Navigation and Commerce of the Lower Mississippi.
It highly important to all who live in the Mississippi valley to know for a certainty, what effects the recent political changes in the south will have upon the navigation and commerce of the Mississippi. We therefore present the following facts in relation to it:
The congress of the confederated states at the south has passed an ordinance regulating navigation and commerce in the Mississippi river within those states. This ordinance does not, it must be observed, assume to grant free right of transit to the ocean of the interior states. The reason for this is that such a grant would be superfluous, as it exists under the 1st of nations. So the law is expounded by the highest authorities as deducible from the practice and conventions of the chief maritime powers. It is considered as settled law by special compacts as regards the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and the St. John. But this right is, in the nature of things, not a "perfect," but what the writers on public law call "imperfect" right. Its origin may be in nature, but, as observed by Wheaton:
It has often happened to be highly convenient, if not sometimes indispensable, to avoid controversies by prescribing certain rules for the enjoyment of a natural right. The law of nations, though sufficient, intelligible in its great outlines and general purposes, will not always reach every minute detail which is called for by the complicated wants and varieties of modern navigation and commerce.
This right of free navigation includes rights the exercise and enjoyment of which are necessary to secure the safety of that [unknown]. — Among these rights are those of [unknown], use of the shores for mooring and [unknown] and reloading parts of the cargo, for purposes of safety and convenience; rights of deposit for transhipment and the like, are parts in the principal rights, and these need to be carefully defined in order to prevent abuse of privilege on one side, or harrassing regulations on the other.
The most expedient method of regulating the exercise of these rights is by convention between the different governments concerned. A convention of this kind at this moment is impossible, since the independence of the confederate states is not acknowledged. Our government will not now treat with theirs. The only means, therefore, open to those states of declaring the principles upon which the commerce of the Mississippi, through the confederate states, is to be regulated, have been exercised at Montgomery in the promulgation of a sovereign ordinance at once declaratory and legislative. The provisions of the ordinance are few and simple.
By it, navigation is free to all vessels entering the limits of the confederated states and passing through to ports beyond, subject only to light money, pilotage, and like charges.
Such vessels cannot land and deliver goods under penalty of seizure and a fine of four times the amount of duties. Stranded vessels may land and discharge, but must enter regularly, and then will have privilege of drawback on reshipment and of warehousing.
Smuggling is punished by a $500 fine and imprisonment for not less than one nor more than six months. These penalties apply to attempts at smuggling by breaking custom house seals, or tampering with certificates.
Goods subject to duty, brought in for "sale or otherwise," may be entered or forwarded, under bond and seal, beyond the confederacy, on payment of duties. The collector may gave license to land them at any point, or they may be re-exported with privilege of drawback.
Further, every master of a vessel conveying such goods is required, before passing the first port of entry he reaches, to deposit his manifest with the collector, who is to record and certify it, and may place customs inspector on board, to go with the vessel to the first port of delivery. No port of entry has been as yet established above Vicksburg, so these penalties do not extend to the delivery of goods above that point by descending vessels.