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From an article by Herr Winand Engel in the PanGerman organ, Das Grössere Deutschland:

German policy is forced to secure for itself by all conceivable means domination over the world-sea. I deliberately use the expression domination over the world-sea and not the expression freedom of the seas,' which is common to-day. The latter expression is either dishonest or stupid. The sea is free to us only if we dominate it. If we do not dominate it, it may one day be closed against us."

These statements breathe the same spirit as Bonaparte's fiery utterances. The "Freedom of the Seas" is explained to mean something which would enable Germany to obtain certain strategic advantages and improve her position as a maritime Power. But the nature of these strategic advantages-the naval bases demanded; the use to which they would be put ("jumping-off places " for the navy)-reveal very clearly the ulterior object of the claim. The German object in claiming the "Freedom of the Seas" does not differ from Bonaparte's-to destroy England's command of the sea, and to obtain the command as the essential factor of world-dominion. This is the military aspect of the question; the commercial aspect, as it is derived from history, is dealt with in outline in this essay. For Bonaparte it was another means of achieving the same object, and the doctrines he advanced have been advanced by the Germans. It may be summarized in one short sentence-to utilize the neutral.

The aim of the neutral was to trade with the enemy with greater freedom from England's belligerent interference. The aim of the enemy was to trade with the neutral with the same freedom, because that trade would assure his supplies of ships' timber and naval stores, without which he could not carry on the war. as true of the war carried on by Louis XVI as it was of the Napoleonic Wars. Bonaparte's principle was that as against England no nation had a right to be neutral; and the "Continental System was built up by the use he made of unwilling

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neutrals, compelling them to refuse to trade with England. Louis XVI's Minister, de Vergennes, also devised a Continental System by the law of July, 1778. He promised the neutrals "free ships free goods," on condition that they would compel England to recognise the principle. He withdrew the favour from the Dutch, until they were forced to insist on a one-sided interpretation of the Treaty of Westminster of 1674, which led them into war with England. In both cases" free ships free goods was the strategic formula by which, under the guise of "free commerce," world-dominion was to be obtained. As Mahan says, the neutral carrier was the key of the position."'i

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The broad principle on which England's action against the neutrals has been based is to prevent their assistance in any form reaching the enemy, whether that assistance took the form of carrying the enemy's coasting trade, assisting him in carrying on his colonial trade, carrying the enemy's goods to his ports, or creating a shore depot through which goods passed to the enemy overland.

The subsidiary points specially dwelt on in this essay are: (i) that treaties do not, as a rule, establish general principles of International Law; the enjoyment of the privileges created by them are limited to the parties who have entered into them; (ii) that the trade by which assistance is rendered to the enemy is carried on by individual merchants and shipowners, and not by neutral States; (iii) that the laws of neutrality affect Governments, not individuals; and although attempts have often been made to prohibit trade with the enemy, even in contraband, or with blockaded ports, the trading instinct is so strong that they have failed. There is no other solution of the difficulty than the recognition of the fact that this trade is carried on subject to the risk of seizure by the belligerent.

So much emphasis has been laid by the Germans on 'Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, Vol. II, p. 354.

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the breach of neutrality which they allege to be involved in supplying contraband to the belligerents, that it may be well to point out that, if trade in contraband were prohibited by law, it would lead to this inevitable result that all States would be compelled to fight on their own resources, and, inevitably, the small States would be rapidly absorbed by a powerful State bent on achieving world-dominion.

Exigencies of space prevent this essay from being as complete as it should be. There are at least three important questions in the history of the subject which it has been impossible to elaborate: (i) the policy of Louis XVI in 1778, which led to the passing of the law of July, in which "free ships free goods was first adopted; (ii) the maritime law of France; and (iii) the general scheme of the old commercial treaties in which the maxim "free ships free goods was agreed to between the parties to them as a corollary to their acceptance of "enemy ships enemy goods."

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IN March, 1812, the Duc de Bassano, Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented a Report to Bonaparte, which was read before the Sénat-Conservateur of the Empire. It began with the following sentences:

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Les droits maritimes des neutres ont été réglés solennellement par le traité d'Utrecht, devenu la loi commune des nations. Cette loi, textuellement renouvelée dans tous les traités subséquents, a consacré les principes que je vais exposer. Le pavillon couvre la marchandise. La marchandise

ennemie sous pavillon neutre est neutre, comme la marchandise neutre sous pavillon ennemi est ennemie.

Les seules marchandises que ne couvre pas le pavillon, sont les marchandises de contrebande, et les seules marchandises de contrebande sont les armes et les munitions de guerre.

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The Report is based on this thesis: the Berlin and Milan Decrees must remain in force until the English Orders in Council are withdrawn, and the principles of the Treaty of Utrecht regarding neutrals are restored to validity (remis en vigueur). England is to be banished from the Continent until she consents "finally to adopt the principles on which European society is based, to recognise the Law of Nations, and to respect the rights consecrated by the Treaty of Utrecht.

England's many offences were recited in the preamble to the Berlin Decree, but her crowning iniquity, in the eyes of the enemy, was the declaration of blockade of the coasts from the River Elbe to the Port

of Brest on May 16, 1806. The Duc de Bassano continued:

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Ce fut en 1806 que commença l'exécution de ce système, qui tendait à faire fléchir la loi commune des nations devant les ordres du Conseil et les règlements de l'Amirauté de Londres.


Le Gouvernement anglais arrachait ainsi le masque dont il avait couvert ses projets, proclamait la domination universelle des mers, regardait tous les peuples comme ses tributaires, et imposait au continent les frais de la guerre qu'il entretenait contre lui. Ces mesures inouïes excitèrent une indignation générale parmi les Puissances qui avaient conservé le sentiment de leur indépendance et de leurs droits."

This Report forms a convenient starting-point for the consideration of the historical aspect of the "Freedom of the Seas." It states, as no other document, in the most concise form, the nature of the long-standing grievance against England. In reality it is the grievance of the neutrals; it is here adopted by the enemy. Moreover, it puts the case of the neutrals as high as it can be put that it rests on treaty, the treaty of 1713, by which the political system of Europe had been adjusted. If the neutrals could be persuaded to believe that the Law of Nations had also been settled at the same time, England's dominion over the seas would be shown to be based on the breach of this fundamental treaty; they would then the more easily be persuaded to try to shake themselves free from her domination, and Bonaparte would have gone a long way to establishing that "Freedom of the Seas "of which he claimed to be the protector. But, if the case against England as put by Bonaparte breaks down, it is certain that the neutrals can find no more powerful advocate, nor any stronger argument.

Now, first, the Report starts with a distorted statement of fact. The notification of the blockade of the Elbe was itself a reprisal for the closing by Prussia, at the instigation of Bonaparte, of the North Sea ports against British shipping on 1st April, 1806.'

1 Cambridge Modern History, Vol. IX., pp. 364, 365.

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