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the general idea; while those who seek fuller information on the subject will find it in other treatises, or in the original


III. Exemptions of Foreigners here.

§ 584. In the United States, there are no general exemptions of foreigners from the duty of obeying our laws while here; for, beyond provisions like those in the treaty with Prussia before mentioned, we have never permitted any foreign laws to supersede our own, further than they are entitled to do under the general law of nations. To the law of nations every government is bound to conform, and every municipal statute must be construed as being subject to the exceptions required by this law. Let us see what the exceptions are; or, in other words, in what cases our laws do not operate within our own territory.

§ 585. First; if a foreign friendly sovereign comes personally upon our territory, he has an implied license from us exempting him and his attendants from responsibility to our laws. His sovereignty is permitted to cover alike him and them and his effects. And whether he is passing through our country, or temporarily sojourning here, neither he nor they can be proceeded against in our courts for any criminal act committed.4

functions of the consul are similar to those of a police magistrate, or juge d'instruction. He collects the documentary and other proofs, and sends them, together with the prisoner, home to his own country for trial." Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 166.

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2 Pollard v. Bell, 8 T. R. 434, 437; The Le Louis, 2 Dods. 210, 251. See ante, § 80.

4 1 Phillim. International Law, 364; Polson Law of Nations, 25; Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 143 146.

§ 586. Secondly; if the sovereign, instead of coming himself, sends his embassador or other diplomatic agent, such an agent occupies, concerning the exemption, the place of his master. The exemption protects him while coming, remaining, and going; and, according to the better opinion, it also protects one not sent to us, but passing through our territory, on his way to or from another country. The person of such a functionary, his secretary, attendants, and retinue; his house and household; his carriages, his couriers, and even his domestic servants, are privileged. They cannot be ar rested; his house cannot be broken open or entered, even under civil process, only he is not permitted to furnish therein an asylum for persons not attached to him; and neither he nor his is liable to our laws for crime.3 The only remedy for his misbehavior is to discharge him, and send him home.1


§ 587. The general law of nations seems to have excepted, out of the rule stated in the last section, the extreme case of the minister's having undertaken the death of the sovereign to whom, or the traitorous overthrow of the government to

1 Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 301-304; Vattel Law of Nations, b. 4, § 84; 1 Kent Com. 38; Dupont v. Pichon, 4 Dall. 321.

United States v. Lafontaine, 4 Cranch C. C. 173. It would be a mistake to infer from this case, that the supreme court of the United States could take jurisdiction of a crime committed by the privileged person. The statute of 1789, c. 20, § 13, 1 Stat. at Large, 80, provides only, among other things, that the supreme court "shall have exclusively all such jurisdiction of suits or proceedings against embassadors or other public ministers, or their domestics, or domestic servants, as a court of law can have or exercise consistently with the law of nations."

3 Vattel Law of Nations, b. 4, § 80-82, 117–124; 1 Kent Com. 38, 39; Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 143, 284 et seq.; The State v. De La Foret, 2 Nott & McCord, 217; Respublica v. De Longchamps, 1 Dall. 111; Bowyer Universal Public Law, 67; Schooner Exchange v. McFaddon, 7 Cranch, 116.

1 Kent Com. 38, 39. "The person offended may prefer a complaint to his own sovereign, who will demand for him an adequate satisfaction from the minister's master." Vattel Law of Nations, b. 4, § 80.

which, he is accredited; and to hold, that for such an offence he forfeits his protection, and the government menaced may proceed against him in self-defence. But the statute of the United States, in the broadest terms, provides, "that, if any writ or process shall at any time hereafter be sued forth or prosecuted by any person or persons, in any of the courts of the United States, or in any of the courts of a particular State, or by any judge or justice therein respectively, whereby the person of any embassador or other public minister of any foreign prince or State, authorized and received as such by the President of the United States, or any domestic or domestic servant of any such embassador or other public minister, may be arrested or imprisoned, or his or their goods or chattels be distrained, seized, or attached, such writ or process shall be deemed and adjudged to be utterly null and void to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever." 2 And all persons who participate in violating this provision are punishable. Yet if a public minister assaults a citizen, the latter is not debarred the exercise of his right of self-defence; but he may repel force by force.1

§ 588, The immunity extends to every class and order of public ministers; 5 including the secretary of legation, who, receiving his appointment directly from his government, carries ministerial dignity in himself.

