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PRINCIPLES. By this term is understood truths or propositions so clear that they cannot be proved nor contradicted, unless by propositions which are still clearer. They are of two kinds, one when the principle is universal, and these are known as axioms or maxims; as, no one can transmit rights which he has not; the accessory follows the principal, &c. The other class are simply called first principles. These principles have known marks by which they may always be recognized. These are, 1. That they are so clear that they cannot be proved by anterior and more manifest truths. 2, That they are almost universally received. 3. That they are so strongly impressed on our minds that we conform ourselves to them, whatever may be our avowed opinions.
     2. First principles have their source in the sentiment of our own existence, and that which is in the nature of things. A principle of law is a rule or axiom which is founded in the nature of the subject, and it exists before it is expressed in the form of a rule. Domat, Lois Civiles, liv. prel. t. 1, s. 2 Toull. tit. prel. n. 17. The right to defend one's self, continues as long as an unjust attack, was a principle before it was ever decides by a court, so that a court does Dot establish but recognize principles of law.
     3. In physics, by principle is understood that which constitutes the essence of a body, or its constituent parts. 8 T. R. 107. See 2 H. Bl. 478. Taken in this sense, a principle cannot be patented; but when by the principle of a machine is meant the modus operandi, the peculiar device or manner of producing any given effect, the application of the principle may be patented. 1 Mason, 470; 1 Gallis, 478; Fessend. on Pat. 130; Phil. on Pat. 95, 101; Perpigna, Manuel des Inventeurs, &c., c. 2, s. 1.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
And he felt that this fact and what she expected of him called for something not fully defined in that code of principles by which he had hitherto steered his course in life.
Its incurable disease was an apostasy from the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
They soon perceived that the indispensably needed powers were such as no State government, no combination of them, was by the principles of the Declaration of Independence competent to bestow.
The efficacy of various principles is now well understood, which were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients.
But they seem not to have been apprised of the sentiments of that great man expressed in another part of his work, nor to have adverted to the consequences of the principle to which they subscribe with such ready acquiescence.
But in this I have adopted the following order: first, I have essayed to find in general the principles, or first causes of all that is or can be in the world, without taking into consideration for this end anything but God himself who has created it, and without educing them from any other source than from certain germs of truths naturally existing in our minds In the second place, I examined what were the first and most ordinary effects that could be deduced from these causes; and it appears to me that, in this way, I have found heavens, stars, an earth, and even on the earth water, air, fire, minerals, and some other things of this kind, which of all others are the most common and simple, and hence the easiest to know.
It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.
To give a higher idea of the principle I mean, as well as one more familiar to the present age; it may be considered as sitting on its throne in the mind, like the Lord High Chancellor of this kingdom in his court; where it presides, governs, directs, judges, acquits, and condemns according to merit and justice, with a knowledge which nothing escapes, a penetration which nothing can deceive, and an integrity which nothing can corrupt.
We can understand these facts, on the well-known principle of reversion to ancestral characters, if all the domestic breeds have descended from the rock-pigeon.
Once more then, O my friend, we have alighted upon an easy question-- whether the soul has these three principles or not?
As those who are equal in one particular are not therefore equal in all, and those who are unequal in one particular are not therefore unequal in all, it follows that all those governments which are established upon a principle which supposes they are, are erroneous.
"I can't help that," the Man of Principle replied, with that lofty scorn of practical considerations distinguishing his species.

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