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THE INTERNATIONAL LAW
DOCUMENTS ISSUED BY PRESIDENTS
DECISIONS OF FEDERAL COURTS AND OPINIONS OF ATTORNEYS-GENERAL.
FRANCIS WHARTON, LL. D.,
AUTHOR OF A TREATISE ON CONFLICT OF LAWS, AND OF COMMENTARIES
The following is the preface to a pamphlet submitted by me, in March last, to Congress:
"In Mr. Fillmore's second annual message, in a passage understood to have been furnished by Mr. Webster, then Secretary of State, we are told that one of the most eminent of British statesmen said in Parliament, while a minister of the Crown, "that if he wished for a guide in a system of neutrality, he should take that laid down by America in the days of Washington and the secretaryship of Jefferson"; and we see, in fact, that the act of Congress of 1818 was followed the succeeding year by an act of the Parliament of England substantially the same in its general provisions.'
"Of the same period, Mr. Hall, in the second edition of his work on International Law (2d ed., 1884, § 213), thus speaks: The United States had the merit of fixing it (the doctrine of neutrality) permanently. On the outbreak of war in Europe in 1793 a newly-appointed French minister, Mr. Genêt, on landing at Charleston, granted commissions to American citizens who fitted out privateers, and manned them with Americaus, to cruise against English commerce. Immediate complaint was made by the English minister, who expressed his "persuasion that the Government of the United States would regard the act of fitting out those privateers in its ports as an insult offered to its sovereignty." The view taken by the American Government was in fact broader, and Mr. Jefferson expressed it clearly and tersely in writing to Mr. Genêt.
* Taking this language straightforwardly, without forcing into it all the meaning which a few phrases may bear, but keeping in mind the facts which were before the eyes of Mr. Jefferson when he penned it, there can be no doubt that the duties which it acknowledges are the natural if not inevitable deductions from the general principles stated by Bynkershoek, Vattel, and De Martens; and there can be as little doubt that they had not before been frankly fulfilled. * The policy
of the United States in 1793 constitutes an epoch in the development of the usages of neutrality. There can be no doubt that it was intended and believed to give effect to the obligations then incumbent upon neutrals. But it represented by far the most advanced existing opinions as to what those obligations were; and in some points it even went further than authoritative international custom has up to the present time advanced. In the main, however, it is identical with the standard of conduct which is now adopted by the community of nations.'
"The United States of America,' says Sir Robert Phillimore (1 Int. Law, 3d ed., 1879, p. 555), 'began their career as an independent country under wise and great auspices, and it was the firm determination of those who guided their nascent energy to fulfill the obligations of international law as recognized and established in the Christian