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capital and chief port, which was held by the assistance of the warships in the harbor.
Because the evidences of official support from the Government of Buenos Aires were so strong, a Brazilian admiral with a naval force appeared before Buenos Aires in July, 1825, and demanded explanations as a measure short of war. The Argentine authorities protested against the attempt of Brazil to fortify the pen of the negotiator with the guns of an admiral. Several notes were exchanged, and finally the Argentine Government declared negotiations closed. The Brazilian admiral returned to report to his government the failure of his mission. In October the Brazilian Foreign Minister addressed a long argumentative protest to the corresponding official at Buenos Aires demanding that the latter government cease what appeared to the former as warlike preparations and also disavow all connection with Brazil's Cisplatine insurgents. The Argentine reply was a formal declaration that the Banda Oriental was reincorporated in the territory of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, and that the government of the latter would protect it. On December 10 Brazil issued a declaration of war against Argentina, and eleven days later declared all of the ports of the republic in a state of blockade. The Buenos Airean declaration of war was followed by a decree authorizing privateers to prey on Brazilian commerce.?
The disastrous influence which the Brazilian blockade of the Argentine ports was bound to have on the already considerable, and rapidly growing, trade from the United States to them led Raguet, the recently appointed charge of the United States at Rio de Janeiro, to do everything he could to modify its rigor. Even before the declaration of war, notification of the blockade was addressed to him and to the British representative. Raguet was asked to inform his government and its citizens who were engaged in commerce to the Buenos Airean Republic. A few days thereafter he addressed a lengthy
? Manifeste de la Cour de Rio de Janeiro, 10 décembre, 1825, British and Foreign State Papers, XIII, 767–785.
8 For the British notification, see ibid., 785. For the notification to Raguet, see S. Amaro to Raguet, December 6, and same to same, December 7, 1825, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 1025; or House Ex. Doc. No. 281, 20th Cong., 1st sess., 14, 15.
communication to the Brazilian Foreign Minister explaining the views of his government concerning the validity and invalidity of blockades. In two respects the Brazilian blockade as announced failed to conform to those principles, and hence could not be recognized as valid. In the first place the United States held that a blockade in order to be valid must be effective; that is, no port could be considered blockaded unless there were actually a sufficient blockading force before it to prevent access to it. It was manifestly impossible for Brazil to maintain a sufficient force before all ports of the Argentine Republic actually to prevent ingress and egress. Not only the United States, but many other nations held this view, - one destined to be almost universally recognized later. In the second place, the United States denied the validity of general or diplomatic notifications alone and insisted that each vessel on approaching a blockaded port must be warned that it is blockaded and must not be seized as a prize unless it attempts to run the blockade after being warned, - a principle by no means so generally recognized, and subsequently practically abandoned because of changed conditions due to rapid communication of news. He
He explained many other principles adhered to by his government, frankly admitting that they favored neutrals rather than belligerents, although they did not defeat any legitimate purpose of a blockade; and he argued that it was to the interest of Brazil as well as other new American nations to uphold the more liberal principles, since they were sure to find their greatest opportunity for development in the field of peace and commerce, like the United States, rather than in war, like many European nations. The United States chargé at Buenos Aires entered into communication with the Brazilian admiral of the blockading squadron and asserted the same principles as Raguet.20 Several United States naval vessels were sent to cruise along the coasts of Brazil and Argentina to protect United States merchants and citizens. The commanders of these vessels maintained a lively correspondence for many months with the Brazilian
• Raguet to Minister of Foreign Affairs, December 13, 1825, ibid., 9; or American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 278, or 1023.
10 Forbes to Admiral Lobo, February 13, 1826, ibid., 281; or British and Foreign State Papers, XIII, 822.
admiral, urging the adoption of their government's views. Finally, the Brazilian authorities agreed to modify the blockade to the extent of confining it to the ports actually within the Rio de la Plata, but not to the two or three principal ports for which the United States diplomatic, consular, and naval representatives had so long and ably contended, and which alone might have been effectively blockaded.11
The principle that the individual ship should receive warning and not be liable to capture unless it thereafter tried to violate the blockade was as vigorously contended for, but with less success, although something was conceded in this regard also. At first all ships were seized whether they had or could have had knowledge of the blockade or not and whether they were trying to enter a blockaded port or were on the high seas, if it appeared on examination that they had any intention under any contingency of approaching a blockaded port. Finally the Brazilian authorities agreed that no vessels should be detained unless they were found attempting to enter a blockaded port; and many ships were actually allowed to go after having had a warning entered on their registers, although the Brazilians refused to concede this as a right.12
One of the greatest difficulties with which Raguet and the other United States representatives had to contend was the fact that England did not support either of these two important contentions of the United States. On the contrary, correspondence with English representatives shown to the United States chargé expressly declared that the maintenance of an effective force on the spot was not necessary
11 Elliott to Raguet, March 14, 1826, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 277; Elliott to Secretary of the Navy, March 18, 1826, ibid.; Elliott to Bond, April 1, 1826, ibid., 288; Elliott to Admiral Lobo, April 3, 1826, ibid., 284; or British and Foreign State Papers, XIII, 824; Lobo to Elliott, April 6, 1826, ibid., 827, or American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 285; and many other letters in subsequent pages of one or both works.
