The Force Bill of 1833, Definition and Full Text

March 2, 1833

Andrew Jackson signed the Force Bill in 1833 to threaten South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis.

Andrew Jackson, Portrait, Painting

Andrew Jackson signed the Force Bill on March 2, 1833. Image Source: Wikipedia.

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Force Bill Definition

The Force Bill of 1833 is an act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Andrew Jackson for the purpose of allowing the President to use military force to enforce customs duties. The bill was passed during the Nullification Crisis in order to force South Carolina to enforce the terms of the Tariff of 1828 and Tariff of 1832.

Force Bill of 1833, Text

This is the full text of the Force Bill of 1833, as signed by President Andrew Jackson on March 2, 1833. This text is from the Statutes at Large of the 2nd Session of the 22nd Congress of the United States of America. Section headings and notes have been added.

Title of the Bill

An Act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports.

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Section 1 of the Force Bill

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That whenever, by reason of unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages of persons, it shall become impracticable, in the of the President, to execute the revenue laws, and collect the duties on imports in the ordinary way, in any collection district, it shall and may be lawful for the President to direct that the custom-house for such district be established and kept in any secure place within some port or harbour of such district, either upon land or on board any vessel; and, in that case, it shall be the duty of the collector to reside at such place, and there to detain all vessels and cargoes arriving within the said district until the duties imposed on said cargoes, by law, be paid in cash, deducting interest according to existing laws; and in such cases it shall be unlawful to take the vessel or cargo from the custody of the prop officer of the customs, unless by process from some court of the United States; and in case of any attempt otherwise to take such vessel or cargo by any force, or combination or assemblage of persons too great to be overcome by the officers of the customs, it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States, or such person or persons as he shall have empowered for that purpose, to employ such part of the land or naval forces, or militia of the United States, as may be deemed necessary for the purpose of preventing the removal of such vessel or cargo, and protecting the officers of the customs in retaining the custody thereof. 

Notes for Section 1 of the Force Bill

  • Section 1 of the Force Bill allows the President to move the location of the customs house to what they might consider a “secure place.”
  • The collector of customs must reside in the place where customs are collected.
  • Vessels must pay the duties in cash before they are released.
  • If anyone tries to take a vessel or cargo by force, the President has the power to use land forces, naval forces, and militia of the United States to keep the vessel, keep the cargo, and protect customs officials.

Section 2 of the Force Bill

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the jurisdiction of the circuit courts of the United States shall extend to all cases, in law or equity arising under the revenue laws of the United States, for which other provisions are not already made by law; and if any person shall receive any injury to his person or property for or on account of any act by him done, under any law of the United States, for the protection of the revenue or the collection of duties on imports, he shall be entitled to maintain suit for damage therefor in the circuit court of the United States in the district wherein the party doing the injury may reside, or shall be found. And all property taken or detained by any officer or other person under authority of any revenue law of the United States, shall be irrepleviable, and shall be deemed to be in the custody of the law, and subject only to the orders and decrees of the courts of the United States having jurisdiction thereof. And if any person shall dispossess or rescue, or attempt to dis. possess or rescue, any property so taken or detained as aforesaid, or shałl aid or assist therein, such person shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and shall be liable to such punishment as is provided by the twenty-second section of the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States, approved the thirtieth day of April, Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and ninety, for the wilful obstruction or resistance of officers in the service of process.

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Notes for Section 2 of the Force Bill

  • Section 2 of the Force Bill lays out the jurisdiction of the courts.

Section 3 of the Force Bill

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That in any case where suit or prosecution shall be corn menced in a court of any state, against any officer of the United States, or other person, for or on account of any act done under the revenue laws of the United States, or under colour thereof, or for or on account of any right, authority, or title, set up or claimed by such ofticer, or other person under any such law of the United States, it shall be lawful for the defendant in such suit or prosecution, at any time before trial, upon a petition to the circuit court of the United States, in and for the district in which the defendant shall have been served with process, setting forth the nature of said suit or prosecution, and verifying the said petition by afidavit, together with a certificate signed by an altorney or counsellor at law of some court of record of the state in which such suit shall have been commenced, or of the United States, setting forth that, as counsel for the petitioner, he hus examined the pro- ceedings against him, and has carefully inquired into all the matters set forth in the petition, and that he believes the same to be true; which petition, affidavit and certificate, shall be presented to the said circuit court, if in session, and if not, to the clerk thereof, at his office, and shall be filed in said office, and the cause shall thereupon be entered on the docket of said court, and shall be therealter proceeded in as a cause originally commenced in that court; and it shall be the duty of the clerk of said coourt, if the suit were commenced in the court below by sum mons, to issue a writ of certiorari to the state court, requiring said court to send to the said circuit court the record and roceedings in said cause or if it were commenced by capias, he shall issue a writ of habeas corpus cum causa, a duplicate of which said writ shall be delivered to the clerk of the state court, or left at his office by the marshal of the district, or his deputy, or some person duly authorized thereto; and, thereupon it shall be the duty of the said state court to stay all further proceedings in such cause, and the said suit or prosecution, upon delivery of such process, or leaving the same as aforesaid, shall be deemed and taken to be moved to the said circuit court, and any further proceedings, trial or judgment therein in the state court shall be wholly null and void. And if the defendant in any such suit be in actual custody on mesne process therein, it shall be the duty of the marshal, by virtue of the writ of habeas corpus cum causa, to take the body of the defendant into his custody, to be dealt with in the said cause according to the rules of law and the order of the circuit court, or of any judge thereof, in vacation. And all attachments made and all bail and other security given upon such suit, or prosecution, shall be and continue in like force and effect, as if the same suit or prosecution had proceeded to final judgment and execution upon the removal of any such suit, or prosecution, it shall be made to appear to the said circuit court that no copy of the record and proceedings therein, in the state court, can be obtained, it shall be lawful for said circuit court to allow and require the plaintiff to proceed de novo, and to file a declaration of his cause of action, and the parties may thereupon proceed as in actions originally brought in said circuit court; and on failure of so proceeding, judgment of non pros. may be rendered against the plaintiff with costs for the defendant.

