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"This treaty must of course be laid before both Houses, because both have important functions to exercise respecting it. They, I presume, will see their duty in ratifying and paying for it, so as to secure a good which would otherwise probably be never again in their power. But I suppose they must then appeal to the nation for an additional article to the constitution, approving and confirming an act which the nation had not previously authorized. The constitution has made no provision for our holding foreign territory, still less for incorporating foreign nations in our Union. The executive in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much advances the good of their country, has done an act beyond the constitution."
In a letter to Levi Lincoln, dated August 30th, 1803, when speaking of the ratification of the treaty of cession, he says: "the less that is said about any constitutional difficulty, the better and that it will be desirable for Congress to do what is necessary, in silence."
And, in a letter to Wilson C. Nichols, dated September 7, 1803, he says: "Whatever Congress shall think it necessary to do, should be done with as little debate as possible, and particularly as far as respects the constitutional difficulty. I am aware of the force of the observations you make on the power given by the constitution to Con
gress, to admit new states into the Union, without restraining the subject to the territory then constituting the United States. But when I consider that the limits of the United States are precisely fixed by the treaty of 1783, that the constitution expressly declares itself to be made for the United States, I cannot help believing the intention was not to permit Congress to admit into the Union new States, which should be formed out of the territory for which and under whose authority alone they were then acting. I do not believe it was meant that they might receive England, Ireland, Holland, &c. into it."
For a full exposition of the opinion of President Jefferson, in accordance with our own on this subject, we refer to Jefferson's writings, vol. 3d, p. 512, and vol. 4th, p. 2d and 3d. See Vattel above cited.
The Republic of Texas upon general principles cannot be admitted into our Union according to her petition, unless the people of the United States themselves in the mode pointed out by their constitution assent thereto, nor unless the people of Texas shall cede to our Republic their sovereignty. A cession of a nation's sovereignty must be by the nation. The application of Texas to merge her sovereignty in that of our Republic, proposes the construction of a new nation and the people of
the two countries, and they alone can authorize it. A cession of a nation's sovereignty by the executive or the treaty-making power would be void for want of authority. All nations possess the inherent power and right of altering or modifying their governments or abolishing them, and hence the faculty of uniting one or more nations under a new political organization to be agreed on by the people themselves of the uniting nations, belongs to all and may be rightfully exercised. No other nation has a right by the moral law of nations to oppose such union made by agreement or purchase, any more than my neighbor has to prevent me from buying a farm or increasing my possession by gift from or contract with adjacent proprietors. (See Vattel 3d B., Ch. 3, S. 42.)
Our distinguished civilian, Wheaton, in his Elements of International Law, thus affirms a nation's right to augment its territory, population and wealth by peaceful and just acquisition:
"The right of every independent nation to increase its national domains, wealth, population and power by all innocent and lawful means, such as the pacific acquisition of new territory, the discovery and settlement of new countries, the extension of its navigation and fisheries, &c., is an incontrovertible right of sovereignty generally recognized by the opinion and usage of nations. It
can be limited in its exercise only by the equal correspondent rights of other states, growing out of the same primeval right of self-preservation.'
This is a general principle to be carried into effect by each state according to its organic law.
What consequences are incident to a union of states or their division? It is an obvious principle that, where two nations make a treaty or incur a debt, and a change of rulers or a division of the state or its union with another sovereign state occurs, no change of debt or duty arises. In case of division each part remains subject to the treaties, debts and duties existing at the time of separation, and that upon a union of one state with another, like the proposed one of Texas with the United States, the debts of the incorporated State would be assumed by the new State thus formed. (See Vattel B. 2, Ch. 13, S. 203 and 204.) These rules of justice result from the self-evident proposition that a party to a contract can only be discharged by performance or the consent of the other contracting party. Mr. Adams, Secretary of State of the United States in 1818, in giving the President's instructions to Mr. Everett, Charge de Affaires at Holland, says: "No principle of international law can be more clearly established than this, that the rights and obligations of a nation in regard to other states are independent of its inter
nal revolutions of government. It extends even to the case of conquest.
Upon the principle that a nation is responsible for the acts of its government de facto, France under Louis the 18th, paid an immense sum of money to indemnify the allies and their citizens for losses occasioned by the Emperor Napoleon and those acting by his authority. Among other cases of indemnity the city of Hamburg was paid for the money and effects of the Bank of Hamburg seized by Davoust during his military occupation of that fair city. France admitted the same doctrine by her treaty with our Republic of 1831, signed on our part by our eminent statesman, William C. Rives, by which she stipulated to pay to the United States twenty-five millions of francs for unlawful seizures, confiscations and destruction of vessels and cargoes, to be distributed among American citizens entitled to the same. A nation seizing by its government foreign property of neutrals, is equitably bound to pay for it.
From our examination of a nation, its division, union and acts by a government de facto, we deduce these obvious conclusions as principles of public law, that national sovereignty resides in the people and not in the existing administration of a State, and that no part of it can be transferred to another nation without the express authority of the