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upheld by the stipulation (art. 23) that, in the case of war between the contracting parties, pacific merchant vessels and traders should be left unmolested by either belligerent party. It is now a century ago, that between two independent States the principle was established (as Dr. Woolsey puts it), "that all private property on the sea, engaged in a lawful trade to permitted ports, should be allowed to cross the seas in safety." This principle is thus no pious chimæra, as it has been called, † and it is expected, ere long, to be recognized, as an established rule of International Law, even by those who are its most ardent opposers. Even Ortolan, who is regarded as the best modern defender of the practice of capturing private property when employed in peaceable commerce on the high seas, rejects the doctrine of personal liability in war of private individual members of belligerent States, and gives the following basis for the usages of war.
"En général, on peut dire que les règles observées par les peuples belligérants, à l'égard les uns des autres, sont basées sur les principes suivants."
"La guerre est une relation d'État à État et non pas une relation d'individus à individus isolés."
"C'est une lute violente entre des corps collectifs, pendant laquelle chacun d'eux est autorisé à s'approprier par la force les biens et les droits de son ennemi; mais les biens et les droits des membres individuels, étant distincts de ceux du corps entier, doivent être respectés." ‡
After the treaty of 1785 between the United States and Prussia, it was France that next proclaimed and brought into practice the immunity of private property at sea. In 1792 the
* WOOLSEY. p. 248.
† HEFFTER. Droit Intern. de l'Europe § 139.
ORTOLAN. Régles Intern. et Dipl, de la Mer. Edit. 1864, p. 27.
Legislative Assembly of France, on the motion of Kersaint, member for Paris, voted, on 30th of May, the following decree. "Le Pouvoir Executif est invité a négocier avec les puissances étrangères, pour faire supprimer, dans les guerres qui pourraient avoir lieu sur mer, les armements en course, et pour assurer la libre navigation du commerce. On the 19th of June, 1792, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, Mr. de Chambonas, sent a circular note to the representatives of France at foreign Courts, with instructions to open negotiations, for the carrying out of the decree of 30th May afore-mentioned. Only the United States of America responded unconditionally favourable to these generous propositions, through its Secretary of State, Mr. Jefferson, relating the principles contained in the recent treaty with Prussia.
During the Franco-Spanish war of 1823, Mr. de Chateaubriand, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced by his circular note of April 12 of that year, to the representatives of France at the Courts of Maritime Powers, that France would abstain from giving letters of marque to privateers and that the Royal Navy would fight only Spanish war-vessels; all private property at sea, whether enemy or neutral, would be left unmolested. Subsequently, in December, 1823, President James Munroe, wishing to consolidate this good example displayed by France into an established code of international rules, proposed to France, Great-Britain and Russia an international convention to regulate the principle of general commercial neutrality on the basis of the United States' treaty with Prussia of 1785, but only Russia gave an efficient answer to the American project, and, in spite of the efforts of indi
* See WHEATON. Elem. of Int. Law. Edition of William Beach Lawrence, p. 430, note.
vidual members of Legislative bodies, the best portion of the Press, Scientific Academies and different Chambers of Commerce, it was not until 1856, after the Crimean war, that decided progress was made in maritime warfare, by the well-known Declaration of Paris, when the old barbaric doctrine of bellum omnium contra omnes, with the system of privateering built on it, was for ever abandoned. (See Chapter XXXIII).
