Primary Resource

"An Act erecting Louisiana into two territories, and providing for the temporary government thereof" (March 26, 1804)

In this act, passed on March 26, 1804, and coming after the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. Congress establishes Louisiana in two territories and makes provisions for a temporary government.

Transcription from Original

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all that portion of country ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies south of the Mississippi territory, and of an east and west line to commence on the Mississippi river, at the thirty-third degree of north latitude, and to extend west to the western boundary of the said cession, shall constitute a territory of the United States, under the name of the territory of Orleans; the government whereof shall be organized and administered as follows:

SEC. 2. The executive power shall be vested in a governor, who shall reside in the said territory, and hold his office during the term of three years, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States. He shall be commander in chief of the militia of the said territory; shall have power to grant pardons for offenses against the said territory, and reprieves for those against the United States, until the decision of the President of the United States thereon, shall be made known; and to appoint and commission all officers civil and of the militia, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

SEC. 3. A secretary of the territory shall also be appointed, who shall hold his office during the term of four years, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States, whose duty it shall be, under the direction of the governor, to record and preserve Al the papers and proceedings of the executive, and all the acts of the governor and legislative council and transmit authentic conies of the Proceedings of the Governor in his executive department, every six months, to the President of the United States. In case of the vacancy of the office of governor, the government of the said territory shall devolve on the secretary.

SEC. 4. The legislative powers shall be vested in the governor, and in thirteen of the most fit and discreet persons the territory, to be called the legislative council, who shall be appointed annually by the President of the United States from among those holding real estate therein, and who shall have resided one year at least, in the said territory, and hold no office of profit under the territory or the United States. The governor, by and with advice and consent of the said legislative council, or of a majority of them, shall have power to alter, modify, or repeal the laws which may be in force at the commencement of this act. Their legislative powers shall also extend to all the rightful subjects of legislation; but no law shall be valid which is inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the United States, or which shall lay any person under restraint, burthen, or disability, on account of his religious opinions, professions or worship; in all which he shall be free to maintain his own, and not burthened for those of another. The governor shall publish throughout the said territory, all the laws which shall be made, and shall from time to time, report the same to the President of the United States, to be laid before Congress; which, if disapproved of by Congress, shall thenceforth be of no force. The governor or legislative council shall have no power over the primary disposal of the soil, nor to tax the lands of the United States, nor to interfere with the claims to and within the said territory. The governor shall convene and prorogue the legislative council, whenever he may deem it expedient. It shall be his duty to obtain all the information in his power, in relation to the customs, habits, and dispositions of the inhabitants of the said territory and communicate the same from time to time, to the President of the United States.

SEC. 5. The judicial power shall be vested in a superior court, and in such inferior courts, and justices of the peace, as the legislature of the territory may from time to time establish. The judges of the superior court and the justices of the peace, shall hold their offices for the term of four years. The superior court shall consist of three judges, any one of whom shall constitute a court; they shall have jurisdiction in all criminal cases, and exclusive jurisdiction in all those which are capital; and original and appellate jurisdiction in all civil cases of the value of one hundred dollars. Its sessions shall commence on the first Monday of every month, and continue till all the business depending before them shall be disposed of They shall appoint their own clerk. In all criminal prosecutions which are capital, the trial shall be by a jury of twelve good and lawful men of the vicinage: and in all cases criminal and civil in the superior court, the trial shall be by a jury, if either of the parties require it. The inhabitants of the said territory shall be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus; they shall be bailable, unless for capital offenses where the proof shall be evident, or the presumption great; and no cruel and unusual punishments shall be inflicted.

SEC. 6. The governor, secretary, judges, district attorney, marshal, and all general officers of the militia, shall be appointed by the President of the United States, in the recess of the Senate; but shall be nominated at their next meeting for their advice and consent. The governor, secretary, judges, members of the legislative council, justices of the peace, and all other officers, civil and of the militia, before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices, shall take an oath or affirmation to support the constitution of the United States, and for the faithful discharge of the duties of their office; the governor, before the President of the United States, or before a judge of the supreme or district court of the United States, or before such other person as the President of the United States shall authorize to administer the same; the secretary, judges, and members of the legislative council, before the governor; and all other officers before such persons as the governor shall direct. The governor shall receive an annual salary of five thousand dollars; the secretary of two thousand dollars, and the judges of two thousand dollars each, to be paid quarter yearly out of the revenues of impost and tonnage, accruing within the said territory. The members of the legislative council shall receive four dollars each per day, during their attendance in council.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That the following acts, that is to say:

An act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States.

An act, in addition to an act, for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States.

An act to prevent citizens of the United States from privateering against nations in amity with, or against citizens of the United States.

An act for the punishment of certain crimes therein specified.

An act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from service of their masters.

An act to prohibit the carrying on the slave trade from the United States to any foreign place or country.

An act to prevent the importation of certain persons into certain states, where by the laws thereof, their admission is prohibited.

An act to establish the post-office of the United States.

