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Esecutive Department, Georgia, Milledgeville, 28th January, 1822. }
WHEREAS, by an act passed the 21st day of December, 1819, entitled “ An Act prescribing the form of a Digest or Manual of the Laws of Georgia," it is “enacted and declared, that during the year eighteen hundred and twenty, a Digest of the Laws of this state shall be formed and arranged, which shall include all acts and resolutions of the Legislature heretofore passed, and which may be passed during the present session, which are public and general, and excluding such as are private or local, and also such as have been repealed. And that to said Digest shall be added an Appendix, which shall contain the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Georgia as amended, the Statute of Frauds and Perjuries, passed in the 29th year of the reign of Charles the II ; also all the acts relating to writs of Habeas Corpus.” And by the same Act it is further enacted and declared, " that the Legislature shall by joint ballot appoint some fit and proper person to arrange a Digest in pursuance of this act, who shall report the same to his Excellency the Governor, who after the same has been examined by a Committee appointed for that purpose, shall approve or disapprove the same."
AND WHEREAS, Oliver H. Prince, Esquire, was by joint ballot of both branches of the Legislature, in conformity with the before in part recited act, elected on the sixteenth December, 1819, to form and arrange a Digest in pursuance of the act aforesaid.
AND WHEREAS, the said Oliver H. Prince hath presented to me acompilation of the Laws and Resolutions of this State, up to the year 1819 inclusive, with an Appendix thereto, made in conformity to the said Act, which compilation was by an order of this department of the twelfth November last, submitted to the inspection and examination of the Hon. John A. Cuthbert, the Hon. Augustin S. Clayton, and Charles J.M.Donald, Esquire, who have reported thereon as follows, viz. " Pursuant to your request, contained in an executive appointment of the twelfth ultimo, we have carefully examined the Digest of the Laws of this State, prepared and reported by Oliver H. Prince, Esquire, to your Excellency. This book, compiled in conformity to the act of the twenty-first of December, 1819, and subjected by us to a scrupulous comparison with the original statutes in the office of the Secretary of State, is found to embrace essentially every object contemplated by the above-mentioned law, and is finished in a style of great accuracy and perspicuity.
"As a revised Code then, whether considered in reference to the judiciousness of its arrangement, or the fidelity of its execution, in both of which particulars there is a strict compliance with the views of the Legislature authorizing the work, we think it fully entitled to the public confidence."
NOW BE IT KNOWN, to all whom it may concern, that I, John Clark, Governor of the State of Georgia, do, in conformity with the aforesaid report, and in obedience to the afore-mentioned act, hereby approve of the aforesaid compilation.
The statutes of this state have so accumulated as to be somewhat formidable from their number alone; but they have become so perplexed with amendments, repeals, revivals, and supplements; and by frequent modifications of the amending or supplementary acts, that the law on most subjects is utterly beyond the reach of the people at large, and is not attainable without some difficulty even by the profession. The obvious remedy for this evil was that provided by the Act of 1819, directing the compilation of a digest unincumbered with private or local acts, and presenting to the public in a portable and convenient volume, such laws only as are public in their nature, and still in force; and these so arranged and indexed as to be readily found.
The first duty that devolves on the compiler of such a work, and perhaps not the least embarrassing, is to determine with a due regard to public utility and to the size of the intended volume, what acts are of such a character as to be proper for insertion. A fully public, and a strictly private act are, indeed, widely different; but between these there are many of an intermediate description, some of which are so nearly equivocal in their nature as to make it a matter of some difficulty to determine to which class they most properly belong, and to decide under all the circumstances on which hand they should be placed. The definitions and distinctions in the law-books, formed as they are on a system of statutes considerably different in their structure from ours, have been found not entirely satisfactory, and therefore have not been strictly followed. By these authorities, the bank charters are private acts; being for the regulation of private associations of individuals for purposes of private emolument. But these companies are so dispersed over the state, and 80 thoroughly mixed through the population; their operations are so intimately and extensively connected with the rights of property; and they hence exert an influence whicb, though secret and silent, is so pervading and powerful, that to most moral and practical purposes, and without adverting to the shares held by the government, their charters should, as the compiler conceives, be ranked with public acts. They are therefore included.
The acts to carry into effect the penitentiary system afford an instance of the opposite kind. These, as they relate to a state institution, are technically public. But as they have for their
object little else than to provide for the organization and internal police of the prison, are perhaps of scarcely any interest beyond its walls; and are therefore operatively local.' These acts are, however, included; partly in deference to legal authority, but principally for the convenience of the legislature, and of the officers of the institution.
Statutes respecting the judiciary of one or more, but not all the circuits; or such as are relative to the roads in any number of counties more than one and less than the whole, and other statutes of a similar kind, have been generally admitted. But acts of this extensive nature, if they apply to persons independently of territory ;-—such for instance as relate to incorporated companies, it has in most cases been deemed proper to exclude. The ope. ration of the former, though it does not pervade the state, is in its nature uniform and steady throughout a certain part of it. But the latter being limited in their application to no ascertained boundary, nor confined to any description of officers, or class of the people, is of course contingent, fluctuating, and always indefinite. These reasons, though not perhaps of much real weight, have been found sufficient to incline a scale already balanced.
Several important objects have been acted on by the legislature, not in the usual manner of general enactments, but almost entirely in detail. County Academies, and water courses, are instances of this. Each of these has its peculiar acts, which are strictly local, and therefore inadmissible, consistently either with the plan prescribed by the legislature or any moderate size of the work. 'But, as collectively taken, these are matters of undoubted public concern, the compiler was desirous, and in fact originally intended to insert in their proper places a summary of these and most of the other local acts now in force. This, though not required by the act prescribing the form of this digest, would obviously have greatly enhanced its utility, and therefore would without doubt have been highly acceptable to the public. Not however having time for this very tedious and operose undertaking, the compiler has been obliged to content himself with references. All the private and local acts that have been passed respecting each county academy, town, river, incorporated company or church, and several other matters are accordingly classed and referred to; and such acts as relate to the counties respectively are moreover distinguished as they may concern either the organization, the lines and boundaries, roads and bridges, or county taxes. To have selected and referred to such only of these acts as are now in force, would have been a mode much preferable. But that process would have consumed almost as much time as the summary just mentioned. As they now stand, they have cost no little labour, and it is presumed they may be of some use. Indeed an afterthought has suggested the hope, that on some occasions, perhaps in a search by the legislature for precedent, a reference to all the acts that have