« ZurückWeiter »
THE LETTERS OF PACIFICUS.
BY ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
AS attempts are making, very dangerous to the peace, and it is to be feared not very friendly to the constitution, of the United States, it becomes the duty of those who wish well to both, to endeavour to prevent their success.
The objections which have been raised against the proclamation of neutrality, lately issued by the presi. dent, have been urged in a spirit of acrimony and invective, which demonstrates that more was in view than merely a free discussion of an important public measure. They exhibit evident indications of a design to weaken the confidence of the people in the author of the measure, in order to remove or lessen a powerful obstacle to the success of an opposition to the government, which, how, ever it may change its form according to circumstances, seems still to be persisted in with unremitting industry.
This reflection adds to the motives connected with the measure itself, to recommend endeavours, by proper explanations, to place it in a just light. Such explanations at least cannot but be satisfactory to those who may not themselves have leisure or opportunity for pursuing an investigation of the subject, and who may wish to perceive, that the policy of the government is not inconsistent with its obligations or its honour.
The objections in question fall under four heads :
3. That it was contrary to the gratitude which is due from this to that country, for the succours afforded to us in our own revolution.
4. That it was out of time, and unnecessary.
In order to judge of the solidity of the first of these objections, it is necessary to examine what is the nature and design of a proclamation of neutrality.
It is to make known to the powers at war, and to the citizens of the country whose government does the act, that such country is in the condition of a nation at peace with the belligerent parties, and under no obligations of treaty to become an associate in the war with either, and that this being its situation, its intention is to observe a correspondent conduct, by performing towards each the duties of neutrality; to warn all persons within the juris. diction of that country, to abstain from acts that shall contravene those duties, under the penalties which the laws of the land, of which the jus gentium is part, will inflict.
This, anıl no more, is conceived to be the true import of a proclamation of neutrality.
It does not imply, that the nation which makes the declaration, will forbear to perform to either of the warring powers any stipulations in treaties which can be executed, without becoming a party in the war. It therefore does not imply in our case, that the United States will not make those distinctions, between the present belligerent powers, which are stipulated in the 7th and 22d articles of our treaty with France : because they are not incompatible with a state of neutrality: and will in no shape render the United States an associate or party in the war. This must be evident, when it is considered, that even to furnish determinate succours of ships or troops, to a power at war, in consequence of antecedent treaties having no particular reference to
the existing quarrel, is not inconsistent with neutrality : a position equally well established by the doctrines of writers, and the practice of nations.*
But no special aids, succours, or favours, having relation to war, not positively and precisely stipulated by some treaty of the above description, can be afforded to either party, without a breach of neutrality.
In stating that the proclamation of neutrality does not imply the non-performance of any stipulations of treaties, which are not of a nature to make the nation an associate in the war, it is conceded, that an execution of the clause of guarantee, contained in the eleventh article of our treaty of alliance with France, would be contrary to the sense and spirit of the proclamation ; because it would engage us with our whole force, as an auxiliary in the war; it would be much more than the case of a definite succour, previously ascertained.
It follows, that the proclamation is virtually a mani. festation of the sense of the government, that the United States are, under the circumstances of the case, not bound to execute the clause ef guarantee.
If this be a just view of the force and import of the proclamation, it will remain to see, whether the president, in issuing it, acted within his proper sphere, or stepped beyond the bounds of his constitutional authority and duty.
It will not be disputed, that the management of the affairs of this country with foreign nations, is confided to the government of the United States.
It can as little be disputed, that a proclamation of neutrality, when a nation is at liberty to decline or avoid a war in which other nations are engaged, and means to do so, is a usual and a proper measure. Its main object is to prevent the nation's being responsible for acts done by its citizens, without the privity or connivance of the government, in contravention of the principles of neutrality ;t an object of the greatest moment to a country, whose true interest lies in the preservation of peace.
See Vatel, Book III, Ch. 6, Sec. 101. + See Vatel, Book II, Chap. 7, Sec. 113.
The inquiry then is, what department of our government is the proper one to make a declaration of neutrality, when the engagements of the nation permit, and its interests require that it should be done ?
A correct mind will discern at once, that it can be. long neither to the legislative nor judicial department, of course must belong to the executive.
The legislative department is not the organ of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations. It is charged neither with making nor interpreting treaties. It is therefore not naturally that member of the government, which is to pronounce the existing condi. tion of the nation, with regard to foreign powers, or to admonish the citizens of their obligations and duties in consequence ; still less is it charged with enforcing the observance of those obligations and duties.
It is equally obvious, that the act in question is foreign to the judiciary department. The province of that department, is to decide litigations in particular cases. It is indeed charged with the interpretation of treaties, but it exercises this function only where contending parties bring before it a specific controversy. It has no concern with pronouncing upon the external political relations of treaties between government and government. This position is too plain to need being insisted upon.
It must then of necessity belong to the executive de. partment to exercise the function in question, when a proper case for it occurs.
it appears to be connected with that department in various capacities. As the organ of intercourse between the nation and foreign nations; as the interpreter of the national treaties, in those cases in which the judiciary is not competent, that is, between government and government ; as the power, which is charged with the execution of the laws, of which treaties form a part; as that which is charged with the command and disposi. tion of the public force.
This view of the subject is so natural and obvious, so analogous to general theory and practice, that no doubt can be entertained of its justness, unless to be deduced
from particular provisions of the constitution of the United States.
Let us see then, if cause for such doubt is to be found there.
The second article of the constitution of the United States, section first, establishes this general proposition, that “the EXECUTIVE POWER shall be vested in a pre66 sident of the United States of America."
The same article, in a succeeding section, proceeds to delineate particular cases of executive power. It declares, among other things, that the president shall be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; that he shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, to make treaties; that it shall be his duty to receive ambassadors and other public ministers, and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
It would not consist with the rules of sound construction, to consider this enumeration of particular authorities, as derogating from the more comprehensive grant in the general clause, further than as it may be coupled with express restrictions or limitations; as in regard to the co-operation of the senate in the appointment of officers, and the making of treaties ; which are plainly qualifications of the general executive powers of appointing officers and making treaties. The difficulty of a complete enumeration of all the cases of executive authority, would naturally dictate the use of general terms, and would render it improbable, that a specification of certain particulars was designed as a substitute for those terms, when antecedently used. The different mode of expression employed in the constitution, in regard to the two powers, the legislative and the executive, serves to confirm this inference. In the article which gives the legislative powers of the government, the expressions are, “ all legislative powers herein granted 16 shall be vested in a congress of the United States." In that which grants the executive power, the expressions are, “the executive power shall be vested in a “president of the United States."