1 Vattel Law of Nations, b. 4, § 99-101; Rex v. Owen, 1 Roll. 185. But see Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 285. And see Commonwealth v. Kosloff, 5 S. & R. 545.

U. S. Stat. at Large, 117, Act of April 30, 1790, c. 9, § 25.

Ib. § 26; United States v. Benner, Bald. 234; United States v. Liddle, 2 Wash. C. C. 205; United States v. Ortega, 4 Wash. C. C. 581. And see Respublica v. De Longchamps, 1 Dall. 111; United States v. Hand, 2 Wash. C. C. 435.

Vattel Law of Nations, b. 4, § 80; United States v. Benner, United States v. Liddle, and United States v. Ortega, supra.

Vattel Law of Nations, b. 4, § 69-74; Kent Com. 39.

Vattel Law of Nations, b. 4, § 122; Ex parte Cabrera, 1 Wash. C. C.

§ 589. Consuls, being "commercial agents, appointed to reside in the seaports of foreign countries, with a commission to watch over the commercial rights and privileges of the nation deputing them," do not enjoy this immunity.2 And "if any consul be guilty of illegal or improper conduct, he is liable to have his exequatur, or written recognition of his character, revoked, and to be punished according to the laws of the country in which he is consul; or he may be sent back to his own country, at the discretion of the government which he has offended." For, as a general proposition, he is in civil and criminal cases "subject to the local law, in the same manner with other foreign residents, owing a temporary allegiance to the State."4

§ 590. Thirdly; the sovereignty of every country goes with its army and navy. Therefore if an armed vessel of a foreign power enters our waters peaceably, or lies peaceably at our wharves, we extend to it by implication the exemption from our laws. And the same principle applies where we permit a foreign army to pass through our territory. A foreign merchant ship coming within our harbors is, however, subject to our local jurisdiction, the same as any foreign private

232. And see United States v. Benner, Bald. 234; Respublica v. De Longchamps, 1 Dall. 111. A secretary of legation of a foreign sovereign, having charge of the executive of the legation, subject to the directions of the minister plenipotentiary, and acting as charge de affaires in the minister's absence, is a public minister of a foreign prince," within Stat. 7 Anne, c. 12, entitled to the privileges of an embassador; and it seems he does not lose his protection in the courts by engaging in trade. Taylor v. Best, 14 C. B. 487, 23 Law J. N. s. C. P. 89, 18 Jur. 402, 25 Eng. L. & Eq. 383. 1.1 Kent Com. 41.

2 Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 304; 1 Kent Com. 44; United States v. Ravara, 2 Dall. 297, 299, note; The State v. De La Foret, 2 Nott & McCord, 217; Commonwealth v. Kosloff, 5 S. & R. 545.

f Kent Com. 43. See Respublica v. De Longchamps, 1 Dall. 111.

↑ Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 305. See further, as to the office of counsel, Robson v. The Huntress, 2 Wallace, Jr. 59; The Adolph, 1 Curt. C. C. 87.

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$591. Fourthly; when war comes between sovereign powers, the men who compose the respective armies are not deemed criminal for what they do in the heat and conflict of battle. On a like principle, Mr. Wheaton even lays it down, that "the officers and crew of an armed vessel, commissioned against one nation, and depredating upon another, are not liable to be treated as pirates in thus exceeding their authority. The State by whom the commission is granted, being responsible to other nations for what is done by its commissioned cruisers, has the exclusive jurisdiction to try and punish all offences committed under color of its authority." 4

§ 592. Moreover we shall have little difficulty in saying, as matter of principle, though difficulties and doubts attend the question as one of judicial authority, that, with the exception of spies and any other exceptions resting on the like reason, if a foreigner, during either peace or war, comes here by the command of his sovereign, with whom in times of peace we maintain diplomatic relations, and upon our territory commits any wrong whatever, our courts are not justifiable in pursuing him as for a crime, but we are to look for redress solely to his sovereign. All admit this to be so if there is war progressing between the two nations; but it must be so also while they are, in other respects, at peace. One reason apparently justifying this proposition is, that, as

1 For a full and lucid discussion of all these points, see Schooner Exchange v. McFaddon, 7 Cranch, 116; as to which see The Santissima Trinidad, 7′′ Wheat. 283. And see Polson Law of Nations, 25; Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 144.

* Ante, § 582.


1 Hale P. C. 59; and the authorities cited in the next section.

• Wheaton International Law, 6th ed. 184...

5 Vattel Law of Nations, b. 3, § 179.

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