United States Statutes at Large/Volume 1/Preface


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.

Every volume contains a separate alphabetical index of the matters in the volume, in which particular reference is given to the subject of every act; and at the end of the last volume of the Public Laws there is an Index of all the matters in the volumes of the Public Laws. The volume of Private Laws contains an index to their contents; and to the volume containing the Treaties a full and particular index is given, in such a form as that an easy reference is obtained to every provision in every treaty.

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 last 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.

{{indent|2em|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.