scale, the only ground on which which could be discovered independently. such a supposition could rest is cut Among other things, taking charge of away.

Captain Osborn's Anglo-Chinese flotilla,

which, it was apprehended, might fall II. THE DESPATCH OF CONFEDERATE

into the hands of the Confederates, at a CRUISERS FROM BRITISH PORTS.

cost to this country of 100,0001. Any one who read the despatch with. That any sea-going steamer can be out any previous knowledge of the sub- converted into a cruiser by strengthenject might suppose from the language ing her bulkheads and arming her, used that fleets of privateers had been which can be done at sea as well as on despatched from British ports with the shore, is proved by the fact that the connivance, if not the direct support, most efficient blockading vessels in the of Her Majesty's Government :

Federal navy were converted blockade“Great Britain .... permitted armed cruisers to be fitted out," &c.

The “ Alabama.”—Mr. Fish speaks of “The Queen's Government

the neglect of the officers of the British suffered ship after ship to be con- Government to detain Confederate structed in its ports to wage war on the cruisers, and especially the “ Alabama." United States."

There was no neglect to detain the “Many ships

were, with osten. “ Shenandoah" or Georgia," for the tatious publicity, being constructed.” reason that neither the Government nor

runners.

gress.

its officers knew they were being in- her escape from them:—first, when Mr. tended for the Confederate service. In. Adams urged the captain of the Federal deed, it has never been proved that the ship, which at his instance had gone to persons who sold those vessels knew it. Holyhead to look after her, to pursue Probably they did, but a case might her, when the captain refused, and went very readily arise in which the vendors off to his station at Gibraltar instead might be really ignorant. The Ameri. a proceeding at which Mr. Adams ex. can Government could not have ex. pressed the greatest indignation (see pected the English revenue officers to * Congress Papers, 1862," p. 159); prevent every large steamer leaving and, secondly, when the United States' England in ballast.

ship“ San Jacinto" blockaded her in the With regard to the "Alabama," it is as. French port of St. Pierre, Martinique, sumed “that the negligence of the officers and then suffered her to slip away at of the British Government was gross and night from under her bows. inexcusable, and such as indisputably to devolve on that Government full respon.

III. SUPPLIES FURNISHED TO THE Con. sibility for all the depredations com

FEDERATES BY BRITISH SUBJECTS. mitted by her. Indeed, this conclusion Mr. Fish states that the Confederates seems in effect to be conceded in Great had no ships, no mechanical appliances, Britain. At all events, the United no open seaports, &c., and implies that States conceive that the proofs of re- the maritime force of the Confederates sponsible negligence in this matter are was entirely derived from England. so clear that no room remains for debate The “Sumter," "Nashville," and on that point; and it should be taken “Florida,” however, all sailed from for granted in all future negotiations Confederate ports in which they were with Great Britain."

armed and fitted out, besides a variety By a petitio principii, the whole argu. of small coasting privateers, such as the ment is thus assumed to be in favour of Talahassee," whose captures form a the United States.

considerable item in the list of Federal There is no doubt that the “ Ala. maritime losses lately presented to Conbama” might, if she had not escaped at the moment when the case against her

“On the land it was in like manner appeared to be legally established, have the munitions of war and the wealth been seized and tried under the Foreign drawn by the insurgents from Great Enlistment Act, though the result, look. Britain which enabled them to with. ing to what occurred in the case of the stand, year after year, the arms of the “Alexandra,” might have been doubtful. United States.''

This, however, is a very different thing If, as Mr. Fish states, the Confede. from admitting that her sale to the Con. rates had no open seaports, how did federates was a violation of British neu. these munitions and arms reach them? trality for which the nation is respon. Either the blockade was inefficient, in sible. This was the first instance which which case it was illegal, and neutral occurred of the sale of a ship under such nations were not bound to respect it, or circumstances, and the British Govern. it was efficient, as it was recognized by ment had, in fact, no suspicion of what Great Britain to be, and the supply of was going to be done in the matter, no arms, &c., was hazardous and uncertain. information having been received of an There is no doctrine more clearly intention to take out her arms and crew settled than that neutral nations are in a separate vessel.

not responsible for the supplies of con. Judge Story, in the well-known case, traband sent through a blockade by “Santissima Trinidad and St. Ander," their subjects. Indeed, the very existlaid it down as indisputable that “there ence of a blockade implies this, for if it is nothing in our laws, or in the laws of were the duty of neutrals to prevent nations, that forbids our citizens from the shipment of supplies to belligerents, sending armed vessels, as well as muni. why should there be a blockade at all ? tions of war, to foreign ports for sale. Each side would claim compensation for It is a commercial venture, which no the assistance rendered to the other, nation is bound to prohibit, and which and neutrality would become impossible. only exposes the persons engaged in it If once it be conceded that blockade. to the penalty of confiscation.”

running is an offence against neutrality But it must be remembered that when in a civil war, the precedent would not Mr. Fish claims compensation for all fail to be invoked in all wars by which. her depredations, he should not over. ever belligerent considered himself most look the fact of the negligence shown aggrieved. Instead of establishing a by the Federal navy in twice letting principle in the interests of future peace, this would lead to endless complications tariff, which makes the construction of and claims and counter-claims which vessels in American ports more expen. would make the end of one war the sure sive than ship-building in England, and beginning of another.

has thereby thrown so large a proporThe question of the action of the tion of the carrying trade into English Dutch in the War of Independence can. hands? not be dealt with without a review of There must be some such cause for it, the history of the period, for which this or otherwise American shipping would memorandum does not afford space. An have recovered its position since the war account of the proceedings at St. Eu- instead of continuing to fall off. stache, and subsequent discussions with “Neither in the events which prethe Dutch Government, will be found in ceded that war" (of 1812) “nor in the De Marten's “Nouvelles Causes Célèbres events of the war itself, did the United du Droit des Gens."

