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A few volumes of the Statutes at Large
The United States Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large and abbreviated Stat., are the official source for the laws and concurrent resolutions passed by United States Congress. They are also commonly called session laws since they are compiled from slip laws at the end of a Congressional session. They are part of a three-part model for publication of Federal statutes consisting of slip laws (public laws and private laws, abbreviated Pub.L. and Pvt.L.), session laws, and codification.

Publication began in 1845 by the private firm of Little, Brown and Company under authority granted by a joint resolution of Congress. In 1874, Congress transferred the authority to publish the Statutes at Large to the Government Printing Office, which has been responsible for producing the set since that time.

Every law, public and private, ever enacted by the Congress is published in the Statutes at Large in order of the date of its passage. Until 1948, all treaties and international agreements approved by the United States Senate were also published in the set (these now appear in a publication titled United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, abbreviated U.S.T.). In addition, the Statutes at Large includes the text of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, amendments to the Constitution, treaties with Indians and foreign nations, and presidential proclamations.

Today, large portions of the Acts of Congress denominated as "public laws" are drafted as amendments to the United States Code. Once enacted into law, an Act will be published in the Statutes at Large and will add to, modify, or delete some part of the United States Code. Provisions of the public laws that contain only enacting clauses, effective dates, and similar matters are not generally codified. Private laws also are not generally codified.

Some portions of the United States Code have been enacted as positive law and other portions have not been so enacted. In case of a conflict between the text of the Statutes at Large and the text of a provision of the United States Code that has not been enacted as positive law, the text of the Statutes at Large takes precedence.


  1. See generally 1 U.S.C. ยง 112.

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