An act further to alter and establish certain post roads, and for the more secure carriage of the mail of the United States.

An act for the more general promulgation of the laws of the United States.

An act, in addition to an act, intituled an act for the more general promulgation of the laws of the United States.

An act to promote the progress of useful arts, and to repeal the act heretofore made for that purpose.

An act to extend the privilege of obtaining patents for useful discoveries and inventions to certain persons therein mentioned, and to enlarge and define the penalties for violating the rights of patentees.

An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned.

An act, supplementary to an act, intituled An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.

An act providing for salvage in cases of recapture.

An act respecting alien enemies.

An act to prescribe the mode in which the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings in each state shall be authenticated, so as to take effect in every other state.

An act for establishing trading houses with the Indian tribes.

An act for continuing in force a law, intituled An act for establishing trading houses with the Indian tribes. And

An act making provision relative to rations for Indians, and to their visits to the seat of government, shall extend to, and have full force and effect in the above mentioned territories.

SEC. 8. There shall be established in the said territory a district court, to consist of one judge, who shall reside therein, and be called the district judge, and who shall hold, in the city of Orleans, four sessions annually; the first to commence on the third Monday in October next, and the three other sessions, progressively, on the third Monday of every third calendar month thereafter. He shall, in all things, have and exercise the same jurisdiction and powers, which are by law given to, or may be exercised by the judge of Kentucky district; and shall be allowed an annual compensation of two thousand dollars, to be paid quarter yearly out of the revenues of impost and tonnage accruing within the said territory. He shall appoint a clerk for the said district, who shall reside, and keep the records of the court, in the city of Orleans, and shall receive for the services performed by him, the same fees to which the clerk of Kentucky district is entitled for similar services.

There shall be appointed in the said district, a person learned in the law, to act as attorney for the United States, who shall, in addition to his stated fees, be paid six hundred dollars, annually, as a full compensation for all extra services. There shall also be appointed a marshal for the said district, who shall perform the same duties, be subject to the same regulations and penalties, and be entitled to the same fees to which marshals in other districts are entitled for similar services; and shall moreover be paid two hundred dollars, annually, as a compensation for all extra services.

SEC. 9. All free male white persons, who are housekeepers, and who shall have resided one year, at least, in the said territory, shall be qualified to serve as grand or petit jurors, in the courts of the said territory; and they shall, until the legislature thereof shall otherwise direct, be selected in such manner as the judges of the said courts, respectively, shall prescribe, so as to be most conducive to an impartial trial, and to be least burthensome to the inhabitants of the said territory.

SEC. 10. It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to import or bring into the said territory, from any port or place without the limits of the United States, or cause or procure to be so imported or brought, or knowingly to aid or assist in so importing or bringing any slave or slaves. And every person so offending, and being thereof convicted before any court within said territory, having competent jurisdiction, shall forfeit and pay for each and every slave so imported or brought, the sum of three hundred dollars; one moiety for the use of the United States, and the other moiety for the use of the person or persons who shall sue for the same; and every slave so imported or brought, shall thereupon become entitled to, and receive his or her freedom. It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to import or bring into the said territory, from any port or place within the limits of the United States, or to cause or procure to be so imported or brought, or knowingly to aid or assist in so importing or bringing any slave or slaves, which shall have been imported since the first day of May, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, into any port or place within the limits of the United States, or which may hereafter be so imported, from any port or place without the limits of the United States; and every person so offending, and being thereof convicted before any court within said territory, having competent jurisdiction, shall forfeit and pay for each and every slave so imported or brought, the sum of three hundred dollars, one moiety for the use of the United States, and the other moiety for the use of the person or persons who shall sue for the same; and no slave or slaves shall directly or indirectly be introduced into said territory, except by a citizen of the United States, removing into said territory for actual settlement, and being at the time of such removal bona fide owner of such slave or slaves; and every slave imported or brought into the said territory, contrary to the provisions of this act, shall thereupon be entitled to, and receive his or her freedom.

SEC. 11. The laws in force in the said territory, at the commencement of this act, and not inconsistent with the provisions thereof, shall continue in force, until altered, modified, or repealed by the legislature.

SEC. 12. The residue of the province of Louisiana, ceded to the United States, shall be called the district of Louisiana, the government whereof shall be organized and administered as follows:

The executive power now vested in the governor of the Indiana territory, shall extend to, and be exercised in the said district of Louisiana. The governor and judges of the Indiana territory shall have power to establish, in the said district of Louisiana, inferior courts, and prescribe their jurisdiction and duties, and to make all laws which they may deem conducive to the good government of the inhabitants thereof: Provided however, that no law shall be valid which is inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the United States, or which shall lay any person under restraint or disability on account of his religious opinions, profession, or worship; in all of which he shall be free to maintain his own, and not burthened for those of another: And provided also, that in all criminal prosecutions, the trial shall be by a jury of twelve good and lawful men of the vicinage, and in all civil cases of the value of one hundred dollars, the trial shall be by jury, if either of the parties require it. The judges of the Indiana territory, or any two of them, shall hold annually two courts within the said district, at such place as will be most convenient to the inhabitants thereof in general, shall possess the same jurisdiction they now possess in the Indiana territory, and shall continue in session until all the business depending before them shall be disposed of. It shall be the duty of the secretary of the Indiana territory to record and preserve all the papers and proceedings of the governor, of an executive nature, relative to the district of Louisiana, and transmit authentic copies thereof every six months to the President of the United States. The governor shall publish throughout the said district, all the laws which may be made as aforesaid, and shall Mom time to time report the same to the President of the United States, to be laid before Congress, which, if disapproved of by Congress, shall thenceforth cease, and be of no effect.

