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port in France, to be stopped and sent into such port as' may be most convenient, to be purchased by government,^ or to be released only on condition of security being given by the master that he will proceed to dispose of his cargo in the port of some country in amity with his majesty. It is conceived that this article is in opposition to the law of nations, which has for its basis reason and the usage of civilized countries; for reason and usage have established that, when two nations are at war, those who choose to live in peace retain their natural right to pursue their agriculture, manufactures and other ordinary vocations; to carry the produce of their industry for exchange to all nations belligerent or neutral, as usual; to go and come freely without injury or molestation, and in short that the war among others shall be for them as if it did not exist. One restriction on their natural rights has been submitted to by nations at peace, which is that of not furnishing to either party implements merely of war, for the annoyance of the other, nor any thing whatever to a place blockaded by its enemy: What these implements of war are has been so often agreed, and is so well understood as to leave little question about them at this day: there does not perhaps exist a civilized nation in our common hemisphere, which has not made a particular enumeration of them in some of their treaties under the name of contraband ; from whence it clearly appears, that corn, flour and meal arc not of the class of contraband, and consequently remain articles of free commerce. It is the common interest of mankind, that a culture, which like that of the soil furnishes sustenance and employment to so .great a proportion of them, should not be interrupted or suspended because two nations are involved in war. It is also the interest of humanity, that those articles, which are destined for the destruction of mankind, should not be classed with those intended for their subsistence. If any nation has a right to shut up to the produce of another all the ports of the earth, except her own and those of her friends, she may shut them up also, whereby the neutral nation would be confined to her own ports: or if from motives of policy she were to abstain from this last exclusion, yet the opposite party would certainly have an equal right to pursue the same measure, whereby the same consequence would ensue.— But for a nation to have its peaceable industry suspended
and its citizens reduced to idleness and want by the act of another, is a restriction which reason and justice do not authorize.—Neither can it be deemed sufficient for the belligerent powers to say, " we and our friends will purchase your produce;" because it is obvious that this effectually destroys the right all people have of judging for themselves what market best suits them, and precludes them from the enjoyment of the necessaries and comforts which might be obtained in return from any other independent country.
It being evident therefore that the state of war existing between Great Britain and France furnishes no legitimate right to either to interrupt the agriculture of the United States, or the peaceable exchange of its produce with all nations, the exercise of it will be as lawful hereafter as now, in peace as in war; for no ground acknowledged by the common reason of mankind authorizing the act now, unacknowledged ground may be taken at any time; and a practice is hereby begun, to which no time, no circumstances prescribe any limits, and which strikes at the root cf the agriculture of the United States, that branch of industry which gives food, clothing and comfort to the bulk of their inhabitants.
This act too tends directly to draw the United States from that state of peace in which they wish to remain, for it is an essential character of neutrality to furnish no aids (not stipulated by previous treaty) to one party which are not furnished with equal readiness to the other. If the United States permit corn to be sent to Great Britain and her friends, they are equally bound to permit it to France t to restrain it would lead to war with France ; and between restraining it themselves and acquiescing in the restraint by her enemies is no difference—She might consider this acquiescence as a pretext, and the United States would see themselves plunged by this measure into a war with which they meddle not, and which they wish to avoid, if justice to all parties and from all parties will enable them to avoid it. In the case where they found themselves obliged by treaty to withhold from the enemies of France the right of arming in their ports, they thought themselves in justice bound to withhold the same right from France also, and they did it: were they to withhold supplies of provisions, they would by the same principle of impartial neutrality bo. bound *t> withhold them from her enemies also, and thus either shut to themselves all the ports of Europe where corn is in demand, or make themselves parties in the war. This is a dilemma to which the President trusts the justice and friendly disposition of his majesty will not permit him to reduce the United States, especially as he is conscious that
they have given no cause for it by any part of their con
duct : he therefore doubts not that on this exposition of the injury resulting to the United States, a measure so
detrimental to them will be discontinued, and compensa
tion made to such of their citizens as may have suffered thereby. In thus unfolding to his majesty's government the objections to this measure, the undersigned is particularly instructed to declare that the United States found their expectation of justice from his majesty's government on a strict observance of it on their parts, and to offer the most explicit assurance of their earnest desire to live on terms of the best friendship with this country. THOMAS PINCKNEY. True copy, GEO. TAYLOR, JUN.
Philadelphia, April 11, 1794.
