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chapter xviii 213 chapter xviii Of the Establishment of a Nation in a Country. Hitherto we have considered the nation merely with respect to itself, without any regard to the country it possesses. Let us now see it established in a country, which becomes its own property and habitation. The earth belongs to mankind in general; destined by the creator to be their common habitation, and to supply them with food, they all possess a natural right to inhabit it, and to derive from it whatever is necessary for their subsistence, and suitable to their wants. But when the human race became extremely multiplied, the earth was no longer capable of furnishing spontaneously, and without culture, sufficientsupport for its inhabitants; neither could it have received proper cultivation from wandering tribes of men continuingtopossessitincommon. It therefore became necessary that those tribes should fix themselves somewhere, and appropriate to themselves portions of land, in order that they might, without being disturbed in their labour, or disappointed of the fruits of their industry, apply themselves to renderthose lands fertile, and thence derive their subsistence. Such must have been the origin of the rights of property and dominion: and it was a sufficient ground to justify their establishment. Since their introduction, the right which was common to all mankind is individually restricted to what each lawfully possesses. The country which a nation inhabits, whether that nation has emigrated thither in a body, or that the different families of which it consists were previously scattered over the country, and there uniting, formed themselves into a political society ,—that country, I say, is the settlement of the nation, and it has a peculiar and exclusive right to it. This right comprehends two things: 1. The domain, by virtue of which the nation alone may use this country for the supply of its necessities , may dispose of it as it thinks proper, and derive from it every advantage it is capable of yielding.—2. The empire, or the right of sovereign command, by which the nation directs and regulates at its pleasure every thing that passes in the country.§203. Possession of a country by a nation.§204. Its right over the parts in its possession. 214 book i: nations in themselves When a nation takes possession of a country to which no priorowner can lay claim, it is considered as acquiring the empire or sovereignty of it, at the same time with the domain. For since the nation is free and independent, it can have no intention, in settling in a country, to leave to others the right of command, or any of those rights that constitute sovereignty. The whole space over which a nation extends its government , becomes the seat of its jurisdiction, and is called its territory. If a number of free families, scattered over an independent country, come to unite for the purpose of forming a nation or state, they all together acquire the sovereignty over the whole country they inhabit; for they were previously in possession of the domain,—aproportionalshare of it belonging to each individual family: and since they are willing to form together a political society, and establish a public authority which every member of the society shall be bound to obey, it is evidently their intentiontoattribute tothatpublicauthoritytherightof commandover the whole country. All mankind have an equal right to things that have not yet falleninto the possession of any one; and those things belong to the person who first takes possession of them. When therefore a nation finds a country uninhabited and without an owner, it may lawfully take possession of it: and after it has sufficiently made known its will in this respect, it cannot be deprived of it by another nation. Thus navigators going on voyages of discovery, furnished with a commission from theirsovereign, and meeting with islands or other lands in a desert state, have taken possession of them in the name of their nation: and this title has been usually respected, provided it was soon after followed by a real possession. But it is questioned whether a nation can, by the bare act of taking possession, appropriate to itself countries which it does not really occupy , and thus engross a much greater extent of territory than it is able to people or cultivate. It is not difficult to determine, that such a pretension would be an absolute infringement of the natural rights of men, and repugnant to the views of nature, which, having destined the whole...


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