Home | Search | About | Fidelio | Economy | Strategy | Justice | Conferences | Join
| Calendar | Music | Books | Concerts | Links | Education | Health
What's New | LaRouche | Spanish Pages | PoetryMaps
Dialogue of Cultures

Life, Liberty, and
The Pursuit of Happiness

How the Natural Law concept of
G.W. Leibniz
InspiredAmerica's Founding Fathers

by Robert Trout

Reprinted from FIDELIO Magazine, Vol . VI No.1 , Spring, 1997
Most figures and graphics are not included online.
Index of Issues 1991-1996
Index 1996 to 2001

Click to order this issue or to subscribe.

Back to Part I

Part II

The Principles of Just War

It is an invariable truth that justice is inseparable from sound policy."

Vattel derives a rigorous set of laws governing war, from his natural law hypothesis. He attacks Hobbes' assertion that war is the natural state of man. For, according to Vattel, the "natural state of man" is reason, and "it is the part of a rational being to terminate his differences through rational methods, whereas, it is the characteristic of the brute creation to decide theirs by force." The sovereign has the duty, both to his people and to other nations, to promote peace. However, the nation and sovereign have the duty, and, therefore, the right, to protect the liberty and happiness of the people. War is justified in defending the nation against those "who are deaf to the voice of justice."

Rigorous conditions define when war is justified: War is only a last resort when other peaceful means of securing justice have been exhausted. A nation may prosecute its rights by force when its fundamental rights have been violated. Self-defense against an unjust attacker is also just. However, a just cause must not be used for unjust motives, such as self-aggrandizement, since then, the just cause becomes merely a pretext. Nations may also use force to restrain a nation which is attacking others, or showing a commitment to subjugating others. Nations which seek to aggrandize themselves through war, should be considered as enemies to the human race, in the same manner as professed assassins and incendiaries, and all other nations have a right to join in a confederacy for the purpose of punishing them.

The principles of justice are the most effective strategy for fighting a war. At all times, the offended power must hold out to its adversary the possibility of peace. Treat the adversary with the same humanity with which one treats friends, as this will establish the basis for peace, and encourage the adversary to cease his violence. Maximum force is allowed against the enemies' ability to make war, but only against the ability to make war. The killing of soldiers is allowed, only until they have surrendered. The sole exception to this, is when soldiers are guilty of some enormous breach of the law of nations; then, they can then be punished for their crimes. The slaughter of noncombatants, such as women and children, serves no useful military purpose, and only makes the achievement of peace more difficult. In contrast, the barbaric Grotius defended, as permissible in war, the slaughter of women, and even infants, and the execution of prisoners of war, without time limits. Grotius even tried to defend this conduct as lawful, by quoting the Bible, "that in the Psalms it is said that he will be happy who dashes the infants of the Babylonians against a rock."[21]

Vattel demonstrates that the principles of just warfare are not simply rules which nations should follow, but are a lawfulness, which nations violate only at their own peril. He uses the Roman Empire as an example, to show that a nation which expands through unjust warfare, destroys itself in the process:

