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TO PROVIDE FOR THE PUBLICATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF A
SUPPLEMENT TO THE REVISED STATUTES.
[See page 582.]
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That the SUPPLEMENT TO THE REVISED STATUTES, * be stereotyped at the Government Printing Office; and the index and plates thereof and all right and title therein and thereto shall be in and fully belong to the government for its exclusive use and benefit.
That * copies be printed, bound, and distributed as provided for the distribution of the Revised Statutes, * and such additional copies, on the order of the Secretary of State, as may be necessary from time to time, to be kept for sale in the same manner and on like terms as the Revised Statutes are required to be kept for sale, and to supply deficiencies and offices newly created;
The publication herein authorized shall be taken to be prima facie evidence of the laws therein contained in all the courts of the United States and of the several States and Territories therein;
But shall not preclude reference to, nor control, in case of any discrepancy, the effect of any original act as passed by Congress:
Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to change or alter any existing law.
The purpose and character of this work cannot better be expressed than in the language of the report of the Committee of the Senate on the Revision of the Laws of the Forty-fifth Congress, composed of Senators STANLEY MATTHEWS of Ohio, DAVID DAVIS of Illinois, WILLIAM A. WALLACE of Pennsylvania, and FRANCIS KERNAN Of of New York, recommending its adoption and publication by Congress, from which the following extracts are made:
The Committee on the Revision of the Laws, who were instructed, by order of the Senate of the 27th of January last past, to inquire into the expediency of making provision for publishing a revision of the statutes of the United States adopted since the date of the existing revision, have considered the subject, and respectfully submit the following report:
The Revised Statutes embrace the laws, general and permanent in their nature, in force December 1, 1873, but were not enacted until June 22, 1874, and were not printed and given to the public until 1875.
In the mean time legislation had been going on, many of the laws incorporated therein had been repealed, altered, or amended, and when the volume came into general use it was two years behind the enactments of Congress.
In March, 1877, an act was passed for the publication of a second edition, but this was not completed until the latter part of the year 1878, and includes only the specific amendments, adding to or striking out sections or parts of sections, which were passed by the Forty-third and Forty-fourth Congresses, with references to some other acts.
It does not contain the great mass of general laws enacted during the past six years, and it has no references whatever to the legislation of the Forty-fifth Congress, so that the Revised Statutes, even with the second edition, do little more than bring the laws down to December 1, 1873, and at the end of the present Congress they will be six years in arrears [now increased to eight years].
At no other period of time of equal length has general legislation been more extensive nor more difficult to trace out, much of it being included in annual appropriation acts, into which it has become a not infrequent practice to introduce provisions of permanent and general laws.
Moreover, the indexes to the Statutes at Large, which at the end of the present session will be in three [now four] volumes since the Revised Statutes, embrace all the laws, general, special, and private, as well as treaties, proclamations, &c., combined, rendering it a difficult and uncertain task to ascertain exactly what alterations have been made to the general laws.
It is obvious that some provision should be made for the publication and distribution of the permanent and general statutes in a convenient form brought down to as late date as possible and separated from the acts which are temporary in their nature or of no general and permanent interest.
The committee have examined a work prepared by Judge William A. Richardson, and now ready for the press, with the exception of the laws of the present session, which are to be added thereto. Its title indicates its contents.
The numerous notes supplement the statutes wherever references to other acts or to facts are necessary to a clear understanding of the effect of the enactments.
The marginal references connect together the acts on the same subject, and by means thereof the reader is at once directed to all the legislation on the subject-matter of any law which he is examining.
A table is added of the sections of the Revised Statutes repealed, altered, or affected by subsequent legislation, with references to the pages where such changes may be
found, so that in considering any section of those statutes a reference to this table will indicate whether or not it has been amended or in any way affected, and will point to the amendments, if any, which have been made.
These notes and references, which number several thousand, are the result of annotations made by the editor from time to time during a series of years for his own use, with great care and often with much research, in which he has had the benefit of more than twenty years' experience in such kind of work.
