President Thomas Jefferson explains the Logan Act's origin, its possible uses and its connection to Alexander Hamilton.
George Logan was a Quaker, doctor, farmer and state legislator from Pennsylvania who undertook, as a private citizen and at his own expense, a diplomatic mission to France in 1798 — and what was his reward? The Federalists and the Congress of the United States passed the Logan Act, prohibiting that from ever happening again. Despite Logan's good intentions, and his good results, his name is associated with an act that prohibits private citizens from meddling in the foreign policy of the United States.
The Logan Act
The text of the Logan Act appears from Cornell University Law School.
18 U.S. Code § 953 - Private correspondence with foreign governments
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.
Nixon and the Logan Act
The Trump administration’s violations of the Logan Act are a serious betrayal of American foreign policy norms, but probably they won’t change much or endanger anything really worth protecting in America’s sovereignty.
There have been much greater breaches of the Logan Act.
Read Clay's Jefferson Watch essay, Nixon and the Logan Act.