« VorigeDoorgaan »
and trespasses, and pleading their frequency and my fleeing before him and his lawless band to
This is absurd. Beside, if no such power can be transferred by treaty, a thousand years of unjust aggression would not do it. The moral law of nations repudiates any such transfer of maritime rights of one nation to another. These are the views of jhe American government as appears from the instructions of the Secretary of State of the United States to Mr. Munroe, in 1804, above quoted. Lewis Cass, our late distinguished Minister to France, has asserted the freedom of the seas with firmness and ability.
The freedom of the seas, and the equal right of all nations to their common use, are established principles of the public law as well as the moral law of nations.
Vattel in his work on the law of nations says: “ No nation has then a right to lay claim to the open sea, or attribute the use of it to itself to the exclusion of others.” Again he says: “ The right of navigation and fishing in the open sea, being then a common right to all men, the nation who attempts to exclude another from that advantage, does it an injury and gives sufficient cause of war." On this ground our republic declared war against Great Britain in 1812. The right of all mankind to the common use of the seas is sanctioned by public law, by right reason, and by the golden rule.
OF A CONGRESS OF NATIONS.
As Christianity and civilization are pushed forward by the Bible and the Press, the public opinion of nations will become a potent instrument in advancing national ethics and national law. Meetings of the representatives of nations will gradually become common, and enlightened public opinion expressed by them will restrain the hand of violence and enforce the decisions of right reason and conscience. Such congresses as those of Panama, and of the allied sovereigns in Europe, called the Holy Alliance, are of this class, and if rightly directed they might have been, and may yet be, the means of improving international law and national felicity. We hope that Christianity and civilization may yet be advanced by their instrumentality. We trust that the Holy Alliance may return to its fundamental doctrine, that international law must conform to the Gospel, and make it the practical rule of all Christian nations. Then will this famed Alliance be indeed Holy.
OF ETHICAL AXIOMS.
The following propositions are self-evident, and prove themselves as clearly as the mathematical axiom, the whole is greater than a part. These self-proving axioms of the moral law of God and of nations, are these :
Do unto others as you would they should do unto you.
Conduct towards all men with courtesy and kindness.
Deal justly and love mercy.
Be patient of injury, though firm and resolute in pursuing peaceful measures to prevent a repetition of the wrong.
Observe good faith in all things, sacredly perform every treaty and contract.
Grant to all men freedom of worship without any interposition between man and his Maker.
Concede to all men the right of self-government without hindrance or intervention.
Assist others in suffering and calamity, as in cases of shipwreck, pestilence, earthquake, &c.
Live peaceably with all men, and do all things necessary to promote peace.
If forced upon self-defence, which is right and sanctioned by the original law of our nature, do as much injury, and use so much force in such de
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 liappiness 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, excornmunicated 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