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[275] and the revision of the public statutes. This last resolution was as follows:—

That the Committee on the Judiciary be directed to consider the expediency of providing by law for the appointment of a commissioner to revise the public statutes of the United States; to simplify their language; to correct their incongruities; to supply their deficiencies; to arrange them in order; to reduce them to one connected text; and to report them thus improved to Congress for its final action,—to the end that the public statutes, which all are presumed to know, nay be in such form as to be more within the apprehension of all.


He renewed this proposition (reported as inexpedient) at almost every session,—as in 1853, 1854, 1856, 1860, 1861, 1862, and 1863,—till finally, when he moved it in 1866, it prevailed substantially in the form he had given to it. The work was executed by commissioners appointed by the President, and the Revised Statutes of the United States were enacted June 22, 1874, and published as the law of the land Feb. 22, 1875. This beneficial measure thus originated with Sumner at his first session; and his repeated efforts in its behalf which finally insured success exhibit his pertinacity as well as his wisdom.

Other topics to which he gave study and research at this session, in expectation of debates, were a mint to be established in New York; the restoration of the Congressional Library, which had been recently destroyed by fire; international copyright; and the reform of the system of public printing, which was at the time a political job. On these as well as on ocean postage he sought through his brother George information as to European methods.

The death of Robert Rantoul, Jr., a member of the House from Massachusetts, Aug. 7, 1852, was the occasion of a tribute from Sumner to his services and character, delivered two days after his death.2 He had been elected to Congress by the combined votes of Democrats and Free Soilers, and the sudden and untimely close of his useful and brilliant career, with greater opportunities than ever at hand, spread grief and sadness among the people of Massachusetts. It was believed that if he had lived he would in the end, and probably as the result of the

1 Works, vol. VI. pp. 140-143, where his brief speech, Dec. 12, 1861, is given. Hillard wrote, Jan. 6, 1854: ‘I heartily wish you success in your movement for the revision of the Statutes. It is a work greatly wanted; but as it will not help anybody to be President, it will never be done.’

2 Works, vol. III. pp. 76-82.

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