The Roman republic ruined herself by her triumphs, by the excess of her conquests and power. Rome, when mistress of the world, but enslaved by tyrants and oppressed by a military government, had to deplore the success of her arms, and to look back with regret on those happy times when her power did not extend beyond the bounds of Italy, or even when her dominion was almost confined within the circuit of her walls. (Book III, Chap. III, Sec. 30)
Finally, Vattel gives a justification for a people to throw off a tyrant, and to appeal to foreign governments for aid—something which the members of the Constitutional Convention, meeting in 1775 and 1776, must have found extremely useful:
But, if the prince, by violating the fundamental laws, gives his subjects a legal right to resist him,— if tyranny, becoming insupportable, obliges the nation to rise in their own defense,— every foreign power has a right to succour an oppressed people who implore their assistance. ... For, when a people, from good reasons take up arms against an oppressor, it is but an act of justice and generosity to assist brave men in the defense of their liberties. Whenever, therefore, matters are carried so far as to produce a civil war, foreign powers may assist that party which appears to them to have justice on its side. He who assists an odious tyrant,— he who declares for an unjust and rebellious people,— violates his duty. (Book II, Chap. IV, Sec. 56)
However, the right of a nation to support a revolt in another state should not be abused. No nation has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of another, as sovereignty is crucial for the development of nations, and it is only through the development of nations, that freedom is possible for individuals. However, the rights of the sovereign are dependent on the fulfillment of his duty to the perfection of the nation, and people have the right to revolt against a sovereign who violates his fundamental duties, when no other course of action has corrected their grievances. The rebels must also demonstrate that they have the support of the people, and are a force which is independent of foreign control, rather than merely a puppet of foreign meddling. Then, and only then, do the rebels have the same rights that a sovereign possesses under the law of nations, and they can call on foreign nations for aid. As Vattel puts it,
But, when the bands of the political society are broken, or at least suspended, between the sovereign and his people, the contending parties may then be considered as two distinct powers; and, since they are both equally independent of all foreign authority, nobody has a right to judge them. (Book II, Chap. IV, Sec. 56)
In summary, Vattel correctly asserts, that it is impossible for any set of laws to correctly guide affairs between nations, unless nations are consciously working for the betterment of one another.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
—The Declaration of Independence, 1776

The propagandists of the Enlightenment were furious. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of British Intelligence, ranted that Vattel's propositions were "old-womanish and tautological," and castles built in the air.[22] Voltaire complained to a friend, who had instructed him to read The Law of Nations, that he found the book "only as an indifferent imitation."[23] Perhaps it reminded him of Leibniz, who Voltaire had viciously slandered.

Vattel was the most popular of all writers on the law of nations in America before, but especially after, the American Revolution. Vattel's The Law of Nations arrived, shortly after its publication, in an America, which had already been greatly influenced by Leibniz.[24] No later than 1770, it was used as a textbook in colleges. It was often quoted in speeches before judicial tribunals and legislatures, and used in formulating policy. Following the Revolution, Vattel's influence grew. Vattel was cited far more often than Grotius and Puffendorf, in court proceedings, from 1789 to 1820.[25]

Among those citing Vattel in legal cases and government documents, were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, and John Marshall. John Adams, the future delegate to the Continental Congress, second President of the U.S., and father of President John Quincy Adams, recorded in his Diary on Feb. 1, 1763, that after spending the day frivolously, instead of reading and thinking, "The Idea of M. de Vattel indeed, scowling and frowning, haunted me."[26] In 1765, Adams copied into his Diary three statements by Vattel, "of great use to Judges," that laws should be interpreted according to the intent of the author, and every interpretation which leads to absurdity should be rejected.[27] In a letter to the Foreign Minister of Denmark, in 1779, Benjamin Franklin quoted Vattel, and "his excellent Treatise entitled Le Droit des Gens."[28] James Madison, as a member of the Continental Congress in 1780, drafted the instructions sent to John Jay, for negotiating a treaty with Spain, which quotes at length from The Law of Nations. Jay complained that this letter, which was probably read by the Spanish government, was not in code, and "Vattel's Law of Nations, which I found quoted in a letter from Congress, is prohibited here."[29] Later, John Marshall, during his thirty-four years as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, quoted Vattel by far the most among all authors on the law of nations.[30]

The Law of Nations and The Declaration of Independence

Delegates to the First and Second Continental Congress, which produced the Declaration of Independence, often consulted The Law of Nations, as a reference for their discussions. One important reason why the delegates chose to meet in Carpenters Hall, was that the building also housed the Library Company of Philadelphia. The librarian reported that Vattel was one of the main sources consulted by the delegates during the First Continental Congress, which met from Sept. 5 to Oct. 26, 1774.[31] Charles W.F. Dumas, an ardent supporter of the American cause, printed an edition of The Law of Nations in 1774, with his own notes illustrating how the book applied to the American situation.[32] In 1770, Dumas had met Franklin in Holland, and was one of Franklin's key collaborators in his European diplomacy. He sent three copies to Franklin, instructing him to send one to Harvard University, and to put one in the Philadelphia library. Franklin sent Dumas a letter, Dec. 9, 1775, thanking him for the gift. Franklin stated, "I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly, that copy which I kept, has been continually in the hands of the members of our congress, now sitting ... ."[33]

