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TO THE EIGHTH EDITION OF THE REVISED STATUTES.
This edition aims to present the entire body of the statute law of the State of New York, of a general and permanent character, except the Code of Civil Procedure, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Penal Code. As numerous editions of those Codes have been published, some of them elaborately annotated and expensive, which the members of the legal profession have extensively purchased, it was deemed only just to the latter, that this work should be published in such a form, that they would not be compelled to purchase anew the three Codes, in order to procure the remainder of this compilation.
The Revised Statutes were enacted in instalments; part first and chapters second to eighth of part second on the 4th of December, 1827, and chapter first of part second, and the whole of parts third and fourth on the 10th of December, 1828. They were made to take effect, chapters 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, title 2 of chapter 15, and chapters 16 and 18 of part first, on the 1st of January, 1828 ; chapter 17 of part first on the 1st of May, 1828; and the remainder of the Revised Statutes on the 1st of January, 1830.
The first is the only official edition of the Revised Statutes which has ever been published ; it was printed by the State under the direction of the revisers, the official certificate prefixed to the first volume being dated January 31, 1829; that prefixed to the second volume, June 5, 1829; and that prefixed to the third volume, September 10, 1830. In preparing that edition the revisers were authorized to make some important changes, not only in the numbers of the sections but even in the text, the better to carry into effect the intention of the legislature in enacting various amendatory acts. See L. 1828, first session, ch. 321, $$ 1, 2 and 3; and L. 1828, second session, ch. 20, $ 33.
Even before the first edition was issued, the legislature began to amend or otherwise alter the Revised Statutes. Most of the changes made in 1829 were taken into the first edition; but in 1830, after the publication of the first and second volumes of that edition, the legislature not only enacted various statutes, changing, without expressly referring to, particular provisions of the Revised Statutes, but by different acts passed during that year expressly amended sixty sections, repealed twenty-four sections, and added twenty-two new sections. In the most voluminous of these amendatory acts, L. 1830, ch. 320, it is provided by $ 67, that “ in every publication of the Revised Statutes hereafter to be made, the amended and additional provisions herein contained, shall be inserted in their proper places as parts of the said statutes, and in the manner hereinbefore prescribed ; and such alterations as may be requisite, shall be made under the direction of the secretary of State, in the numbering of the sections in every title of the said statutes affected by this act."
Another act of the same year, L. 1830, ch. 259, after providing that any person might publish the Revised Statutes, and the work so published might be read in evidence if accompanied with a certificate of the secretary of State or of two of the revisers, enacts that all editions so printed shall be paged in conformity to the first edition.
The second edition of the Revised Statutes was published by the reviser's in 1836. It was unofficial, and strictly a private enterprize. In that edition the subsequent amendments to the Revised Statutes were added to or incorporated into the text; the separate acts passed since their original enactment were incorporated into the chapters, titles and articles of the Revised Statutes ; new titles and articles were added as required; and the original numbers of the sections of the Revised Statutes were changed accordingly; as it appears that the legislature contemplated, when it enacted the two statutes of 1830, just cited.
The third edition of the Revised Statutes was also prepared by the revisers as a private enterprize. The first and second volumes were published in 1846; the third in 1848. In this edition the plan of the second edition was closely followed, although the increased bulk of the subsequent legislation already led to some inconveniences from its incorporation with the Revised Statutes, and the consequent changing of the sectional numbers of the latter, and the addition of new captions.
The fourth edition was prepared by two eminent lawyers, the late Hiram Denio and William Tracy, and was published in 1852. The plan of the second and third edition was followed, although the great mass of subsequent legislation increased proportionately the inconveniences which it caused. But a new feature, which to many was even more objectionable, appeared in this edition. The constitution of 1846, and the legislation immediately following the same, by abolishing many offices, especially of a judicial character, and creating new offices with the same powers, etc., and by other similar radical changes in the constitution and laws of the State, rendered many enactments contained in the former statutes, particularly in the Revised Statutes, literally inapplicable, their provisions being applied to the new state of things, by certain general statutes. In the fourth edition, the editors altered the text of those provisions of the Revised Statutes and other former statutes, so as to conform it to the new state of things, specifying in foot notes the alterations so made by them.
The fifth edition was prepared by Messrs. Amasa J. Parker, George Wolford and Edward Wade, and published in 1859. The sixth was prepared by Mr. George W. Cothran, and published in 1875. Each of these editions was prepared upon the plan of the fourth, including the unauthorized alterations of the text; and although each was very ably edited, the ability and industry of the editors were unable to overcome or materially diminish the great inconveniences proceeding from the radical defects of the plan itself, as applied to an enormous mass of laws, whereof the Revised Statutes had become but a small proportion.
