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Imperial Parliament

The Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1315, p. 478.

May 20, 1865


...Belligerent Rights.--Lord Houghton asked whether the recognition of the so-called Confederate States as belligerents was to be withdrawn by the Government.--Earl Russell thought the question ill-timed. The President of the United States, when he declared the ports of the South blockaded, left the Government no choice but either to refuse to acknowledge the blockade or to recognise the South as belligerents. Under the blockade the United States had the right of search of neutral vessels, and that right had been exercised with great severity. So long as they continued to maintain the right of search it must be assumed that war continued to exist. The order as to Federal vessels of war not staying more than twenty-four hours in a British port might be relaxed; but until the United States Government said whether they intended to continue or discontinue the right of search he could not answer the question of the noble Lord. If the United States should declare the war at an end, the Government would refer the question of what should be done to the law officers of the Crown.

...Belligerent Rights Of The Confederate States.

Mr. White asked the first Lord of the Treasury whether the Government had determined to withdraw its recognition of the belligerent rights of the (so-called) Confederate States of America.

Lord Palmerston, who was received with loud and general cheering, rose to answer the question. The noble Lord spoke with fully his usual animation and vigour. He said the course of transactions with regard to belligerent rights of the two parties has been this:--The President of the United States issued a proclamation declaring a strict blockade of all the coasts and certain ports in the Southern Confederacy, in accordance, as he stated, with the law of nations. Now a blockade is, according to the law of nations, a belligerent right, which can only accrue to a State which is at war. The fact of the President of the United States declaring a blockade in accordance with the law of nations gave him, according to that claim, all those rights which belong to a belligerent declaring a blockade--the right of capture, condemnation, and the right of search with regard to neutral vessels. The British Government had but one of two courses to pursue--either to refuse to submit, on the part of British vessels, to those belligerent rights, on the ground, which might have been assumed, that there was no formal belligerent on the other side. That was not thought expedient, and therefore the only course to pursue was to acknowledge and to submit to these belligerent rights. But that necessarily involved the acknowledgment that the other party was also a belligerent and entitled to the rights of a belligerent. Whenever the Government of the United States shall declare that it ceases to exercise with regard to neutrals those rights of search, capture, and condemnation which belong to belligerents, then the war, as far as neutrals are concerned, ceases, and there will be no acknowledgment of belligerents either on one side or the other....


Mr. D. Griffith gave notice that, to-morrow, he would call attention to the reward offered by the President of the United States for the capture of Mr. Jefferson Davis, and ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government whether he would intimate to the Government of the United States that a resort to any extremities would be deplored by the whole civilised world....

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