Vattel: The book

The Law of Nations or The Principles of the Laws of Nature

The Law of Nations, or, principles of the law of nature, applied to the conduct and affairs of nations and sovereigns. This was about common sense in all respects. The Laws of Nature of the way it should be. This book is referred to many times as the law of nations in the course of all the Constututional Conventions and the other writings of the founders. It was the leading dource on International law and treaties. Its a book bound by common sense and respected in the affairs of all.

From the book The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law (1758)
Emmerich de Vattel

CHAP. XIX. OF OUR NATIVE COUNTRY, AND SEVERAL THINGS THAT RELATE TO IT.

§ 212. Citizens and natives.
The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.

Now Vattel`s influence on the Founders

Enclosure: Answers to Questions proposed by the President of the United States to the Secretary of the Treasury., 15 September 1790

The Secretary responds: But Vattel, perhaps the most accurate and approved of the writers on the laws of Nations, preserves a mean between these different opinions.

Alexander Hamilton:
Enclosure: France and America, [2 October 1800]
... by mutual consent or war, it was remarked by the undersigned, that their conviction was clearly otherwise; and that Vattel, in particular, the best approved of modern writers, not only held that a treaty violated by one party might ...

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To Defence No. XX, [23 and 24 October 1795]
... II, 401). H discusses this matter in some detail at a later point in this essay. See note 30. Vattel, Law of Nations. See “Report on a Plan for the Further Support of Public Credit,” January 16, 1795. ...

Introductory Note: To Thomas Jefferson, [20–27 May 1792]
... Vol. 21, National Archives. See H to Washington, May 21, 1792. Both Jefferson and H referred to Emeric de Vattel, The Law of Nations; or Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations ...

To Thomas Jefferson, [20–27 May 1792]
... have a knowledge of the transaction from it’s first embryon to it’s perfection. They are the ‘parties contractantes’ of Vattel, and the ‘paciscentes’ of Wolf cited. 48. though they do not transact the Business in person, but by Plenipotentiaries, ...

No Jacobin No. IV, [10 August 1793]
... and HCLW, V, 40–45, this essay is dated “1793.” See “No Jacobin No. 1,” July 31, 1793, note 2. Vattel, Law of Nations. Bynkershoek, Quæstionum. Wynne, The Life of Sir Leoline Jenkins. Valin, Traité des Prises. H’s quotation is ... ... ce sujet. Avec une notice de la procédure qui doit être observée à cet égard (La Rochelle, 1763). / Vattel, Law of Nations Emeric de Vattel , Law of Nations; or Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied ...

No Jacobin No. III, [8 August 1793]
... state; of course he may take them upon the high seas, where no nation can have jurisdiction or dominion. Vattel, book iii. § 115, 116. Bynkershock Quæs. Jur. Pub. lib. i cap. 13, 14. “It necessarily follows, that French ...

William Bradford and Alexander Hamilton to Edmund Randolph, 4 November[–9 December] 1794

... for the speediest communication of the issue.” (ALS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives.) This is taken from Vattel, who wrote: “The prince ought not then to interfere in the causes of his subjects in foreign countries, and ...

... the United States, 1791–1797,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903
(Washington, 1904), II. / Vattel, Law of Nations Emeric de Vattel , Law of Nations; or Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied ...

... the United States, 1791–1797,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903
(Washington, 1904), II. / Vattel, Law of Nations Emeric de Vattel , Law of Nations; or Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied ...

