University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;
3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
[Clear Hits]

expand sectionA. 
expand sectionB. 
expand sectionC. 
expand sectionD. 
expand sectionE. 
expand sectionF. 
expand sectionG. 
expand sectionH. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionJ. 
expand sectionK. 
expand sectionL. 
expand sectionM. 
expand sectionN. 
expand sectionO. 
expand sectionP. 
expand sectionQ. 
expand sectionR. 
expand sectionS. 
collapse sectionT. 
8526. TREATIES, Binding force of.—[continued].
expand sectionU. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionW. 
expand sectionX. 
expand sectionY. 
expand sectionZ. 

expand section 
expand section 
3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
[Clear Hits]

8526. TREATIES, Binding force of.—[continued].

Compacts between nation
and nation are obligatory on them by the
same moral law which obliges individuals to
observe their compacts. There are circumstances,
however, which sometimes excuse the
non-performance of contracts between man
and man; so are there also between nation
and nation. When performance, for instance,
becomes impossible, non-performance is not
immoral. So if performance becomes self-destructive
to the party, the law of self-preservation
overrules the laws of obligation in
others. For the reality of these principles I
appeal to the true fountains of evidence, the
head and heart of every rational and honest
man. It is there nature has written her moral
laws, and where every man may read them
for himself. He will never read there the
permission to annul his obligations for a time,
or forever, whenever they become “ dangerous,
useless, or disagreeable”, certainly not
when merely useless or disagreeable, as seems
to be said in an authority which has been
quoted, [482] Vattel. 2. 197, and though he may,
under certain degrees of danger, yet the
danger must be imminent, and the degree
great. Of these, it is true, that nations are to
be judges for themselves; since no nation has
a right to sit in judgment over another. But
the tribunal of our consciences remains, and
that also of the opinion of the world. These
will revise the sentence we pass in our own
case, and as we respect these, we must see
that in judging ourselves we have honestly
done the part of impartial and rigorous
Opinion on French Treaties. Washington ed. vii, 613. Ford ed., vi, 220.


By Alexander Hamilton.—Editor.