Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

The People's Privilege: The Franking Privilege, Constituent Correspondence, and Political Representation in Mid-Nineteenth Century America

  • Roman J. Hoyos
Extract

In his book The Dignity of Legislation, Jeremy Waldron bemoans the lack of attention legal philosophers have paid to legislatures and legislation. This oversight, Waldron suggests, has impoverished our understanding of legislatures as legal institutions, and has led jurisprudes to see only the “indignity of legislation.” Legal historians have hardly been more attentive, preferring to leave legislatures to political historians and political scientists. So although we have myriad studies of roll call votes, for example, we lack a genuine understanding of the legal history of legislatures or legislation. Our failure to appreciate the role of legislatures and legislation is especially characteristic of studies of the pre-Civil War period, a period in which the state has been famously described as a “state of courts and parties,” and characterized by the legislature's “decline of authority.” Even those who have uncovered a rich governmental theory and practice in the nineteenth century have focused more on courts and statutory interpretation. Willard Hurst criticized this inattention to the legal history of legislatures years ago, noting the “tendency to identify legal history with the history of courts and court-made doctrine.” Our court-centered approach has left us with only a partial understanding of the role of law in American history. “In order to see law in its relations to the society as a whole,” Hurst continued, “one must appraise all formal and informal aspects of political organized power— observe the functions of all agencies (legislative, executive, administrative, or judicial) and take account of the interplay of such agencies with voters and nonvoters, lobbyists and interest groups, politicians and political parties. This definition overruns traditional boundaries dividing the study of law from study of political history, political science, and sociology.”

Copyright
Corresponding author
rhoyos@swlaw.edu
References
Hide All

1. Waldron, Jeremy, The Dignity of Legislation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

2. Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982); and Gunn, L. Ray, The Decline of Authority: Public Economic Policy and Political Development in New York, 1800–1860 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988).

3. Novak, William J., The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth–Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). But see Novak, A State of Legislatures,” Polity 40 (2008):340.

4. Hurst, James Willard, Law and Social Process in United States History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Law School, 1960), 26; see also Hurst, The Growth of American Law: The Lawmakers (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1950); and Hurst, Law and Economic Growth: The Legal History of the Lumber Industry in Wisconsin, 1836–1915 (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1964).

5. Hurst, James Willard, Law and Social Order in the United States (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 2526. Part of the explanation for this neglect may be source based. Whereas the Congressional Globe and Congressional Record provide detailed accounts of debates in the United States Congress, state legislatures rarely published their debates. The debates were often covered in newspapers, but the lack of an official report poses many problems for the legal historian. Even constitutional histories of Congress tend to treat it as a political more than a legal institution.

6. Davis, Frank L., “The Declining Role of the Frank in House Elections: The Withering Effect of Sunshine?,” Polity 32 (2000): 415; Cover, Albert D. and Brumberg, Bruce S., “Baby Books and Ballots: The Impact of Congressional Mail on Constituent Opinion,” American Political Science Review 83 (1989): 347; Cover, Albert D., “The Electoral Impact of Franked Congressional Mail,” Polity 17 (1985): 649; Cover, Contacting Congressional Constituents: Some Patterns of Perquisite Use,” American Journal of Political Science 24 (1980): 125; Cover “Congressional Perquisites and Fair Elections: The Case of the Franking Privilege,” Yale Law Journal 83 (1974): 1055; Porro, Alfred A. Jr. and Ascher, Stuart A., “The Case for the Franking Privilege,” University of Toledo Law Review 5 (1974): 259; DeMeter, Robert F., “Franking Privilege – A Threat to the Electoral Process,” American University Law Review 23 (1973–74): 883; and Wasmund, Andrew, “Use and Abuse of the Franking Privilege,” Loyola L.A. Law Review 5 (1972): 52. There has been very little historical work on the franking privilege.

7. John, Richard R., Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995).

8. Clay, Henry, The Life and Speeches of the Hon. Henry Clay, 2 vols. Daniel Mallory, ed., 4th ed. (New York: Van Amrigne and Bixbey, 1844), 2:554.

9. For important collections of letters written to presidents, see, for example, Holzer, Harold, ed., The Lincoln Mailbag: America Writes to the President, 1861–1865 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2006); and McLaughlin, Jack, ed., To His Excellency Thomas Jefferson: Letters to a President (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1991).

