by Ben Vernia | February 26th, 2013
150 years ago today (on February 26, 1863), the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s amended version of “an Act to prevent and punish Frauds upon the Government of the United States” – the False Claims Act. The next day, the New York Times reported the event:
Mr. DAWES, of Massachusetts, (Rep.,) from the Committee on Government Contracts, reported back the Senate bill, with amendments, to punish frauds. It provides that any person employed in the military, militia or naval forces in time of war, being directly or indirectly engaged in procuring false vouchers, receipts, &c., for the purpose of enabling themselves or others to fraudulently obtain money from the Government, shall be arrested and held for trial by Court-martial, according to the rules and regulations for the government of the military and naval forces and the militia, on conviction to be punished by fine and imprisonment, as the Court may decide, save the punishment of death. Any person not in the military service, so offending, on conviction to pay a fine of $2,000, and in addition, double the amount of the damage the Government may have sustained, and suffer imprisonment for not less than one, nor more than five years. The bill passed.
The Act was then sent to President Lincoln for his signature.