know that a man may make a vessel and offer it for sale.
If a man may build a vessel for the purpose of offering it for sale to either belligerent party, may he not execute an order for it?
That appears to be a matter of course.
The statute is not made to provide means of protection for belligerent powers, otherwise it would have said, ‘You shall not sell powder or guns, and you shall not sell arms’; and, if it had done so, all Birmingham would have been in arms against it. The object of the statute was this: that we should not have our ports in this country made the ground of hostile movements between the vessels of two belligerent powers, which might be fitted out, furnished, and armed in these ports.
The Alexandra was clearly nothing more than in the course of building.
It appears to me that, if true that the Alabama sailed from Liverpool without any arms at all, as a mere ship in ballast, and that her armament was put on board at Terceira, which is not in her Majesty's dominions, then the Foreign Enlistment Act was not violated at all.
After reading some of the evidence, his lordship said:
If you think that the object was to furnish, fit out, equip, and arm that vessel at Liverpool, that is a different matter; but if you think the object really was to build a ship in obedience to an order, in compliance with a contract, leaving those who bought it to make what use they thought fit of it, then it appears to me that the Foreign Enlistment Act has not been broken.
The jury immediately returned a verdict for the defendants.
An appeal was made, but the full bench decided that there was no jurisdiction.
Against this decision an appeal was taken to the House of Lords, and there dismissed on some technical ground.
Sufficient has been said to show that the action of the Confederate government relative to these cruisers is sustained and justified by international law. The complaints made by the government of the United States
against the government of Great Britain
for acts involving a breach of neutrality find no support in the letter of the law or in its principles, and were conclusively answered by the interpretations of American jurists.
At the same time they are condemned by the antecedent acts of the United States government.
Some of these will be presented.
In the war of the American Revolution
, Dr. Franklin
and Silas Deane were sent to France
as commissioners to look after the interests of the colonies.
In the years 1776 and 1777 they became extensively connected with naval movements.
They built, purchased, equipped, and commissioned ships, all in neutral territory, even filling up blank commissions sent out to them by the Congress
for the purpose.
Among expeditions fitted out by them was one under Captain Wickes
to intercept a convoy of linen ships from Ireland
He went first into the Bay of Biscay
, and afterward entirely around Ireland
, sweeping the sea before him of everything that was not of force to render the attack hopeless.