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worthy of the most deliberate discussion, whether naval stores, the use of which the present great extension of commerce has so closely and essentially connected with the promotion of the best interests of mankind, ought not to be excluded from the list of contraband. Among other reasons of still greater weight, such an exclusion might be maintained on the ground, that the opposite doctrine was established, when the interests and rights of commerce were not properly appreciated, and those of war and violence were predominant. The attempt might be reasonably made to redeem various other articles and classes of articles from the interdicted enumeration, which has been so inordinately swelled by the excited watchfulness and the ambition of belligerents. But in regard to the various kinds of provisions in particular, there would seem to be no reasonable doubt. It cannot be pretended, that there is such a fitness in them, either directly or indirectly, for the purposes of war, as is generally understood to be indicated by the phrase instruments of war. The confiscation of provisions for the purposes of war, in other words, for the purpose of starving a nation into acquiescence, we apprehend to be as clearly repugnant to enlightened reason and conscience, as the use of poisoned arms in war, and the poisoning of wells. It is peculiarly atrocious in this respect, that it is in fact, though indirectly, an interdiction of the culture of the earth, a virtual prohibition of the use of the spade and the plough any further than may be necessary for the sustenance of the cultivators themselves; and consequently a presuming and unrighteous interruption of those plans of benevolence, which the Creator proposed, in giving the earth to man for his benefit. It seems to be striking a blow at the existence of the human race, and instead of the desirable object of diminishing the atrocities and horrors of war, it is taking an important
step in favor of extending them to the utmost possible limit.
1,-In view of what has been said, we take the liberty to suggest, that the friends of peace may properly unite their exertions and influence, (so far as they have any influence in settling the great questions of international policy,) with those, who would scrupulously restrict the list of contraband to those articles, which are designed to be directly employed in war, such as swords, pistols, muskets, sabres, cannon, powder, &c. Since the time that the Savior said, “put up thy sword again into its place,” they certainly can have no objection to all such things being regarded as contraband, even in a stricter sense than the term bears in the Law of nations. But they cannot, in ascertaining the list of contraband, consistently go further than this.
II,-While the friends of peace take the ground, that all articles, destined to be solely and directly employed in war, may be regarded, on the principles of the existing public code, as contraband, they do not take this view, because they consider the rights of the belligerent as paramount, and those of the pacific neutral as subordinate. On the contrary, they agree in placing the rights and claims of the neutral before those of the belligerent, as being more consonant with the intentions of nature and of the Gospel. But, admitting that commerce in certain things may be interdicted as against good morals and against nature, they consent to the doctrine which regards them as contraband on the more general grounds, that they are weapons of destruction; that they are designed, whatever plausible pretexts may be presented for the use of them, as instruments of great evil ; that they are formed and used for purposes, which violate the beneficent objects of the great Lawgiver.
III,-Nevertheless, in order to prevent those difficul
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. 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.
-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.