« ForrigeFortsett »
equate, and you desire a more prompt exercise of that authority, the section need not be struck out to accom. plish that. , Surely there is ingenuity enough in those who make the objections to frame such amendments and modifications as may provide for the more prompt application of those means. Some of the objections to the details are undoubtedly well founded, and especially that vessels innocently in port at the commencement of a blockade, will be shut up during its continuance in this den of pirates. To these most certainly the right of egress should be freely permitted. For myself, however, I could not consent to vest the right of instituting blockade in the discretien of the commanding officer on the station, for I think that we have some evidence that such discretion might not always be prudently exercised. But I sincerely hope, that we shall not strike the section altogether out of the bill, from our inability to amend it so as to accomplish the wished for purpose. It is further said, sir, that the national character is in danger. Sir, I estimate as highly as any man can do the value of national character; but, sir, how have we acquired that character, and by what means are we to secure it? Is it by a tame submission to injury, insult, and aggression, ur is it by a prompt correction of evils, and a vigorous exercise of authority, whenever it becomes necessary to protect our rights? Sir, we have endured until forbearance is no longer a virtue. We have already suffered ". The É. of our citizens to the amount of millions, has been plundered, and hundreds of lives have been sacrificed to these merciless cutthroats. ...Already have Allen and Cocke, and many other gallant spirits of our navy, fallen victims in this unholy conflict. Already the streets of your cities are filled with lamentation and mourning for the loss of brothers, husbands, and fathers, most cruelly murdered. The blood of the slain calls for vengeance on your power, and the safety of the living demands protection from
your justice. -
standing the very able and elaborate discussion this sub
ject had undergone, situated as he was, he felt it incum-
but the pirates conceal themselves, with their boats, in small inlets, and finding vessels becalmed,or in a defenceless situation, assail and destroy them, and when discovered, retreat into the country, where, by the apprehensions they create, and the plunder they have obtained, they remain secure, and mingle, at pleasure, in the business of the towns and the transactions of society, and acquire all the information they want to accomplish their purposes. Against such a system as this, the Secretary observes, no naval force, within the control of the Department, can afford complete security, unless aided by the local authorities; and, unless this co-operation be obtained, additional means should be entrusted to the Government, to be used in such manner as experience may dictate. On these communications, the subject was referred to the respectable Committee of Foreign Relations, who, in giving a needful attention to it, inquired of the Executive what the additional means, before referred to, as being expedient to be entrusted to the Government, were; and, in reply, were informed by the communication on our tables, that there were three more effectual means for the suppression of a practice so destructive of the lives and property of our citizens, and that these expedients were, one, by the pursuit of the offenders to the settled, as well as unsettled parts of the Spanish Islands, from whence they issue; another, by reprisal on the property of the inhabitants; and a third, by the blockade of the ports of those islands sheltering the pirates. The committee then report, “that our commerce, for years, has been harassed, and the lives of our citizens destroyed by pirates, issuing from the colonies of Spain in the West indies, is a fact derived not only from the message of the President, but is of universal notoriety. These outrages (they say) have been so long and so often repeated, and marked with such atrocious circumstances, that a detail would be as impracticable as unnecessary.” The committee then report a bill, authorizing the President, at his discretion, on being informed that any of the pirates have escaped from the pursuit of American vessels, and find refuge and shelter in any of the ports of the Island of Cuba, or other Spanish Island, to order a blockade of such port so sheltering and protecting them. We have thus obtained, in the most formal and official manner, direct, unequivocal information, of the existence of these atrocities, of the inability of the navy to suppress them, and of the additional means necessary to be entrusted to the Executive, and referred to in the message. These means, as before stated, are, pursuit on shore, reprisal, and partial blockade of the offending ports. The committee recommend the mildest of these alternatives, the blockade, which is, however, denounced by the highly respectable and able gentleman from Virginia, as being an interpolation on the law of nations; as breaking down the moral force of the Republic, and as a just cause of offence, if not of war, to other nations. Sir, from whom is this advice received From men ranking among the most distinguished civilians of the age, possessing your entire confidence, who have been drilled in diplomacy by a forty year's experience, who have spent their lives in advocating the rights of neutrals, and grown grey in turning over the works of Grotius, and Wattell, and Puffendorff, and Ward, and Azuni, and a host of other authors, with whom I can boast no acquaintance: In reference, therefore, to the source from whence the recommendation is derived, as well as to the feeble lights of his own understanding, he denied the soundness of the inferences that had been drawn; and without even making any more recondite research than to an elementary work, a humble one in some respects, he would contend, that the major proposition includes the minor; the whole embraces all its parts; and that, if you have justifiable cause of war against Cuba, or against
JAN. S1, 1825.2
Suppression of Piracy.
