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a usage founded upon the danger of exposing a state to the errors of its minister. He omits the following sentence, which explicitly asserts that this usage can never be resorted to in justification of a refusal to ratify, unless when the minister has exceeded his secret instructions; and thus, with this half of a sentence, stripped of all its qualifying context, the Duke brings Martens to assert that which he most explicitly denies.
Is this refutation?
While upon this subject, permit me to refer you to another passage of Vattel, which I the more readily cite, because, independent of its weight as authority, it places this obligation of sovereigns upon its immoveable foundation of eternal justice in the law of nature.
It is shown by the law of nature that he who has made a promise to any one has conferred upon him a true right to require the thing promised; and that, consequently, not to keep a perfect promise is to violate the right of another, and is as manifest an injustice as that of depriving a person of his property. All the tranquillity, the happiness, and security of the human race rest on justice, on the obligation of paying a regard to the rights of others. The respect of others for our rights of domain and property constitutes the security of our actual possessions. The faith or promise is our security for the things that cannot be delivered or executed on the spot. There would be no more security, no longer any commerce between mankind, did they not believe themselves obliged to preserve their faith and keep their word. This obligation is then as necessary as it is natural and indubitable between nations that live together in a state of nature, and acknowledge no superior upon earth, to maintain order and peace in their society. Nations and their conductors ought, then, to keep their promises and their treaties inviolable. This great truth, though too often neglected in practice, is generally acknowledged by all nations.1 1 Liv. 2, ch. 12, § 163.
The melancholy allusion to the frequent practical neglect of this unquestionable principle would afford a sufficient reply to your assertion that the ratification of treaties has often been refused, though signed by ministers with unqualified full powers, and without breach of their instructions. No case can be cited by you in which such a refusal has been justly given; and the fact of refusal, separate from the justice of the case, amounts to no more than the assertion that sovereigns have often violated their engagements and their duties: the obligation of his Catholic Majesty to ratify the treaty signed by Mr. Onis is therefore complete.
The sixteenth and last article of this treaty is in the following words: "The present treaty shall be ratified, in due form, by the contracting parties, and the ratifications shall be exchanged in six months from this time, or sooner if possible." On the faith of his Catholic Majesty's promise, the treaty was, immediately after its signature, ratified on the part of the United States, and, on the 18th of May following, Mr. Forsyth, by an official note,1 informed the Marquis of Casa Yrujo, then minister of foreign affairs at Madrid, that the treaty, duly ratified by the United States, had been intrusted to him by the President, and that he was prepared to exchange it for the ratification of Spain. He added that, from the nature of the engagement, it was desirable that the earliest exchange should be made, and that the American ship of war Hornet was waiting in the harbor of Cadiz, destined in a few days to the United States, and affording an opportunity peculiarly convenient of transmitting the ratified treaty to the United States.
No answer having been returned to this note, on the 4th of June Mr. Forsyth addressed to the same minister a sec
1 Printed in the American State Papers, Foreign Relations, IV. 654.
ond,1 urging, in the most respectful terms, the necessity of the departure of the Hornet, the just expectation of the United States that the ratified treaty would be transmitted by that vessel, and the disappointment which could not fail to ensue should she return without it.
After fifteen days of further delay, on the 19th of June, Mr. Forsyth was informed by a note from Mr. Salmon, successor to the Marquis of Casa Yrujo, that "his Majesty, on reflecting on the great importance and interest of the treaty in question, was under the indispensable necessity of examining it with the greatest caution and deliberation before he proceeded to ratify it, and that this was all he was enabled to communicate to Mr. Forsyth on that point." 2
Thus, after the lapse of more than a month from the time of Mr. Forsyth's first note, and of more than two months from the time when your government had received the treaty, with knowledge that it had been ratified by the United States, the ratification of a treaty which his Catholic Majesty had solemnly promised, so that it might be exchanged within six months from the date of its signature, or sooner if possible, was withheld merely to give time to his Catholic Majesty to examine it; and this treaty was the result of a twenty years' negotiation, in which every article and subject contained in it had been debated and sifted to the utmost satiety between the parties, both at Washington and Madrid a treaty in which the stipulations by the Spanish minister had been sanctioned by successive references of every point to his own government, and were, by the formal admission of your own note, fully within the compass of his instructions.
If under the feeling of such a procedure on the part of the
1 Printed in the American State Papers, Foreign Relations, IV. 654. 2 Ib., 654.
Spanish government, the minister of the United States appealed to the just rights of his country in expressions suited more to the sense of its wrongs than to the courtesies of European diplomacy, nothing had till then occurred which could have restrained your government from asking of him any explanation which could be necessary for fixing its determination upon the ratification. No explanation was
asked of him.
Nearly two months afterwards, on the 10th of August, Mr. Forsyth was informed that the king would not come to a final decision upon the ratification without previously entering into several explanations with the government of the United States, to some of which that government had given rise, and that his majesty had charged a person possessed of his full confidence, who would forthwith make known to the United States his majesty's intentions. Mr. Forsyth offered himself to give every explanation which could be justly required; but your government declined receiving them from him, assigning to him the shortness of the time a reason altogether different from that which you now allege, of the disrespectful character of his communications.1
From the 10th of August till the 14th of last month, a period of more than eight months passed over, during which no information was given by your government of the nature of the explanations which would be required. The government of the United States, by a forbearance perhaps unexampled in human history, has patiently waited for your arrival, always ready to give, in candor and sincerity, every explanation that could with any propriety be demanded. What, then, must have been the sentiments of the President upon finding, by your note of the 14th ultimo, that instead
1 Printed in the American State Papers, Foreign Relations, IV. 655, 656.
of explanations, his Catholic Majesty has instructed you to demand the negotiation of another treaty, and to call upon the United States for stipulations derogatory to their honor, and incompatible with their duties as an independent nation? What must be the feelings of this nation to learn that, when called upon to state whether you were the bearer of his Catholic Majesty's ratification of the treaty to be exchanged upon the explanations demanded being given, you explicitly answered that you were not? and, when required to say whether you are authorized, as a substitute for the ratification, to give the pledge of immediate possession of the territory from which the acknowledged just claims of the citizens of the United States were stipulated to be indemnified, you still answer that you are not; but refer us back to a solemn promise of the king, already pledged before in the full power to your predecessor, and to a ratification as soon as possible, already stipulated in vain by the treaty which he, in full conformity to his instructions, had signed?
The ratification of that treaty can now no longer be accepted by this government without the concurrence of a constitutional majority of the Senate of the United States, to whom it must be again referred. Yet even this promise you were, by my letter of the 3d instant, informed that, rather than abandon the last hope of obtaining the fulfilment of his Catholic Majesty's promise already given, the President would, so far as was constitutionally within his power, yet accept.
The assurances which you had given me, in the first personal conference between us, of your own entire satisfaction with the explanations given you upon all the points on which you were instructed to ask them, would naturally have led to the expectation that the promise which you was authorized to give, would, at least, not be withheld. From your