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HISTORY OF CANADA.   159

submitted with very bad grace to the exercise by British men-of-war of the right of search as then recognized among the powers of Europe. But at this crisis in European history, Great Britain declined to forego any right the exercise of which could strengthen her hands in the contest with Napoleon. At the same time she desired to keep within her rights as then recognized. Therefore when, in 1807, H.M.S. Leopard boarded the U. S. frigate Chesapeake in search of deserters, Great Britain promptly made reparation, admitting that the right of search did not extend to the national ships of a neutral nation, but only to private vessels.

Neutral Rights.—The chief cause, however, put forward by the United States to justify the war of 1812 was the passing of what are known as the British " Orders-in-Council." The British navy had established a blockade of the French coast in order to cut off France from supplies by sea. To offset this, Napoleon in 1806 issued his celebrated " Berlin Decree," declaring the British Isles to be in a state of blockade, and forbidding all trade with or through British ports. There was no pretence of an actual blockade. The decree simply attempted to establish a "paper blockade," which international law does not recognize. Nevertheless Napoleon's cruisers rigorously enforced the decree against neutral ships wherever they were found, and the commerce of Great Britain and all who traded with her suffered in consequence. The Orders-in-Council were passed in January and November, 1807, as a measure of retaliation on the part of the British. French law had for many years denied to foreigners the right to trade with French colonies. Now, debarred by British cruisers from herself carrying on the colonial trade, France had allowed neutral nations to take it up,'and it was mainly to put a stop to this, which was really a French trade, that the Orders-in-Council were passed. Napoleon retorted by the " Milan Decree " (December, 1807), by which any ship submitting to the Orders-in-Council was made in effect a British ship, and as such liable to seizure by French cruisers.

Retaliatory Measures by the United States.—The United States was now almost the only neutral nation, and the effect of the "Decrees" and "Orders-in-Council" upon her commerce was undoubtedly severe. Jefferson, who was then president, was decidedly opposed to war. He endeavored to retaliate upon


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