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war upon the ocean.” Dr. Franklin forty years before declared this a principle of natural law, and Prussia admitted it by treaty. The 23d Article of our Prussian treaty of 1785 establishes this doctrine. Napoleon's celebrated Berlin decree of 1806, issued from Berlin, affirmed that the true rule of international law protects private persons and the property of enemies noncombatant on sea and land alike from capture and injury; and the decree reproached Great Britain with a violation of this humane principle, and on this ground a cruel retaliation upon the subjects and property of Britain and upon submitting neutrals, was ordered to coerce the British nation to allow the same immunity to private persons and property at sea as on land. The Berlin decree of the Emperor Napoleon, devised for the purpose of overthrowing the unfounded maritime pretension of Great Britaim to extend her laws over the high seas and the vessels of foreign nations sailing thereon, was concurred in and enforced by France, Russia, Prussia, Denmark, Spain and other continental nations. This decree becomes important as a solemn declaration of the natural right of private persons and property to immunity in war, at sea as well as on land. Though the means adopted by Napoleon and his allies may not be justifiable, the end aimed at, the freedom of the seas and the immunity of private persons and property, command the assent of right reason. It was the adoption of a principle reared on American soil. This document is so celebrated, and its principles were so extensively acted upon by the great continental nations that we give the following translated copy: “Imperial Camp, Berlin, November 21, 1806, Napoleon, Emperor of the French and King of Italy, considering : “1. That England does not admit the right of nations, as universally acknowledged by all civilized people. “2. That she declares as an enemy every individual belonging to an enemy state, and in con
sequence makes prisoners of war not only of the .
crews of armed vessels, but those also of merchant vessels, and even the supercargoes of the same. “3. That she extends or applies to merchant vessels, to articles of commerce, and to the property of individuals, the right of conquest, which can only be applied or extended to what belongs to an enemy state. “4. That she extends to ports not fortified, to harbors and mouths of rivers, the right of blockade, which according to reason and the usages of civilized nations, is applicable only to strong or fortified ports. “5. That she declares places blockaded, be
fore which she has not a single vessel of war; although a place ought not to be considered blockaded, but when it is so invested as that no approach to it can be made without imminent hazard; that she declares even places blockaded which her united forces would be incapable of doing, such as entire coasts and a whole empire. “6. That this unequaled abuse of the right of blockade has no other object than to interrupt the communications of different nations, and to extend the commerce and industry of England upon the ruin of those of the continent. “7. That this being the evident design of England, whoever deals on the continent in English merchandise favors that design, and becomes an accomplice. “8. That this conduct in England (worthy only of the first ages of barbarism) has benefited her to the detriment of other nations. “9. That it being right to oppose to an enemy the same arms she makes use of; to combat as she does; when all ideas of justice and every liberal sentiment (the result of civilization among men) are disregarded. “We have resolved to enforce against England the usages which she has consecrated in her maritime code.
* The present decree shall be considered as the fundamental law of the empire until England has acknowledged that the rights of war are the same on land as at sea ; that they cannot be extended to any private property whatever, nor to persons who are not military; and until the right of blockading be restrained to fortified places actually invested by competent forces. “Article 1. The British islands are in a state of blockade. “2. All commerce and correspondence with them is prohibited. Consequently, all letters or packets written in England or to an Englishman, written in the English language, shall not be despatched from the post-offices; and shall be seized. “3. Every individual, a subject of Great Britain, of whatever rank or condition, who is found in countries occupied by our troops or those of our allies, shall be made prisoners of war. “4. Every ware-house, all merchandise or property whatever, belonging to an Englishman, are declared good prize. “5. One half of the merchandize declared to be good prize and forfeited as in the preceding articles, shall go to indemnify merchants who have suffered losses by the English cruisers. “6. No vessel coming directly from England or her colonies, or having been there since the publication of this decree, shall be admitted into any port. “7. Every vessel that, by a false declaration, contravenes the foregoing disposition, shall be seized, and the ship and corgo confiscated as English property. “8. [This article states, that the councils of prizes at Paris and Milan, shall have recognizance of what may arise in the empire and Italy under that present decree.] “9. Communications of this decree shall be made to the kings of Spain, Naples, Holland, Etruria, and to our other allies, whose subjects, as well as ours, are victims to the injuries and barbarity of the English maritime code. “10. Our ministers of foreign relations, &c. are charged with the execution of the present decree. NAPOLEoN.” The injustice of this decree in its application to neutrals is manifest. For twelve months it was not enforced against American vessels, and the first condemnation of the French courts was accompanied with a recommendation of restitution. The condemnation of our vessels under this decree have in the end been paid for by France and her allies, as they were acts inconsistent with justice, and with the great principles of the Berlin decree, which acknowledged the perfect immunity of pri