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treaties, concluded by one class of states. And, strictly speaking, there has been no great neutral power in the world before America. Before that time there is an uncommon variety of principles. Even in treaties of very exact language; a legitimate blockade is defined in a vague manner. It is made an affair of construction, and there will always be an extreme difficulty in settling construction between nations. We know not how the principle of "free ships, free goods" was excluded from the code. We have not looked very accurately into the collections; but we have no doubt, that three-fourths of the commercial treaties, since the treaty of Westphalia in 1668, expressly recognize this doctrine; and though it is found, we believe, in every treaty made by this country, except those with England, the American government, at an early period of its history, declared it was not one of the established principles of the commercial laws of nations.* We have no disposition to undervalue the labour of writers on public law. On the contrary, they have rendered great services to mankind; for it is, obviously, of infinite importance, that nations should possess a code to regulate their conduct in regard to each other. We cannot reduce public or national law to the precision of municipal. This is not necessary. But we may fairly suppose, that a code so infinitely improved during the last century, is susceptible, still, of far greater perfection. The rights of belligerents are very accurately defined; so, that in truth, war, and the relations of nations in war, are now regulated by very precise laws. This has been done by the progress of civilization; and no one will deny that it has been highly beneficial. There is another part of this code still in a confused and very unsatisfactory condition. We mean that part which relates to the rights and duties of neutrals. There have been constant difficulties on the subject of blockades, contrabands, and the right of search; but none of them are at all new; they occurred with great severity in the application in the beginning of the last century. In the wars that have
* See Mr. Jefferson's letter of July 24, 1793.
just ended, in which this country finally took a part, and which were, in some respects, maritime, not a single principle, beneficial to the neutral, has been secured. In all the treaties made in the celebrated years of 1814, 1815, treaties, that appear to guarantee the repose of the world for centuties, we find no allusion to the neutral. And it is, truly, a most discouraging circumstance, how completely all armed neutralities have been dissolved, and how entirely the obligation different states (this country among others) have entered into, to establish a convention for the protection of the neutral, have been forgotten on the return of peace. Still, the neutral should not be in despair. The great improvements, taking place in society and in the intercourse of nations, will probably in time reach that portion of the code which relates to him.
The war with England, and the movements in the British House of Commons in the beginning of the summer of '82, finally induced the provinces, not only to make a treaty, but Mr. Adams was enabled, under those favourable auspices to negotiate a loan with certain merchants of Amsterdam, at first (in September 1782) for* 5,000,000 guilders at 5 per cent. redeemable in ten years ;-2,000,000 at 4 per cent. in '85; and, again, 1,000,000 in 1787 at 5 per cent. The price of these loans was, probably higher than was paid by other nations; but America did not enter into the market of Amsterdam with all the advantages of a well established government. When the first loan was contracted in September '82, very little doubt could exist but that America would be able ultimately to maintain her independence against the claims. of the mother country. But this was not sufficient for the European money lender. It was necessary to satisfy him, that the confederacy of '74, whose pledge was his only security, would remain united, would not separate into thirteen independent governments, neither willing nor able to execute
*In November 1781, the French king borrowed, for the United States, of the States General, 5,000,000 florins, at 4 per cent.
their engagements. The debts, contracted by the United States in Europe, during the revolution, were all honourably paid; but the adoption of the constitution of '89, and the establishment of a treasury department, contributed in no small degree to this happy result. The pecuniary embarrassments under which the confederacy laboured, both as it respects the foreign and domestic debt, constituted, in reality, one of the principal arguments in favour of the present union of the States; and the Dutch as well as French creditor is much indebted to that change in the concerns of the country for the speedy and exact payment of his demands.
As the United Provinces were the second state to acknowledge the independence of this country, so they were the second to send a minister plenipotentiary to the Congress at Philadelphia. This was done with great promptitude. The person appointed was P. T. Van Berckel. He arrived in America in the autumn of '83, and in October of the same year was admitted in the form prescribed to a public audiHe addressed a speech to Congress on the occasion in the French language. A greater interest than common is justly attached to his sentiments, as there is some slight resemblance in the history of the Dutch and American revolutions.