10. Gerber, David A., Authors of Their Lives: The Personal Correspondence of British Immigrants to North America in the Nineteenth Century (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 31.

11. The new political historians tended to dismiss it because it lacked empirical value, although there was some sense that it might somehow be useful. Thompson, Margaret Susan and Silbey, Joel H., “Research on 19th Century Legislatures: Present Contours and Future Directions,” Legislative Studies Quarterly 9 (1984): 319. For an interesting use of correspondence (although not constituent correspondence) by a legal historian, see Reid, John Phillip, Law for the Elephant: Property and Social Behavior on the Overland Trail (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1980).

12. Gerber, Authors of Their Lives, 2.

13. Richard Brown has downplayed the federal government's role in the diffusion of information based on outlays. But questions remain about the impact that the information actually distributed by the federal government had. See Brown, Richard D., The Strength of a People: The Idea of an Informed Citizenry in America, 1650–1870 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); and Knowledge is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700–1865 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

14. The Douglas Collection has been at the University of Chicago for 60 years, and was opened to the public in 1994. Another collection was kept in Greensboro, North Carolina until 1992, when it was added to the University of Chicago collection. Additional documents can be found in other collections, including the Illinois State Historical Society in Springfield, Illinois. Robert W. Johannsen, Stephen A. Douglas (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997 [orig. pub. 1973]), viii–ix; and Meyer, Daniel, Stephen A. Douglas, and the American Union (Chicago: The University of Chicago Library, 1994), 34.

15. For this article I have focused on the correspondence from Douglas' Senate years. There is only one box covering the years of his House service.

16. Surprisingly, the bulk of the letters were written from people outside of Illinois, and the percentage of out-of-state letters increased notably over time. I focus on the letters from Illinois because political representation in the United States is typically understood in territorial terms. Although Douglas' correspondence challenges this conception on a number of levels, several of which I discuss here. I nevertheless focus on what Americans have generally understood as the basis of political representation.

17. Brewer, John, The Sinews of Power: War, Money, and the English State, 1688–1783 (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1989).

18. Cushing, Luther Stearns, Lex Parliamentaria Americana: Elements of the Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies in the United States of America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1856), 223; Dwarris, Fortunatus, A General Treatise on Statutes and Their Rules of Construction (Philadelphia: J.S. Littell, 1835); and William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford: Clarendan Press, 1765–1769).

19. Cushing, Lex Parliamentaria Americana, 223.

20. Matthew Eric Glassman, “Franking Privilege: Historical Development and Options for Change,” CRS Report for Congress (December 5, 2007): 6. It was not until 1963 that the House and Senate developed different rules on the franking privilege. Ibid., 8. On the importance of the 1792 Post Office Act more generally, see John, Spreading the News.

21. Blackstone, Commentaries.

22. Register of Debates, 18th Cong., 2d sess., 698 (March 1, 1825).

23. Cf. Brewer, The Sinews of Power, 221–30.

24. Ibid., 221–22.

25. John, Spreading the News, 25–42; Kielbowicz, Richard Burket, News in the Mail: The Press, Post Office, and Public Information, 1700–1860s (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989); and Kielbowicz, “The Press, the Post Office, and the Flow of News.” Interestingly, magazines and pamphlets were not afforded reduced rates. Kielbowicz explains that, “their dissertations on religion, the arts, and professional matters were not deemed as significant as the political discourse and commercial intelligence that filled most newspapers.” Ibid., 267–68. Even when mailing was allowed, the added bulk discouraged delivery. Ibid., 269.

26. Stat. 102, sec. 27, sess. II, Ch. 64 (March 3, 1825).

27. Register of Debates, 698.

28. Decker, William Merrill, Epistolary Practices: Letter Writing in America Before Telecommunications (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998); and Henkin, David M., The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

29. Fuller, Wayne E., The American Mail: Enlarger of the Common Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), 109; see also John, Spreading the News, 57–59.

30. Congressional Globe, 28th Cong., 1st sess., (April 4, 1844), 470 (emphasis added).

31. Ibid., (January 18, 1844), 152.

32. Ibid., (April 17, 1844), 521.

33. Ibid., (April 22, 1844), 555. This practice of forwarding mail for those not entitled to the franking privilege dates back virtually to the beginning of the privilege in early modern Britain. F.E. Dixon, Irish Postal History,” Dublin Historical Record 23 (1970): 127, 129; Ogilvie, “The Rise of the English Post Office,” 451.

