This word, derived from the French malle, a trunk
, signifies the bag, valise, or other contrivance used in conveying through the post office, letters, packets, newspapers
, pamphlets, and the like, from place to place, under the authority of the United States. The things thus carried are also called the mail.
2. The laws of the United States have provided for the punishment of robberies or wilful injuries to the mail; the act of March 3, 1825, 3 Story's Laws U. S. 1985, provides-
§22. That if any person shall rob any carrier of the mail of the United States, or other person entrusted, therewith, of such mail, or of part thereof, such offender or offenders shall, on conviction, be imprisoned not less than
five years, nor exceeding ten years; and, if convicted a second time of a like offence, he or they shall suffer death; or if, in effecting such robbery
of the mail, the first time, the offender shall wound the person having the custody thereof, or put his life in jeopardy
, by the use of dangerous weapons, such offender or offenders shall suffer death. And if any person shall at- tempt to rob the mail of the United States, by assaulting the person having custody thereof, shooting at him, or his horse
or mule, or, threatening him with dangerous weapons, and the robbery is not effected, every such offender, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment, not less than two years, nor exceeding ten years. And, if any person shall steal the mail, or shall steal or take from, or out of, any mail, or from, or out of, any post office, any letter or packet; or, if any person shall take the mail, or any letter or packet therefrom, or from any post office, whether with or without the consent of the person having custody thereof, and shall open, embezzle, or destroy any such; mail, letter, or packet, the same containing any articles of value, or evidence of any debt, due, demand, right, or claim, or any release, receipt, acquittance
, or discharge, or any other articles, paper, or thing, mentioned and described in the twenty-first section of this act; or, if any person shall, by fraud or deception, obtain from any person having custody thereof, any mail, letter, or packet, containing any article of value, or evidence thereof, or either of the writings referred to, or next above mentioned, such offender, or offenders, on conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned not less than two, nor exceeding ten years. And if any person shall take any letter, or packet, not containing any article of value, or. evidence thereof, out of a post office, or shall open any letter or packet, which shall have been in a post office, or in custody of a mail carrier, before it shall have been de-livered to the person to whom it is directed, with a design to obstruct the correspondence
, to pry into another's business or secrets; or shall secrete
, embezzle, or destroy, any such mall, letter, or packet, such offender, upon conviction, shall pay, for every such offence, a sum not exceeding five hundred dollars, and be imprisoned not exceeding twelve months.
3. - §23. That, if any person shall rip, cut
, tear, burn
, or otherwise injure, any valise, portmanteau, or other bag used, or designed to be used, by any person acting under the authority of the postmaster general
, or any person in whom his powers are vested in a conveyance of any mail, letter packet, or newspaper, or pamphlet
, or shall draw
, or loosen any part of any lock, chain, or strap, attached to, or belonging to any such valise, portmanteau, or bag, with an intent to rob, or steal any mail, letter, packet, newspaper, or pamphlet, or to render either of the same insecure, every such offender, upon conviction, shall, for every such offence, pay a sum, not less than one hundred dollars, nor exceeding five hundred-dollars, or be imprisoned not leas than one year, nor exceeding three years, at the discretion of the court
before whom such conviction is had.
4. - §24. That every person who, from and after
the passage of this act, shall procure, and advise
, or assist, in the doing or perpetration of any of the acts or crimes by this act forbidden, shall be subject to the same pen-alties and punishments as the persons are subject to, who shall actually do or perpetrate any of the said acts or crimes, according, to the provision of this act.
5.- §25. That every person who shall be imprisoned by a judgment of court, under and by virtue of
the twenty-first, twenty-second, twenty-third, or, twenty-fourth sections of this act, shall be kept at hard labor
during the period of such imprisonment.