The study of The Law of Nations by the delegates to the Continental Congress, to answer questions "of the circumstances of a rising state," is reflected in the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. The central ideas of that document are coherent with Vattel's arguments on the criteria of a people to overthrow a tyrannical sovereign. The Declaration of Independence states that governments are instituted to fulfill the "inalienable rights" of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and can be changed if they fail to meet these obligations to the people. Governments should not be changed for light and transient causes, but only after a long chain of abuses to the fundamental rights of the people, with repeated requests for redress of grievances, which were refused. Repeated appeals were made to our "British Brethren," but since they "have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity," we are prepared to face them either in war or in peace. Therefore, we declare ourselves independent of the British Crown, with the full powers of a sovereign government, "to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which Independent States may of right do."

The inclusion of the central conception of The Law of Nations, Vattel's Leibnizian concept of happiness, as one of the three inalienable rights, is a crucial statement of the Declaration's Leibnizian character. The Declaration of Independence was prepared by a committee consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Jefferson was assigned by this committee to write the draft of the Declaration, after John Adams turned down the task, because of his numerous other responsibilities. The fact, that Jefferson was a strong proponent of the philosophy of John Locke by as early as 1771,[34] is often used as evidence that the Declaration was based on Locke's philosophy. However, Locke had argued, in his Two Treatises of Government, that the fundamental right of men is to "Life, Liberty, and Property." The inclusion of "the pursuit of happiness," rather than "property," as an inalienable right, was a crucial statement, that the American Revolution would be a battle for the establishment of a true Republic, rather than merely a dispute between two groups of aristocrats over the division of property.

The Law of Nations and The Constitution

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
—Preamble of The Constitution of the United States

The Law of Nations was crucial in shaping American thinking about the nature of constitutions.

To this day, Great Britain does not have a written constitution, but instead a collection of laws, customs, and institutions, which can be changed by either the Parliament or the monarchy, or by the "Venetian" financiers who are the real power over the British Empire. Consequently, the British constitution remains to this day little more than a mask for the arbitrary power of the oligarchy.

The only place of appeal which the American colonists had for unjust laws was to the King's Privy Council. Attempts by the colonists to argue that actions by the British Monarchy and Parliament were unlawful or unconstitutional would be stymied, if they stayed within this legal framework which was essentially arbitrary. Although Vattel praised the British constitution for providing a degree of freedom and lawfulness not seen in most of the German states, his principles of constitutional law were entirely different from the British constitutional arrangements. Consequently, the American colonists attacked the foundation of the King and Parliament's power, by demanding that Vattel's principles of constitutional law be the basis for interpreting the British constitution.

American writers quoted The Law of Nations on constitutional law, almost immediately after the book's publication. In 1764, James Otis of Massachusetts argued, in one of the leading pamphlets of the day, "The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved," that the colonial charters were constitutional arrangements. He then quoted Vattel, that the right to establish a constitution lies with the nation as a whole, and the Parliament lacked the right to change the fundamental principles of the British Constitution.[35] Boston revolutionary leader Samuel Adams wrote in 1772, "Vattel tells us plainly and without hesitation, that 'the supreme legislative cannot change the constitution,' 'that their authority does not extend so far,' and 'that they ought to consider the fundamental laws as sacred, if the nation has not, in very express terms, given them power to change them.' "[36] In a debate with the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts, in 1773, John Adams quoted Vattel that the parliament does not have the power to change the constitution.[37]

The adoption of a constitution, by the Constitutional Congress in 1787, based on Leibnizian principles rather than British legal doctrine, was certainly not inevitable. However, British legal experts such as Blackstone, who argued that the Parliament and King could change the constitution, were increasingly recognized by the Americans as proponents of arbitrary power. The early revolutionary leaders' emphasis on Vattel as the authority on constitutional law, with his conception that a nation must choose the best constitution to ensure its perfection and happiness, had very fortunate consequences for the United States and the world, when the U.S. Constitution was later written, as we will see below.