34. Congressional Globe (January 18, 1844), 152–53. On the importance of the franking privilege to postmasters, see John, Spreading the News, 123–24.

35. Congressional Globe (April 4, 1844), 466.

36. Ibid., (April 1, 1844), 458.

37. Ibid., (April 4, 1844), 470.

38. Ibid., (April 4, 1844), 470 (emphasis added).

39. Ibid., 466.

40. Ibid., (April 17, 1844), 520 (remarks of Foster).

41. Ibid., (April 22, 1844), 562.

42. Ibid., (April 17, 1844), 521.

43. Ibid., 522.

44. Jabez D. Hammond and Erastus Root, The History of Political Parties in the State of New York from the Ratification of the Federal Government to December 1840 (Syracuse: Hall, Mills & Co., 1852), III: 392.

45. Congressional Globe, 522 (April 17, 1844).

46. Ibid., (April 4, 1844), 466.

47. 9 Stat. 147, sec. 3, Sess. II, Ch. 33 (March 1, 1847).

48. But see Foley, Michael S., “A Mission Unfulfilled: The Post Office and the Distribution of Information in Rural New England, 1821–1835,” Journal of the Early Republic 17 (1997): 611. According to Richard D. Brown, “Prior to the major letter-rate reductions in 1845 and 1851, letter writing remained confined mostly to merchants, the well-to-do, and public figures who enjoyed the franking privilege, which permitted them to send or received [sic] an unlimited number of letters free of charge.” Richard D. Brown, Knowledge is Power, 64–65. But see Henkin, The Postal Age.

49. Brown, Knowledge is Power, 60.

50. Schultz, Lucille M., “Letter-Writing Instruction in 19th Century Schools in the United States,” in Letter Writing as a Social Practice, eds. Barton, David and Hall, Nigel (Philadelphia: John Benjamin Publishing Co., 2000), 109–30 (noting that epistolary instruction begins to appear in textbooks in the United States in the 1830s); Frances Austin, “Letter Writing in a Cornish Community in the 1790s,” in Barton and Hall, Letter Writing as a Social Practice, 43–61; see also Foley, “A Mission Unfulfilled”; and Fairman, Tony, “English Pauper Letters 1800–34, and the English Language,” in Barton, and Hall, , Letter Writing as a Social Practice, 6382.

51. McCormick, Richard L., “The Party Period and Public Policy: An Exploratory Hypothesis,” The Journal of American History 66 (1979): 279, 287.

52. Brown, Knowledge is Power, 3–4.

53. Ibid., 286.

54. Ibid., 287.

55. Ibid., 288.

56. John, Richard R., “Recasting the Information Infrastructure for the Industrial Age,” in A Nation Transformed by Information: How Information has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present, eds., Chandler, Alfred D. Jr. and Cortada, James W. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 55106.

57. John, Spreading the News, 59.

58. Treasury Report, 345, 347. It should be noted, however, that reports such as the treasury report and the census could also be used for “combat.” The treasury report, for example, contained lists of defaulters. Johannsen, Douglas, 77, 79.

59. Khan, B. Zorina, The Democratization of Invention: Patents and Copyrights in American Economic Development, 1790–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 9.

60. Pauly, Philip J., Fruits and Plains: The Horticultural Transformation of America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), 105.

61. Ibid., 106. For contemporary praise of these reports, see “Patent Office Reports,” The New England Farmer 8 (1856): 552.

62. Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1854: Agriculture, 33d Cong., 2d sess., Ex Doc. No. 42 (Washington: Beverly Tucker, 1855), 58.

63. Ibid., 59.

64. Townend Glover, “Insects Injurious and Beneficial to Vegatation,” in ibid., 59–89.

65. “Textile and Forage Crops: Remarks on Cleaning Fibres of Textile Plants [condensed from the Singapore Free Press],” in ibid., 174–77.

66. Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 322.

67. This was the Patent Office's main advantage over the commercial seed distribution system. Pauly, Fruits and Plains, 113.

68. Hindle, Brooke, The Pursuit of Science in Revolutionary America, 1735–1789 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1956), 135, 302–9.

