New York Assembly. Remarks on an
Act for Repealing Part of the Trespass Act
[New York, March 21, 1787]
On motion of Col. Hamilton, the house went into a committee on the bill for repealing part of the trespass act.
Mr. Hedges1 in the chair.
Col. Hamilton said that this amendment to the trespass law, was only to repeal that part which was in violation of the public treaty. The courts of justice were at present in a delicate dilemma, obliged either to explain away a positive law of the state or openly violate the national faith by counteracting the very words and spirit of the treaties now in existance. Because the treaty declares a general amnesty, and this state, by this law, declares that no person shall plead any military order for a trespass committed during the war. He said no state was so much interested in the due observance of the treaty, as the state of New-York; the British having possession of its western frontiers. And which they hold under the sanction of our not having complied with our national engagements. He hoped the house would have too much wisdom, not to do away this exception; and indeed he expected the bill would be readily agreed to.2
The [New York] Daily Advertiser, March 23, 1787.
1. David Hedges of Suffolk County.
2. On January 23, 1787, the Assembly appointed a committee, of which H was chairman, to recommend amendments to “An act for granting a more effectual Relief, in cases of certain Trespasses” (New York Assembly Journal description begins Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York (Publisher and place vary, 1782–1788). description ends 20). Passed on March 17, 1783, and known as the Trespass Act, the measure provided that any person who during the war had left his home because of the British occupation might bring an action of trespass against anyone who had occupied his property. The defendant in such an action was not allowed to plead a military order in justification of his occupation (Laws of the State of New York, I description begins Laws of the State of New York Passed at the Sessions of the Legislature Held in the Years 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783 and 1784 Inclusive, being the First Seven Sessions (Albany, 1886). description ends , 552).
The bill of 1787 repealed that part of the Trespass Act prohibiting the pleading of a military order. On March 21, 1787, the Assembly approved the bill. It became law on April 4, 1787 (Laws of the State of New York, I description begins Laws of the State of New York Passed at the Sessions of the Legislature Held in the Years 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783 and 1784 Inclusive, being the First Seven Sessions (Albany, 1886). description ends I, 496).