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THE edition of the Statutes of the United States now presented to the public comprehends all the Public Acts passed since the organization of the government, preceded by the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States; in one volume, the Private Acts; and in one volume, the Treaties of the United States with Foreign Nations and with the Indian tribes, which compose the whole diplomatic collection.

Copious notes of the Decisions of the courts of the United States, which construe, comment upon, or apply to the law, treaty, or text, and upon the subjects of the laws, which have come under the consideration of the courts, are placed under the acts.

On the margin, or at the foot of the page containing each law, there is a reference to the acts passed before or after the law on the same matter. The repeal of every law, and its having become obsolete, are also noted. In Notes, the whole legislation on many of the subjects of the laws is fully referred to.

The laws are divided so as to comprehend the acts of every session of Congress as a separate statute, designated as the First, Second, or Third statute; with a running title at the head of each page expressing the session of Congress and the date of each chapter or resolve, contained in the page; and each law forms a separate chapter.

It will be seen that the acts are inserted in chronological order, but the numbers of the chapters are not consecutive. It was the purpose of the editor to adopt a different arrangement of the chapters, but the Attorney-General of the United States has decided that the "Joint Resolution" imposes the manner of chaptering which has been pursued. The numbers of the chapters of the Private Acts, are those of the omitted chapters in the volumes of the public laws.

In this edition an entirely new Index to the first Five Volumes, (which contain the whole of the Public Laws,) prepared by GEORGE MINOT, Esq., has been substituted, at the end of the Fifth Volume, for the Indices to each volume, as originally printed; and new Indices, prepared by the same hand, have also been given in Volumes VI., VII., and VIII., which contain the Private Laws and Treaties. THE VERBAL GENERAL INDEX to all the eight volumes, at the close of VOLUME VIII., it is believed, will be found very perfect.


A complete list of all the acts, resolves, and treaties, in every volume, is given, chronologically arranged, with a brief and general description of the subject of every act.

Tables of the laws chronologically arranged, relating to the Judiciary, Imposts and Tonnage, the Public Lands, &c., are prefixed to the first volume of the Public Laws. By these tables the whole legislation on the subjects of those laws may be readily referred to. The facilities thus afforded for such reference will give to this work the advantages of separate selections of the laws upon

these matters.

This work is stereotyped. Every effort has been made to make this edition a correct transcript of the laws as they are recorded at Washington. By a contract with the government of the United States, the plates from which the work is printed belong to the government, to the extent set forth in the Joint Resolution of March 3, 1845; thus securing to the United States the use of the plates, to the end of time; so that all future editions of the statutes and treaties may be printed in the same manner. The work will thus become, for all purposes, the PERMANENT NATIONAL EDITION OF THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES; and all future statutes and treaties may be printed in the same form, and become consecutive volumes of the NATIONAL CODE.

The plan of this work has been submitted to distinguished judicial and professional gentlemen in the United States; their advice sought, and followed in maturing and perfecting the designs of the publication, and their opinions solicited on the usefulness and value of the work, and on the necessity for its completion. The letters, in reply to communications from the editor, give assurances of its favourable reception by the public.

It is earnestly hoped that this work will be found acceptable to all whose official situations and professional duties oblige them to administer and consult the laws of the United States. The Government of the United States having sanctioned by its liberal patronage this publication, it is confidently believed, that a full and complete knowledge of the statutes and treaties of the United States, and of the decisions of the courts of the United States, construing the laws, and the subjects to which they relate the administration of public justice-and public and private convenience, will be extensively promoted, and permanently secured by this work.




Letter from Mr. Justice Story, of the Supreme Court of the United States. “WASHINGTON, January 29, 1844. "DEAR SIR: I wrote you a considerable time ago my views as to the plan upon which an edition of the Laws of the United States, to be worthy of the nation, should be executed. I have since read your printed programme; and I perceive that you have adopted in it all the suggestions which I ventured to make. If an edition such as you propose should be published, it would, in my judgment, supersede all others, and be of great permanent benefit, not only to the profession, but to Congress and to the whole country. Indeed, I cannot but consider it as of such vital importance as to be, in a just sense, of urgent necessity. The editions now in use and circulation are, either from defect of plan or execution, or the constant accumulation of new laws, inadequate to the public wants.

