Page images
PDF
EPUB

can vessels on the high seas." Lord St. Vincent, at the last moment, claimed to except the narrow seas which the American minister promptly refused, and the negotiation was abandoned.

As to usage, the Secretary says, that during a period when maritime rights were not well understood, England had claimed and exercised pretensions to full sovereignty nearly over the seas from Van Staten in Norway to Cape Finistere on the coast of Spain, but that the progress of civilization had overthrown this unfounded usurpation, and he adds, “no principle in the code of public law, is at present better established than the common freedom of the seas beyond a very limited distance from the territories washed by them. This distance is not indeed fixed with absolute precision. It is varied in a small degree by written authorities, and perhaps it may be reasonably varied in some degree by local peculiarities. But the greatest distance which would now be listened to any where, would make a small proportion of the narrowest part of the narrowest seas in question.”

In 1823, Mr. Adams, Secretary of State, in giving President Monroe's instructions to our Minister to Colombia, says: The high seas are a general jurisdiction common to all, qualified by a special jurisdiction of each nation over its own vessels."

am

The Secretary denied that belligerents had any natural or acknowledged right to invade the vessels of neutral nations on the high seas. And he insisted that Great Britain by the treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, with France, admitted the principle that free ships make free goods, and that the flag of each party should protect the ship and all on board, ene. mies property and all property, except arms, munition and munitions of war, and all persons on board except soldiers in the actual service of the enemy.

The principle that a marine league is the limit of maritime curtilage seems to be admitted by our treaty with Great Britain of 1818, relative to the fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland. Beyond that line our right forever to fish is admitted, and within it a perpetual qualified right of fishing and curing fish is conceded in common with British subjects.

SECTION TWELFTH.

OF MARITIME CURTILAGE

AND

FREEDOM OF THE SEAS.

Different nations have claimed maritime jurisdictions of varying extent. The Romans, in a decree of the senate, directing Pompey the Great to clear the Mediterranean of pirates, assume fourteen leagues as their maritime curtilage, though they had little respect for commerce, and were

rot ambitious of naval power. Some writers have irsisted that this appurtenant jurisdiction of a maritime State extends one hundred miles from its coast sea-ward, and in the fourteenth century, the Sovereign of Sardinia is said to have claimed a similar curtilage for that island. Valin proposed the sounding line as the measure of this right, and as a mode to ascertain the boundary of a nation's marine jurisdiction. Hubner, Vattel, Azuni, Bynkershoek, Sir Wm. Scott in the British Admiralty Court, France and the United States concur that, upon general principles, this maritime curtilage and the internal or municipal jurisdiction of a nation extends a marine league to sea, which is commonly esteemed the reach of a cannon shot from the shore. The act of Congress, passed in 1794, declares all captures within a marine league of any part of the American coast illegal, and it confers jurisdiction over such illegal captures upon the District Courts of the United States. The same rule is said to have been declared by the Court of Cassation of France, annulling a more extensive jurisdiction claimed by the municipal authorities of a French West India Island many years since. This rule applied liberally furnishes a natural and convenient line of demarkation between the internal jurisdiction and propriety rights of maritime nations, and the open sea, which is

the common highway of all nations, and subject to no municipal control of any state. Our general rule applicable to all continents and islands, is this, that from their outermost projections, or promentories, at the distance of a marine league sea-ward, points be taken, and let these be connected by straight lines, one or more, so as to complete this marine boundary. All islands and fisheries within would, by this rule, fall under the internal jurisdiction of the State governing the shore, and all without sea-ward would be the common inheritance of all mankind, from the Father of all. By this rule the Atlantic boundary of the United States might be thus easily and naturally traced. Extend the north-eastern boundary line between the United States and the British Provinces to a point in the Atlantic one marine league from the coast, and from thence draw a straight line to a point a marine league due east of the outermost part of the island of Nantucket, and from thence draw a straight line to a point due east of the extremity of Cape Hatteras at the distance of a marine league therefrom, and from thence draw a straight line to a sea station southerly from the point of Florida and distant a marine league, from the south part of the most southerly American island off the coast, and from thence draw a straight line to a point a marine league at sea in the south

western boundary of the United States, extended so as to intersect it and complete our Atlantic line of demarkation. In passing around Florida and the small islands and Cape Cod, the line must be deflected outward from a straight line so that not less than a marine league of curtilage shall be allowed at all points of the whole line of demarkation. If the United States should own any island beyond this boundary, its marine curtilage around it would be, as well as that of all other islands, a marine league, ascertained according to this convenient rule. It would be, and is applicable to all maritime States, and seems founded in nature and sanctioned by the moral law of nations. By this rule the fisheries appurtenant to the coasts of continents and islands would belong, as they naturally do, to the nation owning the adjacent shore, while the right of fishing and free navigation beyond the marine limit would remain for the common use of all men of all nations. By this rule all bays and waters within the line of demarkation and all enclosed waters, like the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays and Long Island Sound, would fall within the internal legislation of the United States, and of the States according to the constitutional distribution of Governmental authority. In all countries, all waters enclosed within the land of one nation, except a passage to the sea,

« PreviousContinue »