Elements of International Law

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Elements of International Law
Author Henry Wheaton
Country USA [1]
Language English
Subject International Law
Publisher Carey, Lea and Blanchard [1]
Publication date
Elements of International Law
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 萬國公法
Simplified Chinese 万国公法
Korean name
Hangul 만국공법
Hanja 萬國公法
Japanese name
Kanji 万国公法
Kana ばんこくこうほう
Kyūjitai 萬國公法

Elements of International Law, first published in 1836, is a book on international law by Henry Wheaton which has long been influential.


Textual history[edit]

Many translations, editions and reprints of Wheaton's Elements have appeared since its first publication.[2] The 3rd edition was published in Philadelphia in 1845. At the request of Wheaton's family, the 6th edition, with the last corrections of the author and a biographical notice, was published by William Beach Lawrence (Boston, 1855). Lawrence also published the 7th edition (1863). The 8th edition was published, with new notes and a new biography, by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (Boston, 1866). Dana's alleged use of Lawrence's notes from the previous editions resulted in a protracted legal controversy.[3][4]

A French translation was published in Leipzig and Paris in 1848. At the instance of Anson Burlingame, U.S. minister to China, Wheaton's book was translated into Chinese and published at the expense of the imperial government (4 vols., Pekin, 1865).[3] The translator was American Protestant missionary William Alexander Parsons Martin who was working in China at that time.[5] Along with Chinese, the book was translated into Japanese[3] and the language of each country of Asia.[6]

The original edition bore the title Elements of International Law with a Sketch of the History of the Subject. Some subsequent editions omitted the "Sketch," which in 1845 became (in expanded form) part of Wheaton's History of the Law of Nations in Europe and America.[7]

As of 2010 re-publication continues.[8]


The translations had a large influence on the approval of modern international law in Asia.[6] Wheaton's was the first book to introduce international law to east Asia in full scale.[9] In listing Henry Wheaton among "prominent jurists of the nineteenth century," Anghie comments on the "several editions" of Elements of International Law and on the work as "widely respected and used at this time."[10]


  1. ^ a b c Elements of International Law. Google Books. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  2. ^ Library of Congress holdings
  3. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1889). "Wheaton, Henry". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 
  4. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Wheaton, Henry". The American Cyclopædia. 1879. 
  5. ^ "William Alexander Parsons Martin". Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  6. ^ a b "The Cambridge History of English and American Literature". Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  7. ^ Janis, Mark W.; Evans, Carolyn, eds. (1999). Religion and international law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 141. ISBN 978-90-411-1174-6. Retrieved 2010-09-11. Wheaton's historical 'Sketch' disappeared in later editions of the Elements but re-emerged in a more comprehensive form in 1845 when Wheaton published his 'History of the Law of Nations in Europe and America; from the Earliest Times to the Treaty of Washington, 1842 (1845) [...] 
  8. ^ Wheaton, Henry (15 January 2010). Wheaton's Elements of International Law. General Books LLC. p. 732. ISBN 978-1-153-42907-8. 
  9. ^ "Treaty as prelude to annexation". Korea Herald. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  10. ^ Anghie, Antony (1999). "Finding the Peripheries: Sovereignty and Colonialism in Nineteenth-Century International Law" (PDF). Harvard International Law Journal (Harvard Law School) 40 (1): 1–71 [8]. ISSN 0017-8063. Retrieved 2010-09-11.