Spain, you have the right to mitigate the evils of war, by the adoption of any milder course you may think proper to pursue. It is true, if you blockade a single port of the Island of Cuba, Spain may be authorized to declare war, and perhaps be joined by her allies, if she and they choose it and this would undoubtedly be attended with great injury to us. Peace is the polar star of the interest of our country; but, if it is only to be preserved at the expense of the continued murder of our citizens, and the plunder of our property with impunity, then, for one, he was ready for war; and how much soever of injury it might entail, it would be accompanied with one consolation, derived from the experience of the last war; which was, that, whatever nation chose to go to war with the United States, it would carry them forward in their progress to maturity, per salten, half a century at a jump. But we are told, other nations will take umbrage at this; that although blockade is a belligerant right, and we impose it, we are still not at war. What have other nations to do with this question It belongs exclusively to us and to Spain. When two nations go to war, who constitutes, without their consent, a third party to determine who is right, or who is in the wrong * All other nations have a right to demand, is, that, in the prosecution of the quarrel, the rights of humanity shall not be outraged, and that the usages of war shall be observed as regards them. What have they then a right to require, as it regards a blockade * simply, that you shall not entrap them—that you shall give them due notice, a sufficient warning, and that you shall keep up a close, rigorous, unremitting investment, by a sufficient force; if you do this, you perform all your duties as regards them—all the rest lies between the party blockading and the party blockaded. But, we are asked, suppose we find these unoffending neutrals in the den of robbers, in the lair of these wild beasts, at the time we invest it, what will you do with them It is answered, give them the right of egress precisely in the state they were at the time the blockade was imposed; after this, strictly keep them in, and keep them out. This is all they have a right to expect. If they are in bad company, they must feel the effect of it. is a formal parchment declaration of war at all times necessary or usual among nations If it is, what was the state of our quasi war with France, in 1798? Where was the proclamation of France, when she blockaded Cadiz, and kept out, not only merchant vessels, but our messenger of peace, in a national vessel ? Where was the proclamation, when the British pounced upon the Spanish frigates and captured them, with their treasure, during the late wars between France and England 7– Where the proclamation, when she sent her fleet up the Cattegat, blockaded and bombarded Copenhagen, and destroyed the Danish fleet? These cases are adduced as showing that, between third parties, a declaration of war, if you choose it, is not considered indispensable, as to usage, not as approving them. Have you abundant cause of war against the inhabitants of Cuba Look at the accounts of your official agent; you find from them, that these murderers and robbers are well known, are connected with the inhabitants, and suffered, if not protected, by the local authorities; and even the Governor General, whose good dispositions are so much spoken of, tells you frankly, when applied to for the aid of government, that, so deeply implicated are all the inhabitants of Regla, where a quantity of plunder was known to be secreted, that he dare not make the investigation—it might create a rebellion. Sir, with something more than delicacy, with an 'approach to fastidiousness, we have kept out of sight the enormities we are suffering; it must be useful, however, to have an occasional and sparing reference to them. He should cite briefly only three instances: The first was that of the Alert, commanded by a very respectable citi
zen of Portsmouth, in New Hampshire—Captain Blunt. This vessel, bound from New Orleans, was becalmed off the Moro Castle; a boat approached, when the first wretch that crossed the gun-wale, ran the captain through the body, who was afterwards cut to pieces, and the only vestige that remained of him in the morning was his slippers, overflowing with blood; the crew were abused, and the cook, asleep in the steerage, was lacerated in the most cruel and wanton manner, and his mangled corpse thrown to the hogs, who were seen the next day fattening on his entrails. The next case is that of the Laura Ann, already before the Senate; this was a vessel belonging to New York, boarded by pirates, at a short distance from Matanzas, when bound to the Havana, who, after beating and inhumanly hanging the captain, butchered the crew; but probably discovering, from a critical comparison of the shipping paper, with the number of the dead and dying on the deck, that there was one still wanting, they descended into the hold, exclaiming, in their barbarous language uno mus—one rat left; pricked, with their knives and swords, to find out the deficient sailor, and, lest he should not have escaped torture by drowning, on not finding him, set fire to the vessel, in order that, if on board, he might be consumed with