69. Pauly, Fruits and Plains, 105. Seed distribution would later form an important part of the Department of Agriculture's broader mission of distributing information. Both Pauly and Daniel Carpenter have been critical of this mission, referring to it as “pork-style distribution” and as “one of the characteristic boondoggles of the Gilded Age.” Carpenter, Daniel, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks, and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862–1928 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 179–80; Pauly, Fruits and Plains, 114.

70. Report of the Commissioner of Patents, in obedience to the Act of August 18, 1856, respecting the purchase of seeds by that department, Ex.doc. 61, 34th Cong., 3d sess. (February 16, 1857). On seed procurement, see, generally, Close, Nelson, America's Crop Heritage: The History of Foreign Plant Introduction by the Federal Government (Ames: Iowa State College Press, 1950); see also Carpenter, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy; Kloppenburg, Jack Ralph Jr.First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology, 1492–2000 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Hamilton, David E., “Building the Associative State: The Department of Agriculture and American State-Building,” Agricultural History 64 (1990): 207; Marcus, Alan I., “The Wisdom of the Body Politic: The Changing Nature of Publicly Sponsored American Agricultural Research Since the 1830s,” Agricultural History (1988): 4; and Ryerson, Knowles A., “History and Significance of Foreign Plant Introduction Work of the Department of Agriculture,” Agricultural History 7 (1933): 110.

71. According to Kathy Cooke, “congressional seed distribution stimulated a more widespread interest in new and unusual plants, and encouraged the small trade in seed.” Cooke, Kathy J., “Expertise, Book Farming, and Government Agriculture: The Origins of Agricultural Seed Certification in the United States,” Agricultural History 76 (2002): 524, 528. By the late nineteenth century, there were more than 800 companies engaged in seed production and distribution. Moskowitz, Marina, “Broadcasting Seeds in the American Landscape,” in Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877–1960, eds. Brown, Elspeth H., Gudis, Catherine, and Moskowitz, Marina (New York: Palgrave, 2006), 926.

72. Patent Office Report, 196. For a similar report of experimentation, see J.C. Orth's Report,” Cincinnatus 1 (1856): 371. See also Wiley, H. W., The Northern Sugar Industry: A Record of its Progress During the Season of 1883 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884), 7173.

73. Pauly, Fruits and Plains, 101.

74. Goetzmann, William H., Army Exploration in the American West, 1803–1863 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1991), 321.

75. Balogh, Brian, A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 11.

76. Goetzmann, William H., Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West (New York: Knopf, 1966); and Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, 231–331; see also Dupree, A. Hunter, Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986); and Bruce, Robert V., The Launching of Modern American Science, 1846–1876 (New York: Knopf, 1987), 187214.

77. The initial 118-page Report was divided into five sections, for each of the assigned expeditions. The bulk of the report (the first 99 pages) was devoted to the northern-most route. Reports of Surveys, &c., of Railroad Routes to the Pacific Ocean, H. Ex. Doc. 46, 33d Cong., 1st sess. (1854). The first volume of the fuller reports appeared on February 27, 1855, and the last volume was published almost exactly 4 years later on February 29, 1859. Explorations and Surveys for Pacific Railroad, Vol. 1: Routes, Indians, Meteorology, etc., 758 S. Ex. Doc. 78, 33d Cong., 2d sess. (February 27, 1855); Vol. 2: Reports of Beckwith, Lander, Pope, Parke, and Emory, 759 S. Ex Doc. 78 (February 24, 1855); Vol. 3: Whipple's Route, Geology, Indians, etc., 760 S. Ex. Doc. 78 (February 24, 1855); Vol. 4: Whipple's Route, Botany, Zoology, etc., 761 S. Ex. Doc. 78 (February 24, 1855); Vol. 5: California Route, Geology, Botany, 795 H. Ex Doc. 91 (December 31, 1854); Vol. 6: California to Oregon Route, Geology, Botany, Etc., 763 S. Ex Doc. 78 (February 24, 1855); Vol. 7: West California and Rio Grande, Geology, Botany, Official Review of Surveys, 764 S. Ex. Doc. 78 (February 24, 1855); Vol. 8: Mammals, Text and Plates, 765 S. Ex. Doc. 78; vol 9: Birds, Text, 766 S. Ex. Doc. 78 (February 24, 1855); Vol. 10: Reptiles, Fishes, and Miscellaneous Zoology, with Plates, 800 H. Ex. Doc. 91 (February 14, 1859); Vol. 11: Explorations 1800–1857, with maps, profiles, etc., 769 S. Ex. Doc. 78 (February 24, 1855); and Vol. 12: “Narrative and Final Report”, 2 bks, 992 S. Ex. Doc. 46, 35th Cong., 2d sess. (February 28, 1859). In addition to the initial Reports and the Explorations and Surveys, there was also a multivolume report of the surveys themselves. Pacific Railroad Surveys, Vol. 1: Humphrey, McClellan, Jessup, and Stevens, 736 H. Ex. Doc. 129, 33d Cong.; Vol. 2: Beckwith, Whipple, and Pope, 737 H. Ex. Doc. 129, 33d Cong.; and Vol. 4: Maps, 739 H. Ex. Doc. 129, 33d Cong.

