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Unlawfully and violently threatening and menacing bodily harm and violence to the person of the Secretary of the French Legation is an infraction of the law of nations. This law, in its full extent, is part of the law of the State of Pennsylvania, and is to be collected from the practice of different nations, and the authority of writers. The person of a public minister is sacred and inviolable. Whoever offers any violence to him, not only affronts the sovereign he represents, but also hurts the common safety and well being of nations; he is guilty of a crime against the whole world. All the reasons, which establish the independency and inviolability of the person of a minister, apply likewise to secure the immenities of his house: It is to be defended from all outrage; it is under a peculiar protection of the laws; to invade it's freedom is a crime against the State and all other nations. The comites of a public minister, or those of this train, partake also of his inviolability. The independency of a minister extends to his entire household; these are so connected with him, that they enjoy his privileges and follow his fate. The secretary to an embassy has his commission from the sovereign himself; he is the most distinguished character in the suite of a public minister, and is in some instances considered as a kind of public minister himself.
An indictment charged Charles Julian de Longchamps with unlawfully and violently threatening and menacing bodily harm and violence to the person of the Secretary of the French Legation and also with the commission of an assault and battery. Charles pleaded not guilty to the indictment, but a jury found him guilty on both counts following a trial.
Did Charles commit an atrocious violation of the law of nations when he threatened and menaced bodily harm and violence to the person of the Secretary of the French Legation?
The court found that Charles had expressed words with an opprobrious and violent tendency and that, although the insult was greater than the actual damage, striking the cane of the Secretary of the French Legation came within the legal definition of an assault and battery. The court concluded that defendant could not be legally delivered by the Supreme Executive Council to the Minister of France and also could not be imprisoned until his most Christian Majesty declared the reparation to be satisfactory. The court determined that, because the person of a public minister was sacred and inviolable, defendant had committed an atrocious violation of the law of nations when he threatened and menaced bodily harm and violence to the person of the Secretary of the French Legation.