Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 | Next Page
Creation of the Judiciary
Punishment of Crimes Act
Punishment of Crimes Act [S-6], April 30, 1790
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The First Congress adopted several other bills relating to the federal judiciary or its functions. Except for the bill providing salaries, these bills originated in the Senate. Most important was the Punishment of Crimes Act, the first listing of federal crimes and their punishment. In addition to treason and counterfeiting of federal records, the crimes included murder, disfigurement, and robbery committed in federal jurisdictions or on the high seas. The fourth paragraph of the act authorized judges to sentence convicted murderers to surgical dissection after execution. The fifth paragraph provided fines and imprisonment for anyone attempting to rescue a body of an individual sentenced to dissection.

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