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CHARLES H. STOCKTON
REAR-ADMIRAL U. S. N., RETIRED
PRESIDENT OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, DELEGATE PLENIPOTENTIARY TO
THE LONDON NAVAL CONFERENCE
INTERNATIONAL LAW FOR THE USE OF NAVAL OFFICERS
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
THE deplorable war which is being carried on at the time of this writing, extending, as it does, to three of the great continents of the world, has created many complex problems and delicate situations in connection with international law. It has been said by good authority that there have arisen more vexed questions in international law during the first six weeks of this war than during the entire period of the Napoleonic contests. From this fact alone arises the importance not only of increased knowledge of the tenets of this subject but also the necessity for treatises that are abreast the times. A number of books upon the subject have become out of date, especially in the body of their text, by changes that have occurred, partly as the results of the recent tribunals and conferences of The Hague and of the London Naval Conference of 1909. These results have taken the form of important conventions and declarations, amounting, in fact, to a partial codification of the laws and usages of war ashore and afloat.
In addition to the changes referred to there have occurred new situations, international in character, brought into existence by the various negotiations and treaties incident to the construction of the Suez and Panama Canals. There are also changes in aspects and conditions arising from the development of maritime and aerial warfare in recent wars. We can add, also, to this statement of recent developments in international law, the mention of the increase in the range and number of treaties providing for arbitration and other methods for the pacific settlement of international disputes. Although these
instrumentalities have not, unhappily, eliminated warfare, they have effected settlements in various international disputes of serious moment, such as the Venezuelan boundary question, the Dogger Bank episode, and the long-continued and at times irritating questions of the fisheries of the Bering Sea and North Atlantic Ocean.
In addition to the need of a new text-book for study, there are certainly other reasons for the addition, even of a multiplication, of elementary books treating upon international law in this country. The continuous and remarkable growth of the United States in area, population, travel, and trade has not only created and extended many interests and important relations with other nations of the world, but it has also caused a closer and complicated interdependence. With this great and growing international intercourse in view it seems hardly necessary to say more as to the importance of a knowledge of the law of nations in war time and in peace. Information upon these subjects is not only valuable to our representatives at home and abroad, but to all intelligent citizens, especially as the general government is becoming closer in its relations with and dependence upon its citizen voters.
In a work upon international law, which should be above all things authoritative in its nature, frequent reference to recognized authorities becomes indispensable. This is the case, as a distinguished writer says, “not only as pointing to the source of particular statements, but also as directing to the stores of further information which might otherwise escape the notice of the student who would desire to extend his research into wider fields."
For these reasons I have consulted many writers and freely quoted those whose statements and authority justify such quotations when they are pertinent to the subjects discussed. Of the writings of our own countrymen, I have drawn freely from the exhaustive digest of international law of Professor John Bassett Moore, from Dana's edition of Wheaton, and from other works by American writers, to whom due credit has been given. Of recent English writers consulted I will mention Doctor Thomas J. Lawrence, Professor A. Pearce Higgins, and especially the works of Doctors Westlake and Oppenheim. The recent work in French by Professor Ernest Nys, of the University of Brussels, I have found both interesting and valuable.
In closing these prefatory remarks, it may be wise to call attention to the policy and position which the United States has assumed in regard to the tenets of international law. International law is a part of the law of our land as shown by the Constitution of the United States and also by the decisions of our jurists. In addition, Sir Henry Maine makes a wise and sound interpretation of our position when he says that:
“The statesmen and jurists of the United States do not regard international law as having become binding on their country through the intervention of any legislature. They do not believe it to be of the nature of immemorial usage, ‘of which the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.' They look upon its rules as a main part of the conditions on which a state is originally received into the family of civilized nations. This view, though not quite explicitly set forth, does not really differ from that entertained by the founders of international law, and it is practically that submitted to and assumed to be a sufficiently solid basis for further inferences by governments and lawyers of the civilized sovereign communities of our day. If they put it in another way it would probably be that the state which disclaims the authority of international law places herself outside the circle of civilized nations."
In conclusion, I can only add the words of Daniel Webster when, as Secretary of State, he wrote to our representative to Mexico that:
"Every nation, on being received, at her own request, into the circle of civilized governments, must understand that she not only attains rights of sovereignty and the dignity of national