Alexander Hamilton's Approach to Natural Law

The issue of whether the American Republic would be a true republic, or merely a new government of landed aristocrats and financial oligarchs, was the central issue of the dispute, in which Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson became leaders on the two opposing sides. Contrary to most of today's lying historians, Hamilton was the leader of the republicans, and Jefferson, a leader of the aristocratic party. Although many men contributed to the founding of the United States, it is useful to focus on Hamilton, since of all of America's founders, he was most clearly influenced by Vattel, and his actions were most coherent with Leibnizian natural law. No one played a more important role than Hamilton, in the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, and in fulfilling its Leibnizian mandate. A number of Hamilton's key initiatives show how Vattel's The Law of Nations shaped Hamilton's thinking and actions, and thereby shaped the founding of the United States.

Alexander Hamilton was born in the British West Indies in 1757. There, he developed a life-long hatred of slavery, seeing how it oppressed the slave and corrupted society in general. Hamilton was brought to the American colonies by republican circles. During the Revolution, he was Washington's aide-de-camp. Following the Revolution, he qualified himself to practice law in New York State, in record time, and it was while studying for the New York bar examination in 1782, that Hamilton first read Vattel's The Law of Nations. James Duane supervised his studies, and lent Hamilton his law library. Duane had been an influential member of the Continental Congress, where he was a staunch ally of Benjamin Franklin. Following his studies under Duane, Hamilton began quoting Vattel in his writings. Duane placed his praise for Vattel into the court record in the Rutgers v. Waddington case, over which he presided as judge, while Hamilton appeared for the defense. Comparing Vattel to a previous author on the law of nations, Duane stated, "This last work, says a writer, is evidently rather an introduction than a system; and it served only to excite a desire to see it continued with equal perspicuity and elegance. The honor of this task was reserved for the great Vattel, whose work is entitled to the highest admiration!"[38]

Rutgers v. Waddington. Rutgers v. Waddington (1784) is an excellent example of how Vattel shaped Hamilton's philosophical outlook. Furthermore, Hamilton's arguments in Rutgers v. Waddington were a milestone in the formulation of the American doctrine of judicial review, or the doctrine that legislative decisions must be reviewed by the courts, to determine if they are coherent with higher forms of law. In this case, a British merchant, Mr. Waddington, had occupied a brewery after its owner, Mrs. Rutgers, a patriot widow, fled New York City, following British occupation. In February 1784, at the height of anti-Tory feeling, Mrs. Rutgers filed a suit against Waddington under the Trespass Act. Hamilton represented the defendant, Waddington.

The Trespass Act and other acts by the New York legislature were extremely destructive, forcing one-fifth of the state's population to flee, and thereby weakening the nation. Even worse, Hamilton saw these legislative actions as a new form of tyranny, spawned by the momentary passions of the mob, which could lead to a new aristocracy or oligarchy.

The case contrasts the Lockean approach of popular sovereignty, to Hamilton's reliance on natural law. Lawyers for the plaintiff argued that the legislature was the supreme law-giving authority of the state, and was subject to no control except that of the people. However, the New York State Constitution had adopted the common law of England, as part of the Constitution of New York. This British feature, of making past precedents part of the Constitution, Hamilton turned on its head, by arguing that, since the law of nations was part of the common law, the decisions of the New York Legislature must be consistent with the law of nations, in order to have validity. And Hamilton used Vattel as the standard for defining the law of nations.

