Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
(?-1899)
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Editor/Trans.
First Pub. Date
1881
Publisher/Edition
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Pub. Date
1899
Comments
Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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HOSTAGE

II.155.1

HOSTAGE. We consider the practice of taking or offering hostages as barbarous, unworthy of civilized nations. This practice is established only because little faith can be placed in the promises of rude men, who do not think themselves bound to conquer their passions, in order to keep their promises. Therefore the necessity of legitimate defense may excuse, in a certain degree, the demand for hostages in savage countries, especially if the hostage is chief of a tribe, or one of his relatives, and even in this case the hostage will be rather an incumbrance than a guaranty. It is nevertheless to be feared that this practice will not be easily suppressed in time of war, and that it will be the more frequently applied, the more enraged the combatants. Passion is the counselor of bad faith on one side, causes the demand for hostages on the other, and unfortunately makes the innocent frequently suffer for the guilty. (See Vattel, book ii., chap. xvi., § 245.)

M. B.

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