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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539 (Page 10)

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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539
This is a vexation proceeding directly from the government, & while may he carried, if
not resisted, to a very injurious extent. Our merchants have greatly complained of it with respect
to Cadiz & the ports of Holland.
If the effectiveness of the blockade be dispensd with, then every port of all the belligerent
powers, may, at all times, he declared in that state, & the commerce of neutrals be, thereby,
subjected to universal capture. But if this principle be strictly adhered to, the capacity [21] to
blockade will be limited by the naval force of the belligerent, &, of consequence, the mischief to
neutral commerce cannot be very extensive. It is therefore of the last importance to neutrals that
this principle be maintained unimpaird.
I observe that you have pressd this reasoning on the british minister, who replies that an
occasional absence of a fleet from a blockaded port, ought not to change the state of the place.
Whatever force this observation may be intitled to where that occasional absence has
been produced by accident, as a storm which for a moment blows off the fleet & forces it from
its station, which station it, immediately, resumes, I am persuaded that where a part of the fleet is
applied, tho only for a time, to other objects, or comes into port, the very principle requiring an
effective blockade,- which is that the mischief can then only be coextensive with the naval force
of the belligerent, requires that, driving such temporary absence, the [22] commerce of neutrals
to the place shoud be free.
The next subject of complaint is
.The unjust decisions of their courts of admiralty, & the impunity which attends captures
totally vexations & without any probable cause.
No source has been more production than this of injury to American commerce. From
none are we to apprehend more serious mischief or ore uncontrollable irritation.
It is not to be expected that all the commanders of national ships, much less that the
commanders of national ships, much less that the commanders of privateers, shoud be men of
correct conduct & habits. The temptation which a rich neutral commerce offers to unprincipled
avarice ­ at all times powerful ­ becomes irresistable, unless strong & efficient restraints be
imposed by the government which employs it. It is the duty of the government to impose such
restraints. Foreign friendly nations who do not exercise against such cruizers their means of self
protection, have a right to expect & to demand it. The failure to [23] impose their exposes the
belligerent government to the just reproach, of causing the injuries it tolerates.

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