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Notes for Section 3 of the Force Bill

  • Section 3 of the Force Bill allows defines how a court case involving a United States Customs Official will be handled.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That in any case in which any party is, or may be by law, entitled to copies of the record and proceedings in any suit or prosecution in any state court, to be used in any court of the United States, if the clerk of said state court shall, upon demand, and the payment or tender of the legal fees, refuse or neglect to deliver to such party certified copies of such record and proceedings, the court of the United States in which such record and proceedings may be needed, on proof, by affidavit, that the clerk of such state court has refused or neglected to deliver copies thereof, on demand as aforesaid, may direct and allow such record to be supplied by affidavit, or otherwise, as the circumstances of the case may require and allow; and, thereupon, such proceeding, trial, and judgment, may be had in the said court of the United States, and all such processes awarded, as if certified copies of such records and proceedings had been regularly before the said court.

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Notes for Section 4 of the Force Bill

  • Section 4 of the Force Bill defines how court records will be handled.

SEC.5. And be it further enacted, That whenever the President of the United States shall be officially informed, by the authorities of any state, or by a judge of any circuit or district court of the United States, in the state, that, within the limits of such state, any law or laws of the United States, or the execution thereof, or of any process from the courts of thee United States, is obstructed by the employment of military force, or by any other unlawful means, too great to be overcome by the ordinary course of judicial proceeding, or by the powers vested in the marshal by existing laws, it shall be lawful for him, the President of the United States, forthwith to issue his proclamation, declaring such fact or information, and requiring all such military and other force forthwith to disperse; and if at any time after issuing such proclamation, any such opposition or obstruction shall be made, in the manner or by the means aforesaid, the President shall be, and hereby is, authorized, promptly to employ such means to suppress the same, and to cause the said laws or process to be duly executed, as are authorized and provided in the cases therein mentioned by the act of the twenty-eighth of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, entitled “An act to provide for callings forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, repel invasions, and to repeal the act now in force for that purpose;” and also, by the act of the third of March, one thousand eight hundred and seven, entitled “An act authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces of the United States in cases of insurrection.”

Notes for Section 5 of the Force Bill

  • Section 5 of the Force Bill gives the President the authority to use military force if a state obstructs the laws of the United States with military force or any other means.
  • It references the Militia Act of 1795 and the Insurrection Act of 1807.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That in any state where the jails are not allowed to be used for the imprisonment of persons arrested or committed under the laws of the United States, or where houses are not allowed to be so used, it shall and may be lawful for any marshal, under the direction of the judge of the United States for the proper district, to use other convenient places, within the limits of said state, and to make such other provision as he may deem expedient and necessary for that purpose.

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Notes for Section 6 of the Force Bill

  • Section 6 gives Federal Marshals the authority to use “convenient places” to imprison people in the event jails are not allowed to be used.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That either of the justices of the Supreme Court, or a judge of any district court of the United States, in addition to the authority already conferred by law, will have power to grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases of a prisoner or prisoners, in jail or confinement, where he or they shall be committed or confined on, or by any authority or law, for any act done, or omitted to be done, in pursuance of a law of the United States, or any order, process, or decree, of any judge or court thereof, any thing in any act of Congress to the contrary notwithstanding And if any person or persons to whom such writ of habeas corpus may be directed, shall refuse to obey the same, or shall neglect or refuse to make return, or shall make a false return thereto, in addition to the remedies already given by law, he or they shall be deemed and taken to be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, on conviction before any court of competent jurisdiction, be punished by fine, not exceeding one thousand dollars, and by imprisonment, not exceeding six months, or by either, according to the nature and aggravation of the case.

Notes for Section 7 of the Force Bill

  • Section 7 of the Force Bill allows judges to issue writes of habeus corpus.

Sec.8. Ana be it further enacted, That the several provisions contained in the first and fifth sections of this act, shall be in force until the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer. 

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Notes for Section 8 of the Force Bill

  • Section 8 of the Force Bill says that Section1 and Section 5 will only be in effect through the end of the next session of Congress.

APPROVED, March 2, 1833.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title The Force Bill of 1833, Definition and Full Text
  • Coverage March 2, 1833
  • Author
  • Keywords Force Bill of 1833, Nullification Crisis
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date December 2, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 16, 2022

The Force Bill of 1833, Definition and Full Text is Part of the Following on AHC

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