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the epithets independent or sovereign, when applied as they sometimes are, to the States of this Union, must be understood, if they are to be considered as correctly used, in a limited and qualified sense.
Mr. Wheaton also touches, in this chapter, on the interesting questions connected with the acknowledgment of the independence of new states, and on the manner in which the obligations of states are affected, by changes in their internal constitution, or in the person of the sovereign. He decides, that under all such changes they continue bound by their treaties, and responsible for all their acts. This principle formed the basis of the demands made by our government upon those of France, Holland, Spain, and Naples, after the fall of Napoleon and his dynasty, for indemnification for depredations committed upon our commerce during their period of power. The demand was long contested, sometimes on principle, but more frequently by evasive pretences of one kind or another, until at length it was acceded to by France, during the favorable moment immediately following the Revolution of 1830, when Lafayette exercised a strong influence in the public affairs. The other powers followed her example. The precedent thus established is of the most salutary character; and the whole affair furnishes one of the most remarkable examples, recorded in history, of the triumph of justice in international concerns, under very difficult circumstances, without resort to arms, and by the mere effect of perseverance, firmness, and discretion, in the management of the peaceful artillery of reason.
In the second part, which treats of the absolute International Rights of States, Mr. Wheaton discusses, at some length, the delicate question of the Right of Intervention by one state in the internal affairs of another; and gives a succinct but interesting sketch of the several instances of such intervention, that have occurred in the recent history of Europe. As respects the character of these proceedings, Mr. Wheaton correctly remarks, that they cannot be referred to any fixed and definite principle of international law, or considered as furnishing a general rule fit to be observed in other apparently analogous cases. It is obvious, in fact, that intervention by one state in the internal affairs of another, is inconsistent with the relation of independence which exists between them; and is, therefore, contrary to the law of nature. If justifiable at all, it must be justified, in each case, as an exception to the general law, on the high and paramount ground of absolute self-defence. The right, sometimes asserted, of interfering to prevent the aggrandizement of a state by lawful means, lest its increased power, if abused, should become dangerous, is obviously a mere chimera. It is not only the right, but the duty, of every state to develope its resources to the utmost.
The pretence in question, which if honestly put forward would be merely absurd, is in practice uniformly a cover for cupidity and violence. Cases may however be supposed, in which ihe kuown and avowed principles of the constitution and administration of a state may be such, as not only to justify other nations in interfering, but to render it their strict and solemn duty. Such, for example, was the little community of the Assassins in the mountains of Syria ; and such at the present day are the piratical states of Barbary. The toleration of the existence of these hordes of sea-robbers by the great maritime powers, in order that they might serve as a check upon the trade of the smaller ones, is one of the least honorable features in the bistory of modern Europe ; and it is a fit subject of national pride with us as Americans, that the determination recently evinced by Great Britain and France to break them up, may be traced in no small degree to the influence of our example.
The fourth chapter of this part contains, among other interesting passages, an account of the negotiations carried on by the government of the United States with those of Spain and Great Britain, respecting the navigation of the rivers Mississippi and St. Lawrence.
In the third part, which treats of the International Rights of States in their pacific relations, Mr. Wheaton recapitulates succinctly the commonly received rules, respecting the interchange of diplomatic agents, and the conclusion and observance of treaties. In the fourth and last part, which is the longest and most important of all, he discusses the various questions that concern the International Rights of States in their hostile relations. These were justly considered by Grotius as constituting the substance of the Law of Nations, and he accordingly gave to his work the title of a Treatise on the Laws of Peace and War.
In considering the rights of war, as between enemies, Mr. Wheaton adverts briefly to the different rules that prevail as to the capture of private property on land and at sea. In the
former case, it is, as is well known, considered as prohibited by the law of vations, and in the latter as admitted. Although no reason, in the least degree satisfactory, ever has been or can be assigned for this difference, no symptom has appeared in the history of modern Europe of a disposition to abandon it, excepting in the single case of the first treaty between the United States and Prussia, negotiated by Dr. Franklin in 1783. In this treaty, it was expressly stipulated (art. 23) in the first place, that private property should not be taken on land without compensation ; and then, that all merchant vessels, employed in the exchange of the produce of different places, and thus supplying their inhabitants with the necessaries, comforts, and luxuries of life, should pass freely and without molestation ; and the two contracting Powers agreed not to grant any commissions to privateers, which should authorize them to capture such vessels or to interrupt their trade.