78. Bruce, The Launching of Modern American Science, 115.

79. Carmichael, Leonard and Long, J. C., James Smithson and the Smithsonian Story (New York: Putnam, 1965), 14 (quoting Smithson's will). On Smithson and the Smithsonian Institute, see Ewing, Heather P., The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian (New York: Bloomsbury, 2007); Burleigh, Nina, The Stranger and the Statesman: James Smithson, John Quincy Adams, and the Making of America's Greatest Museum: The Smithsonian (New York: Morrow, 2003); Bruce, The Launching of Modern American Science, 187–200; Hinsley, Curtis M., Savages and Scientists: The Smithsonian Institution and the Development of American Anthropology, 1846–1910 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1981); Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, 66–90; and Rhees, William Jones, James Smithson and His Bequest (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1880).

80. Johannsen, Douglas, 466; Bruce, The Launching of Modern American Science, 192.

81. Bruce, The Launching of Modern American Science, 193–95; and Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, 83–86.

82. Annual Report for the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year 1859 (Washington, DC: Thomas H. Ford, 1860), 7, 13. “Report of the Secretary,” Smithsonian Report (1860) 14, 17, 32, 33.

83. Dupree, Science in the Federal Government.

84. Brown, Knowledge is Power, 244.

85. Janet Altman coined the term “epistolarity.” Altman, Janet Gurkin, Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1982). See also Gerber, Authors of Their Lives; Decker, Epistolary; Barton and Hall, Letter Writing as a Social Practice; Earle, Rebecca, ed., Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600–1945 (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 1999); Hewitt, Elizabeth, Correspondence and American Literature, 1770–1865 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004); and Elliot, Bruce S., Gerber, David A., and Sinke, Suzanne M., eds., Letters Across Borders: The Epistolary Practices of International Migrants (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

86. Hewitt, Correspondence and American Literature, 55.

87. Altman, Epistolarity, 119–20.

88. On letter-writing as a “social practice,” see Gerber, Authors of Their Lives; Barton and Hall, Letter Writing as a Social Practice; Earle, Epistolary Selves; and Elliot, Gerber, and Sinke, Letters Across Borders.

89. S.R. Moore, Kankakee, to Stephen A. Douglas, April 16, 1857, box 5, folder 9.

90. A. Bainbridge, South Pass, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 18, 1861, box 34, folder 15; George Stowell, Polo, to Stephen A. Douglas, March 28, 1856, box 3, folder 25; Obadiah Jackson, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 31, 1857, box 8, folder 15; Michael Tait, Joliet, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 1, 1858, box 8, folder 22; Samuel Ashton, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, May 9, 1858, box 4, folder 3 (emphasis in original); and W.L. Deneen, Lebanon, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 21, 1857, box 7, folder 20.

91. W.D., Paris, to Stephen A. Douglas, November 23, 1857, box 6, folder 10; Horace Hickox, Springfield, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 10, 1861, box 35, folder 12; John McBride, Red Bud, Randolph Co., to Stephen A. Douglas, July 23, 1860, box 32, folder 16 (emphasis added); and William Moore, Paris, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 7, 1857, box 6, folder 18.