it; on the flames reaching him, he crawled on deck, and finding the pirates were off, dropped over board, and happily reached the shore. The last case he should cite, was one that has not before been distinctly presented to the Senate; it is of recent date, and was now on his table in manuscript, duly sworn to. . It furnishes some new facts, and gives an exposition of the neutral rights of the innocent, unoffending inhabitants of Cuba. It is the case of the brig Henry, of Hartford, captured on the 24th of September last, off the Bay of Honda, when bound with a load of sixty-eight mules, from St. Jago, in Mexico, to Charleston, in South Carolina: the vessel, as soon as o: was run into a small creek, alongside ten other hulks of vessels, having the appearance of being recently burned, and which must have been navigated by 130 or 150 men, not one of whom was visible, but the crew of the Henry was significantly given to understand, that their fate, as soon as the mules were landed, was to be a similar one, and that dead men told no tales. The Henry was then dismasted, to prevent her being seen, her equipment and stores taken out, put on board a Spanish drogher, belonging to Havana, and preparations made for landing the mules: the captain having been twice hung up by the neck to the yard arm, until he was senseless, and became subsequently deranged, the arm of the mate broken by the stroke of a cutlass, and the crew outraged and abused. Happily, however, before the mules could be landed, the vessel was discovered by the boats of the English sloop of war Icarus, who humanely came to their assistance; and on their approach, the pirates quitted their prey, and abandoned it. Not so easily, however, did the neutral inhabitants of Cuba quit their hold; after a time they came off-plead their neutral rights—claimed the mules as their property—they had bought them of the pirates— they had paid a valuable consideration—they had an equitable interest in them, and demanded their delivery !!... The British commander indignantly took the best possible course he could have adopted, with a single exception; he instantly ordered all the mules to be shot upon the deck; the exception referred to, is, that he should have shot, in preference, those who demanded them. Mr. L. stated, he would not pursue this disgusting detail, but would leave it, after observing, that if, for a length of time, we permitted atrocities of this kind to continue and go unpunished, the multitudinous waves of the ocean would not speedily efface the crimson it would attach to our escutcheon. He had said, that, with the exception of the third set:
of Piracy. [JAN. 31, 1825.
tion, now proposed to be stricken out, and the first, which contained no new principle, he considered the bill as of little value. The first section provided for the increase of the Navy, by the addition of ten sloops of war; this he warmly approved; it would be useful in the suppression of piratical depredation, but it grew not out of that consideration alone; the subject was fully considered and discussed, and approved the past winter; it was advocated as needful in any event, for the completion of our naval peace establishment, as necessary for the security of our interests, and the protection of our rights on the coast of Africa, in the Mediterranean, and in the Pacific, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico—as a measure of economy; for five sloops of war could be built for the same cost as one 74; and as a needful school for our young officers to qualify them for higher and important com. mands. Tuis was the origin of the measure of an increase of ten sloops of war; which he hoped would be adopted. The other principles of the bill, independent of the blockade, were, the authority to pursue on shore, to arm the merchant vessels at their own expense, to require bonds that an ill use should not be made of the armament, to distribute prize money, subject, however, to the paramount private agreement of the parties, and to grant pensions from the proceeds of their own captures, and from no other source, to the heirs of those who are killed, and to the survivors who were wounded; all which, he contended, were of scarcely any importance. The right of pursuit had been given two years ago, by Mr. Secretary Thompson, to Commodore Porter. The arming of merchant vessels was now unrestricted; the merchants did it on their own responsibility, without bond, and this provision was an incumbrance rather than an accommodation to them. The distribution of prize money, they could regulate as well by private agreements, without the law, as with it; and this they could also do with regard to pensions, of which it was difficult to speak seriously. These pensions were to be derived, from what From captures made of Pirate’s row boats, which could not be found ten miles from the shores, and which it would cost ten times as much to bring to the United States as they would be worth when they got there; and this is the only source from which the pensions are to arise, for the act provides that it is to be from this source, and from no other; merchant vessels could not make other captures; ships of war might get salvage occasionally—their business was to cruize along the coast, the object of the merchant ship was to getinto