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THE CIVIL WAR IN THE UNITED STATES;
With A Review Of The Judicial Discussions And
[tn this supplement to the chapter which treats of the rights and liabilities resulting from war, it is proposed to consider the grave and interesting questions connected with those rights and liabilities, which have constituted the basis of objections to the validity of the maritime captures made during the existing civil war in the United States; and to recite, at such length as the great importance of the subject may justify, the judicial discussions and determinations which have thus far been had upon these questions. Belligerent The government of the United States, in entering cifod^the upon the performance of its momentous duty of ^"th^comiuct supposing an insurrection of its slaveholding citiof, the civil zens, which had assumed the character and proportions of civil war, saw fit to bring into exercise its belligerent rights, so far as they relate to the commerce and commercial intercourse of the insurgent section, carried on by means of the ports upon its coast or rivers.
These rights were asserted by the Executive institution of a blockade of these ports.
Having in view the purpose for which the blockade of the southern ports was established, namely, the cutting off the insurgents from all means of con. verting their movable property into warlike munitions and stores for subsistence, which would enable them to prosecute and prolong the unholy contest \
upon which they had entered, the wisdom of the The wisdom
Tp • ,., . . of the policy
policy ot resorting to a belligerent blockade, rather of tiio beiiigerthan to the sovereign right of closing the ports by onimTnsurmunicipal regulation, cannot be questioned. pent ports;
A belligerent blockade addresses itself to neutral commerce throughout the world. It speaks to neutral traders in all quarters of their dispersion, prohibiting them from fitting out their vessels for a voyage to any of the invested ports, forbidding their approach to such ports under any pretence whatsoever, and holding- over them the terrors of capture and its consequences, not only for the actual but the attempted offence, and not only upon the voyage on which the interdict was evaded, but at any time on the voyage following that of the offence, and not only while in the act of violation, but anywhere upon the high seas, out of neutral jurisdiction.
The closing of the ports by municipal regulation, in preference •leelaring them no longer ports of entry and deliv- regulation"1"11 ery, is a sovereign right, which can be exercised and ^"^0,.^ enforced only Avithin the territorial jurisdiction of of entry, the nation.
Beyond the few miles from the coast, to which that jurisdiction is limited, it is wholly inoperative.
The fitting out of vessels avowedly destined to ports thus closed, is no offence. The approach to, and hovering about, such closed ports, with the avowed design of entering whenever opportunity occurs to avoid the revenue cruiser, is not a culpable act, for which any penalty can be imposed; and seizure must be made, of the offending vessel before she reaches that line which marks the restricted limits of the sovereign's jurisdiction, or it cannot be made at all.
To enforce such a regulation, all the naval forces of the world would be hopelessly inadequate. When to this is added the consideration, that proceedings for the forfeiture of property seized for an infraction of the municipal regulation, must he taken upon the instance side of the Admiralty Courts of the sovereign, and conducted without any of the summary and speedy action and determination, which may and should distinguish the courts that are organized for the enforcement of belligerent rights under the law of nations, it seems incredible, that any one can have doubted the wisdom of the policy adopted to effect the purpose of commercial interdiction, or have seriously proposed its virtual abandonment, by a resort to the municipal regulation.
Objections But, the institution of a blockade, under the law validity ofbap- nati°iis, being the exercise of a purely belligerent tures for tho right presupposes the existence of war—of war
violation of ?• i • • i • t
the blockade, winch carries with it the consequences of a public war, imposing restrictions upon neutral commerce, and subjecting to confiscation, property impressed with hostility of character; and, it was urged by distinguished advocates, as a fundamental objection to the validity of captures made either for the violation of the asserted belligerent right, or as the property of public enemies, or impressed with a hostile character, that under the peculiar frame of government and written constitution of the United States, a state of war, carrying with it such consequences, could not result merely from the existence of an armed rebellion by a portion of its citizens,
whatever its organization, and however formida-
ant consequences, did not exist as the result alone
It was therefore argued, that captures made prior to any legislative enactment, and which could be upheld solely under the law of nations, as affecting commerce during the existence of public war, were without warrant of law, and should be so decreed, by restitution of the captured property.
These positions were presented and illustrated with great ability and learning by the distinguished advocates, who represented the interests of neutral or rebel claimants, in the Federal courts of prize.
How they were met and answered will be best Judicial detershown by liberal extracts from the opinions of the eminent judges presiding in those courts. ti0DS
The case first decitted was that of The Tropic
The case of tho Wind, in the District Court for the District of
v. s. Distrk-t Columbia.
u^uic'uif'co- This case assumed a peculiar interest, not only lumbia. because it was the first which arose under the proclamation of blockade, hut because the prize was a British vessel, and it was understood that Her Britannic Majesty's representative at Washington, assumed, to some extent, the direction of the defence, in order that the grave questions involved, affecting the rights of neutral commerce, should be thoroughly and ably presented and sustained.
The vessel was captured on the 21st of May, 1861, near the mouth of James River, by the United States ship Monticello, for the violation of the blockade of Richmond,- by egress from that port, which she had entered prior to the proclamation.
Passing over the incidental, yet interesting questions, which were raised in the case, as to notice of the blockade, the time when it became effective, the time allowed neutral vessels to depart, and the effect of taking in a cargo in a blockaded port, after notice of the blockade; in this connection it is proposed to limit quotation, to the language of the court in discussing and deciding the fundamental questions involved in the adjudication. Upon these, the learned judge says: Opinion of Mr. "The authority of the President to institute the justice Dun- blockade, js cleniecl by the respondents, who insist that this power, under the Constitution of the United States, can only be exercised by the national legislature. And this is the first question to be considered.
"It is true no departmenf of the Federal govern