92. Bannet, Eve Tavor, Empire of Letters: Letter Manuals and Transatlantic Correspondence, 1688–1820 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Hewitt, Correspondence and American Literature; Dierks, “The Familiar Letter.” Schultz, “Letter-Writing Instruction”; see also Schlesinger, Arthur M., Learning How to Behave: An Historical Study of American Etiquette Books (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1946); and Mahoney, Deirdre, “‘More Than an Accomplishment’: Advice on Letter-Writing for Nineteenth Century American Women,” The Huntington Library Quarterly 66 (2003): 411.

93. Decker, Epistolary Practices, 14; Lucille M. Schultz, “Letter-Writing Instruction. Konstantin Dierks, “The Familiar Letter and Social Refinement in America, 1750–1800,” in Barton and Hall, Letter Writing as a Social Practice, 31–42. See also Susan Whyman, “‘Paper Visits’: The Post-Restoration Letter as Seen Through the Verney Family Archive,” in Earle, Epistolary Selves, 15–36.

94. Altman, Epistolarity, 65–66.

95. Andrew Harvie, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, November, 11, 1853, box 3, folder 1; C.C. Alexander, Sterling, to Stephen A. Douglas, November 24, 1857, box 6, folder 10; Magnus Miller, Rock Island, to Stephen A. Douglas, June 17, 1857, box 5, folder 18; O.B. Maples, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 4, 1857, box 6, folder 17; Arthur Windett, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 29, 1857, box 8, folder 13; B. Cameron, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, April 5, 1856, box 3, folder 26; Mrs. Adaline Buffum, Joliet, to Stephen A. Douglas, March 4, 1861, box 36, folder 4; James Fee, Camp Point, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 23, 1857, box 8, folder 1 (emphasis added); Fayette Walker, Evanston, to Stephen A. Douglas, June 11, 1857, box 5, folder 18 (emphasis in original).; J.J. Brown, Charleston, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 30, 1857, box 8, folder 14; B. Caulfield, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, March 9, 1857, box 5, folder 2; and William A. Monroe, East Paw Paw, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 14, 1861, box 34, folder 12.

96. W.J. Stephenson, et al., Ashly, to Stephen A. Douglas, August 29, 1857, box 6, folder 6 (emphasis added); William Ross, Pittsfield, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 21, 1857, box 7, folder 22; R.L. Wheeler, Elgin, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 1858, box 8, folder 20; James Barnard, PM, Wilkesboro, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 8, 1861, box 34, folder 3; Isaac McCann, Ashmore Station, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 14, 1860, box 34, folder 11; and E.A. Collins, Galena, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 11, 1861, box 34, folder 7.

97. Twenty-six people identified themselves as “political friends” or supporters. For a discussion of the related concept of “political brotherhood,” see Baker, Jean, “In Eclipse: Democratic Culture and the Crucible of the Civil War,” in Democrats and the American Idea: A Bicentennial Appraisal, ed. Kovler, Peter (Washington, DC: Center for National Policy Press, 1992), 101–26; and Gordon S. Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), 58.

98. Bannet, Empire of Letters; and Hewitt, Correspondence and American Literature, 2.

99. See, for example, The New Universal Letter-Writer, or, Complete Art of Polite Correspondence… (Philadelphia: Hogan & Thompson, 1836); and Chesterfield's Art of Letter-Writing Simplified… (New York: Dick & Fitzgerald, 1857).

100. See, for example, E. Frailey, “Writing Letters Today,” The English Journal 28 (January, 1939): 64; and Weseen, Maurice H., “Business English: Going and Coming,” American Speech 1 (1926): 447. Both criticized the subscription “obedient servant,” but Weseen also criticized the humility ethic more generally. “‘Believe me to be, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,’” she wrote, “is even more ancient and intolerable. Advertising one's humility is in poor taste to-day. It is called ‘boot-licking.’”

101. Genovese, Eugene D., Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York: Pantheon Books, 1974).

102. Of the 1142 letters examined, 402 writers identified their party affiliation by name. Of this total, 394 identified themselves as Democrats, 4 as Republicans, 3 as Whigs, and 1 as Loco Foco.

103. Cornelius Knapp, Albany, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 28, 1861, box 34, folder 25.

104. H.G. Weston, Peoria, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 17, 1857, box 7, folder 11; Charles Eggleston, Peoria, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 8, 1852, box 2, folder 2; G.L. Iliet [?], Pottsville, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 2, 1852, box 2, folder 3; William McCormack, Danville, to Stephen A. Douglas, April 1, 1856, box 3, folder 26; and James Murphy, Williamsburgh, New York, to Stephen A. Douglas, March 13, 1856, box 3, folder 22.

