This was written on Notepad then converted into a Word Document. The purpose of this document is to be supplemental to reading the Pacificus & Helvidius Debates, this was written side by side while reading the debates, therefore, if this is the first time you are reading the Pacificus and Helvidius Debates these notes will provide more of a curse then a blessing.
The objections which people are raising against the proclamation of neutrality have been done in bitterness and in critical language, which to me demonstrates that their views were concern with matters that exceed the free discussion of an important public measure. They discuss weakening the confidence of the people in the President…
My reflection describes the motives connected with the proclamation which will be used to recommend endeavors by proper explanation of the subject at hand. These explanations at least should be satisfactory to those people who may not have the opportunity for investigating the subject themselves and those people who want to perceive that proclamation is not inconsistent with the constitution.
The objections to the proclamation are:
The proclamation had no authority.
It is contrary to our treaties with France.
It is contrary to the gratitude owed to France for helping the U.S. secure victory in the Revolution.
That is was out of time and unnecessary.
The proclamation was designed to make it known to the belligerents of Europe and the citizens of the U.S. that the U.S. is at Peace with all those at war and that under no treaty to become associated in that war. It also warns all those with the government’s jurisdiction to abstain from acts that contravene the proclamation.
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This proclamation does not declare that the U.S. will not abide to the conditions of treaties of the belligerents, because they can be up held without committing the U.S. into war. This does not mean the U.S. will not make distinctions about the present war powers as illustrated in articles 17 and 22 of the Treaty of Alliance, because in doing so does not render the U.S. to associate in the war. Even the furnishing of determinate succors with ships or troops to a Power at War due to treaties that have no reference to the war is still consistent with neutrality.
However, no favors should be done to either side.
The proclamation does exclude engagement in the 11th article of Treaty of Alliance, because the 11th article does not apply to the U.S. in this case.
Now let’s discuss whether or not the President acted within his proper sphere or is out of bounds in his actions.
First, it is not to be disputed that the management of foreign affair is confided to the U.S. government.
Second, it could little be disputed that it beyond the right of the government to issue a proclamation of neutrality. The ability to make such proclamations is important to counties whose interest lies in the preservation of peace.
The real question at hand is what department of government is the proper one to make a declaration of neutrality when it is proper.
Someone of a correct understands must see that is do not pertain to either the legislative or judicial branches of government.
The legislative branch is not the organ of foreign relations. Therefore, it is not the organ of government which is to pronounce the condition of the nation in regards to foreign powers.
It is even more obvious that the Judiciary branch does not possess this power. This department decides on litigation in cases, it does interpret treaties, however, only in cases. It does not pronounce the external political relations of treaties between governments.
Therefore the power belongs to the executive, when proper.
In cases in which the judiciary is not competent, that is in cases between governments. This power is charged with the execution of the laws, of which treaties form a part.
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This condition is so obvious and consistent with general theory and is undoubtedly just, unless doubt can be deduced from the Constitution.
In the following I will see if that doubt is to be found in the constitution.
Article 1 state that “the executive power shall be vested in a President of the U.S.” It also continues and states that the President is the commander in chief of the army and navy of the U.S. and the Militias of the states when called into the service of the U.S., as well as, that the President has the power by and with the advice of the senate to make treaties and that it is his duty to receive ambassadors and ministers to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
It is not consistent with the rules of “sound construction” to consider the Constitution’s enumeration of the President’s particular authorities is degrading from the more comprehensive grant given to him in the general clause than what has been restricted to him. Due to the difficulty of making a complete and perfect specification of all of the Executive’s authority. There is broad construction of the president’s power in the Constitution. The differences are in the expression, for example “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in the Congress of the U.S.” however the difference is “The Executive Power shall be vested in a President of the U.S.”
The Executive Power leaves the rest to flow from the general grant of that power.
The doctrine of the constitution in context of the Executive Power is that the Executive Power is only restricted in the qualifications which are expressed in it. But is free elsewhere.
The issuing of a proclamation of neutrality is merely an Executive Act. The is no condition in the constitution which inhibits him.
It may be observed that the foregoing inference is just if the power of declaring war had not been vested in the Legislature, but that this power naturally includes the right of judging whether the nation is under obligations to make war or not.
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Even though it is true that it is right of the legislature to declare war also includes the right of judging whether the US is under obligations to make War or not, it does not exclude the president to the same power.
If it is the power of the Legislature to make war, then it is the duty of the executive to preserve peace until war is declared, which requires the executive to interpret treaties. There is nothing inconsistent with government which excludes the President from making a proclamation of neutrality. It is both his right and duty to enforce the laws of the Nation.
The proclamation of neutrality is a statement to the U.S. people with regard to the Powers at war and makes it know that the law of neutrality is to be enforced. In doing this, the proclamation is stating a secret law.
It is the power of the executive to interpret the articles of our treaties and judges the bounds of those treaties.
As the organ of foreign affair the executive can consequentially affect the exercise of the Legislative war making power. The President cannot control that power except by veto. The legislature still remains free to perform its own duties in accord to its own sense of them; however, the executive actions could affect them.
Therefore it is the case that because treaties are made by the President and Senate together, their activity may be suspended by the President alone.
The legislator’s powers are to be constructed strictly.
Although the legislature alone can declare war, and transfer the nation for peace to war, it is the executive’s power to do whatever else the laws of nations require for cooperation.
In this distribution of powers the wisdom of the constitution is manifested. It is the province and duty of the executive to preserve peace. Only the legislature can interrupt those blessings.
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Although it is advisable to interpret the authority of the Executive on this broad and comprehensive ground, it is not absolutely necessary to do so in this case. The clause of the constitution which makes it the President’s duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” might alone be relied on.
The U.S.’s treaties and laws must be interpreted by the executive for execution. It is his due to proclaim the neutrality of the nation.
Some view the proclamation as the enacting of some new law, but that is wrong. It only is a statement of fact in regard to the existing state of the nation, and informs the citizens of what the laws previously established require of them in the U.S. and warns them that these laws will be put into execution against their breakers.