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Casebook: The War of 1812
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Order in Council
Order in Council
November 11 1807

   


   Whereas certain orders, establishing an unprecedented system of warfare against this kingdom, and aimed especially at the destruction of its commerce and resources, were, sometime since, issued by the government of France, by which “the British islands were declared to be in a state of blockade,” thereby subjecting to capture and condemnation all vessels, with their cargoes, which should continue to trade with his majesty's dominions:
   
   And whereas, by the same order, "all trading in English merchandise is prohibited, and every article of merchandise belonging to England, or coming from her colonies, or of her manufacture, is declared lawful prize:"
   
   And whereas, the nations in alliance with France, and under her control, were required to give, and have given, and do give, effect to such orders:
   
   And whereas, his majesty's order of the 7th of January last has not answered the desired purpose, either of compelling the enemy to recall those orders, or of inducing neutral nations to interpose, with effect, to obtain their revocation, but, on the contrary, the same have been recently enforced with increased rigor:
   
   And whereas, his majesty under these circumstances, finds himself compelled to take further measures for asserting and vindicating his just rights . . . .
   
   His majesty is therefore pleased, by and with the advice of his privy council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, that all the ports and places of France and her allies, or of any country at war with his majesty the British flag is excluded, and all ports or places in the colonies belonging to his majesty's enemies, shall, from henceforth, be subject to the same restrictions in point of trade and navigation, with the exceptions hereinafter mentioned, as if the same were actually blockaded by his majesty's naval forces, in the most strict and rigorous manner: And it is hereby further ordered and declared, that all trade in the articles which are of the produce or manufacture of the said countries or colonies, shall be deemed and considered to be unlawful; and that every vessel trading from or to the said countries or colonies, together with all goods and merchandise on board, and all articles of the produce or manufacture of the said countries or colonies, shall be captured and condemned as prize to the captors....
   
   And the commanders of his majesty's ships of war and privateers, and other vessels acting under his majesty’s commission, shall be, and are hereby, instructed to warn every vessel which shall have commenced her voyage prior to any notice of this order, and shall be destined to any port of France, or of her allies, or of any other country at war with his majesty, or to any port or place from which the British flag, as aforesaid, is excluded, or to any colony belonging to his majesty's enemies, and which shall not have cleared out as is hereinbefore allowed, to discontinue her voyage, and to proceed to some port or place in this kingdom, or to Gibraltar or Malta; and any vessel which, after having been so warned, or after a reasonable time shall have been afforded for the arrival of information of this his majesty's order, at any port or place from which she has sailed, or which, after having notice of this order, shall be found in the prosecution of any voyage contrary to the restrictions contained in this order, shall be captured, and altogether with her cargo, condemned as lawful prize to the captors.
   
   And whereas, countries not engaged in the war have acquiesced in these orders of France, prohibiting all trade in any articles the produce or manufacture of his majesty's dominions; and the merchants of those countries have given countenance and effect to those prohibitions by accepting from persons, styling themselves commercial agents of the enemy, resident at neutral ports, certain documents, termed "certificates of origin," being certificates obtained at the ports of shipment, declaring that the articles of the cargo are not of the produce or manufacture of his majesty's dominions, or to that effect:
   
   And whereas this expedient has been directed by France, and submitted to by such merchants, as part of the new system of warfare directed against the trade of this kingdom, and as the most effectual instrument of accomplishing the same, and is therefore essentially necessary to resist it:
   
   His majesty is therefore pleased by the advice of his privy council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, that if any vessel, after reasonable time shall have been afforded for receiving notice of this his majesty's order, at the port of place from which such vessel shall have cleared out, shall be found carrying any such certificate or documents as aforesaid, or any document referring to or authenticating the same, such vessel shall be adjudged lawful prize to the captor, together with goods laden therein, belonging to the person or persons by whom or on whose behalf any such document was put on board.
   
   And the right honorable the lords commissioners of his majesty's treasury, his majesty's principal secretaries of state, the lords commissioners of the admiralty, and the judges of the high court of admiralty and courts of vice admiralty, are to take the necessary measures herein as to them shall respectively appertain.

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