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Gen. Pryor On The Virginius

Gen. Pryor On The Virginius image
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Gun. Roger A Pryor writes to the New York Tribune as follows : " It is evident tliat a v;ir with Spain is imminent ; and it is equally certain, ttiough probably not so evident to the multitud, that the United States are illprepared for war, and that war, even with Spain, will invoive this country in vcry seriou oommercittl and industrial disasters. The writer, while indiguant at thebutchery ot' the Virginius passen - gers, and as sensitivo as any to the honor of the American Hag, thinks, novertheless we havo no ajuus lieili with Spain ; and tbat it is thu duty ot' every citizen in the interest of peace to check the headlong passionsoï the poople These propositions are submitted as ennnciating indisputable principies of international law : I. That a neutral vessel iuay be searchod on the high seas ; and il' fonnd to carry contraband of war, niay be seized and conftscated by adjudication of the Court of Admiralty. II. Much more muy a neutral vessel be soized on the high seas and condemned if it carrios soldiers to the assistance of the belliguicnt. III. This right to search, seize, and condemn the neutral vessel is not affectod by the fact that the party for whom the contraband and troops are intended is an unrecognized community of rebels. Tho case of the Trent is not inconsistent, since she was transporting hostile in dividuals to a neutral country. IV. The legitiinate govern ment has the right to exact the forfeit of lite of such of its own subjects as rise in armed revolt against its authority, and bas the right to punish with death subjects of a neutral power engaged in the revolt. V. The high sea is the property of no nation, or rather is the property of all nations equally ; and a neutral subject taken on the high seas with nrins, and in the act of going to the aid of the revolt, forfeits his life to the captor. VI. It is the duty of a neutral nation to prevent tho issue from its ports of a hostile exped ition in aid of the revolt, and ifit be incompetent to thefulflllment of the obligationl the injured power, may enforce the correlativo right. Henee Spain might have as much right to oblige the United States to observe their neutral obligations as the United States have to restrain or punish by force the excesses of the Cuban people on the pretext that their governmeut was incompetent to the duty. The first fault was committed by the United States in allowing the departure of the Virginius on its ïllicit and criminal errand, and they are in no position to complain of consequences. It is notorious that the Virginius was fitted out in our ports for the express purpose of carrying men and munitious to the aid of the Cuban revolt; that she was caught in the act of canying reeinorcements to rebels ; and the consequence is that sbe is forfeit, and the belligerent individuals on board were subject to execution uuder the laws of war. They were outlaws, and had no claim to the protoction either of public law nor of the laws of the United States. If these propoailions be correct, then hcwever execrable the conduot of the Cuban volunteers, andhowever our blood may boil with indignation at their barbarit.y, the United States havo no legitímate cause of war with Spain. Surely we havo had war enough for one generation, and our forbearanoe will rather challenge admiration for the self poise of a great people than exposé thorn to the suspicion of pusilanimitv.


Old News
Michigan Argus