"I earnestly hope that Congress may by its patronage enable the enterprising booksellers, with the aid of your known abilities, to accomplish this most desirable undertaking, and thus present our statutes at large in a form which shall be worthy of our national character."

Extracts from letters from Mr. Chief Justice Taney, dated January 21 and 24, 1844. "The publication of the Laws of the United States upon the plan proposed is certainly very desirable, and will be of great public value. Can you afford to undertake it without the patronage of the General Government? Upon that subject you can judge better than I can. The publication you propose seems to me to be peculiarly entitled to the support of Congress. At all events, however, I hope you will find encouragement enough to induce you to go on with your plan."

"As you will have seen from my former letter, I had hardly any thing to offer, more than to express my conviction of the value and importance of the work, and my confidence in any plan proposed by Judge Story, whose long experience in matters of that kind has given him the best opportunities of forming a correct judgment."

Letter from the Hon. Judge McKinley, Supreme Court.

"WASHINGTON, January 17, 1844. "DEAR SIR: The edition of the Statute Laws of the United States which you propose to publish will, in my opinion, be very useful to the profession and to the country generally; and the plan you have adopted will enable the reader to ascertain, with very little labour, what the statute law is, although there may be several statutes on the same subject passed at different and distant periods of time. Such a work is greatly needed at present, and I hope, sir, your success will be such as the enterprise deserves."

Letter from Chancellor Kent.

NEW YORK, November 30, 1843. "MY DEAR SIR: I am very much pleased with your plan of a new edition of the Statutes of the United States at large. It is excellent and most comprehensive, and will require time and labour; and if your health, leisure, and perseverance will enable you to complete it, you will confer a signal benefit on the nation, and a lasting honour to its legislative character. Such a work is exceedingly wanted, and deserves the most liberal public patronage. The aid of Judge Story, which you say is generously assured, will facilitate your labours, and add to the editorial and national character of the work the highest sanction."


Letter from the Hon. John Nelson, Attorney General of the United States. “Washington, November 22, 1843. "MY DEAR SIR: My absence will plead my apology for this delay in expressing to you my cordial approbation of your plan for the publication of the Laws of the United States. I have no suggestions to add to those furnished by Mr. Justice Story.

"Of the importance of the proposed work, all who have occasion to consult the public laws must be aware; of its necessity, those who are charged with the performance of public duties are daily made conscious; and I regard it as matter of just congratulation, that it is to be undertaken by one upon whose professional intelligence and enlarged experience the public may so confidently rely."

Letter from the Hon. Martin Van Buren.

“Lindenwald, December 16, 1843. "DEAR SIR: I have, at your request, examined the plan of your proposed edition of the Laws of the United States, and think it a very excellent one.


Sincerely wishing you success in your undertaking, I am," &c.

Letter from the Hon. A. Ware, District Judge of Maine.

"PORTLAND, December 12, 1843.

"DEAR SIR: I am glad to learn from you that you propose to publish a new edition of the Statutes of the United States at large. It has now become difficult to obtain a complete copy of all the laws passed from the commencement of the Government; and although Story's edition of the laws, now in common use, is the most convenient for ordinary purposes, yet it is sometimes necessary to recur to obsolete laws, not included in that edition. It is very important that the whole series of laws, from the commencement of the government, shall be preserved in a permanent form. You propose to give a complete edition, with references to the jurisprudence of the courts, which will add much to its value. It is an enterprise well worthy of the patronage of the public, and especially of the government."

Letter from the Hon. Judge McLean, Supreme Court United States.

"WASHINGTON, January 20, 1844.

"DEAR SIR: I have read your proposals to publish the Statutes of the United States at large' with much interest. The arrangement, I think, is excellent, and the annexation of notes at the foot of each page, showing the construction of the statutes by the federal courts, will add much to the value of the work. This enterprise will be attended with great expense; but the great ability of the work, and an increasing demand for it, will, I trust, in a short time reimburse your expenditures. The work, as you well remark, will be national, and I hope it will receive, as it well deserves, the patronage of the legal profession and of the constituted authorities of the country."

