Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

» *

are broken, or at least suspended, between the sovereign and his people, the contending parties may then be considered as two distinct Powers; and, since they are both equally inde

pendent of all foreign authority, nobody has a right to judge “ them. Either may be in the right; and each of those who

grant their assistance may imagine that he is acting in support of the better cause.'

2ndly.—“Those who thus assist either side are entitled to be “ treated on the usual footing of enemies in general, and, according to the laws of war, as auxiliaries in a regular war.”

3rdly. He says,“ After having established the position that foreign nations “ have no right to interfere in the government of an indepen“ dent State, it is not difficult to prove that the latter has a right “to oppose such interference. A sovereign has a right to treat “ those as enemies who attempt to interfere in his domestic “ affairs otherwise than by their good offices.”+

Now, it is obvious that a foreign Power intervening in a civil war, however justifiable the intervention, makes itself the ally of one party, and the enemy of the other. This intervention is war with one or the other party. Vattel goes so far as to say, that it is a regular war, in some cases morally justifiable; and stops at that point. But since his time, the increasing desire not to engage in wars which can be avoided, has turned attention to defining more accurately the rights and duties of neutrality. To the question, what circumstances should be held to justify the intervention of a foreign Power in a civil war, another is added, what conduct should a foreign Power pursue, so as not to give just cause of offence either to the original State or to the revolted portion ? On the one hand, what act should this foreign Power abstain from doing? On the other, what acts may this foreign Power perform for its own interest, which are not to be considered by either of the contending parties as acts of hostility ?

Great misconception often prevails as to the meaning of the term Recognition, the nature of the act, and the consequences

* Vattel, ii., c. 4, s. 56.

† Ib. s. 57.

resulting from it to the State recognised. We find this misconception common now; and Sir J. Mackintosh and Mr. Canning complained of it in 1824.

In its primary sense, in International Law, Recognition is the term appropriated to the acknowledgment by a State of the independence of a portion or a province which has separated from it. The State recognising cedes its claim of sovereignty, and confers on the portion or province recognised the legal status of independence. Till that moment, worthless as the claim may be, the one has a claim of sovereignty over the other, which by that act it resigns. Thus Great Britain recognised the independence of the United States in 1783.

But there is a secondary use of the word, as applied to the act by which a foreign Power expresses its opinion, that the portion which has revolted from its parent State has acquired actual independence of that State. The foreign Power has no sovereignty to cede. The recognition, therefore, does not confer independence, but implies a solemn verdict on the part of the Power which recognises, recording the establishment in fact of that independence.

The following passage from Sir J. Mackintosh's speech in 1824, on the recognition of the Spanish American States, explains this distinction clearly :

“ Recognition is a term which is used in two senses so different “ from each other as to have nothing very important in common. “ The first, which is the true and legitimate use of the word " recognition,' as a technical term of international law, is that “ in which it denotes the explicit acknowledgment of the inde-.

pendence of a country by a State which formerly exercised sovereignty over it. Such recognitions are renunciations of sovereignty, - surrenders of the power or of the claim to govern.

“ But we, who are as foreign to the Spanish States in America ” as we are to Spain herself,—who never had any more author

ity over them than over her,—have, in this case, no claims to “ renounce, no powers to abdicate, no sovereignty to resign, no

legal rights to confer. What we have to do is, therefore, not

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I. The first of the two cases before us presents an angry correspondence, and a precedent of little value; but, in return, it presents an amusing story. The transactions which ended with the recognition of the United States by France in 1778, were marked throughout by a want of good faith to England. Lewis the Sixteenth, his Ministers, and the French people treated the propriety of the recognition of the United States not as a question of international law, but as a question of the interests of France. Arguments from international law were indeed appealed to, but in support of foregone conclusions, and of a policy adopted without regard to any law. Every fresh diplomatic and even literary discovery on the subject places this in a clearer light. The papers of Beaumarchais have filled up what the letters of Franklin left untold. The appeal to international law is of value to us in tracing the progress of international law, but the main interest of the whole transaction is historical. It was a political intrigue, in which Lewis the Sixteenth, the Comte de Vergennes, and Beaumarchais were the chief actors.

From the beginning, the dispute between England and her American colonies attracted the eager attention of the French Government, and of the French people. When the dispute became revolution, their interest in it deepened. The treaty of 1763, at the end of the seven years war, had always been felt in France to be a humiliation, and the nation hoped that the events in America would lessen the influence of England, and afford an opportunity of repairing their own disgrace. The sympathies of French society displayed themselves even in social habits. “With a frivolity," observes a French historian, « which we mix with our most serious business," whist was banished for a game called Boston. Some, too, saw in the declaration of independence of the 4th of July, 1776, the realisation of the theories of the “Contrat Social," and the opening of a new era. But all hated England.

In 1776, Beaumarchais, at once a secret envoy and the author of “Le Barbier de Seville," a politician and a speculator, presented a memoir to the Government on the subject, which ultimately determined their course of action.

ed their course of action. The memoir is

curious, for a slight change of names would make the sentences express anticipations aroused among ourselves with regard to Canada, by the present American war. He argued in favour of assisting the Americans, in order to save the French Antilles, and even to preserve peace. If England is victorious she will seize our sugar islands to defray the cost of the war; if she is defeated, she will make the same attempt to repair her losses. If the parliamentary opposition comes into office, and reconciles England with her colonies, both will unite against us. Peace between France and England can be preserved only by preventing peace between England and America; and the only means of accomplishing this is by sending assistance to the Americans sufficient to place their forces on a level with those of England, but no more. He recommended that the Americans should be assisted secretly, and offered to undertake the task.*

Lewis the Sixteenth and the Comte de Vergennes, his Minister for Foreign Affairs, shrank from adopting advice which they foresaw must end in war. They thought that the vexatious exercise of the right of search, alleged to have taken place over French vessels, even in French waters, might afford a justground for war; but they also thought that the French navy was not in a state to justify the risk. The whole subject was referred to the Council. M. Turgot was at that time Director-General of the Finances, and thus a member of the Council. He wrote a paper, remarkable not only for the thorough examination of the subject in all its branches, but for the views of colonial policy, and the anticipations contained in it. Nothing, he said, can stop the course of things, which will certainly bring about, sooner or later, the absolute independence of the colonies of England; and the result will be a complete revolution in the political and commercial relations of Europe and America. “I firmly believe that all mother countries will be obliged to abandon all empire over their colonies; to leave them complete freedom of trade with all nations, and to be content with sharing this freedom with others, and with being united to their colonies by the bonds of friendship and fraternity.” He urged many reasons against an offensive war: among others, that such a war would bring

* Beaumarchais et son Temps, par Loménie, i. 102.

« ZurückWeiter »