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Court, and if condemned, the Vessel is to be declared a lawful Prize as well as the Cargo, and are to be sold for the profit of the two Nations; the Slaves are to receive a Certificate of Emancipation, and to be delivered over to the Government on whose Territory the Court is which passes sentence, to be employed as servants or free labourers; each of the Governments binds itself to guarantee the liberty of such portion of these Individuals as may be respectively assigned to it. Particular provisions are made for remuneration in case Vessels are not condemned after trial : and Special Instructions are stipulated to be furnished to Commanders of Vessels possessing the qualified right of visitation and search.
These Powers entertain the opinion, that nothing short of the concession of a qualified right of visitation and search cau practically suppress the Slave-trade; an association of armed Ships is contemplated, to form a species of Naval Police, to be stationed principally in the African Seas, where the Commanders of the Ships will be enabled to co-operate in harmony and concert.
The United States have beeu earnestly invited by the principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the British Government, to join in the same, or similar arrangements; and this invitation has been sanctioned and enforced by an unanimous vote of the Houses of Lords and Commons, in a manner that precludes all doubts as to the sincerity and benevolence of their designs.
In answer to this invitation, the President of The United States has expressed his regret, that the stipulations in the Treaties communicated, are of a character to which the peculiar situation and Institutions of The United States do not permit them to accede.
The objections made are contained in an extract of a Letter from the Secretary of State, under date of the 20 November, 1818, in which it is observed, “ that in examining the provisions of the Treaties communicated by Lord Castlereagh, all the essential Articles appear to be of a character not adaptable to the Institutions, or to the circumstances of The United States. The powers agreed to be reciprocally given to the Officers of the Ships of War of either Party, to enter, search, capture, and carry into Port for Adjudication, the Merchant Vessels of the other, however qualified and restricted, is most essentially connected with the institution, by each Treaty, of two Mixed Courts, one of which to reside in the external or Colonial Possession of each of the two Parties respectively. This part of the system is indispensable to give it that character of reciprocity, without which the right granted to the armed Ships of one Nation to search the Merchant Vessels of another, would be rather a mark of vassalage than of independence. But to this part of the system The United States, having no Colonies either on the Coast of Africa, or in the West Indies, cannot give effect. That, by the Constitution of The United States it is pro. vided, that the Judicial Power of The United States shall be vested in a Supreme Court, and in such Inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. It provides that the Judges of these Courts shall hold their offices during good behaviour: and that they shall be removable by impeachment, on conviction of Crimes and Misdemeanors. There may be doubts whether the power of the Government of The United States is competent to institute a Court for carrying into execution their Penal Statutes beyond the Territories of The United States; a Court, consisting partly of Foreign Judges, not amenable to impeachment for corruption, and deciding upon Statutes of The United States without appeal.
“ That the disposal of the Negroes found on board of the Slavetrading Vessels, which might be condemned by the Sentence of these Mixed Courts, cannot be carried into effect by The United States; for, if the Slaves of Vessels condemned by the Mixed Courts, should be delivered over to the Government of The United States as freemen, they could not, but by their own consent, be employed as servants or free labourers. The condition of the Blacks being, in this Union, regulated by the municipal Laws of the separate States, the Government of The United States can neither guarantee their liberty in the States where they could only be received as Slaves, nor control them in the States where they could be recognized as free. That the admission of a right in the Officers of Foreign Ships of War, to enter and search the Vessels of The United States in time of Peace, under any circumstances whatever, would meet with universal repugnance in the publick opinion of this Country; that there would be no prospect of a Ratification, by advice and consent of the Senate, to any stipulation of that nature; that the search by Foreign Officers, even in time of War, is so obnoxious to the feelings and recollections of this Country that nothing could reconcile them to the extension of it, however qualified or restricted to a time of peace; and that it would be viewed in a still more aggravated light if, as in the Treaty with The Netherlands, connected with a formal admission, that even Vessels under convoy of Ships of War of their own Nation, should be liable to search by the Ships of War of another.”
The Committee will observe, in the first intance, that a mutual right of search appears to be indispensable to the great object of Abolition; for, while Flags remain as a cover for this traffick, against the right of search by any Vessels except of the same Nation, the chance of detection will be much less than it would be if the right of search was extended to Vessels of other Powers; and as soon as any one Nation should cease to be vigilant in the discovery of infractions practised on its own Code, the Slave-dealers would avail themselves of a system of obtaining fraudulent Papers, and concealing the real Ownership under the cover of such Flags; which would be carried on with such address as to render it easy for the Citizens or Subjects of one State to evade their own Municipal Laws; but if a concerted system existed, and a qualified right of mutual search was granted, the apprehension of these piratical Offenders would be reduced to a much greater certainty; and the very knowledge of the existence of an active and vigorous system of co-operation would divert many from this traffick, as the unlawful Trade would become too bazardous for profitable speculation.
In relation to any inconveniences that might result from such an arrangement, the Commerce of The United States is so limited on the African Coast that it could not be much affected by it; and, as it regards economy, the expence of stationing a few Vessels on that Coast would not be much greater than to maintain them at any other place.
