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From Alexander Hamilton to William Lewis, [July 1793]

To William Lewis1

[Philadelphia, July, 1793]

Dr Sir

I send you all the Books you sent me. There appears to me a passage important to Mr Rawle Questiones Juris Pub Lib2 1 Chap VIII Page 178.

I mean what relates to the People of Munster who made out of the territories of Spain incursions into those of Holland.3 It shews by an example that military expeditions out of the territory of a neutral Power cannot rightfully be made by a Power at War & that if permitted the Neutral Nation is answerable. A fortiori The means of such expeditions cannot be prepared in a neutral territory.


ALS, Mr. Pierce Gaines, Fairfield, Connecticut.

1Lewis was a Philadelphia attorney and a Federalist. He had been judge of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from July 20, 1791, to April 11, 1792.

This letter concerns the Gideon Henfield case. For background to this case, see Thomas Jefferson to H, June 1, 1793, note 1.

2Bynkershoek, Quæstionum description begins Cornelis van Bynkershoek, Quœstionum juris publici libri duo, quorum primus est de regus bellicis, secondus de rebus varii argumenti (Leyden, 1752). description ends . William Rawle used this citation in his prosecution (Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams [Philadelphia, 1849], 77).

3This is a reference to a dispute in 1666 between the States-General of Holland and the governor of the Spanish Netherlands. The States-General demanded an indemnity for damage done to their territory by troops of the Bishop of Münster which had passed through the Spanish Netherlands on the way to attack the territory of the States-General. Bynkershoek held that the claim would have been justified if the Spanish had deliberately allowed the troops of Münster to pass through Spanish territory.

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