In Whitman's Hand

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Title: John M. Binckley to Lyman Trumbull, 12 December 1867

Date: December 12, 1867

Whitman Archive ID: nar.00350

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kevin McMullen, John Schwaninger, and Nima Najafi Kianfar

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December 12, 1867.

Hon. Lyman Trumbull,

Chairman Committee on the Judiciary, Senate of the United States.


At the request of William Dorsheimer, Esq., United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, and by direction of the Attorney General, I have the honor to communicate a suggestion of the former, for some additional legislation touching crimes committed on the great Lakes, out of the jurisdiction of any particular State. A copy of his draft of a Bill, and of his letter setting forth the circumstances which appear to show the expediency of further legislation, are herewith enclosed.

Mr. Dorsheimer's main object appears to be to settle a doubt whether under the terms of the several statutes defining and punishing felonies, &c. committed on the high seas, such offences, when committed on the great Lakes and inland waters are included in their provisions. That the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States extends to such waters has been so well settled by the Supreme Court that Mr. Dorsheimer is not understood to have in view any doubt of the jurisdictions, but only whether the crimes are adequately defined without the words Lakes, Etc., or equivalent words. If this is all, the Attorney General thinks that an Act simply declaring that the words high seas, river, haven, creek, basin, or bay, as used in the several acts, shall be construed to include any waters, whether fresh or salt, within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of ofthe United States and [each of the jurisdictions?] of any particular state, would answer the end.

It may be worthy remark that a case is now pending in the territory of Washington, in which a doubt has arisen whether the words, "out of the jurisdiction of any particular State," as used in several criminal statutes at large should be construed to give the United States Courts exclusive jurisdiction where the offence was committed on the tide-water literally "out of the jurisdiction of any particular State," but yet within the body of a county of an organized Territory.

Very respectfully, &c.

John M. Binckley,

Assistant Attorney General.


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