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the meaning of an Act and have force in proportion to the universality with which they have prevailed and the length of time during which they have continued without question.
27. When the meaning of an act is doubtful the consequences may
be considered, but when the meaning is plain, no consequences are to be regarded in the interpretation.
28. Punctuation is not to be regarded, for it is generally the work of the printer and not of the legislator.
29. Where the reason of an enactment is general, its application is so, though its provisions are special.
30. The title and the preamble are no part of an act; they cannot limit or restrict its operation, but can be referred to only as a means of getting at its true meaning. And it is the same with any words introductory to the enacting clause.
31. Where an act has a general intent and a particular intent, which are in conflict, the particular intent does not override the general intent, but is an exception to it.
32. A proviso is dependent on a precedent and not on a subsequent clause unless the manifest intent is otherwise.
33. A saving clause may restrain or qualify an enactment but can never overturn it. If directly repugnant, the saving clause is to be rejected.
34. Acts relating to private corporations and passed on their application, are in the nature of contracts and cannot be impaired by any subsequent legislation without consent, or unless the right so to do has been expressly reserved. Our constitution reserves that
power in the case of all corporations created since 1846. 35. When a right is given by an act, the remedy necessary to enforce that right is also given.
36. When a fórm is given in an act it must be strictly followed.
37. When power is given to hear and determine, the power to summon the party to appear and stand trial is also given.
38. When a power is given to take an examination, an examination on oath is meant, unless otherwise expressed, and the power to bind the person over, conveys the power to commit in case of failure to give bonds.
39. When words restrictive are used, they exclude all persons and things not named.
40. The comparison of one act with another passed by the same legislator, or upon the same subject or relating expressly to the same point, may be made to help the interpretation or fitly to expound the meaning.
41. The rights of the Government are not to be taken away by ambiguous words, but only by clear and unequivocal language.
42. Acts are sometimes peremptory and sometimes directory only. When they are peremptory, anything done not in compliance with them is absolutely void. When they are directory, such violent consequences of a departure from them do not follow.
It is not easy to lay down a general rule that will clearly define the distinction between the two. But this much may be asserted, that negative words make an act peremptory, and so affirmative words may, if they are absolute, explicit and peremptory, and show that no discretion is intended to be given.
43. Certain acts are to be liberally construed, so as to embrace within their action all cases within their equity or spirit, and others are to be strictly construed so as to embrace only those which are within the literal meaning.
The following are to be liberally construed:
All having the general welfare in view, so as to attain the end proposed.
Acts aiming at the expedition of justice or the prevention of litigation.
Acts to prevent frauds.
Acts to discharge a debtor from his debts or the consequences of them.
Acts cutting down, abridging or restraining written instruments.
Acts conferring new jurisdiction unknown to the common law, including herein all cases of summary proceedings.
Acts conferring new powers affecting property or granting exemptions from burdens generally imposed.
Acts taking private property.
Acts imposing penalties and forfeitures.
44. When an act is both remedial and penal it may be construed liberally as to one part and strictly as to the other.
45. A penalty implies a prohibition and the thing is unlawful, though no prohibitory words are used.
46. An act in contravention of the Constitution is absolutely void. In other cases of defective or imperfect acts they are void only in part and are to be sustained in all those parts which are not defective or imperfect.
CONCLUSION. With these prefatory remarks which give the reasons for the course I have pursued in this Edition, I state briefly my general plan:
1. To embrace the whole of the Revised Statutes in two volumes divided as in the first edition, and in conformity with the original paging.
2. To accomplish the purpose avowed by the Revisers in their first edition and aimed at in all the succeeding editions, namely, to "exhibit the whole written law of the State" — by adding subsequent volumes to contain all general laws not incorporated into the Revised Statutes.
3. To give the Revised Statutes precisely as the Legislature has made them, adding to the original first Edition only what the Legislature has expressly and in terms enacted as amendments and leaving out only what has been expressly and in terms repealed.
4. To take no notice of constructive or implied repeals, as not being within my province, but peculiarly within that of the courts.
5. To retain the divisions as established by the Legislature, and for that purpose preserve not merely the original paging, but the original numbering of the sections and giving no other numbers but the original, making room for new sections by duplicating the numbers and distinguishing the duplicates by letters.
6. To have an index to each constitution immediately preceding the instrument; an index to the Revised Statutes at the end of
the second volume, and an index to the general laws at the end of the last volume.
7. To refer, in the appropriate place, to every reported case bearing upon the constitutions or the Statutes, so that at the end of each section the reader will find a reference to every case calculated to show the interpretation' put upon it by the courts.
8. To add the notes of the Revisers as important and trustworthy aids in enabling us to attain the meaning of enactments, especially when made in the very language recommended by them.
In calling my work Statutes at Large, I entertain the purpose of publishing every year, directly after the adjournment of the Legislature, all the Statutes then enacted which may be of a general and permanent character, and that in such form as will enable them every third, fourth or fifth year, as the case may bc, .to be bound together in a form corresponding with this work.
J. W. EDMONDS. NEW YORK, July 1, 1862.
P. S.— I will add now, that the Index to the Revised Statutes contained in my two first volumes, is precisely that which the Revisers prepared, and with which the profession have become familiar; and the index to the 3d, 4th and 5th volumes was prepared by me. Though the result of much care, and extending over some eighty pages, I am not so superfluous as to imagine that it is perfect, or, indeed, without numerous errors.
I have found, however, that when such errors occur, or when there is difficulty in finding the desired topic, a reference to the Analysis at the beginning of each volume will frequently remedy the evil.
That was my intention in preparing the Analysis, and the advantage I have derived from using it prompts me to commend it to the attention of the profession.
J. W. E. New YORK, October, 1867.
TABLE OF REFERENCES
TO THE REPORTS CITED.
[The Editor having cited a large number of cases as bearing on the Statutes - over 4,000 in num. ber - and brevity of citation having been a necessity with him, he annexes this table to aid the profession in their examination of his authorities.)
Duer's Superior Court Rep. Am. L. J., .. American Law Journal.
Dutch.,. Dutcher's Reports. Am. L. R.,.. American Law Register.
E. D. S. E. D. Smith's Reports. Ark.,
Ed., ... Edwards' Reports.
... English's Reports. Barbou·'s Chancery Rep. Barr, Barr's Reports.
Florida Reports. Bibb. Bibb's Reports.
Gall., Gallison's Reports.
Geo., Georgia Reports.
Gil., Gill's Reports.
G. & J.,
Gill & Johnson's Reports. Bos., Bosworth's Reports.
Gilp., Gilpin's Reports.
Greenl., Greenleaf's Reports.
Hammond's Reports. Cart, Carter's Reports.
Harp., Harper's Reports.
Har., Harris' Reports.
Hill's N. Y. Reports. Const. R.,
Constitutional Reports. Hill, S C.,.. Hill's S. Car. Reports. Cow., Cowen's Reports.
H. & D.,
Hill & Denio's Reports.
Hop., Hopkin's Reports.
How. M.,... Howard's Mississippi. Cush. .... Cushing's Reports.
How. P. R.,. Howard's Practice Reports