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As our American Republic of the United States is based upon the principle of the sovereignty of the people, represented by the officers of the various departments of government, it is manifest that there must be an American polity. The invention of a representative free government belongs to our colonial ancestors, and they in 1620, presented to the world the first example of forming a government based upon a written contract signed by its founders. The Pilgrim constitution signed at Plymouth was still more remarkable in declaring that the powers of the rulers of the primitive republic were derived from the people to be governed, and that the administration should be in accordance with and in obedience to the law of God. Under this Pilgrim constitution, the new state sat down in the wilderness, under the canopy of approving Heaven. A pure democracy was the first result of the plan adopted; but as the settlements expanded, delegates to a general court were naturally deputed to represent the freemen of the distant towns; and hence arose a representative system of free government. This is of native American growth, and from such a government founded on such principles, naturally arises a system of American law, original in its character, as well as in the circumstances that gave it birth. This system of American polity we propose to unfold in a brief and elementary form, so far as relates to the international rights and duties of our republic, and her internal jurisdiction over the states and people of the United States, and her obligations to them.
We shall endeavor to discover and declare the law of nations, as the hand of the Almighty has written it in the history of the world, from the time of Abraham to that of Napoleon. We shall show that the revealed law of the Gospel, is identical with the law of nature or Moral Law of Nations, as made known by history; and that they
both teach us the great truth, that national offences of necessity produce their own punishment. We shall demonstrate that the instability of governments, ancient and modern, has arisen by natural and necessary consequence from national violations of the law of God, which from the beginning prescribed peace, equity and humanity, as duties essential to the existence of nations.
Our historic review will establish the fact that force, brute force, was the principle by which ancient nations attained power, and finally lost their existence. By the sword they rose, and by the sword they fell. In tracing the erection of the stupendous fabric of Roman dominion, as well as that of other ancient governments, it is necessary to cast the eye over a long line of centuries, which when viewed together, unfold the great moral truth that jurisdiction, property and persons acquired by a nation by the sword, are invariably lost by the sword, and that national violations of peace, equity and humanity, have always produced their own punishment. It will also be made evident that the moral constitution of man, which makes violence beget violence, must of necessity make national offences in the course of centuries punish themselves.
We shall show that the Christian religion, as far as its influence has extended, has given to the world a mental standard in place of the sword. It appeals to the souls of men, to their intellect, to their moral sense, and not to their bodies. Christianity presents a mental, moral government, instead of a corporeal one. Cicero, without thinking of Christianity, correctly says, "there are two sorts of disputing in the world, the one by reason and the other by open force; and the former of these being that which is agreeable to the nature of man, and the latter to that of brutes." Christianity is indeed agreeable to the nature of man, and calculated to promote perfect civilization, and to give solid and permanent prosperity to nations. We shall make it appear from history that nations have enjoyed prosperity, security and happiness, in proportion as they have observed the eternal laws of equity and right, and that the degree of national observance of the golden rule has always measured the amount of national felicity.
In the course of this review of the historic period, it will appear that the universal destruction of ancient nations was owing to the universal national principle, that might gives right, that power and success were the only standard of national elevation. And that in modern times, the sword has been the disturber and destroyer of national existence and national felicity. In short, we mean to propose a new way
to elevate the power and promote the enjoyment of nations," agreeable to the nature of man,” and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that our system of national law may not appear to be impracticable, we shall call the history of the world to witness, that nations that have risen by force and injustice have all fallen by the same; and that though the penalties of the moral law of nations may be slow and gradual, reaching over many centuries, they attach at last to the offending na. tion.
We shall also exhibit the slow but gradual progress of the world in the arts and sciences, and especially in ethics and national law, prior to the Chirstian era, and even down to the invention of printing, and the diffusion of the Gospel by the printing press.
We shall endeavor to prove that Christianity and the printing press, are the true causes of modern improvement, or rather that Christianity aided in diffusion by the press, appealing to the mind and soul, has been the basis of modern improvement, and that so far as the Gospel in simplicity has been really influential, and no further, has modern civilization advanced in different nations.
We shall illustrate the effect of the holy alliance Christianity and the printing press, of religion and intellect, by reference to the history of the European nations, as well as of our republic.
Having shown by the example of the United States, the great antional advantage and rapid advancement of a people devoted to peace, equity and humanity, upon the celestial principle of doing to other nations as they would that others should do unto them, we shall exhibit the mode by which our population acquire a moral and religious education, and a comfortable amount of property. We shall explain how other nations, without any violent changes in their constitutional polity may adopt our peaceful system of industry and prosperity. Having proved by the experience of nations, ancient and modern, the truth and practicability of the code of international law, which the King of kings has prescribed for the government of nations, we shall in an elementary form set forth the principles of that law as we read them in the Mene Tekel, written on the tomb of departed empires, and in Revelation.
The law of nations, as we shall set it forth, will form the first part of American polity, the internal jurisdiction and duties of our national government, will compose the second part.
Our preliminary chapters, as we have suggested, will present the moral and intellectual condition of the world prior to the Christian era,
and make known its trifling improvement in civilization during the iron reign of war and brute force. Next in order will follow a critical review of national history from the days of Abraham to the fall of Napoleon; and the last preliminary chapter will portray the progress and effect of Christianity, with a practical illustration of its permanent civilizing power, aided by its great mental lever, the printing press, drawn from our Republic. In this chapter we shall explain a practical plan or system of pacific improvement by which the nations of Europe may attain the same happy condition with our Republic. These will precede our exposition of American law, international and internal.
ANTIQUITY CONSIDERED WITH REFERENCE TO THE ARTS AND SCIENCES, AND ITS TRIFLING PROGRESS IN MUNI. CIPAL LAW, MORALS, ETHICS, AND INTERNATIONAL LAW.
The history of the past, from the period when the morning stars first shone upon our first parents, exhibits a slow and gradual improvement in the condition of man. The physical and moral laws,] impressed by God on matter and mind, have been discovered by degrees by the human understanding, at least so far as they are now developed. This law of progression, though clearly applicable to Physical Science as well as Mental, must, of necessity, unfold the laws of mind at a later era than those of material and observable bodies. In conformity with this obvious truth, Mental Science, Ethics, and International Law are numbered among the discoveries of the last four centuries, Antiquity had little knowledge of these subjects. From the great length of time required to bring mankind up to their present state of moral and