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tions concerning the winds and currents of the sea, invited the attention of the government to the Amazon, and its physical relations to this country.
The investigations of that officer enabled him to show how the winds and currents bring, practically, for all purposes of business and commerce, the mouth of the Amazon towards the north, and place it hard by the Florida Pass, in conjunction with that of the Mississippi
. He referred to the great want of reliable information touching its resources, its commercial capabilities and capacities, both present and prospective.
In consequence of these suggestions, an officer of the navy was dispatched from Lima, with instructions to cross the Andes, and descend the eastern slopes thereof until he should reach the navigable waters of the Amazon; there, he was to embark, and descend to the sea, sounding the river by the way, gauging its capacities for navigation, and measuring, as well as he might, its capabilities for the future.
Lieutenant William Lewis Herndon, of the United States navy, accomplished this journey, and has submitted the result of his exploration in a volume abounding in useful and valuable information. It has been extensively circulated through the country, and has tended still more to impress the public mind with the importance of the commercial relations which, as soon as that country is fairly opened up to navigation and settlement, must arise between the United States and that portion of Brazil.
It may be worth while to mention that Lieutenant Herndon had not travelled 60 miles from the shores of the Pacific before he found him.self upon the borders of the fountain which sends its waters down the Atlantic slopes towards the east, destined, perhaps, to meet in the Gulf of Mexico the waters from other fountains on the slopes of the Rocky mountains.
These "water-sheds” of South America embrace a vast region of country, and such, says Lieutenant Maury, is their position and the machinery of the winds and currents of the sea that the Gulf of Mexico may be regarded as the common receptacle of the drainage of the greater part, both of North and South America.
“ The Amazon and its navigable tributaries wash the shores of five republics and one empire—the empire owning below and at the mouth on both banks, the republics owning, in part, the main stream and both of its confluents."
“ These streams afford the only practical channel of communication between the Amazonian provinces of these republics and the sea. The Andes effectually cut off all commercial intercourse between them and the Pacific."
“ Peru has offered lands, seeds, and implements of husbandry, with a free passage across the mountains to any emigrant who will agree to cross over and settle in that country.”
“But when the emigrant, toil-worn and frosted by the way, reaches this wilderness of wealth he finds himself in the condition of the sailor in his valley of diamonds. Transportation back over the mountains is simply an impossibility; and as to his descending that mighty river with the hard-earned fruits of honest, patient labor, the ordinances of
Brazil deny him the privilege, contravening thereby the benificent decree of the great Law-giver of the universe, which wise men tell us made the air, the sea, and running water the common property of the whole world. Thus the Amazon is not only shut out from commerce, but the nation holding its mouth shuts it out from all settlement and civilization."
" In the valley of the Amazon four crops of corn are produced in the year, and the harvest of many other fruits is perpetual.
" It is computed that the territory which the policy of Brazil thus shuts up against man's use is capable of sustaining, even with one round of harvests, a population nearly as large as that which inhabits the whole earth."
“With the population of Belgium to the square mile the valley of the Amazon would support 601,660,000 inhabitants.”
“ The dry land was placed here by the Creator for man's use. The policy which shuts man out from it is an anomoly and a monstrosity.. As for the laws of nations and their application to the Amazon, that river presents a case altogether peculiar, strong, clear, and trumpettongued."
The St. Lawrence has been made free, and the Amazon is the only river in the world the navigation of which is denied to the riparian States by the nation commanding its outlet; and here the case is peculiarly strong, because that river is not only shut to commerce, but its banks to civilization, and even to man's use.”—Lieutenant Maury.
Since the exploration of the Amazon by the authority of the United States the attention of the world has been very much directed towards that river and its basin. Further explorations and examinations have been made by the States riparian to it, and European science has been employed in the same direction. The testimony of all scems clearly to establish the fact that it is a region full of resources, but at present an almost impenetrable wilderness of wealth.
Some of the republics at its headwaters have thrown open their rivers to the world, and, making the navigation of the same as free asthat of the sea, have invited immigration from the citizens and subjects of all friendly nations, offering to such as will come and settle a homestead.
Parties of citizens of the United States, attracted by the reports of gold in the Amazon valley, have crossed the mountains, but as soon as they entered this wilderness they found the means of subsistence so scanty, because the civilized population was so sparse, that it became at once a question with them not of gold, but of life; and, after almost incredible suffering, some of them found their way in the rude craft of the river down to Para.
It is, therefore, to be hoped, for the sake of humanity, that the navigation of this river will be thrown open not only to the free competition of the citizens and subjects of the States bordering upon it, but also of the world.
Since these explorations by Lieut. Herndon, the commerce of the United States with the mouth of that river, according to the last reports of the American consul at Para, is estimated at $5,000,000 the year.
