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would by this just and natural rule belong to it, and are subject to its jurisdiction. This reasonable rule, according with the common sense of mankind, forms part of the moral law of nations.
SECTION THIRTEENTH. UNFOUNDED MARITIME PRE
Nations at different eras have put forth the most extravagant pretensions to marine jurisdiction as appurtenant to their territories. The Danes have pretended to jurisdiction over the Sound and other passes into the Baltic. Venice owning a part of the coasts of the Adriatic sea, claimed, in the pride of her power, exclusive jurisdiction of it, and the espousal of that aquatic bridegroom by the queen of the isles of the Adriatic, is said to have been a brilliant exhibition of her supposed right of sovereignty. The Portuguese in the zenith of their naval power, like Venice, put forth equally absurd pretensions to appropriate seas that are the common property of all men. That power claimed exclusive authority over the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the sole right of commerce with the East Indies, and she sought to exclude all other nations from those Oceans and the India trade. Grotius and all writers of authority on national law, Holland, England, and all other civilized nations, have condemned this
pretended monoply of those seas as contrary to the law of nature and nations. Spain once pretended to possess an exclusive right to the Gulf of Mexico. The high and holy law, do as you would be done unto, and the moral law of nations, also reprobate these unfounded claims to a monopoly of the seas and oceans. These baseless assumptions of municipal authority over the high seas, though condemned by right reason and the moral sense of mankind, have been at times renewed under the promptings of naval ambition and commercial avarice. In the seventeenth century England, by the Mare Clausum of the celebrated and learned Selden, put forth a pretension to municipal jurisdiction to the four seas adjacent to the British Isle. Britain, from time to time, has put forth this absurd claim by her writers and statesmen, sometimes plainly and frankly as being within reach of her floating cannon and within control of her ships of war.
At others, prescription and presumed consent of European nations are set up as the ground of this fictitious right. During the war with Napoleon, Britain asserted a more extensive authority over the high seas, and in effect claimed a municipal jurisdiction over the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Baltic, and in 1806, '7 and '8, by orders in council and by act of Parliament, she assumed a legislative control over the com
merce of neutral nations in those seas.
She legislated over them as though they had been her colonial subjects or dwellers in the British Isle. One of those orders in council of November 11th, 1807, says: “His Majesty is therefore pleased, by and with the advice of his privy counsel, to order, and it is hereby ordered, that all the ports and places of France and her allies, or of any other country at war with his Majesty, and all other ports and places in Europe, from which, although not at war with his Majesty, the British flag is excluded, and all ports or places in the colonies belonging to his Majesty's enemies, shall, from henceforth, be subject to the same restrictions in point of trade and navigation, with the exceptions hereinafter mentioned, as if the same were actually blockaded by his Majesty's naval forces in the most strict and rigorous manner."
This order in council declared that “every vessel trading from or to the said countries or colonies, together with goods and merchandize on board, and all articles of the produce or manufacture of the said countries or colonies, shall be captured and con: demned as prize to the captors.” One of the exceptions above referred to, allowed certain neutral trade to “some port or place in Europe belonging to his Majesty,” coming from certain ports of his Majesty's enemies. By these orders in council
and act of Parliament, neutrals were required, in order to trade with France and her allies, then embracing most of the continental nations of Eu. rope, to enter a British port, to take a British li. sence and pay a transit duty into the British treasury. This tribute amounted to a large sum on a rich cargo. Britain thus not only asserted and exercised the same municipal authority over neutrals in respect to their ships and cargoes that she ordinarily exercised over British subjects, but she extended her power to the persons of neutrals sailing on the high seas. She impressed seamen from on board American and other neutral ships, naturalized as well as native-born Americans. Multitudes of American and other neutral ships were forcibly seized under these orders in council and act of Parliament, and with their cargoes condemned by the British Admiralty. Such acts were a high handed and unjustifiable assumption of municipal jurisdiction over the high seas, where none such ever existed or can exist according to the law of nature and the moral law of nations. • Thomas Jefferson appropriately called these acts, sa lawless system of piracy.” For the sea being .common to all, and like the air of Heaven, incapable of appropriation, none can make title to any sea without the express consent by treaty of every maritime nation; nay, it cannot be without a treaty
consent of every nation on earth, as the high seas belong to the whole family of man for common use and free navigation. No other consent can be properly alleged against any nation, as a treaty is the only peaceful and Christian mode by which one nation can transfer any vested national right to another. It is agreed among civilized men that all nations have an equal right to the free and uninterrupted navigation of the high seas. This opinion, the golden rule and the moral law of nations, condemn the British assumption of jurisdiction over the persons, ships and cargoes of neutrals on the high seas as destitute of any foundation in reason and equity, and as directly opposed to the fundamental doctrine of the Holy Alliance, to which Britain acceded, that the Gospel was the true international law, and that all nations ought to observe it in their intercourse with each other.
Napoleon was not less extravagant in his pretensions. Britain having by a proclamation blockaded the coast of Europe from Brest to the Elbe, a distance of about eight hundred miles, Napoleon in retaliation, in November, 1806, by a decree, dated at his Imperial Camp in Berlin, declared, among other things, "the British islands are in a state of blockade. All commerce and correspondence with them are prohibited,” 66 every warehouse, all merchandise or property whatever, be