The volume will contain some five hundred or six hundred pages, and we are satisfied must prove to be a convenient and useful edition of the laws for Congress, the courts, public officers, and all who have occasion to consult the statutes of the United States, and will form a necessary and almost indispensable accompaniment to the Revised Statutes.
It is not a revision but a reproduction of the existing general laws in the language of their enactment, in chronological order, with notes and references as before pointed out.
The text of the acts and resolutions, as herein printed, has been carefully compared by the editor and a competent assistant with the rolls in the Department of State, and the exact words and punctuation of the original laws have been followed and reproduced. A few explanations will render the convenience and the practical usefulness of the work more easily availed of and more readily understood.
1. The table at the beginning of the volume gives a list, in numerical order, of all the sections of the Revised Statutes which have been repealed, altered, or affected by subsequent legislation, with references to the pages of this volume where the subsequent provisions may be found. Where those provisions have been incorporated into the second edition of the Revised Statutes the fact is noted by a star (*) affixed to the page referred to.
2. The running title at the top of each page indicates the Congress, the session, the year, month, and day, the chapter, and, in case of a long act, the sections, of the statute on that page.
As all acts are printed in chronological order, and in the numerical order of the laws of each session, any act referred to by date and chapter in any other writing may be readily found herein by following the running title.
3. Resolutions follow the acts of each session. Proclamations and extracts from treaties are placed at the end of the text of the volume, immediately preceding the index.
Only such proclamations and treaties are inserted as are of general interest and give force and effect to or explain statutes and resolutions.
4. The head-notes to each act enable the reader to ascertain, when desired, the general scope of the act without reading the entire act.
5. In the margin are noted at the beginning of each act the date of its passage, with a reference to the volume and page where the same act is printed in the Statutes at Large.
References are also made therein to sections of the Revised Statutes and other previous laws affected by the act, and to subsequent laws by which it is itself modified or affected.
Decisions of the Federal and State courts and the opinions of the Attorneys-General having a bearing upon the construction or application of the statute are referred to.
The marginal notes of the text state the effect of the enactments when words are inserted or stricken out, except where they correct merely typographical errors.
The text of long sections is divided into convenient paragraphs, with a marginal note to each paragraph, so that the reader will not find it necessary to go through the whole section to reach what he is looking for.
6. The plan of the work, as approved by the committees of the Senate and House, was to include only laws of a general and permanent nature, as distinguished from the temporary laws applicable to the service of the government for a single year. It has often been very difficult to make the distinction, especially in appropriation acts, which, although entitled and generally intended for one year's service, frequently contain some provisions which are clearly designed to be of continuing and permanent force, and others as to which differences of opinion might exist. In the latter case, such provisions have been inserted.
In some cases provisions which are manifestly permanent are found repeated in subsequent appropriation acts as though they were temporary. Such provisions are generally not repeated in this volume, unless there is some change of language which might be thought to give rise to a different construction and possibly a change in the law.
A few of the acts of a general nature passed since the passage of the Revised Statutes have been repealed. They are, however, included in this edition because in some cases they are subsequently referred to in unrepealed acts which cannot be understood without reference to them. In all cases they are so connected with existing laws and the course of legislation that they afford light upon the object and intention of Congress in passing the later acts. Besides, most of them, like the bankruptcy acts in particular, are still in force for certain purposes, and all have existing rights resting upon them. They take but little space in the text, and the fact of repeal is noted there as well as in the index and in the table of sections of Revised Statutes altered, amended, and repealed.
The volume will be equally convenient and useful to those who have only the first edition of the Revised Statutes as to those who have the second edition. It contains substantially all the general laws passed since December 1, 1873, including all of those which are incorporated into the second edition.
For the convenience of those having the second edition, all acts in this volume which have been incorporated therein are so noted on the pages of the text, and are indicated in the index and in the table of sections of the Revised Statutes altered, &c., by a star (*). Without the Supplement, the Revised Statutes are an unsafe guide to existing laws, as about 1,500 sections have been altered, affected, or repealed by legislation contained in this volume.
WASHINGTON, D. C., August, 1881.
WILLIAM A. RICHARDSON.