Nations or states are independent bodies politic; societies of men united together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage by the joint efforts of their combined strength.
But every combination of men who govern themselves, independently of all others, will not be considered a nation; a body of pirates, for example, who govern themselves, are not a nation. To constitute a nation another ingredient is required. The body thus formed must respect other nations in general, and each of their members in particular. Such a society has her affairs and her interests; she deliberates and takes resolutions in common; thus becoming a moral person who possesses an understanding and will peculiar to herself, and is susceptible of obligations and rights.
It belongs to the government to declare whether they will consider a colony which has thrown off the yoke of the mother country as an independent state; and until the government have decided on the question, courts of justice are bound to consider the ancient state of things as remaining unchanged.