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obscuration, the legal profession, and more particularly the judiciary, are principally responsible.

The subject of constitutional or public law has received, of late years, but little consideration from the profession, in comparison with that bestowed upon it at an earlier period,--and this though new questions under that law have been continuously presenting themselves upon which the earlier writers had bestowed little or no attention. The fourth Article has always been an "unexplored part of the Constitution.” The received commentators have hardly touched upon its provisions. This volume may be claimed to exhibit the first attempt at collating the various decisions bearing on the interpretation and construction of its several clauses, and deriving some general canons for their application in determining the rights and obligations of private persons.

It has been remarked by foreign jurists that there must be a portion of the private law of the United States which is like international law in its effect. As this portion is greatly determined by the clauses of the fourth Article, so it is obvious that they cannot be applied without judicial reference to the principles of international law, public and private, as received by all civilized nations. But, as yet, the judicial exposition of the international or quasi-international questions arising under this Article has not elicited any great degree of admiration in any quarter.

The attempt to exhibit these important provisions of the Constitution, upon which some of the leading decisions of the American courts have been founded, in connection with elementary doctrines of private international law, is a presumption on the part of the writer for which no excuse can be offered, if it be a presumption. The understanding of these clauses is, however, indispensable to the fair consideration of the questions relating to slavery under the Constitution of the United States; and on these scribimus, indocti doctique.

The doubt will naturally suggest itself, whether the questions discussed in this work are not about to pass, or have not already passed, out of the sphere of juristical discussion, and are not now to be determined by the sword. That the present volume should be published under the existing state of public affairs, was certainly not foreseen by the writer when the work was begun. That these questions, in connection with public law, may be greatly modified by events presently occurring, need not be disputed : qui vivra verra. Every student of the history of jurisprudence knows, however, that private law is a very long-lived thing; one which even great revolutions are sometimes ineffectual to change. But whatever its consequences on the law of personal condition may be, it is certain that the opinions and decisions cited in this work are not the least among the causes of the existing civil contest.

New York, January, 1862.

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