The more effectually to supply the People of this Commonwealth with the necessary Article of Salt "Be it enacted by the General Assembly that in every merchan[t]man or trading Vessel, belonging, either in the whole or in Part, to any Citizen of this Commonwealth, sailing from hence at any time from and after the Day November in this present Year one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine, and returning or coming hither with Goods or Merchandize laden in any foreign Port or Country, and also in every other Merchantman or trading Vessel arriving here with Goods or Merchandize laden in any of the West India Islands from and after the first Day of May next, or in any other Part of the World from and after the first Day of October next, there shall be imported five Bushels of Salt, for every Ton Burthen of such Vessel under the Penalty of fifty pounds for each and every Bushel of Salt defici[ ent ] or short of such Quantity, to be paid by the Owner or Owners, and if no su[ ch ] Owner be resident within the Commonwealth, by the Captain or Master of such Vessel, and recovered with Costs by Action of Debt or Information, in any Court of Record, to the Use of the Informer, or of the Commonwealth, if prosecution be first instituted on the Public Behalf. And in every such Suit the Onus Probandi shall lie on the Defendant.
And for more effectually carrying this Act into Execution, the naval Officer of the District wherein any such Vessel shall arrive withou[ t ] having made such Importation, shall and he is hereby required, under Pain of being removed from his Office, and rendered incapable to hold it again, forthwith to give Information thereof, either to the Attorney General, or some one of the Deputie-Attorneys for the Commonwealth who are hereby respectively required to institute Prosecutions against the Delinquent or Delinquents, on the publick Behalf: But Nothing herein contained shall be construed to extend to any Prize brought thither for Condemnation, to any Vessel which after having taken on board the Quantity of Salt required by this Act, hath had the same destroyed by unavoidable Accident, or Danger of the Seas, to any Vessel forced into the Ports of this Commonwealth by Accident or Stress of Weather or only passing thro' the Territory thereof into the State of Maryland.
And be it further enacted that an Embargo shall be and is hereby laid upon all Salt within this Commonwealth for and during the Continuation of the present War, save only at such times, and during such Periods as the Governor, with the Advice of the Council shall cause such Embargo to be discontinued or suspended by public Proclamation; which he is hereby empowered, with the advice aforesaid to do, and the same in like Manner to revive and renew again, from time to time, as the Circumstances of Trade and the Wants of the People may require. And if any Person, during the time that such Embargo shall be in force, shall presume to carry any Salt which now is, or hereafter may be within this Commonwealth, out of the same, by Land or Water, he or [she] offending, shall forfeit and pay (forty Po[ unds ]) for every Bushel (so carryed out. . . .)