This article is commonly spoken of, as if its object were merely to prohibit privateering, leaving the capture of private property by public ships on its former footing. Even Mr. Wheaton appears to put this construction upon it. Our readers will perceive by the language of the text, which we give in a literal translation from the French copy before us, that the intention was to prohibit the capture of private property by ships of any kind, and that privateering is not prohibited, excepting in its operation on private property:
This article was omitted in the new treaty with Prussia negotiated by Mr. John Quincy Adams in 1799, probably at the suggestion of the other party. In his Presidential Message to the House of Representatives, announcing the appointment of ministers to the intended Congress at Panama, Mr. Adams mentions the abolition of this distinction between the modes of treating private property in time of war on land and at sea, as one of the objects that would probably engage the attention of that body. “I cannot,” he remarks,
exaggerate to myself the unfading glory with which these United States will go forth in the memory of future ages, if by their friendly counsel, by their moral influence, by the power of argument and persuasion alone, they can prevail upon the American Nations at Panama, to stipulate by general agreement among themselves, and so far as any of them may be concerned, the abolition of private war upon the ocean.” The topic of the Rights of War as respects Neutrals, or, in the
common phrase, Neutral Rights, which occupies the closing portion of Mr. Wheaton's book, has created more discussion ihan any other, and, from the part taken in these discussions by our own country, will be read with great interest. Mr. Wheaton reviews, in a succinct but lucid and satisfactory manner, the questions of the Rule of 1756, of blockade, of the articles properly denominated contraband of war, and of the right of search and impressment. On all these delicate and disputed subjects, his views are liberal without being extravagant. The existing usage of nations, which has been determined in a great measure by the practice of the British Government, is considered, by our author, to be of an illiberal character. His own feeling is throughout in favor of the other construction, which it has been for many years past the effort of this country, and of most of the continental powers of Europe, to introduce and establish.
The fundamental doctrine of what may still be called the existing law of nations on these subjects, is that which recognises a belligerent right of visitation and search. Sir William Scott, in his opinion in the case of the Maria, * remarks on this subject, that "no man can deny this right who admits the right of maritime capture ; because, if you are not at liberty to ascertain by sufficient inquiry whether there is property that can legally be captured, it is impossible to capture.” And Mr. Wheaton appears to coincide in this view of the subject. “ Even if the right of capturing enemy's property be ever so strictly limited, and the rule of free ships free goods, be adopted, the right of visitation and search is essential, in order to determine whether the ships theinselves are neutral, and documented as such, according to the law of nations and treaties." To this, however, the advocates of the opposite doctrine reply, that the right of capturing at sea private property belonging to enemies, adınitting it to exist, is an odious one, condemned by the practice on land of the same powers that claim it, and obviously in contravention of the great interests of humanity, which require the limitation in every possible way of the
ravages of war. The right in question being of this character, instead of carrying with it any other rights as incidental, must itself, they say, be construed in the strictest possible manner. Instead of requiring every vessel that sails the ocean, to prove by written documents to the satisfaction of a searching officer, that she is not an enemy, natural
* Rob. Adm. Rep. I. 340.
justice, they urge, throws the burden of proof upon the belligerent, who must have sufficient evidence, before he ventures to molest a vessel in any way, that she is an enemy, and then may proceed, as in the case of attacking an armed vessel or a body of armed men, at his peril. They insist, that the idea that because two nations go to war, the commercial exchanges of all other nations are thereby subjected to their supervision, is so obviously untenable, that notbing but the great power of the nations putting forward the pretension could have given it plausibility ; and that it would be much nearer the truth to say, that the other nations have a right to look into the causes of the quarrel between the two belligerents, and compel them by force to bring it to an amicable adjustment. In modern times, when any of the principal nations have remained in a state of neutrality during a war in Europe, they have, in fact, looked upon this pretension with very little favor. The coalition of the continental powers commonly called the Armed Neutrality, which was formed in the year 1780, and afterwards revived in 1800, began by refusing to submit to the alleged right of search in regard to vessels under convoy. The British Admiralty Courts insisted, and at both these periods the progress of events pretty soon terminated the question, by involving Russia, and the other great neutral powers, in the
Had they continued neutral, they would probably have soon taken the higher ground of a complete denial of the right of visitation and search.
On the disappearance of this pretension, the questions respecting the rules of free ships free goods, contraband of war, and impressment, would fall of themselves. The British Government, at the opening of the French revolutionary war, attempted, as is well known, to establish the rule that provisions may, in some cases at least, be regarded as contraband, and seized many of our vessels under this pretence. It is to be regretted, that some countenance was given to this pretension by the eighteenth article of Mr. Jay's treaty with Great Britain, recognising the existence of cases in which provisions may, under the law of nations, be regarded as contraband, and providing for them. Mr. Wheaton appears to think, that this article in Mr. Jay's treaty " was manifestly intended to leave the question where it found it. The two parties," says he, “not being able to agree upon a definition of the cases in which alone provisions and other articles, not generally contraband,