The treaty, made in '82, having no limitation, continued in force, till the creation of the kingdom of the Netherlands and the consolidation of the Dutch and Belgic provinces in 1814 and 15.* Separate from the vast and very lucrative trade carried on with the Dutch East and West Indies, and colo
* In 1792, William Short of Virginia, was appointed minister resident to the Hague, and in May 1794, John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts. William Vans Murray, of Maryland, was appointed minister resident in March 1797, and was the last minister to the Netherlands, till the renewal of intercourse by the appointment of William Eustis, of Massachusetts, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, in December 1814. The executive, in June 1801, suspended the legations at the Hague and at Lisbon. M. Van Polaner succeeded M. Van Berckel as minister resident, after the appointment of Mr. Adams.
nies on the American continent; this country has had from 1794 (with the exception of '99, when Holland was invaded by an English and Russian army, and during nearly the whole year her ports declared to be in vigorous blockade,) a very great direct commerce till 1808 and 9. But the diplomatic relations have been subject to uncommon vicissitudes, and have been interrupted the greater part of the time. Holland fell the same year with Austrian Flanders, and the country on the left bank of the Rhine. This was the important result of the brilliant campaign of '94. From that period we trace the original Dutch confederacy through the successive changes of a national assembly, a Batavian republic, an aristocratic legislature, an elective monarchy, an hereditary monarchy, a department in 1810 of the imperial government, and lastly, to its union in 1814 and 15, with Belgium. The United States have not followed step by step these revolutions in its government; but a friendly intercourse has always been maintained and till the abdication of Louis in July 1810, many openings were found for trade, notwithstanding the severity with which the continental system was attempted to be enforced. The special application of that system to Holland, however in 1809 and the following years, has subsequently given rise to the same controversy on the subject of illegal seizures, the American government has had with Spain and Naples. American property to a great amount was most unjustly seized; and ultimately confiscated. That, which was not liable to the operation of the Berlin and Milan decrees, was sequestrated under the 10th article of the treaty of Paris of March 1810.* It is in these words, and it is as unprincipled an act as can be conceived. 66 Every description of merchandize that has arrived in the ports of Holland in American vessels since the 1st January 1809, or which shall hereafter so arrive, shall be put under sequestration, and shall belong to France, to be disposed of according to circumstances and the political
* Martens, vol. xii. p. 307.
relations of that country with the United States." This treaty, the Dutch admiral Verhuel was obliged to sign with M. de Champagny. It was the preliminary step to the abdication of Louis, an event, indeed, that followed a few months after, but the king of Holland, in consenting to the sacrifices required by this instrument, doubtless hoped to preserve the independence of a people to whom he was evidently attached, and over whom very much against his inclination, he had been appointed to reign. Louis in his own hand made observations on the different provisions of this treaty. They have been preserved, and have since been published in a manner, that leaves no doubt of their authenticity. In regard to the 10th article just quoted, he remarks, "I expect from the justice of the Emperor that he will express his intentions in a different way as it respects this property. I think it should be treated as property under similar circumstances has been in Spain and Naples, and that the same date should be assigned for the application of the article."* This arrangement would have placed the property in depôt subject to future examination and decision. It has, at least, the semblance of fairness. The proposition was free from the licentious, unsparing injustice of the original article. The independence and upright intentions of Louis in this affair, deserve to be mentioned with applause, a compliment equally due to his undeviating good treatment of American commerce. But, in reality, we believe this would have been but a milder and less expeditious mode of transferring this American property to the imperial treasury. It amounts to little more than changing the phrase. The history of the claims of this country on the Dutch government does not differ in principle from that on Spain or Naples.
* In a letter of December 1809, Napoleon says to Louis, "You have received in the ports of Holland every American vessel, rejected from my harbours, that presented itself to you." Documents sur la Hollande, vol. iii.