port as soon as possible. He would not pursue the subject, but again repeat, that, if the third section were stricken out, except for the provision with regard to op. of war, he was wholly regardless of the fate of the ill. Mr. VAN BUREN said that the subject under consideration was justly considered by the gentlemen who had spoken before him, as one of the utmost importance, requiring the prompt, zealous, and efficient attention of the government. It was one in which a great portion of his immediate constituents, from their situation and pursuits, had a deep interest, and thinking so, partook largely of the general solicitude which was every where felt in relation to the proceedings of Congress in the matter. That circumstance must be his apology for prolonging a discussion which had been conducted with so much ability. At the commencement of the session, this subject was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations; they had given to it their early and zealous attention, and the bill on the table was the result of their deliberations. Although he might not be
able to * all its provisions, he was led, by inclination as well as duty, to give them a liberal and candid examination—to aid in their improvement, if that should be in his power, and support such as he could, con
sistent with obligations of an equally imperative character. Although the immediate question before the Senate was to strike out the third section, authorizing, in certain cases, a blockade of the ports of the Spanish Islands in the West Indies, the discussion had embraced the whole subject. He thought this course justifiable, and would himself follow the example which had been set. As early as the year 1822, piracies in the Gulf of Mexico and West India seas, had arrived at so great a height, and assumed a character so alarming, as to call for the most rigorous exertion of the Government for their suppression. The call was not made in vain. In December, 1822, a law was passed, “authorizing an additional naval force for the suppression of piracy;” making an ample appropriation for the object, and placing the means provided at the disposal of the Executive. Those means had been put in prompt and effectual requisition, under his direction. In February, 1823, a squadron, consisting of seventeen vessels, of different sizes, besides barges, was prepared for sea, and despatched upon the service authorized by the act, under the command of the most gallant and meritorious officer of the navy, Captain David Porter. The success which crowned the exertions of Capt. Porter, and the gallant men under his command, was fresh in the recollection of all. Although driven from the station by pestilence, in the latter part of the season, such had been the destruction, and such the impression made on the pirates, that Captain Porter, in his letter to the Secretary of the Navy, of Nov. 19, 1823, declared “that he had no knowledge of the existence of any piratical establishment, vessel, or boat, or a pirate afloat in the West Indies and Gulf of Mexico. That they had all been burnt, taken, destroyed, and driven to the shore, where the latter had, in most cases, been speedily captured by the local military.” And the Secretary of the Navy, in his report to the President, of the 1st of December, 1823, which accompanied his message to Congress, stated that “piracy, as a system, had been o: in the neighborhood of the Island of Cuba, and now required only to be watched by a proper force, to be prevented from afflicting commerce any further in that quarter.” Such were the results produced by the exertions made for the suppression of piracy in 1823. Let us now, (said Mr. V. B.) direct our attention, for a few moments, to those of the past year. The Secretary of the Navy, in his communication of the 12th of January last, informs us, that all the vessels, making the squadron of 1823, (except four small schooners two of which had been lost, and two abandoned, as unfit for service,) “had been uniformly employed in the object, so far as their size, and the necessity of occasional returns into port for stores and repairs, would permit; that the effect produced had fallen far short of that of the preceding season, was most apparent. From the month of July down to the last accounts, the horrid practice had been gradually extending and assuming new features of atrocity, until it had arrived at a height not only ruinous to our commerce in those seas, but, in an unprecedented degree, destructive of the lives of our citizens, and distressing to the cause of humanity.” To what cause, he asked, are we to attribute this unfortunate and distressing disparity in the results of the service of the two successive seasons? He put the question, not with a view to implicate any one, but to be informed, by those more capable, and who had better means of information: To the end that, if in the power of Congress, the appropriate remedy might be applied. He knew too well, and prized too highly, the gallantry, fortitude, and perseverance, of our naval officers and seamen, to believe, for a moment, that they could be deficient in anything which duty required at their hands; and he did not feel himself at liberty, from all the information before us, to say that there had been dishonor or misconduct upon the