The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Wheaton, Henry

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WHEATON, Henry, American jurist: b. Providence. R. I., 27 Nov. 1785; d. Dorchester, Mass., 11 March 1848. He was graduated from Rhode Island College (now Brown University) in 1802, and studied law at Poitiers, France; he then took up the practice of law in Providence and later served as an editor and a justice; and in 1816 became reporter for the United States Supreme Court; his reports, which were published in 12 volumes, are exceptionally complete and valuable. In 1827 he was appointed chargé d'affaires to Denmark, being the first regular diplomatic agent from the United States to that country, and resided at Copenhagen until 1835, when he was appointed Minister Resident to the court of Prussia. Two years later he was made Minister Plenipotentiary by President Van Buren, which office he retained until 1846. His diplomatic work was most successful; in 1844 he negotiated a treaty with Germany, which, though rejected by the United States Senate, served as a basis for subsequent treaties. In 1843 he was elected a corresponding member of the French Institute, and in the following year a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Science of Berlin. He returned to the United States in 1847. His most important work is his ‘Elements of International Law,’ published in 1836, which has always been regarded as a standard authority on the subject; numerous editions have appeared in the United States, including one by Lawrence (1855) and one by Dana (1866); there is also an English edition and a French translation. His other writings include ‘Digest of the Law of Maritime Captures or Prizes’ (1815); ‘Life of William Pinkney’ (1826); 'History of the Northmen' (1831); ‘Histoire du Droit du Gens en Europe, depuis la Paix de Westphalie jusqu'au Congrès de Vienne’ (1841), translated into English in 1846; and ‘An Inquiry into the British Claim of a Right of Search of American Vessels’ (1842).