The said district of Louisiana shall be divided into districts by the governor, under the direction of the President, as the convenience of the settlements shall require, subject to such alterations hereafter as experience may prove more convenient. The inhabitants of each district, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, shall be formed into a militia, with proper officers, according to their numbers, to be appointed by the governor, except the commanding officer, who shall be appointed by the President, and who whether a captain, a major or a colonel, shall be the commanding officer of the district, and as such, shall, under the governor, have command of the regular officers and troops in his district, as well as of the militia, for which he shall have a brevet commission, giving him such command, and the pay and emoluments of an officer of the same grade in the regular army; he shall be specially charged with the employment of the military and militia of his district, in cases of sudden invasion or insurrection, and until the orders of the governor can be received, and at all times with the duty of ordering a military patrol, aided by militia if necessary, to arrest unauthorized settlers in any part of his district, and to commit such offenders to jail to be dealt with according to law.

SEC. 13. The laws in force in the said district of Louisiana, at the commencement of this act, and not inconsistent with any of the provisions thereof, shall continue in force until altered, modified or repealed by the governor and judges of the Indiana territory, as aforesaid.

SEC. 14. And be it further enacted, That all grants for lands within the territories ceded by the French Republic to the United States, by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and three, the title whereof was, at the date of the treaty of St. Ildefonso, in the crown, government or nation of Spain, and every act and proceeding subsequent thereto, of whatsoever nature, towards the obtaining any grant, title, or claim to such lands, and under whatsoever authority transacted, or pretended, be, and the same are hereby declared to be, and to have been from the beginning, null, void, and of no effect in law or equity. Provided nevertheless, that anything in this section contained shall not be construed to make null and void any bona fide grant, made agreeably to the laws, usages and customs of the Spanish government to an actual settler on the lands so granted, for himself, and for his wife and family; or to make null and void any bona fide act or proceeding done by an actual settler agreeably to the laws, usages and customs of the Spanish government, to obtain a grant for lands actually settled on by the person or persons claiming title thereto, if such settlement in either case was actually made prior to the twentieth day of December, one thousand eight hundred and three: And provided further, that such grant shall not secure to the grantee or his assigns more than one mile square of land, together with such other and further quantity as heretofore hath been allowed for the wife and family of such actual settler, agreeably to the laws, usages and customs of the Spanish government. And that if any citizen of the United States, or other person, shall make a settlement on any lands belonging to the United States, within the limits of Louisiana, or shall survey, or attempt to survey, such lands, or to designate boundaries by marking trees, or otherwise, such offender shall, on conviction thereof, in any court of record of the United States, or the territories of the United States, forfeit a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars, and suffer imprisonment not exceeding twelve months; and it shall, moreover, be lawful for the President of the United States to employ such military force as he may judge necessary to remove from lands belonging to the United States any such citizen or other person, who shall attempt a settlement thereon.

SEC. 15. The President of the United States is hereby authorized to stipulate with any Indian tribes owning lands on the east side of the Mississippi, and residing thereon, for an exchange of lands, the property of the United States, on the west side of the Mississippi, in case the said tribes shall remove and settle thereon; but in such stipulation, the said tribes shall acknowledge themselves to be under the protection of the United States, and shall agree that they will not hold any treaty with any foreign power, individual state, or with the individuals of any state or power; and that they will not sell or dispose of the said lands, or any part thereof, to any sovereign power, except the United States, nor to the subjects or citizens of any other sovereign power, nor to the citizens of the United States. And in order to maintain peace and tranquillity with the Indian tribes who reside within the limits of Louisiana, as ceded by France to the United States, the act of Congress, passed on the thirtieth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and two, intituled "An act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, and to preserve peace on the frontiers," is hereby extended to the territories erected and established by this act; and the sum of fifteen thousand dollars of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated by law, is hereby appropriated to enable the President of the United States to effect the object expressed in this section.

SEC. 16. The act, passed on the thirty-first day of October, one thousand eight hundred and three, intituled "An act to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris, on the thirtieth day of April last, and for the temporary government thereof," shall continue in force until the first day of October next, any thing therein to the contrary notwithstanding; on which said first day of October, this act shall commence, and have full force, and shall continue in force for and during the term of one year, and to the end of the next session of Congress which may happen thereafter.

APPROVED, March 26, 1804.