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with Prussia in 1785. The right of freely navigating the high seas belongs equally to all nations, and their respective laws govern the persons on board their ships while there. A pirate is by the law of nations a public enemy, and he may be punished by all. This is the only exception to this salutary rule of public law. This makes the law of nations correspond with the golden rule and the fundamental declaration of the Holy Alliance tha international law should carry out the doctrines of the Gospel. These are, therefore, plain and ob
, vious principles of the moral law of nations.
Besides the unjust pretensions of Portugal, Britain and France, we have one made by Russia to sovereignty over the Pacific Ocean, north of the 51st degree of latitude, as a close sea, which the United States in 1822 deemed an infringement of the equal rights of other nations, and an abridgment of the perfect freedom of the seas, which is a fundamental principle of the law of nations.
The tribute which the Barbary Powers formerly exacted for allowing vessels to navigate the Media terranean stands condemned by the moral law of nations for the reasons above stated against the British tribute extorted from neutrals. The same objection lies to the old claim of the Porte to shut and open the Black Sea to merchant ships at hen pleasure, a pretension now abandoned.
The exaction by Denmark of sound dues or tolls, can hardly be distinguished from the British and Barbary tribute.
STRAITS AND DANISH SOUND
Denmark demands sound dues or tolls as appurtenant to her ancient sovereignty over Oeresund, • immemorially exercised. The Sound in the narrowest part is scarce three miles wide, and prior to 1658 Scania and consequently both sides of the passage were under the kings of Denmark. When Denmark ceded Scania to Sweden, the right of sound tolls was reserved to Denmark, and Sweden bound herself for a compensation to maintain lights on the Scania side. This exercise of municipal jurisdiction over the common highway of nations, the narrow parts of the high seas, rests upon no solid ground of reason and right. It stands on the same basis as the ancient, baseless and exploded claim of the Sublime Porte to shut at pleasure the Black Sea by refusing to allow ships to pass the canal of Constantinople. Force and the power of exaction were the true groundwork of the Danish and Turkish title, and not right and equity. As the straits to the Black Sea have become free to merchant ships of all nations, so must the passes leading into the Baltic soon
become. The right of free navigation of all seas and straits connecting them belongs to the ships of all nations, and that, as every power has an exclusive jurisdiction over its own ships on the high seas no right of search or visitation of foreign vessels appertains to the armed ships of any maritime State. • Our view of the illegal exaction of Danish tolls is supported by Mr. Upshur, Secretary of State of the United States, in his annual report to the President of the United States, dated November 24th, 1843. The able and fearless Secretary says: “ Denmark has, by sufferance, continued to impose, up to this day, a most singular tax upon all goods which pass in or out of the sound, on board of every ship that enters or leaves the Baltic by this highway of nature.
66 Denmark can not demand this toll upon any principle of natural or public law, nor upon any other ground than ancient usage, which finds no justification in the existing state of things. She renders no service for this exaction, and has not even the claim of power to enforce it.
“A great and general dissatisfaction is felt, by all nations interested in the Baltic trade, at this unnecessary and humiliating exaction. I respectfully suggest that the time has arrived when the United States may properly take some decisive step to relieve our Baltic trade from this oppression."
Daniel Webster, Secretary of State of the United States, in a report made to the President, May 24th, 1841, and in a report upon the nature and extent of American commerce and the restrictions upon it by foreign nations, made to Congress in March, 1842, expressed the same opinion of this Danish sea-mail or tribute. This eminent civilian considers this unfounded claim as reposing upon usage and not upon right. A reasonable and equal charge on all ships passing to defray the annual expense of lights and buoys to insure their safe passage would be reasonable and just. But the Danish sound dues are so heavy as to resemble customs levied for revenue. In this point of view their exaction is unjust, as straits connecting seas are like them common and free to all mankind.
We have considered maritime curtilage appurtenant to the shores of continents and islands, and we come now to regard straits and its application to them. Some of the principal connecting straits or canals are those of Magellan, upwards of 300 miles in length, and varying from less than half a league to several leagues in width, and connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; the straits of Gibralter about 15 miles wide, through which a constant and strong current flows into the Mediterranean; the Dardanelles and Bosphorus uniting
the sea of Marmora or Propontis with the Mediterranean and Black Seas, varying from 750 yards to two miles and upwards in width. From the Black Sea to the Mediterranean is about 170 miles. Xerxes, in his Grecian war, threw a bridge of boats over the Dardanelles 750 yards long, and Darius in his Scythian war constructed one over the Bosphorus 3300 feet long. The waters of the Black Sea run to the Mediterranean with a strong current. The Sound, a strait between the Danish island of Zealand and the Swedish province of Schonen, forming the usual passage for ships from the North Sea into the Baltic, is at Elsineur, its narrowest point two and a half miles wide, and is under the guns of the Danish Castle of Cronburg on Zeeland. The French, English, Dutch, Swedish and American vessels, have paid, and we believe still pay one per cent. toll on the value of their cargoes to the Danish government, and other nations one and a quarter per cent. The straits of Babel Mandel leading into the Red Sea, of Messina, of Otranto leading into the Adriatic, and other 'narrow ones are found in Europe, and in America the pass between Florida and Cuba, the canal strait or river St. Lawrence joining the inland seas of the West with the Atlantic, strikingly resembling the straits from the Euxine to the Mediterranean and other