« AnteriorContinuar »
ernment of Brazil to explore all the waters of the Paraguay that were under Brazilian jurisdiction, and from the provisional director of the Argentine Confederation to explore all rivers within the jurisdiction of his government. The surveys of the Plate, and of the Paraguay and the Parana, had been in progress about a year and a half, when, on January 31, 1855, Lieutenant Page started from Corrientes with a small steamer and two boats to ascend the river Salado, leaving Lieutenant William N. Jeffers in charge of the Water Witch, with instructions to ascend the Parana as far as her draught would allow. Lieutenant Jeffers sailed from Corrientes on the ist of February, and had proceeded only a few miles above the point where the Parana forms the common boundary between Paraguay and the Argentine province of Corrientes, when he ran aground near the Paraguayan fort of Itapiru. An hour later the Water Witch was hauled off and anchored; but while the crew were at dinner it was observed that the Paraguayans were getting their guns ready. Lieutenant Jeffers, though not expecting serious trouble, had the Water Witch cleared for action and gave directions to proceed up the river at all hazards. While he was weighing anchor, a Paraguayan canoe came alongside and a man on board handed him a paper in Spanish. This paper Jeffers declined to receive, since he did not understand the language in which it was printed, and as soon as the anchor was raised he, stood up the river, the crew at quarters. The pilot informed him that the only practicable channel lay close to the fort, on the Paraguayan side of the river, and this he directed the pilot to take. When within three hundred yards from the fort he was hailed, presumably in Spanish, by a person who was said to be the Paraguayan admiral, but not understanding the import of the hail he did not regard it. Two blank cartridges were then fired by the fort in quick succession, and these were followed by a shot which carried away the wheel of the Water Witch, cut the ropes, and mortally wounded the helmsman. Lieutenant Jeffers directed a general fire in return, and the action continued for some minutes. In 1858, the government of the United States sent an expedition to Paraguay to obtain reparation for this and other incidents. The American minister, who accompanied the fleet, obtained “ample apologies,” as well as an indemnity of $10,000 for the family of the seaman who was killed at the wheel; and on February 4, 1859, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded at Asuncion, by which Paraguay conceded "to the merchant flag of the citizens of the United States” the free navigation of the rivers Paraguay and Parana, so far as they lay within her dominions.
As the cause of the freedom of the seas advanced, inordinate claims of dominion over adjacent waters naturally shrank and dwindled away. This tendency towards humaner opinions and practices may be traced in the history of fisheries questions. For more than three centuries, Denmark claimed the right, on grounds of sovereignty and dominion, to monopolize the fisheries in all the seas lying between Norway and Iceland. This claim, though eventually resisted by other powers, was acquiesced in by England by treaties made in 1400 and 1523, under which her merchants and fishermen plying their trade in those seas were required to take out licenses from the Danish King. At a later day the Dutch obtained licenses from the British government for the purpose of fishing in the North Sea. These examples serve to illustrate the practices that prevailed in times when exclusive rights were asserted not only as to fishing in gulfs and bays and in vast reaches of the open sea, but also as to particular fisheries, such as those on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
We have seen that among the subjects discussed by the peace commissioners of Great Britain and the United States at Paris in 1782, the two that were the most strongly contested and the last disposed of were those of the fisheries and the compensation of the loyalists. The provisional articles of peace were concluded November 30, 1782. On the 25th of that month the British commissioners delivered to the American commissioners a set of articles, containing fresh proposals from the British ministry, and representing the results of many weeks of negotiation. By these articles, the third of which related to the fisheries, the citizens of the United States were forbidden not only to dry fish on the shores of Nova Scotia, but also to take fish within three leagues of the coasts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and within fifteen leagues of the coasts of Cape Breton outside of that gulf. This proposal was unacceptable to the American commissioners; and on the 28th of November, John Adams drew up a counter-project, which was submitted in a conference of the commissioners on the following day. It provided that the subjects of his Britannic Majesty and the people of the United States should "continue to enjoy, unmolested, the right to take fish of every kind, on the Grand Bank, and on all the other banks of Newfoundland; also in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and in all other places, where the inhabitants of both countries used at any time heretofore to fish”; and
that the citizens of the United States should “have liberty to cure and dry their fish on the shores of Cape Sables, and any of the unsettled bays, harbors, or creeks of Nova Scotia, or any of the shores of the Magdalen Islands, and of the Labrador coast”; and that they should be “permitted, in time of peace, to hire pieces of land, for terms of years, of the legal proprietors, in any of the dominions of his Majesty, whereon to erect the necessary stages and buildings, and to cure and dry their fish.” One of the British commissioners objected to the use of the word right, in respect of the taking of fish on the Grand Bank and other banks of Newfoundland, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, “and in all other places, where the inhabitants of both countries used at any time heretofore to fish.” Another said that
Another said that “the word right was an obnoxious expression." Adams vehemently contended for the right of the people of America to fish on the banks of Newfoundland. "Can there be a clearer right?” he exclaimed. “In former treaties, that of Utrecht, and that of Paris, France and England claimed the right and have used the word.” Finally, when he declared that he would not sign any articles without satisfaction in respect of the fishery, the British commissioners conceded the point, and after many suggestions and amendments a stipulation was agreed on which formed the third article of the provisional peace. By this article, which was based on the proposal submitted