From Edmund Randolph, 6 May 1793
… refusal of him may bring war upon the U.S., because they cannot, without very particular reasons decline his admission—(See Vattel book. 4. section 65) That the expulsion of the prince is not one of those particular reasons will appear …

Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on a Cabinet Meeting, 6 May 1793
… valid. E.R. declared himself of the same opinion, but on H’s undertaking to present to him the authority in Vattel (which we had not present) & to prove to him that, if the authority was admitted, the treaty might …

Memorandum from Henry Knox, 16 May 1793
… against our sovereignty even to such a degree as to justify a declaration of War unless satisfactory reparation be made—Vattel is explicit upon this subject he says—in Book 3. Chapter 2d Section 15. “As the right of levying soldiers …

From John Jay, 28 August 1790
… comprized within two Classes vizt cases of urgent necessity, and cases of convenience—The present case belongs to the latter. Vattel who well understood the Subject, says in the 7th chapter of his 3d Book— That an innocent Passage is …

To the Cabinet, 3 August 1793
… United States signed with France in 1778, see Miller, Treaties, 3–44. An authority on international law was Emmerich de Vattel’s three-volume work Le Droit des gens: ou, Principes de la loi naturelle, appliqués à la conduite & aux affaires …

To Thomas Jefferson, 4 August 1793
… had with France, Great Britain, and other nations, see Miller, Treaties, 3–244. The other reference is to Emmerich de Vattel’s three-volume work The Law of Nations; or Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied to the Conduct and to …

To Robert Cary & Company, 6 October 1773
… the Nature and Immutability of Truth; Thomas Reid, Inquiry into the Human Mind; Adam Ferguson, Institutes of Moral Philosophy; Vattel, Laws of Nations; Hugo Grotius, De Jure Belli au Paces; George Turnbull, Principles of Moral Philosophy; David Fordyce, Elements …

Enclosure Questions for the Supreme Court, 18 July 1793
… all with France, see Miller, Treaties, 3–47, 228–44. This is probably a reference to principles contained in Emmerich de Vattel’s three-volume work, The Law of Nations; or the Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied to the conduct and …

Enclosure: Answers to Questions proposed by the President of the United States to the Secretary of the Treasury., 15 September 1790
… Law of War and Peace through Barbeyrac’s work, cited in n.3 above (see Syrett, Hamilton Papers 7:39, n.5). For Vattel’s Law of Nations, see John Jay to GW, 28 Aug. 1790, n.2. Hamilton’s footnote, “Puffendorfs Law of Nature & …

Memorandum from Alexander Hamilton, 15 May 1793
… 26:197–99; see also JPP, 156–57, 159. Throughout the debates over U.S. neutrality policy, cabinet members referred to Emmerich de Vattel’s The Law of Nations, first published in French in 1758 and in English in 1760. Although the Treaty of …

… with the other volumes. In the afternoon I took up Vattels’ law of nature and of nations. Emmerich de Vattel, Le droit des gens; ou, principes de la loi naturelle, appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des nations …

15th. Dined with Townsend and Thomson at Mr. Parsons’s. I finished this day the first volume of Vattel. The first book treats of the duties of a nation with respect to itself: the second of its obligations …

22d. This forenoon I finish’d Vattel. The third book treats of War, and the fourth of Peace; much in the same manner as he treats …

I. Reply of the House to Hutchinson’s First Message, 26 January 1773
… June 1680, Henings Statutes, 2:466–469. In his address of 6 Jan., Hutchinson had quoted this passage from Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations, or, Principles of the Law of Nature, applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations …

III. Reply of the House to Hutchinson’s Second Message, 2 March 1773
… Mass., Province Laws, 3:118. For the background of this legislation, see Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 2:298–300. That is, Vattel. See No. I, note 12, above. These passages are taken from the second of John Locke’s Two Treatises of …

From James Lovell, 1 January 1778
… been greatly wanted upon a most important transaction. We have had a call for your stores of Grotius Puffendorf Vattel &c. &c. &c. to support reason and commonsense or to destroy both, just as your Honour and Da– and …

Editorial Note
… absolute. In a passage strongly reminiscent of his writs of assistance argument, Otis cited the Swiss publicist Emmerich de Vattel, as well as Bonham’s Case and other common law precedents, for the proposition that Parliament could not make a …

To Richard Henry Lee, 15 March 1780
… I, f. 211–217; Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 355– 356). In support of his position Franklin cited Emmerich de Vattel’s The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations …

