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In the early days of Congress secret sessions of the House were frequent. The sessions of the old Continental Congress had been secret, and under the Constitution the sessions of the Senate were so until the second session of the Third Congress. By special order the galleries were thrown open during the contested election case of A. Gallatin, from Pennsylvania. The House, on the other hand, sat regularly with the galleries open, but when occasion required, as on the receipt of a confidential communication from the President, the galleries were cleared by order of the House.

Up to and during the war of 1812 secret sessions were held quite frequently. Since that period the practice had gone into disuse, although there was one secret session in 1825, on December 27 (see House Journal, supplemental, first session Nineteenth Congress; also Debates, December 20, 1825, first session Nineteenth Congress, p. 828), when a confidential message was received from President John Quincy Adams, who transmitted a copy of the message of President Jefferson to both Houses of Congress on January 18, 1803. This 'message of 1803 recommended an exploring expedition across the continent to establish relations with the Indian tribes and ascertain the nature and extent of the region. The message was confidential, and as the injunction of secrecy was for some reason not removed, it had not been published up to 1.825. So the secret session of the later year was held for the special and only purpose of removing the injunction of secrecy from the message of 1803. This message of President Jefferson may be found on page 352 of Volume I of Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents. There was also a secret session on May 27, 1830 (first session Twenty-first Congress, Journal, p. 755; Debates, p. 1139), to receive a confidential communication from President Jackson.

(Hinds' Precedents of the House of Representatives, 1907, sec. 7247 and note, Vol. V, p. 1094.)

In 1811, at the third session of the Eleventh Congress, two statutes and a joint resolution in regard to Florida were passed at secret. sessions of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and these enactments were approved by President James Madison.1

On January 3, 1811, President Madison sent a confidential message to Congress transmitting certain papers therein mentioned and containing the following:

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Taking into view the tenor of these several communications, the posture of things with which they are connected, the intimate relation of the country adjoining the United States, eastward of the river Perdido, to their security and tranquillity, and the peculiar interest they otherwise have in its destiny, I recommend to the consideration of Congress, the seasonableness of a declaration that the United States could not see, without serious inquietude, any part of a neighboring territory, in which they have, in different respects, so deep and so just a concern, pass from the hands of Spain into those of any other foreign Power.

I recommend to their consideration, also, the expediency of authorizing the Executive to take temporary possession of any part or parts of the said terri

1 The secret proceedings in both Houses are printed in the Appendix hereto, as the same are subsequently reported in the Annals of Congress, vol. 22; as to the Senate, pp. 369-380; as to the House of Representatives, pp. 486, 1117–1148.

tory, in pursuance of arrangements which may be desired by the Spanish authorities; and for making provision for the government of the same, during such possession.

The wisdom of Congress will, at the same time, determine how far it may be expedient to provide for the event of a subversion of the Spanish authorities within the territory in question, and an apprehended occupancy thereof by any other foreign Power. (Op. cit., pp. 369, 370, 1117, 1251, 1252.)

Without quoting at length from the accounts of the subsequent proceedings in Congress, it may be said that not only were the debates and votes secret in both Houses of Congress, but also that the necessary messages exchanged between the two Houses and the notifications from President Madison of his approval of the resolution and statates were received as confidential and behind closed doors, and that the House of Representatives by a vote of 51 to 40 refused to remove “the injunction of secrecy.” (Op, cit., p. 1146.)

These two statutes and resolution are found in volume 3, United States Statutes at Large, pages 471, 472, and are preceded by the following note of the editor:

The following resolution and acts, passed in 1811 and 1813, were not promulgated until their publication in “the sessions acts” of the Fifteenth Congress, ending April 20, 1818. They are altogether omitted in Mr. Justice Story's edition of the laws of the United States, and they are also omitted in Davis' and Force's edition of the laws, from 1816 to 1827, published under the authority of Congress, in 1822 and 1827. They were passed in the secret sessions of the Eleventh and the Twelfth Congress.

The editor has not considered it proper to insert these laws in this edition, before their promulgation under the authority of the Secretary of State; under whose directions the laws of each session of Congress are published. Act of 1818, ch. 80, sec. 1." The texts of the statutes and resolution are as follows:

Taking into view the peculiar situation of Spain, and of her American provinces; and considering the influence which the destiny of the territory adjoining the southern border of the United States may have upon their security, tranquillity, and commerce: Therefore,

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the United States, under the peculiar circumstances of the existing crisis, cannot, without serious inquietude, see any part of the said territory pass into the hands of any foreign power; and that a due regard to their own safety compels them to provide, under certain contingencies, for the temporary occupation of the said territory; they, at the same time, declare that the said territory shall, in their hands, remain subject to future negotiation.

