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THE ABDICATION OF FRANCIS II.
From the German : Meyer Corpus juris Confoederationis Germanicæ, 2 Ed., I. 107
We, Francis the Second, by the Grace of God Roman Emperor Elect, Ever August, Hereditary Emperor of Austria, etc., King of Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Galizia, Lodomeria and Jerusalem ; Archduke of Austria, etc.
Since the peace of Pressburg all our care and attention has been directed towards the scrupulous fulfillment of all engagements contracted by the said treaty, as well as the preservation of peace so essential to the happiness of our subjects, and the strengthening in every way of the friendly relations which have been happily re-established. We could but await the outcome of events in order to determine whether the important changes in the German Empire resulting from the terms of the peace would allow us to fulfill the weighty duties which, in view of the conditions of our election, devolve upon us as the head of the Empire. But the results of certain articles of the Treaty of Pressburg, which showed themselves immediately after and since its publication, as well as the events which, as is generally known, have taken place in the German Empire, have convinced us that it would be impossible under these circumstances farther to fulfill the duties which we assumed by the conditions of our election. Even if the prompt readjustment of existing political complications might produce an alteration in the existing conditions, the convention signed at Paris, July 12th, and approved later by the contracting parties, providing for the complete separation of several important states of the Empire and their union into a separate confederation, would entirely destroy any such hope.
Thus, convinced of the utter impossibility of longer fulfilling the duties of our imperial office, we owe it to our principles and to our honor to renounce a crown which could only retain any value in our eyes so long as we were in a position to justify the confidence reposed in us by the electors, prinees, estates and other members of the German Empire, and to fulfill the duties devolving upon us.
We proclaim, accordingly, that we consider the ties which have hitherto united us to the body politic of the German Empire as hereby dissolved ; that we regard the office and dignity of the imperial headship as extinguished by the formation of a separate union of the Rhenish States, and regard ourselves as thereby freed from all our obligations toward the German Empire ; herewith laying down the imperial crown which is associated with these obligations, and relinquishing the imperial government which we have hitherto conducted.
We free at the same time the electors, princes and estates and all others belonging to the Empire, particularly the members of the supreme imperial courts and other magistrates of the Empire, from the duties constitutionally due to us as the lawful head of the Empire, Conversely, we free all our German provinces and imperial lands from all their obligations of whatever kind, towards the German Empire. In uniting these, as Emperor of Austria, with the whole body of the Austrian state we shall strive, with the restored and existing peaceful relations with all the powers and neighboring states, to raise them to the height of prosperity and happiness, which is our keenest desire, and the aim of our constant and sincerest efforts.
Done at our capital and royal residence, Vienna, August 6, 1806, in the fifteenth year of our reign as Emperor and hereditary ruler of the Austrian lands.
FRANCIS, [L. 8.]
JOAN PHILIP COUNT OF STADION.
DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE CONTINENTAL SYSTEM.
Napoleon's cherished plan of conquering the sea by the land originated with the Directory, which conceived the hope, as early as 1796, of forcing the English people to cry for peace, by ruining their commerce. It was stoutly maintained by the French government at that time that a neutral flag could not protect enemy's goods, and the harshest measures were taken with regard to neutral traders. [See decrees in American State Papers; Foreign Relations, Vol. III, 288, and in the Annual Register ; see also Mallet du Pan, Correspondance avec la Cour de Vienne, II, 118 and 150]
Napoleon felt, in the exuberance of victory after the battle of Jena, that the time had come for putting his plans for excluding England from the Continent into execution. Prussia in occupying Hanover had issued a proclamation excluding British trade, March 28, 1806. England immediately declared the mouths of the Ems, Weser, Elbe and Trave in a state of blockade (April 8). This was followed by the more comprehensive blockade announced in the first document given below, which was sent to all the representatives of neutral powers then at London. The policy of England served Napoleon as an excuse for his Berlin Decree, although he was undoubtedly actuated by other motives in issuing it. January 7, 1807, England answered with an order in Council prohibiting coast trade between the ports of the enemy or of his allies. This was deemed insufficient after the ministry had learned of the secret articles of the Treaty of Tilsit, and three orders were issued November 11, establishing an undisguised "paper" blockade; the most important of the three being reprinted here. The vague, cumbrous phraseology of these decrees became notorious, and it was necessary to issue supplementary and explanatory orders, five of which appeared November 25. One of these established the rule that licenses had to be procured from the English government by neutral traders. Napoleon replied with the Milan decree, and the President of the United States ordered the first embargo December 22, 1807. Later decrees were issued by Napoleon in enforcing his system ; for example that of Bayonne (April 17, 1808) ordered the custom officials to confiscate all American vessels in French ports. That of the Trianon (August 5, 1810) was directed against smuggling and that of Fontainbleau (October 18, 1810) ordered all English goods which could be seized to be publicly burnt. Finally the annexation of the coast of the North Sea in December, 1810, was justified upon the ground that England had rendered the measure necessary by her commercial policy.