Hamilton advanced two parallel approaches. First, he argued that state law was superseded by national law and the law of nations. He developed the concept of the law of nations, starting from the "Preliminaries" section of Vattel's book. Amnesty in peace treaties is consistent with the law of nations. The laws of New York State must be consistent with the amnesty provisions of the peace treaty, which the Continental Congress had signed with the British, as well as with the law of nations. Therefore, the Trespass Act must be declared null and void. Second, he argued that the intent of the legislature must have been that their law be applied, only in a fashion consistent with the peace treaty and the law of nations. If the literal interpretation of a law led to an absurd, contradictory, or unjust result, it must be assumed that the legislature did not intend that the law be so interpreted. (One of Hamilton's aphorisms was, "In law as in Religion, the Letter kills, the Spirit makes alive.") A review of the case from this standpoint, would lead to the conclusion that the law did not apply to Waddington. Therefore, Waddington's actions could not be punished. Both of these arguments required that the court review not simply the facts of the case, but the legitimacy of the law itself.

James Duane, then the mayor of New York City, presided over the proceedings, in an extremely charged atmosphere. He dodged the issue of whether the peace treaty, a national law, invalidated the New York State law. Responding to the second argument, Duane described the importance of the new republic abiding by the law of nations, and explained that the standard for the court would be Vattel. He ruled that the Trespass Act must be interpreted from the standpoint of its consistency with the law of nations. His judgement required Waddington to pay damages to Rutgers, although the amount was far smaller than demanded by the plaintiff, and the mob. Duane's judgement was extremely unpopular, and the New York Assembly passed a resolution condemning his decision, even considering a resolution to replace him as mayor.

The U.S. Consititution. One of the first and most persistent in efforts to replace the weak central government with a strong one, was Alexander Hamilton. The government of the Articles of Confederation demonstrated its inadequacies during the American Revolution, and its failings became even clearer, when it was unable to halt the economic collapse which resulted from British economic warfare, following the 1783 Treaty of Paris. On Sept. 3, 1780, Hamilton, who was aide-de-camp for Washington, sent a letter to James Duane, who was then a Congressman, arguing that the weak central government was a disaster and urging specific reforms to strengthen it.[39] For the next seven years, Hamilton argued in private letters, public appeals, resolutions, speeches in assemblies, and maneuvers at conventions, that a new constitution was needed to provide a strong central government.

Hamilton was a delegate to the convention which wrote the Constitution in 1787. His main concern was not the institutional arrangements of the government, but its purpose, and the creation of a central government strong enough to carry out that purpose. Three weeks into the convention, he delivered an all-day speech focussing on this. Whereas many of the delegates to the convention saw the purpose of government from the Lockean standpoint of "life, liberty and property," Hamilton's speech, coherent with Vattel's "Principle Objects of a Good Government," located the purposes of government as "the great purposes of commerce, revenue, or agriculture," "tranquility and happiness at home," and, "sufficient stability and strength to make us respectable abroad."[40]

The concept of judicial review, which Hamilton had championed in Rutgers v. Waddington, was included in the U.S. Constitution. In The Federalist Papers, No. 78, "The Judges as Guardians of the Constitution," circulated as part of the debate over the new Constitution, Hamilton developed a conception of constitutional law which was coherent with Vattel's conception. Hamilton stated that it is a "fundamental principle of republican government, which admits the right of the people to alter or abolish the established Constitution, whenever they find it inconsistent with their happiness." However, the Constitution can only be changed by the nation as a whole, and not by the temporary passions of the majority or by the legislature. Both to protect the Constitution, but also to ensure just enforcement of the law, the independence of the judiciary from the legislature and the executive branch is essential. The judiciary must be the guardians of the Constitution, to ensure that all legislative decisions are coherent with it. This idea championed by Hamilton, that the courts ensured that the Executive and Legislative branches followed the Constitution, was later established as a principle of American jurisprudence by Chief Justice John Marshall.

The Citizen Genet Affair. George Washington became the first President of the United States, under the new Constitution, in April 1789. Hamilton was appointed the Secretary of the Treasury, which was by far the largest department. President Washington usually sought the views of the key members of his cabinet, before making important decisions on domestic and foreign policy. Hamilton relied primarily on Vattel in his writings on foreign policy.