States suffer more," &c. As to the supplies sent through the No one can now wish to recall to recol. blockade having been organized by Con- lection the particular events of that war; federate agents in England, the example it would be much better for the two was set them by the bureau established nations to congratulate themselves that by Franklin at Paris for the assistance one of the principal causes of it, the of the American Provinces.

nationality dispute, has, it is to be hoped, On the other hand, it is notorious that been set at rest finally by Lord Stanley's the Federal troops were plentifully pro

protocol. vided with arms and munitions from this country.

V. Her Majesty's Government have yet The despatch, in conclusion, refers to learn that it has been held in inter "to important changes in the rules of national discussions that individuals are public law," the desirableness of which precluded from supplying belligerents has been demonstrated, but does not with munitions of war.

say what are the changes to which he

alludes. IV. INDIRECT INJURY TO AMERICAN

This is in the spirit of the proposal COMMERCE.

made by Her Majesty's Government in “Indirectly, the effect was to increase December, 1865 (“ North America, No. 1, the rate of insurance in the United 1866," p. 164) States, to diminish exports and imports, “I, however, asked Mr. Adams whether and otherwise obstruct domestic industry it would not be both useful and practical and production, and to take away from to let bygones be bygones, to forget the the United States its immense foreign past, and turn the lessons of experience commerce and to transfer this to the to account for the future. England and merchant vessels of Great Britain." the United States, I said, had each be

Mr. Fish proceeds to quote figures, come aware of the defects that existed in showing the decrease in American ton. international law, and I thought it would nage between 1860 and 1866.

greatly redound to the honour of the two This allegation of national, indirect, principal maritime nations of the world or constructive claims was first brought to attempt the improvements in that forward officially by Mr. Reverdy John- code which had been proved to be neces. son, in his attempt to renew negotiations sary. It was possible, I added, that the on the Claims Convention in March last wounds inflicted by the war were still (“North America, No. 1, 1869," p. 46). too recent, and that the ill-will towards

Mr. Thornton has shown the difficulty England was still too rife, to render such there would be in computing the amount an undertaking practicable at the preof claim, even if it were acknowledged sent moment; but it was one which (“North America, No. 1, 1869," p. 53), ought to be borne in mind, and that was in a despatch in which he mentions the earnestly desired by Her Majesty's Gocontinual decrease of American tonnage. vernment as a means of promoting peace

This is partly, no doubt, to be ascribed and abating the horrors of war, and a to the disturbance of commercial rela- work, therefore, which would be worthy tions consequent on a long war, partly of the civilization of our age, and which to the fact that many vessels were nomi. would entitle the Governments which nally transferred to British owners dur. achieved it to the gratitude of mankind." ing the war to escape capture. Sir E. It is not necessary in this memorandum Hornby, in a recent report, states that to dwell on the alleged efficiency of the this was a constant practice in China. American as compared to the English

Is not, however, a good deal of it Foreign Enlistment Act. The failure of to be attributed to the high American the American Act in the Portuguese

cases, in the repeated filibustering expe- of “Wheaton;' and Mr. Lawrence (the ditions of Walker against Central Ame. editor of the second annotated edition of rica, and the acquittal under it of Lopez, “Wheaton"), in a recent speech at Bristol, the invader of Cuba, are proofs that its stated that “as far as respects the com. action cannot always be relied upon ; plaint founded on the recognition of the and this is further corroborated by the belligerent rights of the Confederates, I difficulties now being experienced in deal. cannot use too strong language in proing with the “Hornet," at Wilmington. nouncing its utter baseless character. Although, as Mr. Fish says, there have No tyro in international law is ignorant been prosecutions under it, it is believed that belligerency is a simple question of that from the trial of Gideon Henfield in fact. With the late Sir Cornewall Lewis, 1793 to the present day there has never we may ask, if the array of a million of been a criminal conviction.

The only

men on each side does not constitute result of the proceedings in rem has been belligerency, what is belligerency? But to restore prizes, never to punish priva- what was the proclamation of the Presi. teering; and the effect of the bonds which dent, followed up by the condemnation the Act provides may be taken, that the of your ships and cargoes for a violation owners of a vessel shall not themselves of the blockade which is established, but employ her in a belligerent service, and a recognition of a state of war? At this which has, it is believed, never been moment the United States, in claiming practically enforced, is, as Mr. Bemis, of the property of the late Confederate GoBoston, points out in his volume on vernment, place before your tribunals American neutrality, to add so much to their title on the fact of their being the the price of the vessel.

successors of a de facto Government. I With regard to the claims for “vast repeat that, however valid our claims national injuries," it may be as well to may be against you on other grounds, observe that Professor Wolsey, the emi- there is not the slightest pretext for any nent American jurist, has repudiated claim against you based on the public them as untenable, while the strongest admission of a notorious fact, the existarguments in favour of the recognition of ence of which has been recognized by Confederate belligerency are to be found every department of the Federal Govern. in the notes to Mr. Dana's eighth edition ment."

« PreviousContinue »