Imágenes de páginas

able purpose, in order to constitute a levying of war. If war be actually levied, all those who perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are really leagued in the general attempt, are to be considered as traitors.

§ 536. Treason is the highest crime against a government, for it is a breach of allegiance; and history shows that in other countries, during times of great political excitement, there is a strong tendency to raise lower offences up to the grade of treason, and punish them as such. It was to prevent this that the Constitution defines particularly what shall constitute treason.

§ 537. It was the same spirit of moderation and caution which led to the other part of the clause, requiring the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt or open act, or else a confession in open court, to justify a conviction for treason. The clearest evidence of guilt is required, because the offence is one of the most serious character.

[Clause 2.] "The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

§ 538. An act of Congress passed in 1790, declares that the punishment of treason shall be death by hanging,

The same act provides that whoever has knowledge of the commission of treason against the United States, and shall conceal, and not, as soon as may be, disclose the same to the President of the United States, or to one of the federal judges, or to the governor or a judge of a particular State, shall, on conviction thereof, suffer an imprisonment not exceeding seven years, and be fined not exceeding one thousand dollars. A knowledge and con

cealment of treason, without assenting to it, is termed misprision of treason.

$539. When sentence of death was pronounced, especially after conviction of treason, its consequence, by the ancient law of England, was attainder, and the criminal was said, as a mark of infamy, to become attaint, signifying stained or blackened.

§ 540. Attainder led to a forfeiture of all the lands and personal property of the criminal, to the king; also to what was termed corruption of blood, which disabled the attainted person from inheriting lands from his ancestors, or retaining those he was already in possession of, or transmitting them by descent to his heirs.

§ 541. The result of such attainder and corruption of blood, was really to inflict penalties after the death of the criminal, upon his descendants, for the crime of their ancestor. The Constitution humanely limits the effect of this punishment to the offender himself during his life-time, for it declares that no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.

§ 542. The clause, however, does not make attainder and corruption of blood a part of the punishment of treason; it simply enacts that Congress shall declare what the punishment of treason shall be, and limits the effect of attainder, should that be made a part of the punishment, to the life of the person attainted. Congress, by an act passed in 1790, enacted that no conviction or judgment for any capital or other offences, shall work corruption of blood, or any forfeiture of estate.




THIS article consists of several miscellaneous provisions, which do not fall appropriately within either one of the three preceding articles.

"SECTION. 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."

§ 543. As a general rule, the courts of one country are not bound to take judicial notice of the acts, records, and proceedings of the courts of a foreign country, or to admit their validity or authority. This rule would produce much inconvenience if applied to the States composing the Union. The Constitution has, therefore, adopted a different principle, and has declared that full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State.

§ 544. Congress, in pursuance of the power here given to pass general laws on the subject, by an act of May 26, 1790, provided a mode by which records and judicial proceedings should be authenticated; namely, by the attesta

[ocr errors]

tion of the clerk and the seal of the court annexed, if there be a seal, together with a certificate of the judge, chief justice, or presiding magistrate, as the case may be, that the attestation is in due form.

§ 545. Records and judicial proceedings, when thus authenticated, are to have such faith and credit given to them in every court within the United States, as they have by law or usage in the courts of the State from whence they are taken.

SECTION. 2. [Clause 1.] "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States."

§ 546. In a Union composed of many States, great difficulties would arise if the citizens of one State were treated as aliens or foreigners, in all the other States. Commercial transactions, the right to make contracts or to hold lands, and the travel, intercourse, and traffic, between the several States, would be seriously embarrassed and obstructed. It was to prevent the occurrence of such evils, that the Constitution wisely extends to the citizens of each State, the privileges and immunities of citizens in the other States.

[Clause 2.] "A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime."

§ 547. If persons committing a crime in one State could, by fleeing into another State, avoid an arrest, justice would

be often defeated and offenders go unpunished. A clause quite similar to the present existed in the Articles of Confederation, (Art. 4, § 2.)

§ 548. In 1793, Congress passed an act to regulate the proceedings when a fugitive from justice is demanded. It declares that whenever the executive authority of any State shall demand any person as a fugitive from justice, of the executive authority of any State to which such person has fled, and shall produce a copy of the indictment found, or an affidavit made before a judge or magistrate of such State, charging the person so demanded with having committed treason, felony, or other crime, certified as authentic by the chief magistrate of the State or territory whence the person so charged has fled, it shall be the duty of the executive authority to cause the fugitive to be arrested and secured, and delivered to the executive authority making the demand, or his agent.

§ 549. The ordinary form of requisition in use by the executives of the several States, comprises, first, a demand upon the governor of the State to which the fugitive is alleged to have fled, for his surrender; secondly, a power to an agent, therein named, authorizing him to keep and secure the fugitive when surrendered; thirdly, affidavits or a bill of indictment, setting forth the offence with which the fugitive is charged; fourthly, an affidavit to the effect that the defendant has fled from the justice of one State, to another; and fifthly, a certificate of authentication by the governor issuing the requisition. Thereupon the executive on whom the requisition is made generally issues his warrant for the arrest of the alleged fugitive, who is delivered over, for trial in the State where the crime was committed.

« AnteriorContinuar »