Treason is significantly different from all other crimes. The Constitution as well as our early laws clearly points this out because it was the only crime dealt with by the Constitution itself. Why? It was the only crime at the time which attacked the principles of our free nation itself and not individuals or possessions. It might in fact not involve any physical loss as did all other crimes.

Instead it was a crime against the founding principles of the United States of America. As such it was treated differen

This may surprise you but treason is actually not actually a felony. It's a third class of crime after Felonies and Misdemeanors.

Here are some side by side comparisons of the legal procedures of treason and other crimes as stated by the first congress.

The number of days before a trail that an indictment must be delivered is different. On the next page:

The number of jurors are different.

There is only one punishment and there can be only one punishment and as you see it was ascribed by the first Congress.

If a person ever objected to our government and it was rare, then the saying was :

'If you don't like it then start walking north. If the English (in Canada) laws are not oppressive enough for you then turn right and walk to the French Colonies (like Halifax). If neither one is oppressive enough then instead of going north walk the other direction to Spanish Florida and I guarantee all your needs will be met.

In the world of today it is far less expensive to go elsewhere if the country you live in is not to your liking. Back then it was customary to promise to spend up to 12 years working as an indentured servant to pay off the price of a trip across the Atlantic. We still told them to take a hike if they came and didn't like the system. Surprisingly lots of people did not like the freedom. Taking their future into their own hands and making their own decisions was next to impossible for many of them. However, most of these people endured and their own children often showed them how.

Treason was considered a step higher in importance than all felonies and that included murder and piracy. This information is found in the Statutes at Large which can be found on line at the American memory web site.

When it states the words 'treason, felony or other crimes' the Constitution shows us clearly that Treason is separate from felonies and other crimes (misdemeanors). 

Let's go through it one time slowly. (It's not the learning that takes time, it's the unlearning that takes the most time. You have to compare it  with what you thought was right and then determine which is the correct understanding and so forth before you can even think of learning the right understanding.)

Except for treason all crimes at that time essentially targeted the property of individuals or groups. A few crimes such as kidnapping attacked the freedom of individuals. Our forefather's attitude was that you had total freedom and that even included the freedom to commit crimes. The laws were there to make it too expensive for you to make a living from crime.

Treason is in a completely different class of crime since it targets the Union itself by attacking the freedom that is provided by the Constitution. So in effect it attacked the Constitution directly. Treason threatens to take away our freedom and allow another country to enslave everyone. Treason can in theory destroy the United States without harming a single person or taking any material possessions from them. (I understand that treason usually ends up becoming mass murder but that is not an issue to be addressed here.)

Unlike whit most other crimes there are no mitigating factors in regards to Treason. So the Constitution only proscribes the death penalty. All the other countries were more oppressive than the US so to give information to any of them was an action to deny us our freedoms. There could be no excuse for an act of treason.

Nothing shows a clearer delineation between the three classes of crimes that existed in the early 1800's than this Act of Congress.

This shows that there was a separation of the classes of crimes into three main categories. Treason, felony and misdemeanors.

There is not one instance of Treason being classed as Felony until somebody messed up after 1872.  

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© 2003-8 John Pinil