RESPUBLICA v. SWEERS - 1 U.S. 41 (1779)
U.S. Supreme Court
RESPUBLICA v. SWEERS, 1 U.S. 41 (1779)
1 U.S. 41 (Dall.)
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
April Term, 1779
At a court of Oyer and Terminer &c. held at Philadelphia in November, 1778, the Defendant was indicted for Forgery upon two bills. The proceedings were removed by certiorari returnable into this Court, on the 5th day of December following; and the issues, on not guilty pleaded, were tried before a Special Jury on the 14th April, 1779, when the Defendant was convicted upon both indictments. Afterwards he filed reasons in arrest of judgment, of which a recapitulation will be found in the sentence of the Court; and these reasons were argued, and over-ruled, on the 19th day of the same month.
The first indictment was for altering a bill of parcels and receipt given by Margaret Duncan, for goods bought from her, with intent to defraud the United States; and the charge was set forth in the following words:
- 'Philadelphia County ss.'
- 'The Jurors for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, upon their oaths and affirmations, do present, that Cornelius Sweers, late of the county aforesaid yeoman, on the 4th day of February, in the year of our Lord 1778, and long before, and since, was a Deputy Commissary General of military stores, in the armies of the United States of America, and entrusted and employed by Colonel Benjamin Flowers, the Commissary General of military stores in the armies aforesaid, and by the honorable continental Congress, to make purchases of military stores, and of divers other articles, necessary and fitting in the preparation of military stores, for the use of the armies aforesaid, and to make payments, and take receipts, bills of parcels, and other vouchers therefor. And the Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths and affirmations aforesaid, do say, and further present, that the said Cornelius Sweers, [ Respublica v. Sweers 1 U.S. 41 (1779)
on the same 4th day of February, in the year aforesaid, at the city of Philadelphia, in the county aforesaid, having in his custody and possession a certain bill of parcels or account, with a certificate and receipt, all in writing, for a parcel or quantity of flannel cloth, by him purchased of one Margaret Duncan, for the use of the Laboratory of the same armies, and which said writing was in the words, figures, cyphers and letters following; that is to say:
- 'United States of America
- 'To Margaret Duncan Dr.
- '1778, Feb. 4th To 57 & a qr, yard Flannel 32s6d L 83 5 7
- 'To 9 yds Do. 35s 15 15 0
- 'To 107 & 3 qr. yds Do. 52s6 282 16 10
381 17 5
- 'I do certify that the above was purchased and delivered to me for the use of the Laboratory at Carlisle.
Isaac Coran, Captain of the Artillery.
- 'and on the back side of which said writing is indorsed and written the words following; that is to say: Received the within contents in full Margaret Duncan: He the said Cornelius Sweers afterwards, to wit, on the same day and year aforesaid, at Philadelphia aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, with force and arms, the said bill of parcels or writing, falsely, fraudulently, and deceitfully, did alter, and cause to be altered, by falsely making, forging and tiding the figure 4 to and before the figure [42-Continued.]
9,in the second item of the said bill of parcels or writing, which figures and letters did, before such last mentioned forgery, import and signify nine yards, but by reason and means of such last mentioned forgery and addition, did become, import, and signify forty nine yards; and also by forging and altering the figure 1, in the sum of the said second item in the bill of parcels or writing aforesaid, to the figure 8; which figures did, before such last mentioned alteration and forgery, import and signify fifteen pounds, and fifteen shillings, but, by reason and means of such last mentioned alteration and forgery, did become, import and signify eighty five pounds and fifteen shillings; and also by falsely forging and altering the figure 3 to the figure 4, and the figure 8 to the figure 5, in the sum total or amount of the said bill of parcels or writing; which figures did, before such last mentioned forgery and alteration, import and signify three hundred and eighty one pounds, seventeen shillings and five pence, but, by reason and means of such last mentioned forgery and alteration, did become, import and signify four hundred and fifty one pounds, seventeen shillings and five pence, with intention to defraud the United States of America aforesaid, of seventy pounds of lawful money of Pennsylvania, to the evil example of all others, in like case offending, to the great damage of the said United States, and against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.' [1 U.S. 41, 43]