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SECTION SIXTEENTH, NAVIGABLE RIVERS AND STRAITS.
The application of these principles of freedom and equity secure to all nations bordering navigable rivers the right of free navigation to and from the sea. Mr. Clay, as above quoted, proves this forcibly. Great Britain and the United States by the 8th Article of the treaty of 1783, declared, that, “The navigation of the river Mississippi, from its source to the ocean, shall forever remain free and open to the subjects of Great Britain, and the citizens of the United States.” At that time Spain owned Louisiana and both banks of, the river from its mouths up to the 31st degree of north latitude. This is a clear recognition of this natural right of free navigation to all bordering nations.
The allied sovereigns at Vienna declared the same doctrine in favor of the nations bordering the Danube, the Rhine and other German rivers in 1815, as stated above by Mr. Secretary Clay. The right to all nations contiguous to navigable rivers to freely navigate to and from the sea is a natural right, thus solemnly admitted by the allied sovereigns of Europe and by the United States. It reposes upon the noble principle of equity, do as you would be done unto. Our doctrine of the right of free passage along the strait or river St. Lawrence, and all other navigable straits connecting seas bordered by two or more nations is supported by the Abbe Galliani in his work Dei Doveri de Neutrali, lib. 1st, ch. 10th, s. 1st, quoted with approbation by Azumi in his Maritime Law, part 1st, ch. 2d, s. 17th. Azumi in his work part 1st, ch. 3d, art. 2d, affirms the same principles. It is a just, equal and equitable principle. Having explained upon the principles of the moral law of nations, the extent and nature of a nation's territorial rights, maritime curtilage, and its interests in navigable rivers washing its soil, we now pass to the examination of the title of every state to the high seas beyond the line of demarkation, which we have described as the limit
of internal jurisdiction.
The nature of the seas and oceans covering the larger portion of our globe, places them beyond the power of man and subject only to the control of the Almighty. The seas are his, the stormy winds and mountain waves obey no other Lord. When He arises in terrible majesty to shake the earth and sends abroad his roaring tempests over the seas, war fleets and the richly laden argossies of commerce are scattered like chaff before the wind or overwhelmed by the breaking up of the
mighty deep. The caverns of the seas are filled with countless ships and millions of sea-voyagers engulfed age after age in the ocean's unfathomable waters. These vast and accumulated wrecks of human power and grandeur, over which the waves roll in sublime magnificence, attest that God is the only sovereign of the seas. In vain did Canute
command the waves to stop as they approached,
his majesty, for they obey the voice of Him who hath said, thus far shalt thou come and no farther ; peace, be still. Nor has man yet been able to erect a single monument in the seas of his dominion, and he cannot even indent their waters by a passing keel but for a moment. The oceans are now as free from all trace on their surface of the track of fleets and navies, as if they had never ploughed the main. The Lord Almighty then truly measures the seas in the hollow of his hand, and they obey Him as their true Sovereign. Azumi in his Maritime Law says, that “the sea belongs to no one; it is the property of all men; all have the same equal right to its use as to the air they breathe, and to the sun that warms them.” Again he says, “the use of the sea, light and air are alike common to all.”
Lord Byron illustrates God's sovereignty of the seas in the following sublime description:
“Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean—roll!
The royal Psalmist, in the 107th Psalm, beautifully discribes the omnipotence of the Lord upon the stormy seas and his terrible majesty in the great waters. In the 89th Psalm he says, “Thou rulest the raging of the sea.”
The Almighty Ruler of the seas has given to all mankind the use of their waters, though he has made them in their nature incapable of private or national appropriation. This is the true ground of title to the high seas, and from their intrinsic nature all men are tenants in common forever of their use. It is but a use and a common use. As all nations are equal in rights under this divine gift to all, this equal common use is the inheritance of every state and kingdom. Vattel supports this view of the subject. Azumi in his Maritime Law maintains the same doctrine with equal force. Reason teaches us that the seas, like air and light, are free and common to all mankind. We have fully illustrated this doctrine in treating of maritime rights appurtenant to the territory of a nation, and of the right of search and maritime curtilage.
SECTION EIGHTEENTH. OF TRANSFER OF A NATION's RIGHT IN THE HIGH SEAS.
Our doctrine of the freedom of the seas, as a common birth-right is generally admitted, but in different ages aspiring and unscrupulous maritime States have claimed to own by virtue of superior naval power, a larger right in the seas and oceans than originally belonged to them. We have seen these unfounded claims most arrogantly asserted by the Athenians, the Portuguese and the English. This pretended jurisdiction over the high seas rests, so far as it has any foundation, upon conquest, upon usage and upon the consent, express or implied of other maritime States. Let us examine this subject by the light of reason and equity, and see if any nation can be recognized by the moral law of nations as ruler of the seas. No nation, it is clear, can acquire the common use of