An act in addition to the act intituled, "An act for
the punishment of certain crimes against the United States."
[Approved July 14, 1798.]
SECTION I. Punishes combinations against United States government.
1. Definition of offence:
Unlawfully to combine or conspire together to oppose any measure of the
government of the United States, &c. This section was not complained of.
2. Grade of offence:
A high misdemeanour.
Fine not exceeding $5000, and imprisonment six months to five years.
SECTION II. Punishes seditious writings.
1. Definition of offence:
To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it,
any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the
United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to
defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either
the hatred of the people of the United States, or to stir up sedition, or to
excite unlawful combinations against the government, or to resist it, or to aid
or encourage hostile designs of foreign nations.
2. Grade of offence:
Fine not exceeding $2000, and imprisonment not exceeding two years.
SECTION III. Allows accused to give in evidence the truth of the matter
charged as libellous.
SECTION IV. Continues the Act to 3d March, 1801.
SECTION 1.Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled.
That if any persons shall unlawfully combine or conspire together, with intent
to oppose any measure or measures of the government of the United States, which
are or shall be directed by proper authority, or to impede the operation of any
law of the United States, or to intimidate or prevent any person holding a
place or office in or under the government of the United States, from
undertaking, performing, or executing his trust or duty: and if any person or
persons, with intent as aforesaid, shall counsel, advise, or attempt to procure
any insurrection, riot, unlawful assembly, or combination, whether such
conspiracy, threatening, counsel, advice, or attempt shall have the proposed
effect or not, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanour, and on
conviction before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof,
shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and by
imprisonment during a term of not less than six months, nor exceeding five
years; and further, at the discretion of the court, may be holden to find
sureties for his good behaviour, in such sum, and for such time, as the said
court may direct.
SECT. 2.And be it further enacted, That if any person shall
write, print, utter, or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written,
printed, uttered, or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid
in writing, printing, uttering, or publishing any false, scandalous and
malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or
either House of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the
United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either House of
the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them,
into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of
them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up
sedition within the United States; or to excite any unlawful combinations
therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of
the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of
the powers in him vested by the Constitution of the United States; or to
resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act; or to aid, encourage or abet any
hostile designs of any foreign nation against the United States, their people
or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of
the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not
exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.
SECT. 3.And be it further enacted and declared, That if any
person shall be prosecuted under this act for the writing or publishing any
libel aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the defendant, upon the trial of the
cause, to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in
the publication charged as a libel. And the jury who shall try the cause shall
have a right to determine the law and the fact, under the direction of the
court, as in other cases.
SECT. 4.And be it further enacted, That this act shall
continue and be in force until the third day of March, one thousand eight
hundred and one, and no longer: Provided, That the expiration of the act
shall not prevent or defeat a prosecution and punishment of any offence against
the law, during the time it shall be in force.
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