Page images

of reference being the only object. The whole will be found, however, to be somewhat systematically arranged in THE INDEX which accompanies THE ABSTRACT; and which will enable a person at once to read, in connexion, all that is to be found upon any one subject.

It is believed that THE ABSTRACT contains all the important Decisions, in any manner affecting our FOREIGN RELATIONS, and the Rights of Belligerents, Neutrals, and Aliens, which are to be found in the REPORTS of DALLAS, CRANCH, WHeaton, Bee, PETERS, GALLISON, WASHINGTON, CAINES, JOHNSON, BINNEY, YEATES, DAY, and the MASSACHUSETTS TERM REPORTS. The utility of this part of the plan was suggested by a distinguished citizen; and it is hoped that it will answer the purpose for which it is intended.

"A CONCISE DIPLOMATIC MANUAL" follows next. It is presumed that it embraces much useful matter, condensed from the Law of Nations,* touching the Rights, Ceremonies, Functions, &c., of Public Ministers and Consuls, from Wicquefort, Vattel, Ward, Martens, and other established authorities.

* The law of Nations is the law of sovereigns. It is principally for them, and for their ministers, that it ought to be written. All men are indeed interested in it; and the study of its maxims are, in a free country, proper for every citizen.-The Law of Nations is as much above the civil law in its importance, as the proceedings of nations and sovereigns surpass in their consequences those of private persons. Vattel

GROTIUS has justly been considered as the father of the Law of Nations; and he arose, like a splendid luminary, dispelling darkness and confusion, and imparting light and security to the intercourse of nations. It is said by Barbeyrac, that Lord Bacon's works first suggested to Grotius the idea of reducing the Law of Nations to the certainty and precision of a regular science. Grotius has himself

+ The work of Grotius, says Ward, became very early the favorite study of the Great Gustavus, who is said to have found as much pleasure from it, as Alexander found from reading the Poems of Homer, and who proved his admiration of the author, by ordering him to be called to the public employments of Sweden.

From official papers, recently issued from the Department of State at Washington, are introduced "Personal Instructions to the Diplomatic Agents of the United States, in Foreign Countries; and General Instructions to the Consuls* and Commercial Agents:

fully explained the reasons which led him to undertake his necessary, and most useful, and immortal work.

His object was to digest, in one systematic code, the principles of public right, and to supply authorities for almost every case in the conduct of nations; and he had the honor of reducing the Law of Nations to a system, and of producing a work which has been resorted to as the standard of authority in every succeeding age.

Among the disciples of Grotius, PuFFENDORF has always held the first rank. His work went more at large into the principles of natural law, and combined the science of ethics, with what may be more strictly called the Law of Nations. It is copious in detail, but of very little practical value in teaching us what the Law of Nations is at this day. It is rather a treatise on moral philosophy, than on International Law, and the same thing may be said of the works of WOLFIUS, BURLEMAQUI and RUTHERFORTH. The summary of the Law of Nations by Professor MARTENS is a treatise of greater practical utility, but it is only a very partial view of the system, being confined to the customary and conventional Law of the modern Nations of Europe. BYNKERSHOECK's treatise on the law of war has always been received as of great authority, on that particular branch of the science of the Law of Nations, and the subject is ably and copiously 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 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. Kent's Com.

President's Mess. Dec.3, 1833-" I deem it proper to recommend to your notice the revision of our consular system. This has become an important branch of the public service, inasmuch as it is intimately connected with the preservation of our national character abroad, with the interest of our citizens in foreign countries, with the regulation and care of our commerce, and with the protection of our seamen. At the close of the last session of Congress I communicated a report from the Secretary of State upon the subject, to which I now refer, as containing information which may be useful in any inquiries that Congress may see fit to institute with a view to a salutary reform of the system."

also extracts from the Commentaries of Judge Story, and of Judge Kent, on Consular Duties and Powers. These authorities,emanating from legal talent, of such exalted character, it is believed may prove acceptable on the subject of international law. Extensive Notes, on Consular Functions, are appended, from Warden's work, published at Paris, in 1811.

DIPLOMATIC WRITINGS-The Papers composing this head will be found to furnish extracts from the most important portions of the official communications of the Diplomatic Agents of the United States, from Silas Deane's departure for Europe in 1776, to the peace of 1783; from thence to the period when the Federal Constitution went into operation in 1789 and from that time, to the present day. Most of this correspondence was produced by our greatest men, on Diplomatic subjects, every way worthy of their talents.