Letter from the Hon. William Crawford, District Judge of the United States for the District of Alabama.

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"MOBILE, January 4, 1844. "DEAR SIR: I have examined your plan for the publication of the Statutes of the United States at large,' and am satisfied that the plan is judicious, and that the work is much needed. The chronological order in which the laws will be arranged, and your foot and marginal notes, will enable any person desirous to know what the law is at the present day readily to obtain that information.

"The work, in my opinion, merits the patronage of the public; and, as it will be a highly useful work, I cannot doubt that it will be liberally afforded."

Letter from the Hon. Judge Sprague, District Judge of Massachusetts.

"BOSTON, December 4, 1843.

"MY DEAR SIR: I have examined your plan for an edition of the Statutes of the United States at large, and it meets my cordial approbation.

"Such a work is very much needed, and must be of great utility to all who may have occasion to investigate the laws of the United States."

Letter from the Hon. Henry Clay.

"ASHLAND, December 4, 1843. "MY DEAR SIR: I have received your favour, transmitting to me a programme of a complete edition of the laws of the United States, which you propose to collect and publish, and to stereotype. I believe the wants of the community, of the courts, and of the bar, require such a work; and the plan of executing it which you propose can have no higher recommendation than that which Judge Story has given it. I would add my individual wish that your index may be as full and perfect as that which is contained in the judge's edition of the Statutes."

Letter from the Hon. John Kennedy, of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

“PHILADELPHIA, December 14, 1843. "DEAR SIR: Having looked over your prospectus of a publication of the Statutes of the United States at large, I feel myself bound to say that the plan, as it strikes me, is admirably well adapted to meet every reasonable wish that either individuals or the public could have on the subject. I cannot but express my full and entire approbation of it; and permit me also to add, that I have the most full and entire confidence that the execution of the work in your hands will be at least equal to all that is promised. It is certainly a work of considerable magnitude, and will be attended with a vast expense as well as labour on your part; and as the advantage to be derived from it will be immensely important and valuable, I therefore hope that you will not only be indemnified, but liberally rewarded by the patronage of a generous public."

Letter from the Hon. Thomas Sergeant, of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

"PHILADELPHIA, December 7, 1843. "DEAR SIR: The plan of publishing the Statutes of the United States, contained in the proposals enclosed in your letter, I should think the best that can be suggested for such a work, considering it in reference either to present use or permanent preservation; and I do not doubt but that your well known professional talents and long experience in judicial publications will ensure to it that accuracy in editing and excellence in printing which a work of this character requires."

Letter from the Hon. Molton C. Rogers, of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. "DEAR SIR: I am pleased to learn that you propose to publish an edition of the Laws of the United States, on a plan which cannot fail to be useful. I have read your prospectus with attention, and if carried out as you design, and of that I can entertain no doubt, it will meet the patronage of the profession and of Congress, who will lend their efficient aid and countenance to a work which will most materially contribute to a knowledge of the laws of the Union, so indispensable to the citizens of the United States."

Letter from the Hon. Samuel R. Betts, District Judge of the Eastern District of New York. "NEW YORK, December 5, 1843. "SIR: I received your favour of the 30th ultimo, enclosing a prospectus of an edition of the Laws of the United States. I sincerely hope the project may be carried into execution, and that so important a work may secure you an adequate remuneration.

"I think a reprint of the statutes in full decidedly to be preferred to any other mode of publication. Abridgments, or mere indexes, are convenient for hasty consultation, but the entire act must be examined before its spirit or parts can be justly appreciated.

"The arrangement of the acts, with a view to present in connection those relating to the same subjects, has advantages; yet, in investigating a point, the apprehension that something has been omitted will necessarily lead to searches through the entire series of legislation, notwithstanding such juxtaposition of particular statutes, by a compiler or editor of the highest learning and reputation.

"I am persuaded it is the safest and more satisfactory course to publish the laws in the order of their passage. That is not unfrequently an essential element to their proper interpretation. Until they are codified or remodelled by the legislature, I believe they can be furnished in no form so useful as in the order of their enactment." b

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