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tion to the British delegates to the London conference before mentioned, expressed this view of the case, as held in England prior to the present war:
"It is exceedingly doubtful whether the decision of the Supreme Court was in reality meant to cover a case of blockade running in which no question of contraband arose. Certainly if such was the intention the decision would pro tanto be in conflict with the practice of the British courts. His Majesty's Government sees no reason for departing from that practice, and you should endeavor to obtain general recognition of its correctness."
The American note also pointed out that “the circumstances surrounding the Springbok case were essentially different from those of the present day to which the rule laid down in that case is sought to be applied. When the Springbok case arose the ports of the confederate states were effectively blockaded by the · naval forces of the United States, though no neutral ports were closed, and a continuous voyage through a neutral port required an all sea voyage terminating in an attempt to pass the blockading squadron.”
Secretary Lansing interjected new elements into the controversy in assailing as unlawful the jurisdiction of British prize courts over neutral vessels seized or detained. Briefly, Great Britain arbitrarily extended her domestic law, through the promulgation of Orders in Council, to the high seas, which the American Government contended were subject solely to international law. So these Orders in Council, under which the British naval authorities acted in making seizures of neutral shipping, and under which the prize courts pursued their procedure, were viewed as usurping international law. The United States held that Great Britain could not extend the territorial jurisdiction of her domestic law to cover seizures on the high seas. A recourse to British prize courts by American claimants, governed as those courts were by the same Orders in Council which determined the conditions under which seizures and detentions were made, constituted in the American view, the form rather than the substance of redress:
"It is manifest, therefore, that, if prize courts are bound by the laws and regulations under which seizures and detentions are made, and which claimants allege are in contravention of the law of nations, those courts are powerless to pass upon the real ground of complaint or to give redress for wrongs of this nature. Nevertheless, it is seriously suggested that claimants are free to request the prize court to rule upon a claim of conflict between an Order in Council and a rule of international law. How can a tribunal fettered in its jurisdiction and procedure by municipal enactments declare itself emancipated from their restrictions and at liberty to apply the rules of international law with freedom? The very laws and regulations which bind the court are now matters of dispute between the Government of the United States and that of His Britannic Majesty."
The British Government, in pursuit of its favorite device of seeking in American practice parallel instances to justify her prize-court methods, had contended that the United States, in Civil War contraband cases, had also referred foreign claimants to its prize courts for redress. Great Britain at the time of the American Civil War, according to an earlier British note, "in spite of remonstrances from many quarters, placed full reliance on the American prize courts to grant redress to the parties interested in cases of alleged wrongful capture by American ships of war and put forward no claim until the opportunity for redress in those courts had been exhausted."
This did not appear to be altogether the case, Secretary Lansing pointed out that Great Britain, during the progress of the Civil War, had demanded in several instances, through diplomatic channels, while cases were pending, damages for seizures and detentions of British ships alleged to have been made without legal justification. Moreover, “it is understood also that during the Boer War, when British authorities seized the German vessels, the Herzog, the General and the Bundesrath, and released them without prize court proceedings, compensation for damages suffered was arranged through diplomatic channels.”
The point made here was by way of negativing the position Great Britain now took that, pending the exhaustion of legal remedies through the prize courts with the result of a denial of justice to American claimants, "it cannot continue to deal through the diplomatic channels with the individual cases."
The United States summed up its protest against the British practice of adjudicating on the interference with American shipping and commerce on the high seas under British municipal law as follows:
“The Government of the United States, has, therefore, viewed with surprise and concern the attempt of His Majesty's Government to confer upon the British prize courts jurisdiction by this illegal exercise of force in order that these courts may apply to vessels and cargoes of neutral nationalities, seized on the high seas, municipal laws and orders which can only rightfully be enforceable within the territorial waters of Great Britain, or against vessels of British nationality when on the high seas.