SIR,+In a letter which I had the honour of addressing to your predecessor on the 12th of September last, I communicated to him an additional instruction, given by his majesty’s order in council of the 8th of June, 1793, to the commanders of all British armed vessels, and accompanied it by some few observations, cxplanatory of the principles in which it had originated. But as Mr. Pinckney has recently presented to his majesty’s ministers a memorial relative to the instruction in question, I am directed to submit to you, sir, some farther remarks on this subject, in reply to that gentleman’s representations.
I have formerly stated, that, at the period of issuing this instruction, the situation of France was notoriously such as to point out the prevention of its receiving supplies as one of the means of reducing it to reasonable terms of peace, and that this species of commerce being almost entirely prosecuted by the then ruling party of France, it could no longer be regarded as a mercantile speculation of individuals, but as an immediate operation of the very persons
"who had declared and were carrying on war against Great Britain. Notwithstanding this situation and these circumstances, his majesty's government, so far from proceeding to the extent which the law of nations would have warranted, adopted regulations, by which its limits were contracted, and its rigour was qualified: for the instruction only prevented the French from being supplied with corn, omitting all mention of other provisions, and especially of rice, one of the staple agricultural productions of the United States—and even with regard to corn, the regulation, instead of a confiscation of the cargoes, assured to the neutral proprietors a full indemnification for any loss they could possibly sustain.
It is not essential to the present question to enter into an examination of the different definitions, which, as you, sir, well know, have been given of the law of nations, and of the consequent diversity of sentiment that has prevailed, as well with respect to the principles on which it is established, as to the obligations which it prescribes. I shall therefore not hesitate to admit the broad basis which Mr. Pinckney has assigned to it—reason and the usage of civilized countries: but I must premise, that, though the principle of reason be immutable, its dictates are sometimes governed by circumstances, or liable to different interpretations; and that the usage of nations is fluctuating. Hence then, in order to ascertain the real nature of the system which is established on this basis, it is necessary to recur to the result of the experience and wisdom of ages and of nations, as it is collected and exposed by those authors who have treated this subject. If it be examined by this criterion, it is manifest, that the right of a belligerent power to stop and even to seize supplies of provisions going to its enemies is strongly inculcated in all the ancient authors, and is recognised by Vattel, whose writings contain a much more modified and limited system in these respects than that which is to be found in the books of authority, on which the practice and law of nations rest: and in point of fact it would I doubt not be found on investigation, that the milder usage with respect to provisions is of a recent date. In regard to the collateral argument which Mr. Pinckney deduces from the enumeration of articles denominated contrebande de guerre, as. contained in particulnr treaties—it is proper for me to obvoh. ir. .3
serve that those treaties, are not declaratory of the law of nations, but are restrictions and modifications of that law by special agreements between the contracting parties; and are consequently neither binding on other powers, nor even on the parties themselves in other cases. But even conceding the argument to be well founded, the conclusion from it would be favourable to the regulation enforced by his majesty’s order of council: for of the two only existing treaties, by which his majesty’s conduct is regulated towards nations neutral in the present war, one (that with Sweden) expressly includes provisions in the enumeration of articles contrebande de guerre :* and professor Martens, one of the most accurate and unquestionably one of the most modern writers on the law of nations, asserts (page 390, vol. 2d) that corn and other provisions, even brandy and tobacco, are comprehended under the denomination of contrebande de guerre in some treaties of commerce. The same author, in the section to which I have referred, adds that the maritime powers (especially since the end of the last century) have introduced a practice of declaring to the neutral nations, at the commencement of a war, the articles which would be regarded as contraband : and the sole limitation, which he appears to assign to declarations of this nature, is—that they shall not operate to the prejudice of particular treaties which may subsist between the neutral nations and the belligerent power promulgating such declarations. I shall certainly not controvert Mr. Pinckney’s position—“that it is the common interest of mankind that a culture which, like that of the soil, furnishes sustenance and employment to so great a pro[. of them, should not be interrupted or suspended ecause two nations are involved in war:” But I must at the same time be permitted to observe that it is at least a questionable point whether the “interests of humanity” be not best consulted by a recurrence on the part of a belligerent power to all the honourable means of imposing on an enemy the necessity, of submitting to reasonable terms of accommodation, and of thereby abridging the durationof the calamities of war. The expectation of imposing this necessity is the motive, under the influence of which
* Vide the eleventh article of the treaty of alliance concluded on the
21st of October, 1661, between King Charles the second and his Swedish. majosty.