Page images

fence, as is necessary for that object, and no more to the assailant.

These great fundamental principles of universal morality are written by the hand of God himself on every heart, and every man can read them there. They are equally obligatory upon nations and upon individuals, they are interwoven in the nature of man, and from them his rights and duties arise. By these standards the actions of men must be tried and by them they ought to be governed.

It is manifestly then the duty of every nation to observe towards other nations the duties imposed by these self-proving axioms, and to require from all other nations a reciprocal observance of them. By such a course the peace and happiness of the world may be securely established.

We proceed to explain a few of the leading rights and duties of nations flowing from our principles.



It is the duty of a nation to preserve its independence and sovereignty, to make its own laws, and to prohibit all interference in their enactment or repeal from foreign countries. Foreign nations are bound to abstain from such interference. This is a principle of the moral law of nation as well as

of the code of national law. Chancellor Kent in his learned work, Kent's Commentaries, says, speaking of the perfect equality of nations : “ This perfect equality and entire independence of all distinct States, is a fundamental principle of public law." This national immunity has often been violated by papal bulls of excommunication, releasing subjects from allegiance to Kings and Queens, who had displeased the Popes, as for example the bulls against Queen Elizabeth of England and Henry of Navarre, afterwards Henry the 4th of France. Pope Gregory the 7th summoned Henry the 4th, of Germany, before him to answer charges relative to the internal administration of his empire, excommunicated him, and released his subjects from their allegiance. This daring pontiff forbade the marriage of priests, subjects of various states allowing marriage to all. The Prussian armed intervention, in 1792, in the domestic government of France, to support Louis the 16th, and legitimacy against the demands of freedom; the retaliatory intervention of the French Republic in the domestic administration of other countries; the continental system of Napoleon dictating to all the allies of France their domestic law and policy; Napoleon's intervention in the affairs of Spain, and the intervention of the allied sovereigns in the government of France, and by

their armies placing Louis the 18th on the throne against the will of the French nation, these are violations of national immunity and sovereignty. The same may be said of Austrian armed intervention in the affairs of Naples, and of that of France in the government of Spain by direction of the Holy Alliance. The same of British armed intervention in China to annul her laws against the importation of opium. The principles of the republic of the United States, applicable to this subject, are correctly laid down by Mr. Secretary Clay in the above in part quoted instructions of President Adams to our Minister to the Congress of Panama in these words: “I have it in charge to direct your attention to the subjects of the forms of government and to the cause of free institutions on this continent. The United States never have been and are not now animated by any spirit of propagandism. They prefer, to all other forms of government, and are perfectly contented with their own confederacy. Allowing no foreign interference in the formation or in the conduct of their government, they are equally scrupulous in refraining from all interference in the original structure or consequent interior movement of the go. vernments of other independent nations."


[ocr errors]




The duty of peace is proclaimed by the divine law, by all the Presidents of the United States from Washington down to the present Executive, by the fundamental declaration of the Holy Alliance signed at Paris by the Emperors of Russia and Austria and the King of Prussia on the 26th day of September 1815, and by the manifesto of the allied sovereigns at Aix La Chapelle signed by their ministers and dated November 15th, 1818.

Our Presidents have all declared peace as the first of international duties. President Jefferson pushed our pacific policy to an extreme as many suppose.

President Madison in his Inaugural Address declared his intention to administer the government in the same spirit as far as national honor would permit. This object, he said, would be, “ To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms ;' to foster a spirit of independence, too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own." All his successors in the presidency have held the same language. President Tyler re

[ocr errors]


peated the same doctrines of peace and justice in his Message to Congress in June 1841. President Tyler in that Message, expressing the Christian sentiment of our day, says: “ The time ought to be regarded as having gone by when a resort to arms is to be esteemed as the only proper arbiter of national differences.Again in an annual Message to Congress he says: “Peace with all the world is the true foundation of our policy, which can only be rendered permanent by the practice of equal and impartial justice to all.” Mr. Webster, Secretary of State, in his letter to Mr. Fox, the British Minister at Washington, dated April 24th, 1841, thus declares the pacific disposition of our country: “ This republic does not wish to disturb the tranquility of the world. Its object is peace, its policy peace.” President Van Buren, in his annual Message to Congress in 1839, affirms the same doctrine in these words : “With foreign countries, our relations exhibit the same favorable aspect which was presented in my last annual Message, and afford continued proof of the wisdom of the pacific, just and forbearing policy adopted by the first administration of the Federal Government, and pursued by its succesors.”

The same sentiments are found in every distinguished writer of our Republic. The highly

« PreviousContinue »