By the definition of the Constitution treason to the United States may be charged only in cases where the accused has levied war against the United States, adhered to its enemies, or given them aid and comfort; and, for conviction, there must have been an overt act.

The distinction between a mere riot, or resistance to the execution of a law, and treason is not always easy to draw, but in general the authorities hold that the resistance to public authority, in order to constitute a levying of war and, therefore, treason, must amount to an effort directly to overthrow the government, or to prevent a law from being executed not simply in a particular instance, but generally.

94 United States v. Villato, 2 Dall. 370; 1 L. ed. 419.

95 Statute 25 Edw. III defines petit treason as the killing of a husband by a wife, of a master by his servant, or of a prelate by an ecclesiastic owing obedience to him.

96 "Whoever owing allegiance to the United States and having knowledge of the commission of any treason against thorn, conceals, and does not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President, or to some judge of the United States, or to the governor, or to some judge or justice of a particular State, is guilty of misprision, and shall be imprisoned not more than seven years, and fined not more than one thousand dollars." Sec. 2. Chap. 321. 35 Stat. at L. 1088, Act March 2, 1909.

97 5 Wh. 76; 5 L. ed. 37.

Thus in United States v. Mitchell98 it was held by a federal court that an insurrection of armed men, the object of which was to suppress the excise offices and to prevent by force and intimidation the execution of an act of Congress, was a levying of war, and, as such, treason. Upon the other hand, it was held in United States v. Hoxie99 that if the resistance offered to the execution of the law had no public purpose in view, treason was not committed, however great the degree of force employed.