The role of The Law of Nations, in the diplomacy of Hamilton and the Washington administration, is illustrated by the affair of Citizen Genet, the Ambassador from the French Republic. Both America and France were plunged into depression by the free trade policies which the British tricked them into adopting, as part of the 1783 treaty which ended the Revolutionary War. Patriots in America succeeded in solving the crisis by creating a strong central government. In France, British Intelligence head Jeremy Bentham used his agents in the Jacobin movement, to throw France into chaos, and destroy the nationalist leadership. As many as 40,000 people were killed, and 500,000 imprisoned, and France was destroyed as the world's leading nation-state. Hamilton soon realized that Jacobin anarchy led quickly to tyranny. When, in February 1793, the French declared war on Spain, Great Britain, and Holland, Washington realized that neutrality was necessary for America's survival.

Citizen Genet was given his assignment, as France was descending into the Terror, by a government which was destroying the France that had been America's key ally. Genet arrived, not in the U.S. capital, Philadelphia, but in Charleston, South Carolina. He immediately began violating America's sovereignty and neutrality, by recruiting Americans as privateers, to attack British shipping, and as mercenaries, for an attack on Spanish Florida and Louisiana.

Washington asked his Cabinet for advice on how to deal with the new government of France and its ambassador, Citizen Genet. Secretary of State Jefferson argued, that since all authority of governments was derived from the people, all prior treaties with France should remain in effect.[41] Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton quoted Vattel at length, describing him as "the most systematic of writers on the laws of nations."[42] Hamilton argued that the French Constitution of 1791 was adopted with the approval of the entire French nation, and, therefore, was lawful. However, the seizure of power by extreme elements, who had suspended the Constitution, executed the King, and unleased a wave of terror, had created conditions ripe for civil war. Therefore, the United States should hold its treaties with France in abeyance, until the situation was resolved. While every nation had the right to change its government, it did not have the right to involve other nations, absolutely and unconditionally, in those changes. Hamilton stated, "This would be to give to a nation or society, not only a power over its own happiness, but a power over the happiness of other Nations or Societies. It would be to extend the operations of the maxim, much beyond the reason of it—which is simply, that every Nation ought to have a right to provide for its own happiness."[43]

Washington made repeated attempts to control Genet's actions, but Genet responded with increasing contempt, eventually threatening to bypass the President, and appeal directly to the people. On June 22, Genet exploded at the Washington administration, writing, "you bring forward aphorisms of Vattel, to justify or excuse infractions committed on positive treaties."[44] The administration eventually demanded that the French government recall Genet.

Establishing Republics in Hispanic America. Hamilton's efforts to liberate Spain's American colonies, began a long history of U.S. involvement in spreading the ideas of the United States as a sovereign constitutional republic into the movements toward nation-states in the Hispanic Americas. In a 1784 open letter presenting his case in Rutgers v. Waddington, Hamilton wrote that "the influence of our example" had "penetrated the gloomy regions of despotism," and "pointed the way to inquiries which may shake it to its deepest foundations."[45] Hamilton argued, in Federalist Paper No. 11, that the effects of the continuance of the union would allow the nation to develop a navy strong enough to be the arbiter of Europe in America. "Let the thirteen States bound together in a strict and indissoluble Union, concur in erecting one great American system, superior to the control of all transatlantic force or influence, and able to dictate the terms of the connection between the old and the new world!" And, in a 1793 letter to Washington, Hamilton argued that it was "lawful and meritorious to assist a people in a virtuous and rational struggle for liberty."[46]

When Spain was reduced to the status of a satrap in France's empire in 1798, Hamilton attempted to organize the U.S. government to launch a war, which would have added Florida and Louisiana to the nation, and turned the Spanish colonies into constitutional republics. South American revolutionary leader Francisco Miranda, who praised Vattel as "the wisest and most celebrated of modern publicists,"[47] asked Hamilton to help draw up a constitution for the liberated regions. He urged Hamilton, "At least, I am sure that your Greek predecessor Solon would not have refused."[48]

