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By the general usage of nations, tion, and unjust in its nature: and independent of treaty stipulations, it never fails, in time of maritime the property of an enemy is liable war, to produce irritation and anito capture in the vessel of a friend. mosity between the belligerent and It is not possible to justify this rule the neutral. So universally has this upon any sound principle of the been found to be its consequence, law of nature ; for, by that law, that all the maritime nations of the belligerent party has no right modern Europe have shown their to pursue or attack his enemy sense of it, by stipulating in treawithout the jurisdiction of either ties the contrary principle, namely, of them. The high seas are a ge- that the property of an enemy shall neral jurisdiction common to all, be protected in the vessel of a friend. qualified by a special jurisdiction Great Britain herself, the most unof each nation over its own ves- willing to admit this principle, besels. As the theatre of general cause the most enabled to use the and common jurisdiction, the ves- force upon which the usage is sels of one nation and their com- founded, has recognized the supe. manders have no right to exercise rior justice and expediency of the over those of another any act of other principle, by stipulating it at authority whatsoever. This is uni- distant intervals of time, in two versally admitted in time of peace. treaties with France ; the treaty of War gives the belligerent a right to Utrecht, and the treaty of compursue his enemy within the juris- merce, of 1786. In the seven diction common to both ; but not years' war, the king of Prussia reinto the special jurisdiction of the sisted the capture, by British vesneutral party. If the belligerent sels, of the property of their enehas a right to take the property of mies, in the vessels of his subjects, his enemy on the seas, the neutral then neutrals, and made reprisals has a right to carry and protect the upon British property for such capproperty of his friend on the same tures. The question was then ulelement. War gives the bellige- timately settled by a compromise, rent no natural right to take the under which the British governproperty of his enemy from the ment paid a large sum of money vessel of his friend. But as the for indemnity to the Prussian subbelligerent is armed, and the neu- jects who had suffered by those tral, as such, is defenceless, it has captures. The armed neutrality grown into usage that the bellige- of the American war, is a memorent should take the property of rable example of the testimony by his enemy; paying the neutral his all the civilized nations of the freight, and submitting the question world, to the principle, that the of facts to the tribunals of the bel- protection of all property, exceptligerent party. It is evident, how- ing contraband of war, on board of ever, that this usage has no founda- neutral vessels, by neutral force, is tion in natural right, but has arisen of natural right-and of this prinmerely from force, used by the bel- ciple there can be no question. ligerent, and which the neutral in If, however, a belligerent power, the origin did not resist, because founded upon the usage which has he had not the power. But it is a superseded the natural right, pracusage harsh and cruel in its opera- tices the seizure and condemnarion of enemy's property found in tion, she was bound to other nathe vessel of a friend, it remains for tions ? This principle is not tenathe neutral to decide, whether he ble. To all the engagements of will acquiesce in the usage, or Spain with other nations, affecting whether he will maintain his natu- their rights and interests, Colomral right by force. No neutral na- bia, so far as she was affected by tion is bound to submit to the them, remains bound in honor and usage: for it has none of the pro- in justice. The stipulation now perties which can give to any usage referred to is of that character, and the sanction of obligatory law. It the United States, besides the nais not reasonable. It is not con- tural right of protecting by force, formable to the law of nature. It in their vessels on the seas, the is not uninterrupted. But reduced property of their friends, though to the option of maintaining its enemies of the republic of Colomright by force, or of acquiescing in bia, have the additional claim to the disturbance of it which has the benefit of the principle, by an been usual, the neutral nation may express compact with Spain, made yield at one time to the usage, with when Colombia was a Spanish out sacrificing her right to vindi- country. Again, by the late treacate by force the security of her ty of 22d February, 1819, between flag at another. And the bellige. the United States and Spain, it is rent nation, although disposed to ad- agreed, that the 15th article of the mit the right of neutrals to protect treaty of 1795, in which it is stiputhe property of her enemy upon lated that the flag shall cover the the seas, may yet justly refuse the property, shall be so understood benefit of this principle, unless ad- with respect to those powers, who mitted also by the enemy, for the recognize the principle : but, if protection of her