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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539 (Page 8)

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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539
admited to limit the description to materials which in their ordinary use & common application,
are, in considerable quantities, proper for, or "serve directly to, the equipment of vessels. To
exclude it, or to construe the article as if it was excluded, is to substitute another agreement for
that of the parties.
We do not admit the expression we are considering to be in itself doubtful. But if it was
so, rules of construction prescribd by reason, & adopted by common consent, seem to us, to
reject the interpretation of the british courts.
As this contract is formed between a belligerent [17] and neutral nation, it must have
been designed to secure the rights of each, & consequently, to protect that commerce which
neutrals may lawfully carry on, as well as to authorize the seizure of articles which they may not
lawfully carry to the enemy. But under the interpretation complained of, not only articles of
doubtful use with respect to the equipment of vessels, but such as are not proper for that purpose,
or if proper only in very small quantities, & which therefore are not in common so applied, are
because they may by [mere] possibility admit of that application, classd with articles prohibited
on the principles that they are for the purpose of war.
This construction ought to be rejected, because it woud swell the list of contraband to an
extent which the laws & usages of nations do not authorize: it woud prohibit, as being for the
& necessary
equipment of vessels, articles plainly not destind for that purpose, but fited for, the ordinary
occupations of men in peace: and it woud consequently presuppose a surrender on the part of the
United States, of rights in themselves, unquestionable, & the exercise of which is essential to
themselves, & not injurious to Britain in the prosecution of the war in which she is engag
A construction so abused & so odious ought to be rejected. The cares on which this
reasoning is founded, have, many of them, been, already, stated to you, & they are, in some
instances I be[18]leive, now depending in the court of admiralty in Great Britain.
In addition to the injury of condemning as contraband, goods which cannot properly, be
so denominated, seizures & confiscations have been made in cases, where the condemnation
even of contraband, coud not have been justified.
Articles of that description are, only, by the treaty declard to be "just objects of
confiscation, whenever they are attempted to be carried to an enemy".

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