In Conclusion

In 1832, Chancellor Kent, the leading American author on law, ranked Hamilton as the nation's greatest lawyer of that period. Still today, Hamilton can truly be ranked as the greatest American lawyer. While his "profound penetration, his power of analysis, the comprehensive grasp and strength of his understanding," are indisputable, his greatest contribution to justice was to have designed and implemented a system of national economic development, which fulfilled the Leibnizian natural law embodied in the Constitution. He studied the writings and efforts of the mercantilist school of economics, such as the French Finance Minister he called "the great Colbert." He worked to organize the population to support the use of machinery and an increased division of labor, to improve productivity, and increase the wealth of the entire nation. He saw the increase in wealth of the nation, not merely as an end in itself, but as a means to develop creative abilities of the people. The extension of the use of machinery would encourage men "to exert his imagination in devising methods to facilitate and abridge labour," he wrote, and would develop the strongest and most active powers of the mind.

Hamilton launched a program to build up the new nation based on the Leibnizian concept of the development of the productive powers of labor. He designed the National Bank of the United States, to provide the nation with a stable monetary system and a source of credit for the development of the nation. This measure, and his reorganization of the nation's debt, stabilized the economy, which had been in a severe crisis, and brought about the most rapid development in the history of America, to that time. In the "Report to the Nation on Manufactures," Hamilton mapped out a grand design for the development of the nation, through measures to develop the labor force, protect and encourage domestic industry, and develop industry through science.

Far from receiving universal support, Hamilton faced mounting opposition, and was subjected to a massive slander campaign. Opponents to the National Bank of the United States argued that the establishment of a bank by the government was unconstitutional. Hamilton, in his "Opinion of the Constitutionality of an Act to Establish a Bank", developed the arguments which became the basis for the interpretation of the Constitution according to its Leibnizian character for future generations. Hamilton, like Vattel, argued that the sovereign has the duty and, therefore, the right to take actions, which are necessary for the fulfillment of his duties to the nation. In order to provide for national exigencies and promote national prosperity, Hamilton wrote in his defense of the constitutionality of the Bank, that, "the powers contained in a constitution of government, especially those which concern the general administration of the affairs of a country, its finances, trade, defense, etc., ought to be construed liberally, in advancement of the public good." Hamilton's writings became the basis for later arguments in defense of the American System.

The measures which Hamilton described in the "Report to the Nation on Manufactures," were largely blocked. Much of Hamilton's economic system was dismantled. Only crises, which threatened the nation's existence, jolted the U.S. to readopt these measures. In the crises of 1812 and 1860, great leaders were able to rally the American people to adopt measures which built the nation.

The nation and the world are now in the worst crisis in five hundred years. The effects of the triumph of the oligarchy and, especially, the last thirty years of unprecedented decay, have put the very existence of civilization in question. To deal with this threat, Lyndon LaRouche has designed a strategy for sovereign nation-states, collaborating in a grand design of economic development, to replace the bankrupt international monetary and financial system. As LaRouche recently wrote,[49]

The successful development and continued existence of the sovereign nation-state republic, as an institution, depend, unconditionally, upon the fostering of agape as the characteristic feature of the relationship between the individual person and the society as a whole. It also requires, the extension of this same principle to defining the relations within a globally extended community of sovereign nation-state republics. Thus agape is the principal element of hypothesis underlying all enterprises of that republican cause.
Most world leaders and, certainly, most American citizens, would consider this as "idealistic," that is, "totally impractical." In fact, as we have seen, it was exactly this approach which built the United States into the greatest nation on earth. It is time to reflect on the words and deeds of Leibniz, Vattel, and Hamilton, and to ensure that Lyndon LaRouche's design is successful, so that out of this crisis will come a new beginning for the peoples of the world.

Back to Part I

top of page


[21]Grotius, op. cit., p. 648.

[22]Jeremy Bentham, Letter to Jabez Henry, quoted in the Introduction by Albert de Lapradelle to the Carnegie Institution edition of Vattel's The Law of Nations (Washington D.C.: The Carnegie Institution, 1916), p. xliv.

[23]Voltaire, Letter to La Chalotais, Feb. 28, 1763, quoted in ibid., p. xxxii.

[24]Valenti, Lowry, Müller de Paoli, op. cit.