To the President of Congress, No. 40, 10 April 1780
… on the law of nations, but it did no more than explicitly state what was already implied (Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations, or Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations …

Jean Henri David Uhl to John Adams: A Translation, 1 July 1782
… it was contraband, was free or not subject to seizure wherever found, even on an enemy ship (Emerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations or the Principals of Natural Law, bk. 3, ch. 7, § 115–116). Thu when a …
… a specialized approach to the questions of prize: R. Lee, Treatise of Captures in War (London, 1759); Emmerich de Vattel, Law of Nations (London, 1760). See Minutes, 13 Sept. 1783, DNA Microcopy 162, Case 30. No authorities appear in …

Vattel – Thomas Jefferson To George Hammond, 29 May 1792
… choses dont le Traité ne dit rien, doivent demeurer dans l’etat où elles se trouvent lors de sa conclusion. Vattel. L. 4. §. 21. ‘De quibus nihil dictum, ea manerit quo sunt loco,’ Wolf. 1222. No alterations then are …
Editorial Note: Jefferson’s Opinion on the Treaties with France
… But Randolph wavered when Hamilton offered to produce a citation from that formidable authority on international law, Emmerich de Vattel’s Le Droit des Gens (1758), in support of his position that a treaty might under certain circumstances be suspended …

I. Notes on Washington’s Questions on Neutrality and the Alliance with France, [before 28 April 1793]
… free goods et econtre. free commerce to places not besieged. certificate of officer of convoy prevents searches. contraband defined. Vattel. 2. 157. the validity of treaties / 158. lezion does not annul them. / 159. duties of nations in …

II. Notes for Opinion on the Treaty of Alliance with France, [before 28 April 1793]
… self-libern without just cause or compensn gives cause of war to France. Examine Authorities.—how far they weigh.—danger of understg. Vattel witht restrn. Grotius—Puff.—Wolf— Vattel Vattel . 2. 160. 158. <159.> 163. 219. 220. <233.> [Lengthwise in the …

IV. Opinion on the Treaties with France, 28 April 1793
… Certainly not when merely useless or disagreeable, as seems to be said in an authority which has been quoted. Vattel. 2.197. And tho he may under certain degrees of danger, yet the danger must be imminent, and the degree …

List of Books Sold to James Monroe, [10 May 1784]
… Oeuvres de Mably. 4.v. 1. 1. / Entretiens de Phocion 4. / Recherches sur les Americains. 3.v. 16. / Vattel 1. 16. / Epoques de la nature 2. v. 11. / Maniere de jouer aux echecs 6. / Oeuvres …

From Edmund Randolph, with a Memorandum by Jefferson, 9 February 1781
… a Memorandum by Jefferson Sir February 9. 1781. As your excellency and the council probably have not access to Vattel, on whose doctrines this hasty answer is founded, I shall inclose the paragraph from his work, which treats of …

Report on Negotiations with Spain, 18 March 1792
… and without having declared any: but on the contrary, conducting herself in other respects as a friend and associate. Vattel. L. 3. 122. It is an established principle that Conquest gives only an inchoate right, which does not become …

To James Madison, 28 April 1793
… have been seriously proposed to declare our treaties with France void on the authority of an ill-understood scrap in Vattel 2.§.197. [‘toutefois si ce changement &c—gouvernement’] and that it should be necessary to discuss it?—Cases are now arising which …

From Edmund Randolph, 9 February 1781
… made by the unarmed countrymen, I am inclined to think, that I was inaccurate. As well as I recollect, Vattel was said to be against their claim; but that daily usage was in favor of it. So far perhap …

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To Thomas Newton, Jr., 8 September 1791
… 202–3). In laying down general principles only, TJ had the support of three wellknown authorities—Abraham de Wicquefort, Emmerich de Vattel, and Wyndham Beawes—among whom only Vattel argued that consuls “must be accorded, to a certain extent, the …

