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The undersigned, commissioners appointed by virtue of “ An act to improve the laws of the District of Columbia, and to codify the same," approved March 3, 1855, herewith submit the result of their labors. The framer of that act was the Hon. HENRY May, formerly a citizen of this District, who, from an extensive practice in our courts, was made fully aware of the evils, from which it was intended by that law to relieve us. The people of this District will, in a great degree, be indebted to the exertions of that gentleman for any benefits which may result to them from this Code.
The commissioners were required 6 to revise, simplify, digest, and codify the laws of said District, and also the rules and principles of practice, of pleadings, of evidence, and conveyancing.” The Code itself is the best commentary on the manner in which that duty has been discharged. The laws which it was made their duty " to revise and simplify,” consisted, in the language of the Maryland declaration of rights, of such of the English statutes as existed at the time of the first emigration to Maryland, and “which by experience have been found applicable to local and other circumstances, and of such others as have been since made in England or Great Britain, and have been introduced, used, and practised by the courts of law and equity;" also of the declaration of rights, constitution, and statutes of Maryland, passed prior to the 27th day of February, 1801, as modified by the constitution and laws of the United States.
Our statute law thus flowing from three distinct sources, is almost necessarily inconsistent in many of its parts. Much of it is also obsolete. Much of it is disfigured by the prejudices of a past age. In many cases, the circumstances that called forth the statute have since passed away, or been materially changed. But perhaps the best founded complaint of all is the entire absence of any statutory provisions in relation to matters which, in the progress of time and development of society, have been made the subjects of legislation in almost every other civilized community.
Deeply impressed with these views, the commissioners have endeavored, in the preparation of this Code, to give to the people of this District the benefit of provisions which, in many cases, have even been adopted by those from whom we have derived our present system. In no instance where there has been a departure from former law has any principle or provision been introduced which has not the sanction of modern, and, as we believe, enlightened legislation.
The law of March 3, 1855, required that this Code should be approved by a majority of the board appointed to consider the same. The members of that board have certified to the President of the United States that they have considered the provisions thereof, and do unanimously approve the same. In further pursuance of said law, it is now submitted to the people of this District for their consideration.
WM. B. B. CROSS. WASHINGTON City,
REVISED CODE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
OF THE INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT......... 34
OF THE ACQUISITION, THE ENJOYMENT, AND TRANSMISSION OF
PROPERTY, REAL AND PERSONAL; THE DOMESTIC RELATIONS, AND OTHER MATTERS CONNECTED WITH PRIVATE RIGHTS...........
OF COURTS AND JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND PROCEEDINGS IN CIVIL CASES.........
ORGANIZATION OF THE CRIMINAL COURT; OF CRIMES AND THE PUNISHMENT THEREOF, AND PROCEEDINGS IN CRIMINAL CASES... 507