The seventh edition, published in 1882, was prepared by the undersigned, upon a different plan, which has been followed in this edition. The manner in which the undersigned has endeavored, in the seventh and eighth editions, to overcome the inconveniences referred to, is hereinbefore stated in a separate paper. He is fully sensible of the fact that his plan is open to some objections ; but upon the whole he believes it to be the only one, by which the enormous mass of legislation can be set before the public, in a form which will enable the reader to ascertain most readily the present state of the law, upon any particular subject of inquiry.
In preparing a work of this character, it often becomes the editor's duty to decide as to the effect of a statute amending a former statute, or making other provisions for a case provided for therein, where a later statute repeals or amends the amendatory statute ; and also, in some cases, where a still later statute amends the original statute, or a statute amends a former statute which has been expressly repealed.
Apart from the general principles of law, respecting the construction and effect of statutes, our courts have laid down rules which govern in most of the cases stated.
The leading case upon this question is People v. Supervisors of Montgomery, 67 N. Y., 109, where it was substantially held, that the amendment of a statute, by declaring that it shall read as prescribed by the amendatory statute, although not a repeal of the original statute, merges the latter in the amendatory statute, so that the former has no longer any distinct validity, with respect to future transactions; and that a subsequent repeal of the amendatory statute does not revive the original statute, but both fall together. These principles have been re-affirmed and applied in Knox v. Baldwin, 80 N. Y., 610; Victory Webb, etc., Co. v. Beecher, 97 N. Y., 651; Nash v. White's Bank of Buffalo, 105 N. Y., 243 ; In re Miller, 110 N. Y., 216, and numerous other cases in the courts of original jurisdiction.
But such an amendatory statute has no retroactive effect, and does not affect transactions completed, or rights accrued, or liabilities incurred under the original statute, before the enactment of the later statute; except penalties and the like, which are abrogated even where an action therefor has been commenced before the enactment of the later statute: Goillotel v. Mayor, etc., 87 N. Y., 441; Victory Webb, etc., Co., v. Beecher, 97 N. Y., 651; Nash v. White's Bk. of Buffalo, 105 N. Y., 243; In re Miller, 110 N. Y., 216.
A subsequent statute, covering the same matter as a prior statute, effects an implied repeal of the latter, where it is evident that the subsequent statute was intended as a substitute for the former statute, in the cases to which it applies, although the two statutes are not in express terms repugnant: Heckmann v. Pinkney, 81 N. Y., 211; People v. Gold, etc., Telegraph Co., 98 N. Y., 67; People v. Jaehne, 103 N. Y., 82.
With respect to the case where a statute, which has been repealed, either directly or by the repeal of an amendatory statute, is amended by a still later statute, the editor has treated the later amendatory act as in effect a new statute. This conclusion appears to be, not only a necessary result from the principles above stated, but in harmony with the ruling in Hills v. Peekskill Savings Bank, 26 Hun, 161, which was not affected by the reversal of the judgment in that case, as reported in 101 N. Y., 490.
MONTGOMERY H. THROOP. 302 STATE STREET,
ALBANY, February 15, 1889. .
FROM THE PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION OF THE
The public statutes of this State, in force at the time of this revision, constitute the basis of the work, and have generally been incorporated in it, although their original form has seldom been preserved. For the purpose of simplifying their language, supplying their omissions, and remedying other defects ; and above all, of presenting them in the systematic arrangement which was the great object of the legislature, it became indispensable to break
up their long and sometimes complicated sections — to separate those provisions which related to any particular topic, from others with which they were connected -- and to write anew every section contained in the Revised Statutes.
Several of the former statutes, having been expressly or impliedly abrogated by the legislature, are wholly omitted. Those which have been retained and consolidated in this work, have been materially modified. Their details have been perfected; they have been conformed in express terms, to the construction given to them by the decisions of our courts; and in many cases new provisions have been introduced, essentially changing their principles. In numerous instances, also, the rules of the common law have been reduced to a written text, and inserted in their proper place in connexion with the statutory provisions on the subject to which they relate ; whilst in other instances those rules have been enlarged, modified or varied, the more fully to conform them to the nature of our government, and the habits and exigencies of the people.
Throughout the work, references will be found to the statutes heretofore passed, containing provisions analogous to those in the Revised Statutes.* But it must not be inferred from any such reference that the former statute has been
* Those references have been preserved in the eighth edition. [EDITOR EIGHTH ED'N.)