The first principle we state is this. Laws have no force, by their own proper vigor, beyond the territory of the State by which they are made; excepting, for some purposes, the high seas, or lands over which no State claims jurisdiction. Without this limit, they have no sanction; obedience cannot be compelled, nor disobedience punished; and no contiguity of border, and no difference of magnitude or power between two independent States, can affect this rule. For if the State, a law of which is broken, send its officers into another, and there by force or intimidation acts in reference to this breach as it might act at home, such act is wholly illegal; and if it thus acts with the consent of the foreign State, within whose dominion it goes by its officers, it is this consent only which legalizes its acts. (b)1
In the next place, all laws duly made and published by any State bind all persons and things within that State. (c) This says: "It will occur to the learned reader, upon a general survey of the subject, that many questions are still left in a distressing state of uncertainty as to the true principles which ought to regulate and decide them. Different nations entertain different doctrines and different usages in regard to them. The jurists of different countries hold opinions opposite to each other, as to some of the fundamental principles which ought to have a universal operation, and the jurists of the same nation are sometimes as ill agreed among themselves." And in Saul v. His Creditors, 17 Mart. (La.) 570, Porter, J., says: "The only question presented for our decision is one of law; but it is one which grows out of the conflict of laws of different States. Our former experience had taught us that questions of this kind are the most embarrassing and difficult of decision that can occupy the attention of those who preside in courts of justice. The argument of this case has shown us that the vast mass of learning which the research of counsel has furnished, leaves the subject as much enveloped in obscurity and doubt as it would have appeared to our own understandings, had we been called on to decide, without the knowledge of what others had thought or written upon it."
(b) Le Louis, 2 Dods. 210; Blanchard v. Russell, 13 Mass. 4; Bank of Augusta v. Earle, 18 Pet. 584; Smith v. Godfrey, 8 Foster, 879.
(c) "The law and legislative government of every dominion equally affects all persons and all property within the limits thereof; and is the rule of decision for all questions which arise there. Whoever purchases, lives, or sues there, puts himself under the laws of the place. An Englishman in Ireland, Minorca, the Isle of Man, or the Plantations, has no privilege distinct from the natives." Per Lord Mansfield, in Hall v. Campbell, Cowp. 208. See Ruding v. Smith, 3 Hagg. Consist. 888.
1 Faulkner v. Hart, 82 N. Y. 418, was to the effect that the decisions of one State upon a commercial question are not obligatory upon the courts of another State, and when in conflict with common-law principles will be upheld not even as to contracts made in the latter to be performed in the former.
* is a general, and perhaps a universal rule; for the few seeming exceptions to it are not such in fact. A stranger is bound to the State wherein he resides only by a local and limited allegiance; but it is one which is sufficient to subject him to all the laws of that State, excepting so far as they relate to duties which only citizens can perform. For, as every State has the right, in law, of excluding whom it will, so it may put what terms and conditions it will upon the admission of foreigners. All contracts, therefore, which are construed within the State in which they are made, must be construed according to the law of that State. The same thing is true, in general, when contracts are construed in a place other than that in which they are made; but this rule, and the exceptions to it, will be considered presently.
In the next place, every State may, by its own laws, bind all its own subjects or citizens, wherever they may be, with all the obligations which the home tribunals can enforce. If laws are made which go further than this, they must needs be inoperative, as they cannot be enforced beyond the jurisdiction of the home tribunals, except with the consent and by the action of the foreign State.
Lastly, it may now be said, on good authority, that foreign laws may have a qualified force, or some effect, within a State, either by the comity of nations, which is one of the fruits of modern civilization, or by special agreement, as by treaty, or by constitutional requirements as in the case of our own country, of which the Constitution requires that"full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State." (cc) But in none of these cases do laws acquire, strictly speaking, the force of laws, within a sovereignty which is foreign to that in which they were enacted; nor could this be the case without a confusion of sovereignties. But the effect of such comity, aided in some * instances by special agreements, or constitutional requirements, may be stated to be, that the laws of civilized nations are permitted to have some operation in foreign States, so far as they in no degree conflict with the powers or the rights of such foreign States, or with the operation of their laws, (d) their general policy, or morality. (dd)
(cc) See Green v. Van Buskirk, 6 Wallace, 307.
(d) Story quotes from Huberus a very precise statement of this rule. "Rectores imperiorum id comiter agunt, ut jura cujusque populi intra terminos ejus exercita teneant ubuque suam vim, quatenus nihil potestati aut juri alterius imperantis ejusque civium praejudicetur." Confl. of Laws, § 29, n. 3. And see Zipcey v. Thompson, 1 Gray, 243. (dd) Eubanks v. Banks, 34 Ga. 415.
The first and most general principle as to the validity of a contract, rests upon obvious reasons, and certain expediency, if indeed we may not say that it is founded in the necessities of national intercourse; it is, that a contract which is valid where it is made is to be held valid everywhere. And, on the other hand, if void or illegal by the law of the place where made, it is void everywhere. (e)1 There may be an exception to this, where a contract which violates the revenue laws of the country where it was made, comes before the court of another country. (f)