12 Elliott to Secretary of Navy, May 5, 1826, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 283; Raguet to Minister of Foreign Affairs, November 14, 1826, ibid., 1047, or House Ex. Doc. No. 281, 20th Cong., 1st sess., Minister of Marine to Admiral Da Prata, November 29, 1826, ibid., 74, or American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 1051; Raguet to Minister of Foreign Affairs, November 30, 1826, ibid., 1048, or House Ex. Doc. No. 281, 20th Cong., 1st sess., 67; and many other documents in subsequent pages of both publications.
in order to render the blockade valid and make the seizure of vessels bound for nominally blockaded ports legal; and this correspondence also asserted that the declaration of the blockade and the general or diplomatic notification were all that were needed, and that thereafter any ship was liable to capture without warning if it had knowledge of the existence of the blockade and showed any evidence that it intended to approach the blockaded port.13 English merchants were suffering as much as those from the United States, but were receiving far less support from the diplomatic and consular representatives of their government.
Another Brazilian practice against which Raguet frequently and vigorously protested was what he and the commanders of the United States naval vessels who seconded his efforts called the impressment of seamen from United States merchant vessels into the service of Brazilian warships. By employing fraud or deceit or intoxication the unwary seamen were frequently enticed on board Brazilian naval vessels and persuaded or frightened or forced to enter the Brazilian service. Some who had gone on vessels built in the United States and sold to the Brazilian Government, finding themselves without employment, had entered voluntarily and then after the expiration of their period of enlistment were detained. Such seamen frequently requested the representatives of their government to secure their release. As such cases multiplied, the patience of Raguet became more and more exhausted and his reclamations and protests became more vigorous. The replies of the government usually promised to investigate and if conditions were found as represented promised that the seamen should be released. When United States merchant vessels were detained under charges of violating, or attempting or intending to violate, the blockade, most of the seamen, instead of being left on board their own vessels under the supervision of the prize crews, as Raguet insisted they should, were removed to the capturing. vessel and sometimes inveigled into the Brazilian service, sometimes placed on Brazilian prison ships, and sometimes detained on shore under virtual if not actual imprisonment. They were often deprived of
13 Raguet to Clay, June 27, 1826, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 1028, or House Ex. Doc. No. 281, 20th Cong., 1st sess., 21.
their personal property, their clothing and bedding, and placed in unsanitary, uncomfortable, and criminal surroundings. Bodily punishment was sometimes inflicted on them. Sometimes it turned out that their cases had been misrepresented to Raguet and that they were really prisoners of war taken from Buenos Airean cruisers, many of them built in the United States and manned and commanded by United States citizens under Buenos Airean commissions. Under these circumstances it is not strange that both reclamations and responses were couched in vigorous language, and relations grew more and more strained. In one case the commander of one of the United States naval vessels had sent a force and demanded two seamen under circumstances which made it appear that he intended to take them by force if his demand were not complied with, though he later explained that he would not have done so. They were surrendered without resistance. But the Foreign Minister took up the matter with Raguet, who had apparently been privy to the plan, and demanded the return of the seamen until the pending investigation should show whether they were properly or improperly detained. But they were not returned.14 Finally orders were given by the Brazilian admiral that all Brazilian ships which had on board any United States seamen who had entered involuntarily or were detained beyond their period of enlistment should be brought in and surrendered.15 But even this did not end the disputes concerning impressment and mistreatment of seamen.
14 Raguet to Minister of Foreign Affairs, June 20, 1826, American State Papers, Foreign Affairs, VI, 1029, or House Ex. Doc. No. 281, 20th Cong., 1st sess., 23; Minister of Foreign Affairs to Raguet, June 28, 1826, ibid., 23, or American State Papers, Foreign Affairs, VI, 1029. And see also the following documents in the subsequent pages of one or both publications: Hoffmann to Biddle, August 26, 1826; Raguet to Clay, October 2 and October 31, 1826; Biddle to Admiral Pinto Guedes [Da Prata], January 3, 1827; deposition of Jesse Powell before Consul Bond, January 13, 1827; Biddle to Pinto Guedes, January 14, 1827; Da Prata (Pinto Guedes] to Biddle, January 14, 1827; Biddle to Pinto Guedes, January 22, 1827; Da Prata to Biddle, January 23, 1827; and many others.
16 Order of Da Prata, January 25, 1827, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 1081, or House Ex. Doc. No. 281, 20th Cong., 1st sess., 141; Da Prata to Biddle, January 27, 1827, ibid., 140, or American State Papers, Foreign Relations, VI, 1081.