Search Supreme Court Cases
COHENS V. VIRGINIA, 19 U. S. 264 (1821)
U.S. Supreme Court
Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 6 Wheat. 264 264 (1821)
Cohens v. Virginia
19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 264
This Court has, constitutionally, appellate jurisdiction under the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20, § 25, from the final judgment or decree of the highest court of law or equity of a state, having jurisdiction of the subject matter of the suit, where is drawn in question the validity of a treaty, or statute of, or an authority exercised under, the United State, and the decision is against their validity; or where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under, any state, on the ground of their being repugnant to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States, and the decision is in favor of such, their validity; or of the constitution, or of treaty, or statute of, or commission held under the United States, and the decision is against the title, right, privilege, or exemption specially set up or claimed, by either party under such clause of the constitution, treaty, statute, or commission.
It is no objection to the exercise of this appellate jurisdiction that one of the parties is a state and the other a citizen of that state.
The act of Congress of the 4th of May, 1812, entitled "an act further to amend the charter of the City of Washington," which provides, (§ 6) that the corporation of the city shall be empowered, for certain purposes, and under certain restrictions, to authorize the drawing of lotteries, does not extend to authorize the corporation to force the sale of the tickets in such lottery in states where such sale may be prohibited by the state laws.
This was a writ of error to the Quarterly Session Court for the borough of Norfolk, in the State of Virginia, under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20, it being the highest Court of law or equity of that State having jurisdiction of the case.
"Pleas at the Court House of Norfolk borough, before the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen of the said borough, on Saturday, the second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty, and in the forty-fifth year of the Commonwealth."
"Be it remembered, that heretofore, to-wit, at a Quarterly Session Court, held the twenty-sixth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and twenty, the grand jury, duly summoned and impaneled for the said borough of Norfolk, and sworn and charged according to law, made a presentment in these words:"
" We present P. J. and M. J. Cohen, for vending and selling two halves and four quarter lottery tickets of the National Lottery, to be drawn at Washington, to William H. Jennings, at their office at the corner of Maxwell's wharf, contrary to the act thus made and provided in that case, since January, 1820. On the information of William H. Jennings. "
"Whereupon the regular process of law was awarded against the said defendants, to answer the said presentment, returnable to the next succeeding term, which was duly returned by the Sergeant of the borough of Norfolk -- 'Executed.'"
And at another Quarterly Session Court, held for the said borough of Norfolk, the twenty-ninth day of August, one thousand eight hundred and twenty, came as well the attorney prosecuting for the Commonwealth in this Court as the defendants, by their attorney, and on the motion of the said attorney, leave is given by the Court to file an information against the defendants on the presentment aforesaid, which was accordingly filed, and is in these words:
" Norfolk borough, to-wit: Be it remembered, that James Nimmo, attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the Court of the said borough of Norfolk, cometh into Court, in his proper person, and with leave of the Court, giveth the said Court to understand and be informed that, by an act of the General Assembly of the said Commonwealth of Virginia entitled, 'An act to reduce into one the several acts, and parts of acts to prevent unlawful gaming.' It is, among other things, enacted and declared, that no person or persons shall buy, or sell, within the said Commonwealth, any lottery, or part or share of a lottery ticket, except in such lottery or lotteries as may be authorized by the laws thereof, and the said James Nimmo, as attorney aforesaid, further giveth the Court to understand and be informed, that P. J. and M. J. Cohen, traders and partners, late of the parish of Elizabeth River, and
borough of Norfolk aforesaid, being evil disposed persons, and totally regardless of the laws and statutes of the said Commonwealth, since the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty, that is to say, on the first day of June, in that year, and within the said Commonwealth of Virginia, to-wit, at the parish of Elizabeth River, in the said borough of Norfolk, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, did then and there unlawfully vend, sell, and deliver to a certain William H. Jennings, two half lottery tickets, and four quarter lottery tickets, of the National Lottery, to be drawn in the City of Washington, that being a lottery not authorized by the laws of this Commonwealth, to the evil example of all other persons, in the like case offending, and against the form of the act of the General Assembly, in that case made and provided."
JAMES NIMMO, for the Commonwealth.