Both the banks of this river, for many hundreds of miles from its
mouth, are owned by Brazil, and with her rests the ability to bring all that fertile country which is drained by it under the influence of commerce, settlement and cultivation. And your committee have viewed with satisfaction the steps recently taken by Brazil towards the accomplishment of this object. She has broken up a grievous monopoly, and given to her own citizens the right to navigate and trade there, under some restrictions, which it could be wished did not exist; but considering that there are five republics holding navigable streams that discharge their waters into this river, considering that three of these republics have thrown open these streams and made their navigation free to all nations; considering that the citizens of all nations are invited to come there and develop the country; considering all these circumstances, it would seem thai the United States have a claim with regard to the navigation of the Amazon which no other river has ever presented; because, heretofore, in the case of the navigation of rivers, as the Rhine and others, the question was one of commercial convenience; but here it is more. It is not only a question of commerce, but also a question of civilization.
Waste places, places that are capable of sustaining a population greater than that in all Europe, and which have been untenanted, and even unvisited by civilized man, are now free to his use.
“ Straits,” says Wheaton, “are passages communicating from one sea to another. If the navigation of the two seas thus connected is free, the navigation of the channel by which they are connected ought also lo be free. Even if such strait be bounded on both sides by the territory of the same sovereign, and is at the same time so narrow as to be commanded by cannon shot from both shores, the exclusive territorial jurisdiction of that sovereign is controlled by the right of other nations to communicate with the seas thus connected. Such right may, however, be modified by special compact, adopting those regulations which are indispensably necessary to the security of the state whose interior waters thus form the channel of communication between different seas, the navigation of which is free to other nations. Thus, the passage of the strait may remain free to the private merchant vessels of those nations having the right to navigate the seas it connects, whilst it is shut to all foreign armed ships in time of peace.”
“So long as the shores of the Black sea were exclusively possessed by Turkey that sea might with propriety be considered a mare clar.sum; and there seems no reason to question the right of the Ottoman Porte to exclude other nations from navigating the passage which connects it with the Meditterranean ; both shores of this passage being at the same time portions of the Turkish territory. But since the territorial acquisition made by Russia, and the commercial establishments formed by her on the shores of the Euxine, both that empire and other maritime powers have become entitled to participate in the commerce of the Black sea, and consequently to the free navigation of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. This right was expressly recognized by the seventh article of the treaty of Adrianople, concluded in 1829, between Russia and the Porte, both as to Russian vessels and those of other European states in amity with Turkey.”—(Wheaton's Elements of International Law, page 229.)
And again: “As to straits and sounds,” says hè, " bounded on both sides by the territory of the same State, so narrow as to be commanded by cannon shot from both shores, and communicating from one sea to another, we have already seen that the territorial sovereignty may be limited by the right of other nations to navigate the seas thus connected. The physical power which the state holding on both sides the strait or sound has of appropriating its waters and of excluding other nations from their use, is here encountered y the moral right of other nations to communicate with each other. If the straits of Gibraltar, for example, were bordered on both sides by the possessions of the same nation, and if they were sufficiently narrow to be commanded by cannon shot from both shores, this passage would not be the less freely open to all nations, since the navigation both of the Atlantic ocean and of the Mediterranean sea is free to all. Thus it has already been stated that the navigation of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, by which the Mediterranean and Black seas are connected together, is free to all nations, subject to those regulations which are indispensably necessary for the security of the Ottoman empire.”—(Wheaton's Elements of International Law, page 240.)
But your committee do not propose to go further into the subject, at this time, than simply to express the opinion that the people of these United States will not, and ought not, to view with indifference the selfish policy which Brazil may adopt with regard to the navigation of this river. Suffice it to say, their interests are involved in the practical solution which has been given to this question.
There are few countries having friendly dealings with each other, between which commerce is more one-sided in its operations, than is our commerce with Brazil. And it is somewhat remarkable that that empire should have proceeded through a period amounting to nearly a quarter of a century, without entering into any commercial treaty whatever with this country. It is an evil which commerce has felt, and which commercial men have often complained of. And of late the evil has become greater than before.
The ports of Brazil are now intermediate in the coasting trade of the United States, for all vessels trading between the Atlantic and Pacific ports of this country pass within sight of the headlands of Brazil, and, meeting with disaster or damage by the way, these vessels are often driven in distress into her ports, where they find the commercial regulations onerous and very grievous to be borne.
The time may come, should Brazil persist in refusing to enter into the obligations of a treaty with the United States, for Congress to consider what its duties are in such a case, and what course of proceeding on the part of this government the laws of nations justify.
It may be remarked that the Amazon now presents the only case of any large river in the world whose tributaries are common to a number of nations, and the navigation of which is closed. The St. Lawrence is free, and so also are all the great rivers of Europe.
After carefully considering the whole case, and bearing in mind the friendly relations which have always existed between this country and Brazil, and appreciating, too, the high value and importance of continuing these relations ; considering, also, that these questions are now