Jefferson used Vattel’s “The Law of Nations” to write our founding documents

PERSONAL COPY OF 1775 FRENCH EDITION KEY TO FORMULATING THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

by Cmdr. Charles Kerchner

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third U.S. President and first Secretary of State

(May 3, 2010) — The founders and framers were fluent in French. Thomas Jefferson used his personal copy of the new 1775 French edition of Vattel’s The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law to write the Declaration of Independence. He was also very influential in the creation of the U.S. Constitution. Quotations such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” “Laws of Nature” and concepts for a new “more perfect” form of government with a written Constitution and independent Judiciary and the sovereignty of the People come from Vattel’s Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law. In 1776 Jefferson was tasked with primary responsibility for drafting the Declaration of Independence, and if you read it after first reading Vattel’s Law of Nations, Volume 1, you can see where he got his inspiration for many of the words and concepts.

Jefferson was very influential via his correspondence to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, PA in 1787 and in getting the Bill of Rights added. Read Vattel’s Law of Nations, Volume 1 first. Then read the Constitution. We can see in the words of the Constitution the impact of Vattel and the Law of Nations once again in the words therein such as “in order to form a more perfect Union” (perfection of government to serve the people was a prime directive of Vattel).

The title of the book The Law of Nations, the preeminent legal treatise of the time, is even mentioned in the Constitution in Article I, Section 8, in the enumerated and limited powers of the new federal republic form of government. The impact of Vattel and Volume 1 of his legal treatise The Law of Nations on his visions for a new form of government on the founders and framers of this nation and its founding documents cannot be overstated. Vattel was the keystone legal source for the new federal government established in 1789 when the new Constitution was ratified, the first of its kind in the world and a beacon of liberty to the rest of the world.

Jefferson’s personal and well-annotated-in-the-margins copy of Vattel’s Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law 1775 French edition is now in the possession of the Library of Congress. I suspect that this copy was actually one of the three copies sent to Benjamin Franklin by Charles Dumas in 1775. Franklin’s personal copy of the 1775 edition was never found in history. We also know that Franklin had a copy of an earlier edition of Vattel. I suspect he loaned one of the three newly-received 1775 editions of Vattel to Jefferson for use in the writing of the Declaration of Independence and that is how that copy got to Jefferson. The other two copies of the 1775 edition sent to Franklin ended up with one copy in the Library in Philadelphia for use by the Congress meeting in Philadelphia and the other in the library of “College of Massachusetts Bay” in Massachusetts. So perhaps I’ve solved the mystery of what happened to the third copy sent by Dumas, Franklin’s personal copy of the 1775 Dumas edition of The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law.

Charles Kerchner, Commander USNR (Retired)
Lead Plaintiff, Kerchner v. Obama & Congress
http://puzo1.blogspot.com
http://www.protectourliberty.org

P.S.: See more about the founders’ and framers’ use of The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law to write the founding documents for our Constitutional Republic in the links below. The legal treatise, The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law, known as The Law of Nations for short, clearly defined the term “naturel” or “natural born Citizen” as a person born in the country of parents (plural) who were Citizens of the country.

1. Benjamin Franklin in 1775 thanked Charles Dumas of the Netherlands for sending him three more copies of the newest 1775 French edition of Vattel’s Law of Nations.

2. President George Washington in 1789 consulted Vattel’s legal treatise The Law of Nations as America’s new President.

7 Responses to "Jefferson used Vattel’s “The Law of Nations” to write our founding documents"

  1. DraggingCanoe   Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    Searching on the internet..reveals the 1758 French Editions and the 1797 English editions complete. There are snippets of the 1759 English edition. Nothing is available 1760, 1787 English Editions. Do you know where the 1760 and 1787 English editions are located? Do you know if John Jay read Vattel before writing his letter to Washington? Could Jefferson have translated the 1758 French Edition?

    The 1797 English uses the words natural born citizen. Does the 1760 and 1787 English use the same?

    Thanks for your assistance.