The Committee have briefly noticed the practical results of a reciprocal right of search, as it bears on the Slave-trade; but the objection as to the propriety of ceding this right remains. It is with deference that the Committee undertake to make any remarks upon it; they bear in recollection the opinions entertained in this Country on the practice of searching Neutral Vessels in time of War; but they cannot perceive that the right under discussion is, in principle, allied in any degree to the general question of search; it can involve no commitment, nor is it susceptible of any unfavourable inference on that subject; and even if there were any affinity between the cases, the necessity of a special agreement would be inconsistent with the idea of existing rights; the proposal itself, in the manner made, is a total abandonment, on the part of England, of any claim to visit and search Vessels in a time of Peace, and this question has been unequivocally decided in the negative in her Admiralty Courts.
Although it is not among the objections, that the desired arrangement would give any colour to a claim or right of search in time of Peace, yet, lest the case in this respect may be prejudiced in the minds of any, the Committee will observe, that the right of search in time of peace is one that is not claimed by any Power as a part of the Law of Nations; no Nation pretends that it can exercise the right of visitation and search upon the common and unappropriated parts of the sea, except upon the Belligerent Claim. A recent decision in the British Admiralty Court, in the Case of the French Slave-ship Le Louis, is clear and decisive upon this point. The Case is annexed to this Report.
In regard then to the reciprocal right wished to be ceded, it is reduced to the simple inquiry, whether in practice it will be beneficial to the two Contracting Nations. Its exercise, so far as it relates to the detention of Vessels, as it is confined to the fact of Slaves being actually on board, precludes almost the possibility of accident or much inconvenience.
In relation also to the disposal of the Vessels and Slaves detained, an arrangement perhaps could be effected, so as to deliver them up to the Vessels of the Nation to which the detained Vessel should belong. Under such an understanding the Vessels and Slaves delivered to the jurisdiction of The United States might be disposed of in conformity with the provisions of our own Act of the 3d March, 1819, and an arrangement of this kind would be free from any of the other objections.
An exchange of the right of search, limited in duration, or to continue at pleasure, for the sake of experiment, might, it is anxiously hoped, be so restricted to Vessels and Seas, and with such civil and harmonious Stipulations as not to be unacceptable.
The feelings of this Country on the general question of search, have often been roused to a degree of excitement that evince their unchangeable character; but the American People will readily see the distinction between the cases; the one, in its exercise to the extent claimed, will ever produce irritation, and excite a patriotick spirit of resistance; the other is amicable and charitable; the justness and nobleness of the undertaking are worthy of the combined concern of Christian Nations.
The detestable crime of kidnapping the unoffending Inhabitants of one Country, and chaining them to Slavery in another, is marked with all the atrociousness of Piracy; and, as such, it is stigmatized and punishable by our own Laws.
To efface this reproachful stain from the character of civilized mankind, would be the proudest triumph that could be achieved in the cause of humanity. On this subject, The United States, having led the way, owe it to themselves to give their influence and cordial co-operation to any measure that will accomplish the great and good purpose; but this happy result experience has demonstrated cannot be realized by any system, except a concession by the Maritime Powers to each other's Ships of War, of a qualified right of search; if this object was generally attained, it is confidently believed that the active exertions of even a few Nations would be sufficient entirely to suppress
The Slave-dealers could be successfully assailed on the Coast upon which the Trade originates, as they must necessarily consume more time in the collection and embarkation of their Cargoes, than in the subsequent distribution in the markets for which they are destined; this renders that Coast the most advantageous position for their apprehension; and besides, the African Coast frequented by the Slaveships is indented with so few commodious or accessible Harbours, that, notwithstanding its great extent, it could be guarded by the vigilance of a small number of Cruizers. But if the Slave-ships are permitted to escape from the African Coast, and to be dispersed to different parts of the World, their capture would be rendered uncertain and hopeless. The Committee, after much reflection, offer the following Reso
lution : Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of The United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of The United States be requested to enter into such arrangements as he may deem suitable and proper, with one or more of the Maritime Powers of Europe, for the effectual Abolition of the African Slave-trade.
(Sub-Inclosure 1.)-Report of the Secretary of the Navy. SIR,
Navy Department, 7th February, 1821. I HAVE the honour to transmit to you such information as this Department affords upon the subject of the Slave-trade, in answer to your Letter of the 30th January last.
The inclosed Copy of a Circular to The United States District Attornies and Marshals has been answered, generally, that no Slaves have been brought into their respective Districts, with the exception of Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia ; answers have not been received from Louisiana.
There appears to have been partial Captures made upon the Coast and in the Neighbourhood of Georgia, by the Publick Vessels of The United States; the Slaves in some cases have been bonded out to Individuals until Adjudication.
The Slave-trade has been checked by our Cruizers upon the Southern Coasts of The United States, and no great attempts appear to have been made to introduce Slaves through illicit channels.
There are now in charge of the Marshal of Georgia 248 Africans, taken out of a South American Privateer, the General Ramirez, whose Crew mutipied, and brought the Vessel into St. Mary's, Georgia ; 60 more are in the custody of the Marshal, detained and maintained in the Vicinity of Savannah; 40 or 50 more have been sent out of that State, under what orders it is not known.
The Ships cruizing on the coast of Africa, during the last Year, captured the following Vessels engaged in the Slave-trade, but having no Slaves on board at the time; viz. Schooner Endymion,
Brig Alexander. These Vessels have been condemned in the District Courts of New York and Massachusetts, and their Commanders sentenced to fine and imprisonment, under the Acts of Congress.*
* The information contained in this paragraph is not derived from any official source ; it is nevertheless believed to be correct.