Article 1, Section 8, Clause 10

Document 1

Edmund Randolph, James Duane, John Witherspoon, Report to Congress

Nov. 1781Journals 21:1136--37

On a report of a committee, consisting of Mr. [Edmund] Randolph, Mr. [James] Duane, Mr. [John] Witherspoon, appointed to prepare a recommendation to the states to enact laws for punishing infractions of the laws of nations:

The committee, to whom was referred the motion for a recommendation to the several legislatures to enact punishments against violators of the law of nations, report:

That the scheme of criminal justice in the several states does not sufficiently comprehend offenses against the law of nations:

That a prince, to whom it may be hereafter necessary to disavow any transgression of that law by a citizen of the United States, will receive such disavowal with reluctance and suspicion, if regular and adequate punishment shall not have been provided against the transgressor:

That as instances may occur, in which, for the avoidance of war, it may be expedient to repair out of the public treasury injuries committed by individuals, and the property of the innocent be exposed to reprisal, the author of those injuries should compensate the damage out of his private fortune.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the legislatures of the several states to provide expeditious, exemplary and adequate punishment:

First. For the violation of safe conducts or passports, expressly granted under the authority of Congress to the subjects of a foreign power in time of war:

Secondly. For the commission of acts of hostility against such as are in amity, league or truce with the United States, or who are within the same, under a general implied safe conduct:

Thirdly. For the infractions of the immunities of ambassadors and other public ministers, authorised and received as such by the United States in Congress assembled, by animadverting on violence offered to their persons, houses, carriages and property, under the limitations allowed by the usages of nations; and on disturbance given to the free exercise of their religion: by annulling all writs and processes, at any time sued forth against an ambassador, or other public minister, or against their goods and chattels, or against their domestic servants, whereby his person may be arrested: and,

Fourthly. For infractions of treaties and conventions to which the United States are a party.

The preceding being only those offences against the law of nations which are most obvious, and public faith and safety requiring that punishment should be co-extensive with such crimes:

Resolved, That it be farther recommended to the several states to erect a tribunal in each State, or to vest one already existing with power to decide on offences against the law of nations, not contained in the foregoing enumeration, under convenient restrictions.

Resolved, That it be farther recommended to authorise suits to be instituted for damages by the party injured, and for compensation to the United States for damage sustained by them from an injury done to a foreign power by a citizen.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 10, Document 1
The University of Chicago Press

Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774--1789. Edited by Worthington C. Ford et al. 34 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904--37.

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