part of those to whose control the made to the Department of State by the commercial agents at the Havana, (Mr. Randall and Mr. Mountain,) and laid before the Senate, in pursuance of their call, the explanation is attempted to be given. In their several letters, from July to late in November, they complain of the withdrawal of the squadron from that station. They put this matter strongly before the Government—they say, “that since the spring, the vessels have been diso persed on various services remote from the Island ; “that they have merely made it a touching point, in “transitu, without remaining long enough to make any “permanent impression on the system.” They do not question, but, on the contrary, highly applaud the zeal, enterprise, and courage, of our officers and seamen actually engaged in pursuit of the pirates, but attribute the consequence to the diversion of the force to other and incompatible objects; of which, the chief one, they say, is the employment of the vessels, destined for the suppression of piracy, to the transportation of specie from ports in the Gulf of Mexico, to the United States. They are very explicit on this subject, and as he (Mr. vas Bunex,) had already observed, expressed themselves very strongly. On the other hand, Commodore Porter repelled the complaints which had been made to the Government by merchants and others, with great force, attributing the revival of piracy to causes other than those spoken of by Randall and Mountain. It was not, Mr. VAN BUREN said, for the Senate to decide whether there was blame any where, or if there was, where it lay. The act of 1822 did not (as its title would seem to indicate,) confine the appropriation exclusively to the suppression of piracy, but provides “for affording effectual protection to the citizens and commerce of the United states, in the Gulf of Mexico and the seas and territories adjacent.” Under it, Commodore Porter had been charged by the Navy Department, in his first instructions, in addition to the suppression of piracy, not only to extend his attention to the suppression of the slave trade, to the system of privateering on our commerce, carried on from Porto Rico and Porto Cavello, but also to the protection of the convoy of specie from Vera Cruz and the Mexican coast generally to the United States. There was, Mr. W. B. said, no complaint from the Department, that any greater attention had been paid to the latter branch of duty than was warranted by its instructions. But he thought there was reason to apprehend, that the main object, the suppression of piracy, had been seriously affected by the multiplication and variety, and supposed incompatibility of the duties he had spoken of He advanced this suggestion, however, with diffidence. His inexperience in these matters might lead him into error—but if there was ground for the apprehension he entertained, he respectfully submitted whether measures ought not now to be taken to prevent a recurrence of the evil. Mr. WAN BUREN said, he would not detain the Senate longer on that branch of the subject, but proceed to the consideration of the different sections of the bill. [He then adverted to the provisions of the bill authorizing the building often sloops of war, the privileges given and rights secured to merchant vessels who should arm for their own defence, and the authority to place on the pension list those seamen in the merchant service who should be wounded by the pirates, and the widows or children of the slain, explaining the grounds on which they rested, and his ideas of their propriety..] These, said Mr. V. B. are all the provisions recommended by the committee looking to attacks upon the pirates on the ocean. They are appropriate, and, as far as such measures can go, will doubtless be found sufficient. But it is supposed that, in consequence of the changed condition of things on the Island of Cuba, other measures, and of a different character, are called for.
JAN. 31, 1825.] Suppression of Piracy. [Senate. force employed was entrusted. In the communications|cient aid from the local authorities of the Island. It is
now said, that that aid has been withheld during the last season, and that, instead thereof, there has been criminal confederacy with the pirates on the part of the great body of the inhabitants of the Island, and a participation in their plunder—that, with the exception of the Captain General, and some of the higher officers, there has not only been a total remissness on the part of the local authorities in the use of means for the detection and destruction of the pirates; but that they have received countenance and protection from most of the officers of the Government. It is on the assumption of those positions, that the committee have recommended measures which are intended to bear upon the inhabitants themselves. That these measures, or others of the same tendency, may change the existing relations between Spain and our Government, is understood; and
the consequent propriety of looking well to the facts on
which they are predicated, has been duly appreciated.
The Executive has been called upon for information.
He has furnished it. Of the credibility of the sources
from which it is derived, we cannot judge; but we are
to presume it good—the ability of its author is apparent.