II. Arguments by James Wilson and William Samuel Johnson before the Court of Commissioners, [14–23 December 1782]
… made to the Dutch possessions. We must discover the thoughts of those who make Contracts 2 Blacstone 295. 2 Vattel §270. 2 Hutchinson history Massa. 387. Interpretation must be rational 2

Rutherford—chapter Interpretation. 1 Blacstone 59. 2 Bacon abrid. …
From Thomas Pinckney, 27 August 1793

… Court of Admiralty’s dismissal of Wilson’s suit against the Centurion’s captain was presumably based on the principle expressed by Vattel that the captain had acted in ignorance of the cessation of hostilities, even though Vattel maintained that …

Alexander Hamilton’s Notes on Jefferson’s Letter to George Hammond, with Jefferson’s Response, [20–27 May 1792]
… have a knowledge of the transaction from it’s first embryon to it’s perfection. They are the ‘parties contractantes’ of Vattel and the ‘paciscentes’ of Wolf cited §. 48. Tho’ they do not transact the business in person, but by …

Edmund Randolph’s Opinion on the Grange, 14 May 1793
… a country in order to settle there, it possesses every thing included in it, as lands, lakes, rivers” &c. Vattel. b.1.c.22. §.266. To this list might be added Bynkershoek and Selden. But the dissertation of the former de dominio …

To Edmond Charles Genet, 17 June 1793
… what that law and usage is. Let us appeal to enlightened and disinterested Judges. None is more so than Vattel. He says L. 3. §. 104. “Tant qu’un peuple neutre veut jouïr surement de cet état, il doit montrer …
To Edmond Charles Genet, [ca. 16 July 1793]
… unfortunate in your estimation. You are pleased to consider us as bringing forward diplomatic subleties, and the aphorisms of Vattel, to justify infractions of positive treaties. I shall agree with you that reason is the only rightful umpire between …

XII. Opinion of the Chief Justice, 28 August 1790
… within two Classes vizt. cases of urgent necessity, and Cases of Convenience. The present case belongs to the latter. Vattel, who well understood the subject, says in the 7th: chapter of his 3d. Book: That an innocent Passage is …

XV. Opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury, 15 September 1790
… Peace Book II Chap II § xiii No. 1.2.3.4. Book III Chap: VII § 119. 120. 121. 122. 123. Vattel Book III Chap VII Section 127. France has made us one loan since the peace. MS (DLC: Washington Papers). …

Notes on Washington’s Questions on Neutrality and the Alliance with France, [6 May 1793]
… valid. E.R. declared himself of the same opinion, but on H’s undertaking to present to him the authority in Vattel (which we had not present) and to prove to him that, if the authority was admitted, the treaty might …
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From James Madison, 8 May 1793
… at the time have been put on them. The attempt to shuffle off the Treaty altogether by quibbling on Vattel is equally contemptible for the meanness and folly of it. If a change of Government is an absolution from …
To William G. Munford, 27 February 1799
… in the catalogue [you sent me] as could be found here. these are Stewart’s philosophy of the human mind. Vattel’s law of nations. Smith’s wealth of nations. Nicholson’s philosophy {}to these I have added Chipman’s sketches on government Condorcet’s …


Notes on John Jay’s Mission to Great Britain, [1797 or after]
… He says also that in conformity to what was mentioned by Mr. Jay he has used the words of Vattel. As to the article about impressment he says ‘he sees no reason whatever to object to this article.’ / …

To James Madison, 3 August 1793
… vulnerable points, well struck, stab the party vitally.—3. lights from the law of nations on the constructions of treaties. Vattel has been most generally the guide, Bynkershoeck often quoted, Wolf sometimes. 4. no call was made by any power …

IV. Thomas Jefferson to Gouverneur Morris, 16 August 1793
… law of nations, founded on the general sense and usage of mankind, we have produced proofs, from the June 17. Vattel L.3.§.104. most enlightened and approved writers on the subject, that a neutral nation must, in all things relating to …