In this way the compiler has endeavoured to bring out the great principles, and the weightiest doctrines, of international law, which have governed our foreign relations, from the period of our independence, down to the present time, and which may still serve to guide all our future diplomatists; because these principles and doctrines have given an elevated tone to our foreign hegotiations, and have now become wrought into our political system.* Subsequent statesmen may also see, by looking at our foreign correspondence, as in a diplo

* In a letter to Mr Adams, Mr Jefferson, in the 4th vol. of his Writings, remarks— "On the conclusion of peace, Congress, sensible of their right to assume independence, would not condescend to ask its acknowledgment from other nations, yet were willing, by some of the ordinary international transactions, to receive what would imply that acknowledgment. They appointed commissioners, therefore, to propose treaties of commerce to the principal nations of Europe. I was then a member of Congress, was of the committee appointed to prepare instructions for the commissioners, was, as you suppose, the draughtsman of those actually agreed to, and

matic mirror, how far they have pursued the same track which has hitherto shed so much lustre, in the eyes of foreign nations, on the national character, and views of Americans. Seeking nothing [in the language of a sound Republican maxim embodied in a message to Congress] that is not right, and determined to submit to nothing that is wrong; but desiring honest friendship, and liberal intercourse, with all nations, the United States have gained, throughout the world, the confidence and respect, which are due to a policy liberal, just in itself, and congenial to the character of the American people, and to the spirit of their institutions.

was joined with your father and Doctor Franklin, to carry them into execution. But the stipulations making part of these instructions, which respected privateering, blockades, contraband, and freedom of the fisheries, were not original conceptions of mine. They had before been suggested by Doctor Franklin, in some of his papers in possession of the public, and had, I think, been recommended in some letter of his to Congress. I happen only to have been the inserter of them in the first public act which gave the formal sanction of a public authority. We accordingly proposed our treaties, containing these stipulations, to the principal governments of Europe. But we were then just emerged from a subordinate condition; the nations had as yet known nothing of us, and had not yet reflected on the relations which it might be their interest to establish with us. Most of them, therefore, listened to our propositions with coyness and reserve; old Frederick alone closing with us without hesitation. The negotiator of Portugal, indeed, signed a treaty with us, which his government did not ratify, and Tuscany was near a final agreement. Becoming sensible, however, ourselves, that we should do nothing with the greater powers, we thought it better not to hamper our country with engagements to those of less significance, and suffered our powers to expire without closing any other negociation. Austria soon after became desirous of a treaty with us, and her ambassador pressed it often on me; but our commerce with her being no object, I evaded her repeated invitations. Had these governments been then apprized of the station we should so soon occupy among nations, all, I believe, would have met us promptly and with frankness. These principles would then have been established with all, and from being the conventional law with us alone, would have slid into their engagements with one another, and become general.

From the nature of our communication with foreign governments, the frank and independent spirit which animates our free institutions, there cannot, properly speaking, be any written forms, for conducting our diplomatic intercourse, as may be the case among the ancient governments of Europe, and which the Manual of Martens has prescribed. But it must be apparent to every disciplined and enlightened negotiator, that many of his FORMS are only the rudiments of a subordinate school of Diplomacy, and ill adapted for public men of distinguished talents, of enlarged views, or long experience, who are not accustomed to bind themselves to very precise formalities in grave matters of official intercourse with the government near which they are accredited. Hence, it is probable, that the success of Negotiators, in the present age, may have arisen, not only from sounder views of national policy, and a due share of learning and sagacity, but from a more free PRACTICE and constant exercise in a course of Diplomatic Writing: -regarding forms, for the most part, as vague and uncertain guides; and, of course, where points of public law and national policy are to be discussed, of little use. It has been, however, remarked, that for the discharge of official duties, so exalted, and, at the same time, so diversified, no rules of instruction can be established, or particular study pointed out.—

“ Humani nihil a me alienum puto,”

must be an appropriate motto, for every negotiator. On an attentive examination of our Diplomatic Correspondence, the intelligent reader cannot fail to observe, in a remarkable degree that, with a cautious and subdued, but agreeable style, the main points, to be enforced, or guarded, in penning their official com

« PreviousContinue »