The statements made by Mr. Randall, and by Mr. Moun
tain, are full of, to us, the most distressing, and to the
people and local government of Cuba, discreditable and
even criminal facts. We are told, that there is not the
least doubt, that many of the inhabitants are concerned
in the equipment of the vessels employed by the pirates;
and in the participation of their plunder—that the mo
ment a prize to the pirates arrives on the coast, persons
from the interior throng to the spot to share in or purchase the plunder; that the property soon finds its way into the cities, and tempts the cupidity of all by the ad
vantage of the treasure; that large quantities of the
plunder have been known to be introduced into Matanzas, and publicly sold, at prices which alone betray the
nature of the property; that retailers of goods are seen. travelling to the coast with pack horses, for the known
purposes of purchasing fom the pirates; that this was carried to so great an extent, that a respectable Englishman, who owned a ferry near the city, informed Mr. Randall that the returns from his ferry gave certain indication when prizes were on the coast, from the number of persons who resort from Matanzas to their rendezvous;
that persons, known to be pirates, walk the streets of that city unmolested, wearing upon their persons goods known to have been obtained by violence. One case which is mentioned by Mr. Randall, will serve to illustrate, in the most striking manner, the extent of this evil. A large sum of money in doubloons, which had been plundered from a Boston vessel, had been traced to the village of Regla. The Captain General was informed of the fact, and his aid asked for its recovery.
Having caused inquiry to be made, he sent for the claimant, and informed him that he feared all Regla would be implicated in the robbery, and that, in the then disturbed and critical condition of the island, he dared not push the investigation further. And, to give countenance to the practices enumerated, we are told that men of responsibility on the island, openly justify the conduct of the pirates, making it a political question, and urging the commission of what they call similar practices of the Americans, in capturing Spanish property, under the South American flag. To redress those atrocious disorders, frequent and unavailing applications have been made to the local government. Circumstantial and well authenticated accounts of them have been repeatedly laid before the Government of Spain by our Minister at that Court, and the attention of the Spanish Government to the subject, solicited with much eloquence and great force. The appeal thereto has been made in vain; on the contrary, all the indications we can derive from the documents, of the disposition of the Spanish marine, are of a character, evincing an indisposition to aid in the
Suppression of Piracy.
[JAN. 31, 1825.
destruction of the pirates. A Spanish brig of war boarded a piratical vessel in the neighborhood of Cuba, received presents from, and exchanged civilities with her, and suffered her to pass, on being informed by the pirate that he cruized only against the enemies of Spain. In another case, a Spanish vessel of war was laying in Matanzas when the American brig Industry, from Baltimore, was attacked by pirates in the harbor without interference on the part of the Spaniard, although the attack was well known at Matanzas at the time of it. It is from these and other facts, established by the documents on our tables, said Mr. W. B. that the committee have drawn the strong inference of a participation in the guilt of the pirates on the part of the inhabitants of Cuba—remissness, if not encouragement, on the part of the local government, and a total disregard of our complaint on the part of Spain. In his judgment, the committee were well warranted in the opinion they had formed and expressed. The case was one which he thought called for the exercise of the best means at the disposal of the Government. That the extermination of those atrocious robbers was due to the character of the country, to the cause of humanity, and to the rights and injuries of our oppressed citizens, was a sentiment in which all concurred. We have, said he, the physical power to effect it—we have the moral power—-that is, the right to do it, and the duty of its accomplishment rests upon us. If they differed, it could only be as to the means to be employed, and the manner of their application. On that subject, he would submit his ideas with freedom, but with diffidence, and with an entire willingness to yield to the views of those who were better able to judge. The 1.xecutive, in his message, had suggested three expedients, in addition to the other and undisputed provisions of the bill, viz. “the pursuit of the “offenders to the settled as well as unsettled part of the “the island, reprisals on ..". of the inhabitants, “and a blockade of the island from which the pirates is“sued.” The committee had adopted the first and last only. §. W. B. said he complained of the provisions of the bill professing to give the right of pursuit, because it fell short of what it ought to be, and he was constrained, by obligations of the most imperative character, to oppose that which authorizes a blockade of the Spanish ports, as Y. unwarrantable. He would state the grounds on which his objection rested. The section confines the right to land and capture the pirates, to cases of fresh rsuit. That right existed to the full extent, by the aw of nations, to which it was professed to be given by the bill, except, perhaps, the alternative of bringing the pirates to this country for trial, if they were captured in the inhabited parts of the Spanish territory. That such, too, was the opinion of our Government, would be seen on a reference to the instructions given to Captain Portar by the former Secretary of the Navy. But a slight consideration of the subject was necessary to show that that opinion was ...