property, by the either of the two contracting parsame neutral flag. Thus stands ties shall be at war with a third the state of this question upon the party, and the other neutral, the foundations of natural, voluntary, flag of the neutral shall cover the and customary law. How stands property of enemies whose governit between us and the republic of ments acknowledge the principle, Colombia, on the ground of conven and not of others. tional law ? By a treaty between This treaty having been conthe United States and Spain, con- cluded after the territories, now cluded at a time when Colombia composing the republic of Colomwas a part of the Spanish domi- bia, had ceased to acknowledge nions, and so far as the Spanish the authority of Spain, they are laws would admit, enjoyed the be- not parties to it, but their rights nefit of its stipulations, the princi- and duties in relation to the subple that free ships make free goods, ject matter remain as they had exwas expressly recognized and es- isted before it was made. Nor tablished. Is it asserted that by will she be affected by it at all, if her declaration of independence, she continues to acknowledge in Colombia has been entirely re- her new national character, and leased from all the obligations by with reference to the United States, which, as a part of the Spanish na- the principle that free ships make
free goods, which was the conven- tion concerning them is imperfect, tional law between them while Co. and among the most important oblombia was a part of Spain. jects of your mission will be that
You will urge all these conside- of adding to its stores; of exrations upon the Colombian minis- ploring the untrodden ground, and ter of foreign affairs, to obtain res of collecting and transmitting to titution of the cargo of the Cara- us the knowledge by which the van, or indemnity for it. The friendly relations between the two claim rests upon foundations so countries may be extended and solid, that it is earnestly hoped harmonized to promote the welyour representations in its favor fare of both, with due regard to will be successful; and in the ne- the peace and good will of the gotiation of the treaty you will whole family of civilized man. It press, in like manner, for the inser- is highly important that the first tion of an article of the same pur- foundations of the permanent fuport as that of our last treaty with ture intercourse between the two Spain above recited. This prin- countries should be laid in princiciple can with safety be recognized ples, benevolent and liberal in themonly to that extent; and to that selves, congenial to the spirit of our extent the United States would institutions, and consistent with the willingly assent to it with every duties of universal philanthropy. other nation. It is a princi- In all your consultations with ple favorable to the rights of the government to which you will peace, and of a pacific spirit and be accredited, bearing upon its potendency. It is recommended litical relations with this union, by every humane and liberal con- your unvarying standard will be sideration, as a rule of universal the spirit of independence and of application. But the nation which freedom, as equality of rights and would enjoy the benefit of it, as a favors will be that of its commerneutral, or as a passive belligerent, cial relations. The emancipation resorting to the neutral flag, must of the South American continent also recognize it as an active bel- opens to the whole race of man ligerent, and suffer the property of prospects of futurity, in which this her enemy to be conveyed safely union will be called, in the disby the same flag which safely con- charge of its duties to itself and to veys hers; otherwise the liberal unnumbered ages of posterity, to principle of itself is turned to the take a conspicuous and leading advantage of the belligerent which part. It involves all that is prerejects it, and the mild spirit of cious in hope, and all that is depeace is made subservient to the sirable in existence, to the countunfeeling rapacity of war.
less millions of our fellow crea. Our intercourse with the repub- tures, which, in the progressive lic of Colombia, and with the ter- revolution of time, this hemisphere ritories of which it is composed, is is destined to rear and to maintain. of recent origin, formed while That the fabric of our social their own condition was altogeth- connections with our southern er revolutionary, and continually neighbours may rise, in the lapse changing its aspect. Our informa- of years, with a grandeur and harmony of proportion corresponding or its happy termination. If this with the magnificence of the means, peculiar attitude secures her implaced by Providence in our pow. partiality, it draws to it great reer, and in that of our descendants, sponsibility in the decision which its foundations must be laid in prin- she may feel it proper to make. ciples of politics and morals, new The predominance of the power and distasteful to the thrones and of the emperor is every where felt. dominations of the elder world; Europe, America, and Asia, all but co-extensive with the surface own it. It is with a perfect knowof the globe, and lasting as the ledge of its vast extent and the changes of time.