"In these circumstances the United States Government feels that it cannot reasonably be expected to advise its citizens to seek redress before tribunals which are, in its opinion, unauthorized by the unrestricted application of international law to grant reparation, nor to refrain from presenting their claims directly to the British Government through diplomatic channels.”
The note, as the foregoing series of excerpts show, presented an array of legal arguments formidable enough to persuade any nation at war of its wrongdoing in adopting practices that caused serious money losses to American interests and demoralized American trade with neutral Europe. Great Britain, however, showed that she was not governed by international law except in so far as it was susceptible to an elastic interpretation, and held, by implication, that a policy of expediency imposed by modern war conditions condoned, if it did not also sanction, infractions.
Nothing in Great Britain's subsequent actions, nor in the utterances of her statesmen, could be construed as promising any abatement of the conditions. In fact, there was an outcry in England that the German blockade should be more stringent by extending it to all neutral ports. Sir Edward Grey duly convinced the House of Commons that the Government could not contemplate such a course, which he viewed as needless, as well as a wrong to neutrals.
As to the hostility of the neutrals to British blockade methods, Sir Edward Grey said:
"What I would say to neutrals is this: There is one main question to be answered-Do they admit our right to apply the principles which were applied by the American Government in the war between the North and South--to apply those principles to modern conditions, and to do our best to prevent trade with the enemy through neutral countries?
"If they say 'Yes'-as they are bound in fairness to saythen I would say to them: 'Do let chambers of commerce, or whatever they may be, do their best to make it easy for us to distinguish.'
“If, on the other hand, they answer it that we are not entitled to interrupt trade with the enemy through neutral countries, I must say definitely that if neutral countries were to take that line, it is a departure from neutrality."
GREAT BRITAIN UNYIELDING - EFFECT OF THE BLOCKADE - THE CHICAGO
MEAT PACKERS' CASE
HE existing restrictions satisfied Great Britain that Ger
many, without being brought to her knees, was feeling the pinch of food shortage. To that extent-and it was enough in England's view—the blockade was effective, the contentions of the United States notwithstanding. So Great Britain's course indicated that she would not relax by a hair the barrier she had reared round the German coast; but she sought to minimize the obstacles to legitimate neutral trade, so far as blockade conditions permitted, and was disposed to pay ample compensation for losses as judicially determined. The outlook was that American scores against her could only be finally settled by arbitral tribunals after the war was over. Satisfaction by arbitration thus remained the only American hope in face of Great Britain's resolve to keep Germany's larder depleted and her export trade at a standstill, whether neutrals suffered or not. Incidentally, the United States was reminded that in the Civil War it served notice on foreign governments that any attempts to interfere with the blockade of the Confederate States would be resented. The situation then, and the situation now, with the parts of the two countries reversed, were considered as analogous.
A parliamentary paper showed that the British measures adopted to intercept the sea-borne commerce of Germany had succeeded up to September, 1915, in stopping 92 per cent of German exports to America. Steps had also been taken to stop exports on a small scale from Germany and Austria-Hungary by parcel post. The results of the blockade were thus summarized:
"First, German exports to overseas countries have almost entirely stopped. Exceptions which have been made are cases in which a refusal to allow the export goods to go through would hurt the neutral country concerned without inflicting injury upon Germany.
"Second, all shipments to neutral countries adjacent to Germany have been carefully scrutinized with a view to the detection of a concealed enemy destination. Wherever there has been a reasonable ground for suspecting the destination, the goods have been placed in charge of a prize court. Doubtful consignments have been detained pending satisfactory guarantees.
“Third, under agreement with bodies of representative merchants of several neutral countries adjacent to Germany, stringent guarantees have been exacted from importers. So far as possible all trade between neutrals and Germany, whether arising from oversea or in the country itself, is restricted.
"Fourth, by agreements with shipping lines and by vigorous use of the power to refuse bunker coal in large proportions the neutral mercantile marine which trades with Scandinavia and . Holland has been induced to agree to conditions designed to prevent the goods of these ships from reaching Germany.