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The United States have for a long period, in treaties and otherwise, endeavored to procure the introduction of certain principles into the law of nations, different from those heretofore held by Great Britain, respecting the rights of neutrals, — among them, the principle that the neutral flag should cover the property of an enemy not contraband of

The Congress at Paris in 1856 adopted this with other principles ; and the United States having offered to become a party to that adoption, the principle may perhaps be recognized hereafter, although the accession of the United States to the declaration of the Congress at Paris has not been received.



The following extracts show that Dr. Phillimore recognizes the right of the belligerent to search and seize where the voyage is from one neutral port to another neutral port. He puts that as a case where there is less to excite the vigilance of the master of the neutral vessel, and one where some allowance should be made for any imposition practised on him.

" It is indeed competent to those intrusted with the care of the ship on board of which such despatches are found, to discharge themselves from the imputation of being concerned in the knowledge or management of the transaction. But the presumption is strong against the ignorance of the master of the ship; and when he has knowingly taken on board a packet or letter addressed to a public officer of a belligerent government, the plea of the insig

nificance of the communication, and its want of connection with the political objects of the war, will not avail him; nor, except perhaps in an extreme case of imposition practised upon him, will the plea of ignorance of the contents of the despatches avail him: his redress must be sought against the person whose agent or carrier he was. “With respect to such a case as might exempt the carrier of despatches from the usual penalty, it is to be observed that where the commencement of the voyage is in a neutral country, and to terminate at a neutral port, or at a port to which, though not neutral, an open trade is allowed, in such case there is less to excite the vigilance of the master; and therefore it may be proper to make.some allowance for any imposition which may be practised on him. But where the neutral master receives papers on board in a hostile port, he regives them at his own hazard, and cannot be heard to avow his ignorance of a fact with which, by due inquiry, he might have made himself acquainted.” 3 Phill. Int. Law, 374 (published in 1857).

It may be admitted that in such case, if, without knowledge on the part of the master, and with nothing to excite suspicion, he, in the ordinary course of his business, carries contraband goods intended for a belligerent, or the officers, soldiers, agents, or despatches of a belligerent, this should not furnish cause for the confiscation of the vessel. But neither the fact that the immediate transit was from one neutral port to another, nor the want of knowledge of the master, furnishes a reason why the contraband goods intended for the belligerent, or the persons in his service, or his despatches, should have active transportation, for the purposes of the war, by the neutral vessel, and at the same time immunity from capture because of her neutrality. The vessel cannot be regarded as the territory of the neutral under such circumstances, for territory is not a vehicle of transportation.

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Capture and Surrender of Mason and Slidell.




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