— . . . It may be proper to remark, that the organization of the general government for the United States, was, in all its parts, very difficult. — There was a peculiar difficulty in that of the Executive. — Every thing incident to it, must have participated of that difficulty. — That mode which was judged most expedient was adopted, till experience should point out one more eligible. — This part was also attended with difficulties. It claims the indulgence of a fair and liberal interpretation. I will not deny that, according to my view of the subject, a more accurate attention might place it in terms which would exclude some of the objections now made to it. But if we take a liberal construction, I think we shall find nothing dangerous or inadmissible in it. In compositions of this kind, it is difficult to avoid technical terms which have the same meaning.
An attention to this may satisfy gentlemen, that precision was not so easily obtained as may be imagined. I will illustrate this by one thing in the constitution. — There is a general power to provide courts to try felonies and piracies committed on the high seas.—Piracy
is a word which may be considered as a term of the law of nations. — Felony is a word unknown to the law of nations, and is to be found in the British laws, and from thence adopted in the laws of these states. It was thought dishonorable to have recourse to that standard. A technical term of the law of nations is therefore used, that we should find ourselves authorized to introduce it into the laws of the United States. . . .1