The effects of this severity are pregnant with in-
Direct commerce with the Spanish
settlements was punished by the Spaniards with confiscation and the threat of eternal wo. The moral sense of mariners revolted at the extravagance: since forfeiture, imprisonment, and excommunication, were to follow the attempt at the fair exchanges of trade; since the freebooter and the pirate could not suffer more than was menaced against the merchant who should disregard the maritime monopoly,—the seas became infested by reckless bucaniers, the natural offspring of colonial restrictions.
Rich Spanish settlements in America
were pillaged; fleets attacked and captured; predatory invasions were even made on land to intercept the loads of gold, as they came from the mines; and men, who might have acquired honor and wealth in commerce, if commerce had been permitted, now displayed a sagacity of contrivance, coolness of execution, and capacity for enduring hardships, which won them the admiration of their contemporaries, and, in a better cause, would have won them the perpetual praises of the world.
, the freedom of the sea was vindicated against the claims of Spain
by a nation, hardly yet recognized as an independent state, occupying a soil, of which much had been redeemed by industry, and driven by the stern necessity of a dense population to seek for resources upon the sea. The most gifted of her sons, who first gave expression to the idea, that ‘free ships make free goods,’1
defended the liberty of commerce, and appealed to the judgment of all free governments and nations against the