United States Statutes at Large/Volume 1/5th Congress/2nd Session/Chapter 49

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Chap. ⅩⅬⅨ.—An Act providing for the relief of persons imprisoned for Debts due to the United States.


Section 1. Insolvent to make application to the Secretary of the Treasury, Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person imprisoned upon execution issuing from any court of the United States, for a debt due to the United States, which he shall be unable to pay, may, at any time after commitment, make application, in writing, to the Secretary of the Treasury, Ante, p. 48.stating the circumstances of his case, and his inability to discharge the debt; who may cause an examination to be made of the facts of the case;and it shall thereupon be lawful for the said Secretary to make, or require to be made, an examination and inquiry into the circumstances of the debtor, either by the oath or affirmation of the debtor, (which the said secretary, or any other person by him specially appointed, are hereby authorized to administer) or otherwise, as the said secretary shall deem necessary and expedient, to ascertain the truth; and upon proof of certain facts, he may receive an assignment of the debtor’s property;and upon proof being made to his satisfaction, that such debtor is unable to pay the debt for which he is imprisoned, and that he hath not concealed, or made any conveyance of his estate, in trust, for himself, or with an intent to defraud the United States, or deprive them of their legal priority, the said secretary is hereby authorized to receive from such debtor, any deed, assignment, or conveyance of the real or personal estate of such debtor, if any he hath, or any collateral security to the use of the United States; and on the debtor’s complying with the terms prescribed by the Secretary; he may order him to be discharged.and upon a compliance by the debtor, with such terms and conditions as the said secretary may judge reasonable and proper, under all circumstances of the case, it shall be lawful for the said secretary to issue his order, under his hand, to the keeper of the prison, directing him to discharge such debtor from his imprisonment under such execution, and he shall be accordingly discharged, and shall not be liable to be imprisoned again for the said debt; but the judgment shall remain good and sufficient in law, and may be satisfied out of any estate which may then, or at any time afterwards, belong to the debtor.

Sec. 2. Penalty on swearing falsely under this act. And be it further enacted, That if any person shall falsely take an oath or affirmation under this act, he shall be deemed guilty of perjury, and be subject to the pains and penalties provided in the third section of an act, intituled 1796, ch. 38.An act for the relief of persons imprisoned for debt.”

Sec. 3. This act not to extend to the case of a penalty or of monies had and received. And be it further enacted, That the benefit of this act shall not be extended to any person imprisoned for any fine, forfeiture or penalty, incurred by a breach of any law of the United States, or for monies had and received by any officers, agent, or other person, for their use.

Approved, June 6, 1798.