To Ferdinando Fairfax, 25 April 1794
… to discuss the opinions of Home and Young, than my friend Genet did the worm-eaten aphorisms of Grotius and Vattel. In the mean time I have the honor to be with sentiments of great esteem Dear Sir your most …
Enclosure II: Considerations on a Convention with Spain, 22 March 1792
… One writer extends the exception to atrocious criminals, too imminently dangerous to Society. Namely to Pirates, Murderers, and Incendiaries. Vattel. L. V. § 233. The punishment of Piracy, being provided for by our law, need not be so by …

From Edmund Randolph, 30 January 1784
… be convinced of Hancock’s guilt before they could deliver him up. This scruple originated from the 76th. section of Vattel’s 2d. book. But the quotation of a practice in Switzerland which deprives the canton, within whose reach an offender …

To John Garland Jefferson, 11 June 1790
… Spirit of laws. / Blackstone. / Virginia laws. Smith’s wealth of nations. / Beccaria. / Kaim’s moral essays. / Vattel’s law of nations / Should there be any little intervals in the day not otherwise occupied fill them up …

From Thomas Pinckney, 5 July 1793
… was justifiable when there was a hope of reducing an enemy by famine (for a translation, see Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations, or, Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations …
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Course of Reading for William G. Munford, [5 December 1798]
… Practice in Chancery / Wythe’s reports. Schomberg’s hist. of [Civ. 1.] / Washington’s reports. Molloy de Jure [Mar.] / Vattel. / [Fine Arts] from [XII.] to II. Moral Philosophy [from?] […]& [night?] / Lowthe’s grammar Condorcet’s Progress of the …

A Course of Reading for Joseph C. Cabell, September 1800
… human life. 12mo. Gregory’s legacy. 12mo. Gregory’s comparative view. 12 mo. Ld. Bacon’s essays. 12 mo. L. of nations. Vattel. Droit des gens. 4to. Droit des gens moderne par martens. 2 v. {12mo. Religion. Paley’s evidences. 8vo. Middleton’s Miscelli …

From James Madison, 9 January 1785
… contended that such surrenders were unknown to the law of nations, and were interdicted by our declaration of Rights. Vattel however is express as to the case of Robbers, murderers and incendiaries. Grotius quotes various instances in which great …

To John Jay, 21 June 1787
… sang répandus pour venger l’injure faite a quelqu’un de ces hommes revêtus d’un ministere national.” Grotius, Bodin, Montesquieu, and Vattel were appealed to in support of the view that the ambassador, representing his sovereign in a foreign state, must …

To Edmond Charles Genet, [15–22 November 1793]
… are worm-eaten, or hired. It will be acknoleged that you have never troubled us with quotations from Grot. Puff. Vattel or any other authority antient or recent. Had you endeavored to learn from these respected authors what the rest …

To George Washington from Charles Lee, 26 March 1796
... their own authority they made the law—by the same they repeal it. This general proposition is further supported by Vattel who in book 4. section 24 says “that a treaty of peace binds the contracting parties from the moment ...

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From Edmund Randolph, 6 May 1793
… refusal of him may bring war upon the U.S., because they cannot, without very particular reasons decline his admission—(See Vattel book. 4. section 65) That the expulsion of the prince is not one of those particular reasons will appear …

Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on a Cabinet Meeting, 6 May 1793
… valid. E.R. declared himself of the same opinion, but on H’s undertaking to present to him the authority in Vattel (which we had not present) & to prove to him that, if the authority was admitted, the treaty might …

Memorandum from Henry Knox, 16 May 1793
… against our sovereignty even to such a degree as to justify a declaration of War unless satisfactory reparation be made—Vattel is explicit upon this subject he says—in Book 3. Chapter 2d Section 15. “As the right of levying soldiers …

From John Jay, 28 August 1790
… comprized within two Classes vizt cases of urgent necessity, and cases of convenience—The present case belongs to the latter. Vattel who well understood the Subject, says in the 7th chapter of his 3d Book— That an innocent Passage is …