  2. Spaulding   Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 1:36 AM

    “When Jefferson inaugurated the study of the Law of Nature and of Nations at William and Mary College in 1779, the text from then until 1841 was Vattel’s (Law of Nations).” F.S. Ruddy, “The Acceptance of Vattel”, Grotrian Society Papers 1972: Studies in the history of the law of nations.

  3. ELmo   Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    From Emer de Vattel Law of Nations – Online Library of Liberty.
    It couldn’t be more relevant and I mark it without further comment:

    “The constitution and laws of a state are the basis of the public tranquillity, the firmest support of political authority, and a security for the liberty of the citizens. But this constitution is a vain phantom, and the best laws are useless, if they be not religiously observed: the nation ought then to watch very attentively, in order to render them equally respected by those who govern, and by the people destined to obey. To attack the constitution of the state, and to violate its laws, is a capital crime against society; and if those guilty of it are invested with authority, they add to this crime a perfidious abuse of the power with which they are intrusted. The nation ought constantly to repress them with its utmost vigour and vigilance, as the importance of the case requires. It is very uncommon to see the laws and constitution of a state openly and boldly opposed: it is against silent and gradual attacks that a nation ought to be particularly on its guard. Sudden revolutions strike the imaginations of men: they are detailed in history; their secret springs are developed. But we overlook the changes that insensibly happen by a long train of steps that are but slightly marked. It would be rendering nations an important service, to shew from history, how many states have thus entirely changed their nature, and lost their original constitution. This would awaken the attention of man-kind:—impressed thenceforward with this excellent maxim (no less essential in politics than in morals), principiis obsta,9 —they would no longer shut their eyes against innovations, which, though inconsiderable in themselves, may serve as steps to mount to higher and more pernicious enterprises.”

    P&E is doing a great job – Keep up the good work.
    ELmo
    ——————
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Thank you.

  4. NUTN2SAY   Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    Is it possible to take NATURAL BORN CITIZEN to an advanced stage? Come on folks there is a “code of silence” in play here in America with the participants being the democrats, republicans and the MSM with people like Breitbart, Beck, O’Reilly and so on being involved to prevent just a decent national discussion regarding Article 2 Section 1 and Obama never being qualified as a candidate to run for the Office of the President! We also need to start talking about who is behind this “code of silence” and why is this crime being perpetrated upon the American People. It’s time to take things to the next level please! Think about this. A religious group has standing in court when they express being offended by a christian religious symbol, but when American Citizens try to take to court their concern that there has been a genuine violation of A2S1 of the Constitution…the courts say they have no standing! I say that’s discrimination!

  5. Tom   Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    It amazes me how black and white and basic it was for our Founders! They totally understood natural law, and totally understood that the powers granted to the federal government were done so at the expense of some personal freedoms. That’s why they restricted the government to the 17 enumerated powers! With that said, how the heck did our Supreme Court allow the bastardization of that original intent get so far out of hand? I fear for the future and wonder what it will take to get us back to self-sustaining personal responsibility with the only need to turn to the government is for their protection of our unalienable Rights?

  6. yo   Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 6:43 AM

    The watering down of the law by the obama people has spread far and wide.

    First, they have the hawaii dept of homelands no longer require the real birth certificate……just so people won’t know that the colb is worthless.

    Second, they change the official name of the colb from certification of live birth to certificate of live birth……just so people won’t know that the colb is worthless.

    Thirdly, the state dept Did Not automatically accept things like colbs to get a passport before obama came to power. Now, although i haven’t verified it, does anyone doubt that the state dept now accepts, no questions asked, the colb to get a passport……just so people won’t know that the colb is worthless.

    All to cover for obama. No other reason.

  7. epicurious   Monday, May 3, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    The Constitution is still the most revered document that outlines the most perfect form of government, being one that guarantees the most freedom and liberty if adhered to. If the framers of the Constitution referred The Law of Nations while drafting it, it only makes sense that they intended a NBC to be “those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.”

    Total allegiance was of utmost importance. The framers were not going to let the estimated 25,000 soldiers who died during the Revolutionary War and in the name of freedom, die in vain by allowing someone who did not have complete alliegance at birth usurp the Presidency and destroy what they created from within.

    Thank you for pointing that framers relied on The Law of Nations for more than just the defintion of an NBC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.