The Law of Nations, the short version of the English title[1] of the work, "Droit des gens; ou, Principes de la loi naturelle appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des nations et des souverains", first published in 1758. It was written by Swiss philosopher, diplomat and legal expert Emerich de Vattel (1714-1767).

Vattel's work was greatly admired and often quoted and his reasoning emulated by the founding fathers of the United States. For example, Alexander Hamilton held Vattel in high esteem.[2] In particular James Madison, nicknamed the "Father of the Constitution" or the "Godfather of the Constitution" because of his substantial contributions to its creation,[3] was well steeped in the prose and arguments of Vattel and followed them closely. Madison's notes during the constitutional convention are sprinkled with references to Vattel's works, in particular, "The Law of Nations".


  1. The full English title is "The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns"
  2. "Hamilton had educated himself in legal theory and looked to two authorities as his beacons in matters of law: Emmerich de Vattel and William Blackstone (it is interesting to take note that these two leading lights of legal thought were equally influential on Hamilton's sometime collaborator, sometime adversary, James Madison). Hamilton admired and appreciated Vattel's forceful, succinct, and direct style--a style Hamilton had adopted as his own.", from HISTORY: GREATNESS OF THE FOUNDERS, Joe Wolverton II, The New American, Mar 20, 2006
  3. James Madison's Contribution to the Constitution, America's Story from America's Library, The Library of Congress