To the Cabinet, 3 August 1793
… United States signed with France in 1778, see Miller, Treaties, 3–44. An authority on international law was Emmerich de Vattel’s three-volume work Le Droit des gens: ou, Principes de la loi naturelle, appliqués à la conduite & aux affaires …

To Thomas Jefferson, 4 August 1793
… had with France, Great Britain, and other nations, see Miller, Treaties, 3–244. The other reference is to Emmerich de Vattel’s three-volume work The Law of Nations; or Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied to the Conduct and to …

To Robert Cary & Company, 6 October 1773
… the Nature and Immutability of Truth; Thomas Reid, Inquiry into the Human Mind; Adam Ferguson, Institutes of Moral Philosophy; Vattel, Laws of Nations; Hugo Grotius, De Jure Belli au Paces; George Turnbull, Principles of Moral Philosophy; David Fordyce, Elements …

Enclosure Questions for the Supreme Court, 18 July 1793
… all with France, see Miller, Treaties, 3–47, 228–44. This is probably a reference to principles contained in Emmerich de Vattel’s three-volume work, The Law of Nations; or the Principles of the Law of Nature: Applied to the conduct and …

Enclosure: Answers to Questions proposed by the President of the United States to the Secretary of the Treasury., 15 September 1790
… Law of War and Peace through Barbeyrac’s work, cited in n.3 above (see Syrett, Hamilton Papers 7:39, n.5). For Vattel’s Law of Nations, see John Jay to GW, 28 Aug. 1790, n.2. Hamilton’s footnote, “Puffendorfs Law of Nature & …

Memorandum from Alexander Hamilton, 15 May 1793
… 26:197–99; see also JPP, 156–57, 159. Throughout the debates over U.S. neutrality policy, cabinet members referred to Emmerich de Vattel’s The Law of Nations, first published in French in 1758 and in English in 1760. Although the Treaty of …

Vattel – Ratification Convention Debates, A.M.
... closed his arguments in opposition to the proposed federal system. [Dallas’ Debates, Pennsylvania Herald, 15 December] Findley: Sovereignty. Vat. [Vattel] p. 9. 19. Locke, on Gov. [II] c. 13 [chapter XIII]. There is but one supreme power, viz., the ...
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Convention Debates
… a confederation of states. (8) Sovereignty is in the states and not in the people in its exercise. (9) Vattel’s description of sovereignty—it belonged originally to the body of the society (Vat. page 9. of the Sovereign). (10) …

Convention Debates, A.M.
… marginal notes] Sovereignty Vat. p. 5. s. 2 Lock, p. 2, s. 149, 227. Bl. 245. 161. 162. Confederacy, Vattel p. 11. s. 10 Mont. b. 9. c. 1. A general inconsistency between this reasoning and that against the …
Convention Debates, A.M.

… 2. [Montesquieu, I, 11–18.] “The People, in whom the Supreme Power resides.” (51) Vat. b. 1. s. 1. 2. [Vattel, 15–16.] “Sovereignty.” (52) The sovereignty is essentially in the people; but is vested in a senate or a monarch. …
Convention Debates, A.M.

… closed his arguments in opposition to the proposed federal system. [Dallas’ Debates, Pennsylvania Herald, 15 December] Findley: Sovereignty. Vat. [Vattel] p. 9. 19. Locke, on Gov. [II] c. 13 [chapter XIII]. There is but one supreme power, viz., the …

… Ithaca, N.Y., 1930–1971). Thorpe Francis N. Thorpe, ed., The Federal and State Constitutions … (7 vols., Washington, D.C., 1909). Vattel Emerich de Vattel , The Law of Nations … (Dublin, 1792). Cross-references CC Commentaries on the Constitution: Public …

George Clinton’s Remarks Against Ratifying the Constitution, 11 July 1788
… persons, having a will of their own and equal rights—that these rights are freedom, sovereignty, and independence. The celebrated Vattel treating on this subject, observes “that power or weakness does not in this respect produce any difference. A dwarf …

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