The Law of Nations: Or, Principles of the Law of Nature Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns[Note 1] is a legal treatise on international law by Emerich de Vattel, published in 1758..
The Law of Nations has been said to have modernized the entire practice of international law.
Centuries after his death it was found that United States President George Washington had a number of overdue library books, dating back over 221 years. One of them was The Law of Nations.
Swiss editor Charles W.F. Dumas sent Benjamin Franklin three copies of the book in 1775. Franklin received them May 18, June 30, and July 8 by two couriers: Alexandre Pochard (Dumas’ friend and later companion to Fleury Mesplet ) and a man named Vaillant. Franklin kept one copy for himself, depositing the second in “our own public library here” (the Library Company of Philadelphia which Franklin founded in 1731) and sending the third to the “college of Massachusetts Bay” (Franklin used the original name from 1636, not acknowledging the 1639 rename to Harvard College in honor of John Harvard). In December 1775, Franklin thanked Dumas:
It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising State make it necessary to frequently consult the Law of Nations.
Franklin also said that this book by Vattel, “has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress now sitting”.
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