[25]Arthur Nussbaum, A Concise History of the Law of Nations (New York: Macmillan Company, 1947), pp. 161-62.

[26]Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. by L.H. Butterfield (Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press, 1961), Vol. 1, p. 235.

[27]Butterfield, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 278.

[28]The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. by William B. Willcox (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959[EN DASH]), Vol. 31, pp. 261-65.

[29]John Jay, Letter to Gouverneur Morris, in John Jay: Winning the Peace, Unpublished Papers 1745-84, ed. by Richard B. Morris (New York: Harper and Row, 1980), Vol II, pp. 108-10.

[30]Benjamin Munn Ziegler, The International Law of John Marshall (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1939), p. 9.

[31]Letter from William Bradford to James Madison, Oct. 17, 1774, in The Papers of James Madison, ed. by William Hutchinson and William Rachal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), Vol. I, p. 126.

[32]Charles William Frederick Dumas was a native of Switzerland, who lived most of his life in The Netherlands. He was one of the most important agents and diplomats working for the American cause in Europe. Dumas corresponded constantly with Franklin, using his edition of The Law of Nations as a cipher for coding his communications. Franklin had to use his copy of The Law of Nations to decipher Dumas' letters.

[33]Willcox, op. cit., Vol. 22, pp. 287-291.

[34]Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Robert Skipwith, Aug. 3, 1771, in Writings, op. cit., pp. 740-45.

[35]See Bernard Bailyn, Pamphlets of the American Revolution (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1965), pp. 476-77.

[36]The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. by Harry Alonzo Cushing (New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968), Vol. II, pp. 325-26.

[37]The Legal Papers of John Adams, ed. by Robert J. Taylor (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. I, pp. 327.

[38]The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton, ed. by J. Goebel (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964-69).

[39]Alexander Hamilton, Letter to James Duane, in The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. by Harold C. Syrett (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-77), Vol 2, pp. 400-18.

[40]Forrest McDonald, Alexander Hamilton, A Biography (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1979), p. 97.

[41]"Opinion on the French Treaties, Apr. 28, 1793," in Writings, op. cit., pp. 422-34.

[42]Syrett, op.cit., Vol. 14, pp. 367-96.

[43]Ibid., Vol. 14, pp. 374-75.

[44]Quoted in Stanley Elkins, The Age of Federalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 348.

[45]"Second Letter from Phocion," in Syrett, op.cit., Vol. 3, p. 557.

[46]Quoted in Gilbert L. Lycan, Alexander Hamilton and American Foreign Policy (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970), p. 88.

[47]Quoted in William Spence Robertson, The Life of Miranda (New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1969).

[48]Letter from Miranda to Hamilton, April 6, 1798, in Syrett, op. cit., Vol 21, pp. 339-402.

[49]Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., "SDI: The Technical Side of 'Grand Strategy,"' Executive Intelligence Review, July 19, 1996 (Vol. X, No. XX).

Join the Schiller Institute,
and help make a new, golden Renaissance!

MOST BACK ISSUES ARE STILL AVAILABLE! One hundred pages in each issue, of groundbreaking original research on philosophy, history, music, classical culture, news, translations, and reviews. Individual copies are $5.00 each plus shipping

Subscribe to Fidelio:
Only $20 for 4 issues, $40 for 8 issues.
Overseas subscriptions: $40 for 4 issues.

Text Only Archives:
2001 2000 1999 1998 1997
1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991

Magazines and Videos: $3.00 for the first, $1 each additional
Books: $4.00 for the first book, $1.50 for each additional book
Outside USA, $5 per item
Your Order Will be Mailed Within 48 Hours After Receipt of Payment.

The Schiller Institute
PO BOX 20244
Washington, DC 20041-0244
703-771-8390 or 888-347-3258


Home | Search | About | Fidelio | Economy | Strategy | Justice | Conferences | Join
| Calendar | Music | Books | Concerts | Links | Education | Health
What's New | LaRouche | Spanish Pages | PoetryMaps |
Dialogue of Cultures

© Copyright Schiller Institute, Inc. 2001- 2002. All Rights Reserved.