The tax imposed by England upon the cargoes of neutral ships which is referred to in the Milan Decree consisted, apparently, in the export duties which neutral traders (after being required to enter a British port) were forced to pay before they were allowed to proceed upon their voyage. Professor McMaster gives an account of the practical workings of the system, so far as American ships were concerned, which he takes from the Baltimore Evening Post of September 2 and 27, 1808. The newspaper estimates that on her outward voyage, let us say to Holland with 400 hogsheads of tobacco, an American ship would pay England 1%d per pound on the tobacco and 125 for each ton of the ship. With $100 for the license and sundry other dues, the total amounted to toward $13,000. On the home voyage with a cargo, let us say, of Holland gin the American trader paid perhaps $16,500, making the total charges paid to Great Britain for a single voyage $31,000. (History of the People of the United States III 308-9.)
See for this subject Henry Adams' History of the United States, Vol. IV., Chapter IV. Alison, History of Europe, Book L: Theirs, Consulate and Empire, Book XXVI.
NOTE TO REPRESENTATIVES OF NEUTRAL POWERS. Reprinted from American State Papers (Foreign Relations), Vol. III, p. 267.
DOWNING STREET, May 16, 1806. The undersigned, His Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has received His Majesty's commands to acquaint Mr. Monroe, that the King, taking into consideration the new and extraordinary means resorted to by the enemy for the purpose of distressing the commerce of his subjects, has thought fit to direct that the necessary measures should be taken for the blockade of the coast, rivers and ports, from the river Elbe to the port of Brest, both inclusive ; and the said coast, rivers and ports are and must be considered as blockaded; but that His Majesty is pleased to declare that such blockade shall not extend to prevent neutral ships and vessels, laden with goods not being the property of His Majesty's enemies, and not being contraband of war, from approaching the said coast, and entering into and sailing from the said rivers and ports (save and except the coast, rivers and ports from Ostend to the river Seine, already in a state of strict and rigorous blockade, and which are to be considered as so continued), provided the said ships and vessels so approaching and entering (except as aforesaid), shall not have been laden at any port belonging to or in the possession of any of His Majesty's enemies; and that the said ships and vessels so sailing from said rivers and ports (except as aforesaid) shall not be destined to any port belonging to or in possession of any of His Majesty's enemies, nor have previously broken the blockade.
Mr. Monroe is therefore requested to apprise the American consuls and merchants residing in England, that the coast, rivers and ports above mentioned, must be considered as being in a state of blockade, and that from this time all the measures authorized by the law of nations and the respective treaties between His Majesty and the different neutral powers, will be adopted and executed with respect to vessels attempting to violate the said blockade after this notice. The undersigned requests Mr. Monroe, etc.
C. J. Fox.
THE BERLIN DECREE.
Translated from the French ; Correspondance de Napoléon I er. Vol. 13.
FROM OUR IMPERIAL CAMP AT BERLIN, November 21, 1806. Napoleon, Emperor of the French and King of Italy, in consideration of the fact :
1. That England does not recognize the system of international law universally observed by all civilized nations.
2. That she regards as an enemy every individual belonging to the enemy's state, and consequently makes prisoners of war not only of the crews of armed ships of war but of the crews of ships of commerce and merchantmen, and even of commercial agents and of merchants traveling on business.
3. That she extends to the vessels and commercial wares and to the property of individuals the right of conquest, which is applicable only to the possessions of the belligerant power.
4. That she extends to unfortified towns and commercial ports, to harbors and the mouths of rivers, the right of blockade, which, in accordance with reason and the customs of all civilized nations, is applicable only to strong places. That she declares places in a state of blockade before which she has not even a single ship of war, although a place may not be blockaded except it be so completely guarded that no attempt to approach it can be made without imminent danger. That she has declared districts in a state of blockade which all her united forces would be unable to blockade, such as entire coasts and the whole of an empire.
5. That this monstrous abuse of the right of blockade has no other aim than to prevent communication among the nations and to raise the commerce and the industry of England upon the ruins of that of the continent.
6. That, since this is the obvious aim of England, whoever deals on the continent in English goods, thereby favors and renders himself an accomplice of her designs.
7. That this policy of England, worthy of the earliest stages of barbarism, has profited that power to the detriment of every other nation.
8. That it is a natural right to oppose such arms against an enemy as he makes use of, and to fight in the same way that he fights. Since England has disregarded all ideas of justice and every high sentiment, due to the civilization among mankind, we have resolved to apply to her the usages which she has ratified in her maritime legislation.
The provisions of the present decree shall continue to be looked upon as embodying the fundamental principles of the Empire until England shall recognize that the law of war is one and the same on land and sea, and that the rights of war cannot be extended so as to include private property of any kind or the persons of individuals unconnected with the profession of arms, and that the right of blockade should be restricted to fortified places actually invested by sufficient forces.
We have consequently decreed and do decree that which follows:
ARTICLE I.-The British Isles are declared to be in a state of blockade.
ART. II.-All commerce and all correspondence with the British Isles are forbidden. Consequently letters or packages directed to