Jurisdiction in Marginal Seas: With Special Reference to Smuggling

By William E. Masterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE RUM TREATIES

§ 70. The Treaty with England

(1) The Negotiations Leading up to the Treaty

The "rum-row" presented many menaces to the enforcement of law and the preservation of order. The United States Government was faced with a serious problem, which called for immediate and drastic action. It wished to be able to move against this rum fleet and to sweep it from its coasts with as little resistance, or opposition, as possible, especially from the nation whose vessels were the chief offenders. It wished to clear the way for unrestricted action under its four-league statutes. As repeatedly pointed out, it has always upheld the validity of the so-called hovering laws taking jurisdiction far beyond three miles from the shore, but at the same time, it was aware of the wavering attitude of the British Government on this question. In order, therefore, to forestall possible repetition of protests by the British Government, which might handicap its action against the rum fleet, it approached that Government on the question of a treaty under which the United States might seize these vessels on the high seas as far out as twelve miles without objection.1 It seemed better to avoid opposition than to

____________________
1
In the language of the Secretary of State, "But it is apparent that, whatever measures this Government may believe that it is free to adopt in accordance with the principles of international law, these, so far as they are practicable, are far from adequate to meet the exigency; and, further, the diplomatic history of the United States reveals the fact that maritime powers, including the United States itself, are highly sensitive to attempts by foreign authorities to seize their vessels on

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