Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 153
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OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS.
Jan. 7, 1825.]
Crimes against the United States.
[H. of R.
ed guilty of piracy and felony, and shall, on conviction
thereof, suffer death.
The sixth section provides, That, if any person or per-
sons upon the sea, &c. with intent to kill, rob, steal,
commit a rape, or do or perpetrate any other felony,
shall break or enter any ship or vessel, boat or raft; or
if any person or persons shall wilfully and maliciously
cut, spoil, or destroy, any cordage, cable, buoys, &c.
every person so offending1, shall be punishable by fine,
not exceeding one thousand dollars, and by imprison-
ment and confinement to hard labor, not exceeding five
The seventh section provides, That, if any person or
persons, &c. shal receive stolen money or goods, &c.
every person, so offending, shall be punishable by fine,
not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment
and confinement to hard labor, not exceeding three
The eighth section provides, That, if any person or
persons shall plunder, steal, take away, or destroy any
money, goods, &c. from any vessel, which shall be in dis-
tress, or which shall be wrecked, lost, stranded, or cast
away, &c. or wilfully obstruct the escape of any person
endeavoring to save his or her life from such ship, or
vessel, or the wreck thereof; or, if any person or persons
shall put out any false light or lights, with intention to
bring any ship or vessel into danger, or distress, or ship-
wreck ; every person, so offending, his or her counsel-
lors. aiders, and abettors, shall be punishable, by fine,
not exceeding five thousand dollars, and imprisonment
and confinement to hard labor, not exceeding ten years.
The ninth section provides, That, if any master or com-
mander of any ship or vessel, belonging, in whole, or in
part, to any citizen or citizens of the United States, shall,
during hi9 being abroad, maliciously, and without justi-
fiable cause, force any officer or mariner, of such ship
or vessel, on shore, or leave him behind, in any foreign
port, &c. he s' all be punishable by fine, not exceeding
five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment, not exceeding
The tenth section provides, That, if any person or per-
sons, in any case not herein before specially provided
lor, shall wilfully and maliciously set on fire, or born, or
otherwise destroy, &c. any ship or vessel of war of the
United States, whether the same be on float or building,
or begun to be built, on any dock yard of the United
States, every person so offending, shall, on conviction
thereof, suffer death.
The eleventh section provides, That, if any officer of
the United States shall be guilty of extortion, under or
by color of his office, he shall be punishable by fine, not
exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment, not
exceeding one year.
The twelfth section provides, That, if any person in
any case, matter, hearing, or other proceeding, when
an oath or affirmation shall be required to be taken or
administered under or by any laws of the United States,
shall commit perjury, he shall be punishable by fine,
not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprison-
ment and confinement to hard labor, not exceeding five
years. And if any person shall be convicted of subor-
nation ot perjury, he shall be punished by fine, not ex.
ceedmg two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment and
confinement to hard labor, not exceeding five years.
*1 hethirteenth section provides, That, if any person,
upon his or her arraignment upon any indictment before
a"Y court the United States for any offence, not capital,
snail stand mute, or will not answer or plead to such in-
dictment, the court shall, notwithstanding, proceed to
the trial of the person so standing mute, kc. And the
tual or all offences which shall be committed upon the
sea, or elsewhere within the admiralty and maritime iu-
nsd.chon of the United States, shall be in the district
Where the offender is apprehended, or into which he
may be first brought.
The fourteenth section provides, That, in every case
where any criminal, convicted of any offence against the
United States, shall be sentenced to imprisonment and
confinement to hard labor, it shall be lawful for the
court by which the sentence is passed, to order the same
to be executed in any state prison or penitentiary, with-
in the district where such court is holden, the use of
which prison or penitentiary shall be allowed or granted
by the Legislature of such state for such purposes; and
the expenses attendant upon the execution of such sen-
tence shall be paid by the United States.
The fifteenth section provides, That the several
courts of the United States shall have power and autho-
rity, in all cases of conviction before them of any person
or persons, for any crime or offence against the Un'ted
States, in their discretion, to require any person or per-
sons, so convicted, to give security by a recognizance,
with surety or sureties, to keep the peace, &c.
The sixteenth section provides, That, if any person
who shall be employed as a cashier, clerk, or servant, in
the Rank of the United States, or any of its offices, shall
steal or embezzle the money or other effects of the
Bank, Sec. he shall be punishable by fine, not exceeding
five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment and confine-
ment to hard labor, not exceeding ten years, according
to the aggravation of the offence.]
The 4th section (which provides for the punishment
of murder, rape, and several other crimes, when com-
mitted in any arm of the sea, or in any river, haven,
creek, basin, or bav, within the admiralty and maritime
jurisdiction of the United States,) being under consider-
Mr. WICKLIFFE moved, as an amendment, to insert
the following words: " and not within the jurisdiction of
any state or territorial government." He explained and
supported the amendment, as intended to prevent colli-
sions between the authority of the general and state Go-
vernments. The admiralty jurisdiction of the United .
States had been claimed and exercised within the state
of Kentucky, and, he believed, from the mouth of the
Mississippi to St. Louis. He conceived the state go-
vernments to be entirely competent to inquire into and
punish crimes committed within their own jurisdictions,
and that, as there was no necessity, there would be no
advantage, in giving the United States concurrent pow-
er to do the same.
Mr. WEBSTER replied. He had already stated to
the committee that one of the principal objects in fram-
ing this bill, had been, to avoid a conflict of territorial
jurisdictions between the United States and the several
states. But it was the first time he had heard of such an
extraordinary thing, as that maritimejurisdiction had been
exercised by the courts of the United States from the si ate
of Kentucky; he did not know that any person had dream-
ed of the application of such a jurisdiction there : and
Mr. VV. said, he thought that those who had exercised
it must have been dreaming themselves at the time the
did so. The class of crimes provided for in this sec-
tion not only might happen, but had actually occurred,
without the existence of any law to punish them. Murders
had been committed on board our own ships while lying
in the harbors of foreign nations, and, for want of such a
provision, they had gone unpunished. He knew that
the state governments were competent to the punish-
ment of crimes committed, under similar circumstances,
in any harbor or river of the United States ; but they
were usually disinclined to do so, considering the crime
as more particularly committed against the United States.
There might, besides, occur much difficulty, where the
boundaries of different counties surrounded the. same
bay, in deciding within which of them the fact happened.
In bays, &c. which, though part ot the sea, were not any
part " of the high seas," the common law jurisdiction,
and the admiralty jurisdiction, were concurrent; and
should the section pass, its only effect would be to pro-
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Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/81/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.