profoundest respect for the wisdom
and the justice of the august perMR. CLAY to MR. MIDDLETON, sonage who wields it, that his en
dated 10th May, 1825. lightened and humane councils Sir-I am directed by the pre- are now invoked. sident to instruct you to endeavor In considering that war, as in to engage the Russian government considering all others, we should to contribute its best exertions to look back upon the past, delibewards terminating the existing con- rately survey its present condition, test between Spain and her colo- and endeavor, if possible, to catch nies.
a view of what is to come. With Among the interests which, at respect to the first branch of the this period, should most command subject, it is, perhaps, of the least the serious attention of the nations practical importance. No statesof the old and new world, no one man can have contemplated the cois believed to have a claim so pa- lonial relations of Europe and conramount as that of the present tinental America, without foreseewar. It has existed, in greater or ing that the time must come when less extent, seventeen years. Its they would cease. That time earlier stages were marked by the might have been retarded or acmost shocking excesses, and, celerated, but come it must, in the throughout, it has been attended great march of human events. An by an almost incalculable waste of attempt of the British parliament blood and treasure. During its to tax, without their consent, the continuance, whole generations former British colonies, now these have passed away, without living United States, produced the war of to see its close, whilst others have our revolution, and led to the estasucceeded them, growing up from blishment of that independence and infancy to majority, without ever freedom which we now so justly tasting the blessings of peace. prize. Moderation and forbearThe conclusion of that war, what- ance, on the part of Great Britain, ever and whenever it may be, must might have postponed, but could have a great effect upon Europe not have prevented our ultimate and America. Russia is so situ separation. The attempt of Boated as that, whilst she will be less naparte to subvert the ancient dydirectly affected than other parts of nasty of Spain, and to place on its Christendom, her weight and her throne a meinber of his own facouncils must have a controlling mily, no doubt hastened the indeinfluence on its useless protraction pendence of the Spanish colonies. If he had not been urged by his frankness forbids, however, that ambition to the conquest of the they should say that they have bepeninsula, those colonies, for a held those scenes with feelings of long time to come, might have indifference. They have, on the continued quietly to submit to the contrary, anxiously desired, that parental sway. But they must other parts of this continent should have inevitably thrown it off, soon- acquire and enjoy that indepener or later. We may imagine that dence with which, by the valor and a vast continent, uninhabited, or the patriotism of the founders of thinly peopled by a savage and un- their liberty, they have been, untutored race, may be governed by der the smiles of heaven, so greatly a remote country, blessed with the blessed. lights and possessed of the power But, in the indulgence of this of civilization ; but it is absurd to sympathetic feeling, they have not, suppose that this same continent, for one moment, been unmindful of in extent twenty times greater than the duties of that neutrality which that of the parent country, and they had deliberately announced. doubling it in a population equally And the best proof of the fidelity civilized, should not be able, when with which they have strictly fulit chooses to make the effort, to filled its obligations, is furnished in cast off the distant authority. the fact, that during the progress When the epoch of separation be- of the war, they have been untween a parent state and its colo- justly accused, by both parties, of ny, from whatever cause, arrives, violating their declared neutrality. the struggle for self-government on But it is now of little consequence the one hand, and for the preserva- to retrace the causes remote or tion of power on the other, pro- proximate, of the revolt of the duces mutual exasperation, and Spanish colonies. The great and leads to a most embittered and fe- much more important considerarocious war. It is then that it be- tion which will, no doubt, attract comes the duty of third powers to the attention of his imperial mainterpose their humane offices, and jesty, is the present state of the calm the passions, and enlighten contest. The principles which the councils of the parties. And produced the war, and those which the necessity of their efforts is may be incorporated in the institugreatest with the parent country, tions of the new states, may divide whose pride and whose wealth and the opinions of men. Principles, power, swelled by the colonial con- unhappily, are too often the subtributions, create the most repug- ject of controversy. But notorious nance to an acquiescence in a se- facts are incontestible. They speak verance which has been ordained a language which silences all speby Providence.
culation, and should determine the In the war which has so long judgment and the conduct of states, been raging between Spain and whatever may be the school in her colonies, the United States which their rulers are brought up have taken no part either to pro- or practised, and whatever the so. duce or sustain it. They have cial forms which they would debeen inactive and neutral specta- sire to see established. And it is tors of the passing scenes. Their to the voice of such facts that Eli