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discussed. The work is replete with practical illustration, though too exclusive in its references to the ordinances of his own country, to render his authority very unquestionable. The most popular, and the most elegant writer on the law of nations, is Vattel, whose method has been greatly admired. He has been cited, for the last half century, more freely than any one of the public jurists; but he is very deficient in philosophical precision. His topics are loosely, and often tediously and diffusively discussed, and he is not sufficiently supported by the authority of precedents, which constitute the foundation of the positive law of nations. There is no work which combines, in just proportions, and with entire satisfaction, an accurate and comprehensive view of the necessary and of the instituted law of nations, and in which principles are sufficiently supported by argument, authority, and examples. Since the age of Grotius, the code of war has been vastly enlarged and improved, and its rights better defined, and its severities greatly mitigated. The rights of maritime capture, the principles of the law of prize, and the duties and privileges of neutrals, have grown into very important titles in the system of national law. We now appeal to more accurate, more auin the lawthentic, more precise, and more commanding evidence of of Nations. the rules of public law, by a reference to the decisions of
those tribunals, to whom, in every country, the administration of that branch of jurisprudence is specially intrusted. We likewise appeal to the official documents and ordinances of particular states, which have professed to reduce into a systematic code, for the direction of their own tribunals, and for the information of foreign powers, the law of nations, on those points which relate particularly to the rights of commerce, and the duties of neutrality. But in the absence of higher and more authoritative sanctions, the ordinances of foreign states, the opinions of eminent statesmen, and the writings of distinguished jurists, are regarded as of great consideration on questions not settled by conventional law. In cases where the principal jurists agree, the presumption will be very great in favour of the solidity of their
maxims; and no civilized nation, that does not arrogantly set all ordinary law and justice at defiance, will venture to disregard the uniform sense of the established writers on international law. England and the United States have been equally disposed to acknowledge the authority of the works of jurists, writing professedly on public law, and the binding force of the general usage and practice of nations, and the still greater respect due to judicial decisions recognising and enforcing the law of nations. In all our foreign negotiations, and domestic discussions of questions of national law, we have paid the most implicit respect to the practice of Europe, and the opinions of her most distinguished civilians. In England, the report, made in 1753, to the king, in answer to the Prussian memorial, is very satisfactory evidence of the obedience shown to the great standing authorities on the law of nations, to which I have alluded. And in a case which came before Lord Mansfield, in 1764, in the K. B. he referred to a decision of Lord Talbot, who had declared that the law of nations was to be collected from the practice of different nations, and the authority of writers; and who had argued from such authorities as Grotius, Barbeyrac, Bynkershoeck, Wiquefort, &c. in a case where British authority was silent. The most celebrated collections and codes of maritime law, such as the Consolato del Mare, the laws of Oleron, the laws of the Hanseatic league, and, above all, the marine ordinances of Lewis XIV., are also referred to, as containing the most authentic evidence of the immemorial and customary law of Europe.
of the study.
The dignity and importance of this branch of jurispru- Importance dence, cannot fail to recommend it to the deep attention of the student and a thorough knowledge of its principles is necessary to lawyers and statesmen, and highly ornamental to every scholar, who wishes to be adorned with the accomplishments of various learning. Many questions arise in the course of commercial transactions, which require for
a Triquet v. Bath, s Burr. 1478.
their solution an accurate acquaintance with the conventional law of Europe, and the general doctrines of the prize tribunals. Though we may remain in peace, there is always war raging in some part of the globe, and we have at the present momenta neutral rights to exact, and neutral duties to perform, in the course of our Mediterranean trade, and in the trade to the Brazils, and along the shores of the Pacific. A comprehensive and scientific knowledge of international law is highly necessary, not only to lawyers practising in our commercial ports, but to every gentleman who is animated by liberal views, and a generous ambition to assume stations of high public trust. It would be exceedingly to the discredit of any person who should be called to take a share in the councils of the nation, if he should be found deficient in the great leading principles of this law; and I think I cannot be mistaken in considering the elementary learning of the law of nations, as not only an essential part of the education of an American lawyer, but as proper to be academically taught. My object, therefore, in some succeeding lectures, will be to discuss all the leading points arising upon the rights and duties of nations, in the several relations of peace, of war, and of neutrality.
a November, 1824.
OF THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF NATIONS IN A STATE
A VIEW of the external rights and duties of nations in peace, will lead us to examine the grounds of national independence, the extent of territorial jurisdiction, the rights of embassy, and of commercial intercourse.
independence of nations.
Nations are equal in respect to each other, and entitled Equality and to claim equal consideration for their rights, whatever may be their relative dimensions or strength, or however greatly they may differ in government, religion, or manners. This perfect equality, and entire independence of all distinct states, is a fundamental principle of public law. It is a necessary consequence of this equality, that each nation has a right to govern itself as it may think proper, and no one nation is entitled to dictate a form of government, or religion, or a course of internal policy, to another. No state is entitled to take cognizance or notice of the domestic administration of another state, or of what passes within it as between the government and its own subjects. The Spaniards, as Vattel observes, violated all rules of right, when they set up a tribunal of their own to judge the Inca of Peru according to their laws. If he had broken the law of nations
a Grotius de Jure belli et pacis, b. 1. c. 3. sec. 8. Vattel, Droit des Gens, b. 2. c. 4. sec. 54. Rutherforth's Inst. b. 2. c. 9. The principle of non-interference with the internal policy and government of other states, was emphatically declared by England and France in the autumn of 1830, and new strength and solidity were thereby given to national freedom and independence.
in respect to them, they would have had a right to punish him; but when they undertook to judge of the merits of his own interior administration, and to try and punish him for acts committed in the course of it, they were guilty of the grossest injustice. No nation had a contention within itself, but the ancient Romans, with their usual insolence, immediately interfered, and with profound duplicity pretended to take part with the oppressed for the sake of justice, though in reality for the purpose of dominion. It was by a violation of the right of national independence, that they artfully dissolved the Achæan league, and decreed that each member of the confederacy should be governed by its own laws, independant of the general authority. But so surprisingly loose and inaccurate were the theories of the ancients on the subject of national independence, that the Greeks seem never to have questioned the right of one state to interfere in the internal concerns of another. We have several instances within time of memory, of unwarrantable and flagrant violations of the independence of nations. The interference of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, in the internal government of Poland, and first dismembering it of large portions of its territory, and then finally overturning its constitution, and destroying its existence as an independent power, was an aggravated abuse of national right. There were several cases which preceded, or which arose during the violence of the French revolution, which were unjustifiable invasions of the rights of independent nations to prescribe their own forms of government, and to deal in their discretion with their own domestic concerns. Among other instances, we may refer to the invasion of Holland by the Prussian arms in 1787, and of France by the Prussian arms in 1792, and of wars fomented or declared against all monarchical forms of government, by the French rulers, during
a Livy, b. 33. c. 30. Florus, b. 2. c. 7. Montesq. Consid sur les Causes de la Grand. des Rom, ch. 6.
b Milford's Hist. of Greece vol. 5. 127.