Approved, January 15, 1811. An Act to enable the President of the United States, under certain contingencies, to take

possession of the country lying east of the river Perdido, and south of the state of Georgia and the Mississippi territory, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized, to take possession of, and occupy, all or any part of the territory lying east of the river Perdido, and south of the state of Georgia

and the Mississippi territory, in case an arrangement has been, or shall be, made with the local authority of the said territory, for delivering up the possession of the same, or any part thereof, to the United States, or in the event of an attempt to occupy the said territory, or any part thereof, by any foreign government; and he may, for the purpose of taking possession, and occupying the territory aforesaid, and in order to maintain therein the authority of the United States, employ any part of the army and navy of the United States which he may deem necessary.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That one hundred thousand dollars be appropriated for defraying such expenses as the President may deem necessary for obtaining possession as aforesaid, and the security of the said territory, to be applied under the direction of the President, out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That in case possession of the territory aforesaid shall be obtained by the United States, as aforesaid, that until other provision be made by Congress, the President be, and he is hereby authorized to establish, within the territory aforesaid, a temporary government, and the military, civil, and judicial, powers thereof shall be vested in such person and persons, and be exercised in such manner as he may direct, for the protection and maintenance of the inhabitants of the said territory in the full enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion.

Approved, January 15, 1811. An Act concerning an act to enable the President of the United States, under certain

contingencies, to take possession of the country lying east of the river Perdido, and south of the state of Georgia and the Mississippi territory, and for other purposes, and the declaration accompanying the same.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That this act, and the act passed during the present session of Congress, entitled "An act to enable the President of the United States, under certain contingencies, to take possession of the country lying east of the river Perdido, and south of the state of Georgia and the Mississippi territory, and for other purposes," and the declaration accompanying the same, be not printed or published, until the end of the next session of Congress, unless directed by the President of the United States, any law or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

Approved March 3, 1811.

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From the foregoing it appears that these enactments were not published or promulgated in due course; they are found in volume 3 of the Statutes at Large immediately after the various acts of April 20, 1818, one of which (Chapter 80) was entitled "An Act to provide for the publication of the laws of the United States, and for other purposes," and contained the following:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That, at and during the session of each Congress of the United States, the Secretary for the Department of State shall cause the acts and resolutions passed by Congress at such session, to be published, currently as they are enacted, and as soon as practicable, in not more than one newspaper in the District of Columbia, and in not more than three newspapers in each of the several states, and in not more than three newspapers in each of the territories of the United States. And he shall also cause to be published, in the like manner, in the said newspapers, or in such of

them as he shall for that purpose designate, the public treaties entered into and ratified by the United States.

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SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of State shall cause to be published, at the close of every session of Congress, and as soon as practicable, eleven thousand copies of the acts of Congress at large, including all resolutions passed by Congress, amendments to the constitution adopted, and all public treaties made and ratified since the then last publication of the laws.

(3 Statutes at Large, p. 439.)

Previous acts regarding the promulgation and publication of statutes of the United States had been less explicit in their language as to the time of publication.

CHAP. XIV. An Act to provide for the safe-keeping of the Acts, Records an Seal of

the United States, and for other purposes. SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Executive department, denominated the Department of Foreign Affairs, shall hereafter be denominated the Department of State, and the principal officer therein shall hereafter be called the Secretary of State.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That whenever a bill, order, resolution, or vote of the Senate and House of Representatives, having been approved and signed by the President of the United States, or not having been returned by him with his objections, shall become a law, or take effect, it shall forthwith thereafter be received by the said Secretary from the President; and whenever a bill, order, resolution, or vote, shall be returned by the President with his objections, and shall, on being reconsidered, be agreed to be passed, and be approved by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, and thereby become a law or take effect, it shall, in such case, be received by the said Secretary from the President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in whichsoever House it shall last have been so approved; and the said Secretary shall, as soon as conveniently may be, after he shall receive the same, cause every such law, order, resolution, and vote, to be published in at least three of the public newspapers printed within the United States, and shall also cause one printed copy to be delivered to each Senator and Representative of the United States, and two printed copies duly authenticated to be sent to the Executive authority of each State; and he shall carefully preserve the originals, and shall cause the same to be recorded in books to be provided for the purpose.

(Act of Sept. 15, 1789, 1 Statutes at Large, p. 68.)

CHAP. L.–An Act for the more general promulgation of the laws of the United States.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, for the more general promulgation of the laws of the United States, the Secretary for the department of State shall, after the end of the next session of Congress, cause to be printed and collated at the public expense, a complete edition of the laws of the United States, comprising the constitution of the United States, the public acts then in force, and the treaties, together with an index to the same.

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SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the acts passed at each succeeding session of Congress, including future treaties, shall be printed and distributed, in like manner and proportion.

(Act of March 3, 1795, 1 Statutes at Large, p. 443.)

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