§ 5. The same author says that piracy is an offense against the universal law of society. A pirate renounces all the benefits of society and government, and reduces himself afresh to the savage state of nature, and declares war against all mankind. By the statutes of England, however, various modified definitions have been given to this crime, essentially changing its common-law import. Statutes are often passed changing the common-law definitions of crimes.

§ 6. In pursuance of this power to define piracy, Congress has passed several acts on the subject. For instance, in 1820, the foreign slave-trade was made piracy, punishable by death. From the foundation of our government until 1808, the foreign slave-trade was lawful commerce. Congress has the power to enlarge or contract the definition of piracy from its common-law meaning.

§ 7. Felony is another word of common-law definition. The author last quoted defines it to be every species of crime which at common law occasioned the forfeiture of the lands and goods of the criminal; and this happens most frequently in those crimes for which « capital punishment is or was inflicted.

§ 8. By the clause in the Constitution uuder consideration, Congress is at liberty to depart from the common-law meaning of the won! "felony." Felony can hardly be said to be a crime; for it is a word of generic import, including a large number of crimes, such as murder, larceny, arson, burglary, &c. When committed on the high seas, it could not properly be left with the States to define it, as tho jurisdiction of offenses not committed within State limits must necessarily be restricted to the Federal courts.

§ 9. Tho high seas are defined by Judge Story to "embrace not only the waters of the ocean which are out of sight of land, but tho waters on the sea-coast below low-water mark, whether within the territorial boundaries of a nation or of a domestic State."

§ 10. The power to define oflenses against the law of nations must be considered here as restricted to American citizens. There is a responsibility resting on every government, which it cannot ignore, with regard to the conduct of itS own eitiiens. Governments are responsible in some sense to neighboring nations for all violations of the laws of nations by their citizens. Out of this responsibility may grow the issues of war.


§ 11. The same considerations that render it proper for Congress to have the power of defining these crimes, also rendet if proper that they should have the power of annexing to them suite ble penalties. Criminal law would be nugatory without penalties On account of our relations to foreign neighboring nations, it seems in the highest degree proper that this power of defining and punishing offenses of the class herein specified should belong exclusively to the National Legislature.


§ 12. The Constitution defines the crime of treason, but leaves it with Congress to prescribe its punishment. In 1790, Congress affixed to this crime the penalty of death. In 1862, Congress passed another act, punishing treason with death, or imprisonment for not less than five years, and a fine of ten thousand dollars, and the slaves of the party convicted to be free. This act was passed before the abolition of slavery in the United States.


1. To establish post-offices.

2. To establish post-roads.


§ 1. The power vested in Congress by the Constitution to establish post-offices and post-roads is presumed to include all other powers necessary to render them effective. Any plan that should leave the supervision of the post-office department in the hands of the several States would necessarily be inefficient.

§ 2. The several States, and the citizens thereof, are bound together by ties of interest, commerce, and affection, rendering it indispensable that they should have some reliable and uniform means of communication with each other. These benefits could not be derived from the adoption of as many different postal systems as there are States in the Union.

§ 3. Besides, the burdens would be unequal It is far more expensive to transport the mails through the sparsely-populated regions of the West, South, and South-west, in proportion to the amount of matter conveyed and distance traveled, than it is through the more densely inhabited regions of the East and North. Yet it is in a high degree important to the whole country that the forest and the prairie be subjected to the hand of cultivation.

§ 4. And who will become pioneer, if he must be shut out from all communication with that world which he has left behind? Hardly one in a thousand of the hardy, industrious settlers who have peopled the Western and South-western States would have left their homes in the East to undergo the privations of a new country, were there no facilities for the transmission of intelligence to and from the friends of other days.

§ 5. The general superintendence and direction of the post-office department is under the care of the Postmaster-General. He has the establishing of post-offices, appoints most of the postmasters, and has the letting of the contracts for carrying the mails. For some of the larger offices, to the number of nearly a thousand, the appointments of postmasters is made on nomination of the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

§ 6. Few of the pupils, or even of the teachers, of the common schools of the present day, remember the days of dear postage. Until 1845, postage was much higher than at present Letter postage was as follows :— Each letter conveyed less than 30 miles . . 6 cts.

"" "over 30 and less than 80 miles . 10 cts.

"" " "80 and less than 150 miles 12£ cts.

"" " "150 and less than 400 miles 18f cts.

"" 'i "400 miles ... 25 cts

§ 7. March 3,1845, Congress passed an act reducing the rates of letter postage thus :— Each letter or package weighing less than half an ounce,

if carried less than 300 miles .... 5 cts. Over 300 miles 10 cts.

§ 8. At the second session of the Thirty-first Congress, which convened Dec. 2, 1850, another act was passed, reducing still lower the price of letter postage, to take effect July 1,1851. Und« this act, —

Each letter prepaid, weighing not over half an ounce, and conveyed not over 3,000 miles, wholly within the United States . . . . . . . 3 cts

When the same shall not be prepaid . . . . 5 cts

For any distance exceeding 3,000 miles, double these rates.

Double weight (that is, one ounce), double charges; triple weight, triple charges; and so on; every additional weight of half an ounce or less to be charged with an additional single postage.

For letters sent to foreign countries, various rates were established (higher than these), the rates depending on the countries to which the letters are sent.

§ 9. When at first cheap postage was established, there was a great deficiency in the finances of the post-office department for several years. The income did not equal the expenses until 1861, when the mails were withdrawn from the disaffected States of the South. On account of the less expense of transporting the mails at the North in proportion to receipts, the post-office department exhibited a better financial condition after the mails were withdrawn from the Southern Slates.

§ 10. The report of the Postmaster-General, dated Nov., 1882, showed that there were in the United States, June 30, 1882, 46,231 post-offices. The receipts from all sources during the year were $41,876,410. The expenditures for the same time were $40,039,635. Eeceipts over expenditures, $1,836,775.

§ 11. This exhibit led Congress, in February, 1883, to enact that after October 1, 1883, the rate of letter postage to any part of the United States should be only 2 cents. The introduction of cheap postage has encouraged and stimulated correspondence of all kinds to such extent as to secure this result. Some idea may be formed of the progress of the postal system in this country, when it is known, that, at the adoption of our Constitution in 1789, there were but seventy-five post-offices in the United States. But now, less than 100 years from its establishment, trie number has been extended to over 46,000. In 1790, the receipts of the department were $37,935; in 1882, over forty millions. The aggregate number of miles traveled in carrying the mail, in 1790, was 7,365; in 1882, over 150 millions.


§ 12. It has not been necessary, except in a few instances, that Congress should exercise their power to establish post-roads. In some cases, however, this power has been found necessary, and Congress has used it. But generally the roads already opened by the inhabitants of the country through which the mails are conveyed have been found sufficient. They are regularly selected, and declared, however, to be post-roads, before being used as such. The waters on our rivers and lakes, over which travel is public and regular, are, in many instances, established as post-roads in this way.

§ 13. June 30, 1882, there were over 10,000 mail-routes in operation within the limits of the United States. The aggregate length of these mail-routes is 343,618 miles. The aggregate cost of carrying the mails over these routes for the year ending June 30, 1882, was 22,846,112. The mails are carried by private individuals, or by railroad or steamboat companies, the contract being made with the Postmaster-General in behalf of the United States. He advertises for bidders, and lets the contract in each case to the lowest responsible bidder. Bonds are given by the mail-carriers to the government, 'with good and acceptable sureties, for the faithful execution of the contract. Those who are in immediate charge of the mails are sworn to the faithful discharge of their duties.


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