"And at this same Quarterly Session Court, continued by adjournment, and held for the said borough of Norfolk, the second day of September, eighteen hundred and twenty, came, as well the attorney prosecuting for the Commonwealth, in this Court, as the defendants, by their attorney, and the said defendants, for plea, say, that they are not guilty in manner and form as in the information against them is alleged, and of this they put themselves upon the country, and the attorney for the Commonwealth doth the same; whereupon a case
was agreed by them to be argued in lieu of a special verdict, and is in these words:"
"Commonwealth against Cohens -- case agreed."
"In this case, the following statement is admitted and agreed by the parties in lieu of a special verdict: that the defendants, on the first day of June, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and twenty, within the borough of Norfolk, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, sold to William H. Jennings a lottery ticket in the lottery called and denominated the National Lottery, to be drawn in the City of Washington, within the District of Columbia."
"That the General Assembly of the State of Virginia enacted a statute, or act of Assembly, which went into operation on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord 1820, and which is still unrepealed, in the words following."
" No person, in order to raise money for himself or another, shall, publicly or privately, put up a lottery to be drawn or adventured for, or any prize or thing to be raffled or played for, and whosoever shall offend herein shall forfeit the whole sum of money proposed to be raised by such lottery, raffling or playing, to be recovered by action of debt in the name of anyone who shall sue for the same, or by indictment or information in the name of the Commonwealth, in either case, for the use and benefit of the literary fund. Nor shall any person or persons buy or sell within this Commonwealth any lottery ticket, or part or share of a lottery ticket, except in such lottery or lotteries as may be authorized by the laws
thereof; and any person or persons offending herein, shall forfeit and pay, for every such offence, the sum of one hundred dollars, to be recovered and appropriated in manner last aforesaid."
"That the Congress of the United States enacted a statute on the third day of May, in the year of our Lord 1802, entitled, An Act, &c. in the words and figures following:"
" An Act to incorporate the inhabitants of the City of Washington, in the District of Columbia."
" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the inhabitants of the City of Washington be constituted a body politic and corporate, by the name of a Mayor and Council of the City of Washington, and by their corporate name may sue and be sued, implead and be impleaded, grant, receive, and do all other acts as natural persons, and may purchase and hold real, personal and mixed property, or dispose of the same for the benefit of the said city, and may have and use a city seal, which may be altered at pleasure. The City of Washington shall be divided into three divisions or wards, as now divided by the Levy Court for the county, for the purposes of assessment; but the number may be increased hereafter, as in the wisdom of the City Council shall seem most conducive to the general interest and convenience."
" Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the Council of the City of Washington shall consist of twelve
members, residents of the city, and upwards of twenty-five years of age, to be divided into two chambers; the first chamber to consist of seven members, and the second chamber of five members; the second chamber to be chosen from the whole number of councillors, elected by their joint ballot. The City Council to be elected annually by ballot, in a general ticket, by the free white male inhabitants of full age, who have resided twelve months in the city, and paid taxes therein the year preceding the elections being held: the justices of the county of Washington, resident in the city, or any three of them, to preside as judges of election, with such associates as the council may from time to time appoint."
" Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the first election of members of the City Council, shall be held on the first Monday in June next, and in every year afterwards, at such place in each ward as the judges of the election may prescribe."
" Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the polls shall be kept open from eight o'clock in the morning, till seven o'clock in the evening, and no longer, for the reception of ballots. On the closing of the poll, the judges shall close and seal their ballot boxes, and meet on the day following, in the presence of the Marshal of the District, on the first election, and the council afterwards, when the seals shall be broken, and the votes counted: within three days after such election, they shall give notice to the persons having the greatest number of legal votes, that they are duly elected, and shall make their return to the Mayor of the city. "
" Sec. 5. And be it. further enacted, That the Mayor of the city shall be appointed annually by the President of the United States; he must be a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the city prior to his appointment."
" Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the City Council shall hold their sessions in the City Hall, or until such building is erected, in such place as the Mayor may provide for that purpose, on the second Monday in June, in each year; but the Mayor may convene them oftener, if the public good require their deliberations; three fourths of the members of each Council, may be a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day: they may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner, and under such penalties, as they may, by ordinance, provide: they shall appoint their respective Presidents, who shall preside during their sessions, and shall vote on all questions where there is an equal division: they shall settle their rules of proceedings, appoint their own officers, regulate their respective fees, and remove them at pleasure: they shall judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their own members, and may, with the concurrence of three-fourths of the whole, expel any member for disorderly behaviour, or malconduct in office, but not a second time for the same offence: they shall keep a journal of their proceedings, and enter the yeas and nays on any question, resolve or ordinance, at the request of any member, and their deliberations shall be public. The Mayor shall appoint to all offices under the Corporation. All ordinances
or acts passed by the City Council, shall be sent to the Mayor for his approbation, and when approved by him, shall then be obligatory as such. But, if the said Mayor shall not approve of such ordinance or act, he shall return the same within five days, with his reasons in writing therefor; and if three-fourths of both branches of the City Council, on reconsideration thereof, approve of the same, it shall be in force in like manner as if he had approved it, unless the City Council, by their adjournment, prevent its return."
" Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the Corporation aforesaid shall have full power and authority to pass all by-laws and ordinances to prevent and remove nuisances; to prevent the introduction of contagious diseases within the City; to establish night watches or patrols, and erect lamps; to regulate the stationing, anchorage, and mooring of vessels; to provide for licensing and regulating auctions, retailers of liquors, hackney carriages, waggons, carts and drays, and pawn-brokers within the city; to restrain or prohibit gambling, and to provide for licensing, regulating, or restraining theatrical or other public amusements within the City; to regulate and establish markets; to erect and repair bridges; to keep in repair all necessary streets, avenues, drains and sewers, and to pass regulations necessary for the preservation of the same, agreeably to the plan of the said City; to provide for the safe keeping of the standard of weights and measures fixed by Congress, and for the regulation of all weights and measures used in the City; to provide
for the licensing and regulating the sweeping of chimneys, and fixing the rates thereof; to establish and regulate fire wards and fire companies; to regulate and establish the size of bricks that are to be made and used in the City; to sink wells, and erect and repair pumps in the streets; to impose and appropriate fines, penalties and forfeitures for breach of their ordinances; to lay and collect taxes; to enact by-laws for the prevention and extinguishment of fires; and to pass all ordinances necessary to give effect and operation to all the powers vested in the Corporation of the City of Washington: Provided, That the by-laws, or ordinances of the said Corporation, shall be in no wise obligatory upon the persons of nonresidents of the said City, unless in cases of intentional violation of the by-laws or ordinances previously promulgated. All the fines, penalties and forfeitures imposed by the Corporation of the City of Washington, if not exceeding twenty dollars, shall be recovered before a single magistrate, as small debts are by law recoverable; and if such fines, penalties and forfeitures, exceed the sum of twenty dollars, the same shall be recovered by action of debt, in the District Court of Columbia, for the County of Washington, in the name of the Corporation, and for the use of the City of Washington."
" Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That the person or persons appointed to collect any tax imposed in virtue of the powers granted by this Act shall have authority to collect the same by distress and sale of the goods and chattels of the person chargeable therewith; no sale shall be made unless ten days'
previous notice thereof be given: no law shall be passed by the City Council subjecting vacant or unimproved city lots, or parts of lots, to be sold for taxes."
" Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That the City Council shall provide for the support of the poor, infirm and diseased of the City."
" Sec. 10. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That no tax shall be imposed by the City Council on real property in the said City, at any higher rate than three quarters of one per centum on the assessment valuation of such property."
" Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That this Act shall be in force for two years from the passing thereof, and from thence to the end of the next session of Congress thereafter, and no longer."
"And another act, on the 23d day of February, 1804, entitled 'An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled, an Act to incorporate the inhabitants of the City of Washington, in the District of Columbia.'"
" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the Act, entitled, an Act to incorporate the inhabitants of the City of Washington, in the District of Columbia, except so much of the same as is consistent with the provisions of this Act, be, and the same is hereby continued in force, for and during the term of fifteen years from the end of the next session of Congress."
" Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the Council of the City of Washington, from and after the
period for which the members of the present Council have been elected, shall consist of two chambers, each of which shall be composed of nine members, to be chosen by distinct ballots, according to the directions of the Act to which this is a supplement; a majority of each chamber shall constitute a quorum to do business. In case vacancies shall occur in the Council, the chamber in which the same may happen shall supply the same by an election by ballot from the three persons next highest on the list to those elected at the preceding election, and a majority of the whole number of the chamber in which such vacancy may happen, shall be necessary to make an election."
" Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the Council shall have power to establish and regulate the inspection of flour, tobacco, and salted provisions, the gauging of casks and liquors, the storage of gunpowder, and all naval and military stores, not the property of the United States, to regulate the weight and quality of bread, to tax and license hawkers and peddlers, to restrain or prohibit tippling houses, lotteries, and all kinds of gaming, to superintend the health of the City, to preserve the navigation of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers adjoining the City, to erect, repair, and regulate public wharves, and to deepen docks and basins, to provide for the establishment and superintendence of public schools, to license and regulate, exclusively, hackney coaches, ordinary keepers, retailers and ferries, to provide for the appointment of inspectors, constables, and such other officers as may be necessary to execute the
laws of the Corporation, and to give such compensation to the Mayor of the City as they may deem fit."
" Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Levy Court of the county of Washington shall not hereafter possess the power of imposing any tax on the inhabitants of the City of Washington."
"That the Congress of the United States, on the 4th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1812, enacted another statute, entitled, An Act further to amend the Charter of the City of Washington."
" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That from and after the first Monday in June next, the Corporation of the City of Washington shall be composed of a Mayor, a Board of Aldermen, and a Board of Common Council, to be elected by ballot, as hereafter directed; the Board of Aldermen shall consist of eight members, to be elected for two years, two to be residents of, and chosen from, each ward, by the qualified voters therein; and the Board of Common Council shall consist of twelve members, to be elected for one year, three to be residents of, and chosen from, each ward, in manner aforesaid: and each board shall meet at the Council Chamber on the second Monday in June next, (for the despatch of business) at ten o'clock in the morning, and on the same day, and at the same hour, annually, thereafter. A majority of each board shall be necessary to form a quorum to do business, but a less number may adjourn from day to day. The Board of Aldermen, immediately after they shall
have assembled in consequence of the first election, shall divide themselves by lot into two classes; the seats of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of one year, and the seats of the second class shall be vacated at the expiration of two years, so that one half may be chosen every year. Each board shall appoint its own President from among its own members, who shall preside during the sessions of the board, and shall have a casting vote on all questions where there is an equal division; provided such equality shall not have been occasioned by his previous vote."
" Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That no person shall be eligible to a seat in the Board of Aldermen or Board of Common Council, unless he shall be more than twenty-five years of age, a free white male citizen of the United States, and shall have been a resident of the City of Washington one whole year next preceding the day of the election; and shall, at the time of his election, be a resident of the ward for which he shall be elected, and possessed of a freehold estate in the said City of Washington, and shall have been assessed two months preceding the day of election. And every free white male citizen of lawful age, who shall have resided in the City of Washington for the space of one year next preceding the day of election, and shall be a resident of the ward in which he shall offer to vote, and who shall have been assessed on the books of the Corporation, not less than two months prior to the day of election, shall be qualified to vote for members to serve in the said Board of Aldermen and Board of Common
Council, and no other person whatever shall exercise the right of suffrage at such election."
" Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the present Mayor of the City of Washington shall be, and continue such, until the second Monday in June next, on which day, and on the second Monday in June annually thereafter, the Mayor of the said City shall be elected by ballot of the Board of Aldermen and Board of Common Council, in joint meeting, and a majority of the votes of all the members of both boards shall be necessary to a choice; and if there should be an equality of votes between two persons after the third ballot, the two houses shall determine by lot. He shall, before he enters upon the duties of his office, take an oath or affirmation in the presence of both boards, 'lawfully to execute the duties of his office to the best of his skill and judgment, without favour or partiality.' He shall, ex officio, have, and exercise all the powers, authority, and jurisdiction of a Justice of the Peace, for the County of Washington, within the said county. He shall nominate, and with the consent of a majority of the members of the Board of Aldermen, appoint to all offices under the Corporation (except the commissioners of elections), and every such officer shall be removed from office on the concurrent remonstrance of a majority of the two boards. He shall see that the laws of the Corporation be duly executed, and shall report the negligence or misconduct of any officer to the two boards. He shall appoint proper persons to fill up all vacancies during the recess of the Board of Aldermen, to hold such
appointment until the end of the then ensuing session. He shall have power to convene the two Boards, when, in his opinion, the good of the community may require it, and he shall lay before them, from time to time, in writing, such alterations in the laws of the Corporation as he shall deem necessary and proper, and shall receive for his services annually, a just and reasonable compensation, to be allowed and fixed by the two boards, which shall neither be increased or diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected. Any person shall be eligible to the office of Mayor who is a free white male citizen of the United States, who shall have attained to the age of thirty years, and who shall be a bona fide owner of a freehold estate in the said City, and shall have been a resident in the said City two years immediately preceding his election, and no other person shall be eligible to the said office. In case of the refusal of any person to accept the office of Mayor, upon his election thereto, or of his death, resignation, inability or removal from the City, the said two boards shall elect another in his place, to serve the remainder of the year."
" Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the first election for members of the Board of Aldermen, and Board of Common Council, shall be held on the first Monday in June next, and on the first Monday in June annually thereafter. The first election to be held by three commissioners to be appointed in each ward by the Mayor of the City, and at such place in each ward as he may direct; and all subsequent elections shall be held by a like number
of Commissioners, to be appointed in each ward by the two boards, in joint meeting, which several appointments, except the first, shall be at least ten days previous to the day of each election. And it shall be the duty of the Mayor for the first election, and of the commissioners for all subsequent elections, to give at least five days public notice of the place in each ward where such elections are to be held. The said commissioners shall, before they receive any ballot, severally take the following oath or affirmation, to be administered by the Mayor of the City, or any Justice of the Peace for the county of Washington: 'I, A. B. do solemnly swear or affirm, (as the case may be) that I will truly and faithfully receive, and return the votes of such persons as are by law entitled to vote for members of the Board of Aldermen, and Board of Common Council, in ward No. ___, according to the best of my judgment and understanding, and that I will not, knowingly, receive or return the vote of any person who is not legally entitled to the same, so help me God.' The polls shall be opened at ten o'clock in the morning, and be closed at seven o'clock in the evening, of the same day. Immediately on closing the polls, the commissioners of each ward, or a majority of them, shall count the ballots, and make out under their hands and seals a correct return of the two persons for the first election, and of the one person for all subsequent elections, having the greatest number of legal votes, together with the number of votes given to each, as members of the Board of Aldermen: and of the three persons having the greatest number of legal
votes, together with the number of votes given to each, as Members of the Board of Common Council. And the two persons at the first election, and the one person at all subsequent elections, having the greatest number of legal votes for the Board of Aldermen; and the three persons having the greatest number of legal votes for the Board of Common Council, shall be duly elected; and in all cases of an equality of votes, the commissioners shall decide by lot. The said returns shall be delivered to the Mayor of the City, on the succeeding day, who shall cause the same to be published in some newspaper printed in the city of Washington. A duplicate return, together with a list of the persons who voted at such election, shall also be made by the said commissioners, to the Register of the City, on the day succeeding the election, who shall preserve and record the same, and shall, within two days thereafter, notify the several persons so returned, of their election; and each board shall judge of the legality of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and shall supply vacancies in its own body, by causing elections to be made to fill the same, in the ward, and for the Board in which such vacancies shall happen, giving at least five days notice previous thereto; and each Board shall have full power to pass all rules necessary and requisite to enable itself to come to a just decision in cases of a contested election of its own members: and the several members of each Board shall, before entering upon the duties of their office, take the following oath or affirmation:
'I do swear (or solemnly, sincerely, and truly affirm and declare, as the case may be) that I will faithfully execute the office of to the best of my knowledge and ability,' which oath or affirmation shall be administered by the Mayor, or some Justice of the Peace, for the county of Washington."
" Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That in addition to the powers heretofore granted to the Corporation of the City of Washington, by an act, entitled, 'An Act to incorporate the inhabitants of the City of Washington, in the District of Columbia,' and an act, entitled, 'An Act, supplementary to an act, entitled, an act to incorporate the inhabitants of the City of Washington, in the District of Columbia,' the said Corporation shall have power to lay taxes on particular wards, parts, or sections of the City, for their particular local improvements."
" That after providing for all objects of a general nature, the taxes raised on the assessable property in each ward, shall be expended therein, and in no other; in regulating, filling up and repairing of streets and avenues, building of bridges, sinking of wells, erecting pumps, and keeping them in repair; in conveying water in pumps, and in the preservation of springs; in erecting and repairing wharves; in providing fire engines and other apparatus for the extinction of fires, and for other local improvements and purposes, in such manner as the said Board of Aldermen and Board of Common Council shall provide; but the sums raised for the support of the poor,
aged and infirm, shall be a charge on each ward in proportion to its population or taxation, as the two Boards shall decide. That whenever the proprietors of two-thirds of the inhabited houses, fronting on both sides of a street, or part of a street, shall by petition to the two branches, express the desire of improving the same, by laying the curbstone of the foot pavement, and paving the gutters or carriage way thereof, or otherwise improving said street, agreeably to its graduation, the said Corporation shall have power to cause to be done at any expense, not exceeding two dollars and fifty cents per front foot, of the lots fronting on such improved street or part of a street, and charge the same to the owners of the lots fronting on said street, or part of a street, in due proportion; and also on a like petition to provide for erecting lamps for lighting any street or part of a street, and to defray the expense thereof by a tax on the proprietors or inhabitants of such houses, in proportion to their rental or valuation, as the two Boards shall decide."
" Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the said Corporation shall have full power and authority to erect and establish hospitals or pest houses, work houses, houses of correction, penitentiary, and other public buildings for the use of the City, and to lay and collect taxes for the defraying the expenses thereof; to regulate party and other fences, and to determine by whom the same shall be made and kept in repair; to lay open streets, avenues, lanes and alleys, and to regulate or prohibit all inclosures thereof, and to occupy and improve for public purposes, by
and with the consent of the President of the United States, any part of the public and open spaces or squares in said city, not interfering with any private rights; to regulate the measurement of, and weight, by which all articles brought into the city for sale shall be disposed of; to provide for the appointment of appraisers, and measurers of builders' work and materials, and also of wood, coal, grain and lumber; to restrain and prohibit the nightly and other disorderly meetings of slaves, free negroes and mulattoes, and to punish such slaves by whipping, not exceeding forty stripes, or by imprisonment not exceeding six calendar months, for any one offence; and to punish such free negroes and mulattoes for such offences, by fixed penalties, not exceeding twenty dollars for any one offence; and in case of inability of any such free negro or mulatto to pay and satisfy and such penalty and costs thereon, to cause such free negro or mulatto to be confined to labour for such reasonable time, not exceeding six calendar months, for any one offence, as may be deemed equivalent to such penalty and costs; to cause all vagrants, idle or disorderly persons, all persons of evil life or ill fame, and all such as have no visible means of support, or are likely to become chargeable to the City as paupers, or are found begging or drunk in or about the streets, or loitering in or about tippling houses, or who can show no reasonable cause of business or employment in the City; and all suspicious persons, and all who have no fixed place of residence, or cannot give a good account of themselves, all eves-droppers and night walkers, all who
are guilty of open profanity, or grossly indecent language or behaviour publicly in the streets, all public prostitutes, and such as lead a notoriously lewd or lascivious course of life, and all such as keep public gaming tables, or gaming houses, to give security for their good behaviour for a reasonable time, and to indemnify the City against any charge for their support, and in case of their refusal or inability to give such security, to cause them to be confined to labour for a limited time, not exceeding one year at a time, unless such security should be sooner given. But if they shall afterwards be found again offending, such security may be again required, and for want thereof, the like proceedings may again be had, from time to time, as often as may be necessary; to prescribe the terms and conditions upon which free negroes and mulattoes, and others who can show no visible means of support, may reside in the City; to cause the avenues, streets, lanes and alleys to be kept clean, and to appoint officers for that purpose. To authorize the drawing of lotteries for effecting any important improvement in the City, which the ordinary funds or revenue thereof will not accomplish. Provided, That the amount to be raised in each year, shall not exceed the sum of ten thousand dollars: And provided also, that the object for which the money is intended to be raised shall be first submitted to the President of the United States, and shall be approved of by him. To take care of, preserve and regulate the several burying grounds within the City; to provide for registering of births, deaths and marriages; to cause abstracts or minutes
of all transfers of real property, both freehold and leasehold, to be lodged in the Registry of the City, at stated periods; to authorize night watches and patroles, and the taking up and confining by them, in the night time, of all suspected persons; to punish by law corporally any servant or slave guilty of a breach of any of their by-laws or ordinances, unless the owner or holder of such servant or slave shall pay the fine annexed to the offence; and to pass all laws which shall be deemed necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested in the Corporation, or any of its officers, either by this act, or any former act."
" Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the Marshal of the District of Columbia shall receive, and safely keep, within the jail for Washington county, at the expense of the City, all persons committed thereto under the sixth section of this act, until other arrangements be made by the Corporation for the confinement of offenders, within the provisions of the said section; and in all cases where suit shall be brought before a Justice of the Peace, for the recovery of any fine or penalty arising or incurred for a breach of any by-law or ordinance of the Corporation, upon a return of 'nulla bona' to any fieri facias issued against the property of the defendant or defendants, it shall be the duty of the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the County of Washington, when required, to issue a writ of capias ad satisfaciendum against every such defendant, returnable to the next Circuit Court for the County of Washington thereafter,
and which shall be proceeded on as in other writs of the like kind."
" Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That unimproved lots in the City of Washington, on which two years taxes remain due and unpaid, or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay such taxes, may be sold at public sale for such taxes due thereon: Provided, that public notice be given of the time and place of sale, by advertising in some newspaper printed in the City of Washington, at least six months, where the property belongs to persons residing out of the United States; three months where the property belongs to persons residing in the United States, but without the limits of the District of Columbia; and six weeks where the property belongs to persons residing within the District of Columbia or City of Washington; in which notice shall be stated the number of the lot or lots, the number of the square or squares, the name of the person or persons to whom the same may have been assessed, and also the amount of taxes due thereon: And provided, also, that the purchaser shall not be obliged to pay at the time of such sale, more than the taxes due, and the expenses of sale; and that, if within two years from the day of such sale, the proprietor or proprietors of such lot or lots, or his or their heirs, representatives, or agents, shall repay to such purchaser the moneys paid for the taxes and expenses as aforesaid, together with ten per centum per annum as interest thereon, or make a tender of the same, he shall be reinstated in his original right and title; but if no such payment or tender be made
within two years next after the said sale, then the purchaser shall pay the balance of the purchase money of such lot or lots into the City Treasury, where it shall remain subject to the order of the original proprietor or proprietors, his or their heirs, or legal representatives; and the purchaser shall receive a title in fee simple to the said lot or lots, under the hand of the Mayor, and seal of the Corporation, which shall be deemed good and valid in law and equity."
" Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That the said Corporation shall, in future, be named and styled, 'The Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of the City of Washington;' and that if there shall have been a non-election or informality of a City Council, on the first Monday in June last, it shall not be taken, construed, or adjudged, in any manner, to have operated as a dissolution of the said Corporation, or to affect any of its rights, privileges, or laws passed previous to the second Monday in June last, but the same are hereby declared to exist in full force."
" Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That the Corporation shall, from time to time, cause the several wards of the City to be so located, as to give, as nearly as may be, an equal number of votes to each ward; and it shall be the duty of the Register of the City, or such officer as the Corporation may hereafter appoint, to furnish the commissioners of election for each ward, on the first Monday in June, annually, previous to the opening of the polls, a list of the persons having a right to vote, agreeably to the provisions of the second section of this act. "
" Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That so much of any former act as shall be repugnant to the provisions of this act, be, and the same is hereby repealed."
"Which statutes are still in force and unrepealed. That the lottery, denominated the National Lottery, before mentioned, the ticket of which was sold by the defendants as aforesaid, was duly created by the said Corporation of Washington, and the drawing thereof, and the sale of the said ticket, was duly authorized by the said Corporation, for the objects and purposes, and in the mode directed by the said statute of the Congress of the United States. If, upon this case, the Court shall be of opinion, that the acts of Congress before mentioned were valid, and on the true construction of these acts, the lottery ticket sold by the said defendants as aforesaid, might lawfully be sold within the State of Virginia, notwithstanding the act or statute of the General Assembly of Virginia prohibiting such sale, then judgment to be entered for the defendants. But if the Court should be of opinion, that the statute or act of the General Assembly of the State of Virginia, prohibiting such sale, is valid, notwithstanding the said acts of Congress, then judgment to be entered, that the defendants are guilty, and that the Commonwealth recover against them one hundred dollars and costs."
"TAYLOR, for defendants."
"And thereupon the matters of law arising upon the said case agreed being argued, it seems to the Court here, that the law is for the Commonwealth, and
that the defendants are guilty in manner and form, as in the information against them is alleged, and they do assess their fine to one hundred dollars besides the costs. Therefore, it is considered by the Court, that the Commonwealth recover against the said defendants, to the use of the President and Directors of the Literary Fund, one hundred dollars, the fine by the Court aforesaid, in manner aforesaid assessed, and the costs of this prosecution; and the said defendants may be taken, &c."
From which judgment the defendants, by their counsel, prayed an appeal to the next Superior Court of law of Norfolk county, which was refused by the Court, inasmuch as cases of this sort are not subject to revision by any other Court of the Commonwealth. Commonwealth's costs, $31 50 cents.
Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.