The most decided step in the right direction was the sound position taken up by the Italian Legislature, which, on the proposal of the Government, adopted in Art. 211 of the Maritime Code of 1865, the principle of general immunity of enemy commerce on the just basis of reciprocity. This principle was carried out in the war waged by Prussia and Italy against Austria in 1866 and in the Franco-German War of 1870, and it was also introduced into the treaty of Italy with the United States of America, of 26th February,
With regard to the existing differences between war on land and maritime warfare, Halleck makes the following statements. "Several of the ablest continental writers oppose this distinction on principle. The Abbé Mably advocated an entire freedom of commercial intercourse in war, even between the subjects of the belligerent Powers; and Emerigon, yielding to the arguments of the Abbé, expresses an earnest desire that the laws of war may be modified or changed accordingly. Others, again, think that the change should extend only to the adoption of the principle that private property on the high seas should be subject to the same rules in war as private property on land; without any modification of the law of war respecting the commercial intercourse of subjects of the belligerent Powers. Napoleon
I. in his Memoirs, dictated at St. Helena, says: 'Il est à désirer qu'un temps vienne, ou les mêmes idées libérales s'étendent sur la guerre de mer, et que les armées navales de deux puissances puissent se battre sans donner lieu à la confiscation des navires marchands, et sans faire constituer prisonniers de guerre de simples matelots du commerce,' etc. The great advantages which England, by means of her naval superiority, has derived from the capture of private property upon the high seas, have tended very much to the maintenance of the rigour of the ancient rule of commercial warfare, while other Nations have adopted more liberal principles and views in war on land, whereby the interests and happiness of the human race have been greatly promoted."
The government of the United States proposed to add to the first article of 'the declaration concerning maritime law,' made by the Conference of Paris, April 16, 1856, the following words: and the private property of the subjects or citizens of a belligerent on the high seas shall be exempted from seizure by public armed vessels of the other belligerent, unless it be contraband.'
This proposition was favourably received by several Cabinets, but European civilization seems not to have arrived, as yet, at that stage of development which would secure the general adoption of this rule of equity and simple fairness in maritime warfare.
of the opposite
§ 200. After having noted, in the preceding The arguments paragraphs, the principles of the Law of War, doctrine. with regard to the inviolability of inoffensive private property of individual members of enemy States, which principles are corroborated by the
*MABLY. Droit Public, etc. Chapt. XII. p. 308. NAPOLEON. Mémoires, etc., tome III. Chapt. VI. HALLECK. Vol. II. p. 125.
actual usages of war, in dealing with private property on land, as described in paragraphs 180191, we must now proceed to investigate the arguments, which the supporters of the opposite doctrine bring forward in defence of the capturing of inoffensive private property at sea, as a necessary and indispensable practice of war.
The principal argument on which this right of capture at sea is based, is the difference which is said to exist between private property on land in an occupied territory and that on the high seas. Ortolan, whom Dudley Field (Draft outlines, etc. p. 527) regards as having advanced the best arguments in defence of the practice of capturing inoffensive private property at sea, states his argument in the following words.
"L'assimilation complète qu'on prétend établir, pour la solution de cette question, entre les relations des peuples par la voie de mer et leurs relations par la voie de terre, aboutit souvent à des consequences erronées. La mer et la terre son des éléments si différents, que tout ce qui se passe sur l'un et sur l'autre, bien que basé sur les mêmes principes généraux, doit présenter nécessairement dans l'application des differences notables. Ces différences sont nombreuses à l'état de paix; elles le sont plus encore à l'état de guerre.
On ne peut pas assimiler le commerce maritime au commerce pacifique et sédentaire qui a lieu sur terre; on ne peut pas dire qu'un navire marchand
*The writers on International Law of the present century, who, on various grounds, more or less decidedly defend the theory of booty and prizes, are the following.
ORTOLAN. Règles Intern. et Dipl. de la Mer. (Ed. 1864) Vol. II. p. 40, et seq. HAUTEFEUILLE. Des Droits et des Devoirs des Nations neutres. Edit. 1858. Vol. I. p. 160, et seq. Sir ROBERT PHILLIMORE. Comm. on Intern. Law. Vol. III. Edit. 1873. p. 361, et seq. TRAVENS TWISS. The Law of Nations in time of war. Edit. 1863. Chapts, 6 & 9. W. E. HALL. Intern. Law. (Edit. 1880), pages 60 & 61, and p. 375, et seq.