} founded. Although pirates are not regarded as enemies in the sense in which we speak of the public wars of belligerants and neutrals, still, the inferences which have been drawn b the former Secretary, by analogy to the rights of a belligerant to follow his enemy in certain cases, into a neutral port or country, are founded in reason and good sense. That a belligerant has a right so to follow his enemy, is certain, but in what case can he (without fault on the part of the neutral) alone exercise this right—it is in case of eager pursuit, on account of some conflict or violence which has preceded and which is followed up, whilst the matter is warm. Otherwise, he has no right to seek his enemy in the port or country of his friend. So too, in regard to pirates, if a vessel is attacked by them, and in its defence, or if, knowing them to be such, and in a lawful attempt to arrest them, they fly any where, by land or water, you have a right to pursue
them. If that pursuit was continued into the Thames, to the city of London, even to Westminster Hall itself, the act of the pursuer would not give just cause of complaint to the Government whose territory was so invaded: The motive and the object were laudable, and no of. fence or injury being intended, none would be considered as done. The truth and justice of this position, he said, might be illustrated by familiar allusion to the personal rights of individuals, and he made them.—There is, therefore, no doubt, said Mr. W. B. that, if our vessels come in contact with the pirates at sea, and they fly, the right of pursuit to the land, settled or unsettled, attaches, and the bill upon the table gave no more. It was most evident that, unless Spain could be induced to interfere, or the mischief in some other form repressed, a further authority to our forces would become indispensable—the authority to land on the island in search of pirates, to exercise municipal authority there, to wrest the sword of justice from the hands of those who were unable or unwilling to wield it for the ends of justice. He would give the right to the President, to authorize the exercise of such powers, under the circumstances he would thereafter state. Mr. VAN BUREN said, that the views he had thus far taken of the subject, brought him to the consideration of the immediate question before the Senate, the motion made by the gentleman from Virginia to strike out the third section, which authorizes the blockade of the Spanish ports upon the establishment of certain facts. Mr. W. B. said he fully concurred with the honorable gentleman who had made the motion, in considering the measure the section contemplated as utterly unwarrantable by the law of nations, and (if that view of it could be entertained) wholly inexpedient. Mr. V. B. said that the two gentlemen of the committee who had preceded him, and the gentleman from Massachusetts, who had last addressed the chair, (Mr. I.Lord,) had attempted to support the measure on various, but, in Mr. VAN BunkN's opinion, untenable grounds. The gentleman last up had endeavored to do it in part on the score of the authority derived from the recommendation of the Executive, inferring from thence the opinion of his cabinet, composed, as it undoubtedly was, of men of learning and talents, in favor of the fitness of authorizing of blockades under the circumstances contemplated by the bill. The first we hear of the measure is from our agent at Havana; the next in the report of the Secretary of the Navy, accompanying the President’s message at the commencement of the session, as explained by the Secretary in his letter to the chairman of our Naval Committee; and, lastly, in the suggestion of the President in his late message to the Senate. Mr. WAN BUREN said that he had reason to doubt the correctness of the inference of the honorable gentleman; that he had accidentally been possessed of the knowledge, that at least one of the persons alluded to, and him whom the honorable gentleman possibly referred to as the one who had spent a great portion of his life in the study of Grotius, Puffendorff, and Vattel, and other writers on national law, was not of the opinion supposed. But, waiving further remark on that head, what, said Mr. W. B. is the right of blockade It is, said he, one of the highest acts of sovereignty which the law of nations allows to a belligerant, and, however well established the right is, its exercise is universally conceded to be most harsh and oppressive in its operation upon the rights of third parties of any that is contained in the code. By it a belligerant extends the hardships and sacrifices of war, from the parties concerned to their neutral friends, by interrupting their accustomed and otherwise lawful commerce. He does this when and where, on the coast of his enemy, he pleases, and to any extent his passions or supposed interests dictate, and his means can accomplish; all others must submit to it under heavy and well defined penalties.