By a law passed in 1790 Congress provided: "That the acts of the legislature of the several States shall be authenticated by having the seal of their respective States affixed thereto; that the records and judicial proceedings of the courts of any State shall be proved or admitted in any court within the United States by the attestation of the clerk, and the seal of the court annexed, if there be a seal, together with a certificate of the judge, chief justice, or presiding magistrate, as the case may be, that the said attestation is in due form. And the said records and judicial .proceedings authenticated as aforesaid shall have such faith and credit given to them in every court within the United States, as they have by law or usage in the courts of the State from whence the said records are or shall be taken."2
In 1809 this act was supplemented by one which, after providing for the authentication of other than judicial records, declared, in its second section: "And be it further enacted, that all the provisions of this act, and the act to which this is a supplement [Act of 1790] shall apply as well as to the public acts, records, office books, judicial proceedings, courts, and offices of the respective territories of the United States and countries subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, as to the public acts, records, office books, judicial proceedings, courts and officers of the several States."3
In Mills v. Duryee4 decided in 1813, the Supreme Court, construing these acts held that by them Congress had not only provided for the admission of authenticated judgments of a State as evidence in the courts of the other States in the Union, but that it had, in execution of the constitutional provision, declared that they should be conclusive evidence of all matters properly adjudicated therein.
2 1 U. S. Stat, at L. 122.
3 2 U. S. Stat, at L. 298. These two sections are united in section 905 of the Revised Statutes. In a law enacted in 1895 it is provided by Congress that: "The pamphlet copies of the statutes and the bound copies of the Acts of each Congress shall be legal evidence of the laws therein contained in all the courts of the United States and of the several States therein." Section 73, Act of Jan. 2, Ch. 23 (28 Stat, at L. 601).
4 7 Cr. 481; 3 L. ed. 411.
This full faith and credit clause, it is to he observed, has reference only to the States, and not to the Territories or to the District of Columbia. Therefore it has been decided that the act of 1804, in as far as it has reference to the Territories and to the District of Columbia, rests, for its constitutionality, upon other clauses of the Constitution. Thus in Embry v. Palmer5 the court say: "So far as this statutory provision relates to the effect to be given to the judicial proceedings of the States, it is founded on article IV, section I, of the Constitution, which, however, does not extend to the other cases covered by the statute. The power to prescribe what effect shall be given to the judicial proceedings of the courts of the United States is conferred by other provisions of the Constitution, such as those which declare the extent of the judicial power of the United States, which authorize all legislation necessary and proper for executing the powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof, and which declare the supremacy of the authority of the National Government within the limits of the Constitution. As part of its general authority, the power to give effect to the judgments of its courts is co-extensive with its territorial jurisdiction. That the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia is a court of the United States, results from the right which the Constitution has given to Congress of exclusive legislation over the District. Accordingly, the judgments of the courts of the United States have invariably been recognized as upon the same footing, so far as concerns the obligation created by them, with domestic judgments of the States, wherever rendered and wherever sought to be enforced."
The same reasoning that in Embry v. Palmer seems to support the power of Congress to give to judgments rendered in the District of Columbia full force and credit in the States, is sufficient to support its power to give equal force in the States to judgments rendered in the Territories and insular possessions of the United States, and vice versa as to state judgments sued upon in the Territories or in the insular possessions.
5 107 U. S. 3; 2 Sup. Ct. Rep. 25; 27 L. ed. 346.