United States Statutes at Large/Volume 1/5th Congress/3rd Session/Chapter 1
Penalty on a citizen of the United States for holding correspondence with a foreign government or its agents, with intent to influence the measures of such government in relation to disputes or controversies with the United States.
Aiders and abettors.Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That if any person, being a citizen of the United States, whether he be actually resident, or abiding within the United States, or in any foreign country, shall, without the permission or authority of the government of the United States, directly or indirectly, commence, or carry on, any verbal or written correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government, or any officer or agent thereof, with an intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government, or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or defeat the measures of the government of the United States; or if any person, being a citizen of, or resident within the United States, and not duly authorized, shall counsel, advise, aid or assist in any such correspondence, with intent, as aforesaid, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, 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 not less than six months, nor exceeding three years: Provided always,Proviso. that nothing in this act contained shall be construed to abridge the right of individual citizens of the United States to apply, by themselves, or their lawful agents, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for the redress of any injuries in relation to person or property which such individuals may have sustained from such government, or any of its agents, citizens or subjects.
Approved, January 30, 1799.