105. Johannsen, James Vendevanter, PM, LeRoy, to Stephen A. Douglas, Feb. 11, 1856, box 3, folder 15, 467, 550–60, 622.

106. Ward H. Lamon, Danville, to Stephen A. Douglas, May 2, 1856, box 4, folder 3 (emphasis in original); John Dickson, Camden Mills, to Stephen A. Douglas, April 15, 1857, box 5, folder 8 (emphasis in original); Joshua Rucker, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, May 18, 1857, box 5, folder 14; and [Luke?] Wilson, Libertyville, to Stephen A. Douglas, June 3, 1857, box 5, folder 17.

107. James Vandevanter, PM, Le Roy, to SAD, Feb. 11, 1856, box 3, folder 16 (emphasis in original).

108. John McCallister, Council Hill, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 27, 1857, box 4, folder 14. McCallister confessed to committing this criminal act. His apology was that, “I live in one of the damd. English abolitionist Black Republican holes in the U.S. … I am the only man in this Township that fights for the Democratic Cause.”

109. John, Spreading the News, 120.

110. James McNulty, Illinois, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 1, 1856, box 3, folder 16; A.W. Herrington, Seneca, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 11, 1856, box 3, folder 16; Issac Dimmick, Ottawa, to Stephen A. Douglas, April 20, 1857, box 5, folder 10; J.M. Anderson, Summerhill, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 24, 1857, box 8, folder 3; A. Diller[?], Brighton, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 11, 1856, box 3, folder 22; and Unknown, Kankakee City, to Stephen A. Douglas, April 10, 1857, box 5, folder 7.

111. H. Tobias, Brickton, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 9, 1857, box 6, folder 20; A. Eddy, et al., Riley, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 1858, box 8, folder 18; E. Bursall, Jr., Edgington, Rock Island, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 28, 1856, box 3, folder 19; C. C. Alexander, Sterling, to Stephen A. Douglas, November 24, 1857, box 6, folder 10; and W. M. Learing, Princeton, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 22, 1857, box 7, folder 25.

112. McCormick, “Party Period and Public Policy,” 287, 290–95.

113. For a discussion of this theme, see Altschuler, Glenn C., and Blumin, Stuart M., Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 313.

114. Jed Shugerman, “The People's Courts: The Rise of Judicial Elections in America” (PhD diss., Yale University, 2008).

115. John Philip, Arlington, to Stephen A. Douglas, January, 1858, box 8, folder 19; John McCallister, Council Hill, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 7, 1857, box 4, folder 14; and Cushman, Ottawa, Illinois, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 17, 1857, box 4, folder 18.

116. James Murphy, Williamsburgh, New York, to Stephen A. Douglas, March 13, 1856, box 3, folder 22; B. O'Connor, Beloit, Wisconsin, to Stephen A. Douglas, November 22, 1857, box 6, folder 10; and M. [?] Peoples, Mt. Pleasant, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 7, 1852, box 2, folder 1.

117. George A. Schufeldt, Jr., Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 21, 1857, box 7, folder 22; H. Butler, Libertyville, to Stephen A. Douglas, Aug. 12, 1857, box 6, folder 3; Henry Jones, to Stephen A. Douglas, box 9, folder 4; L.M. Chapman, Sterling, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 4, 1857, box 6, folder 17; and John Liming, Perry, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 22, 1857, box 7, folder 24.

118. R. Andrus, Bloomington, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 5, 1852, box 2, folder 4; Rev. Wingate J. Newman, Franklin, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 8, 1861, box 34, folder 4; Joseph Thomas, Orange(?), to Stephen A. Douglas, December 20, 1857, box 7, folder 18; Joseph Knox, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, March 10, 1861, box 36, folder 10; and John Lindesmith, Blue Ridge, to Stephen A. Douglas, January 16, 1861, box 34, folder 13.

119. W.(?) Gallahan, Meeny, to Stephen A. Douglas, February 9, 1852, box 2, folder 4 (emphasis in original); Mrs. M.B. Davis, Chicago, to Stephen A. Douglas, November 11, 1857, box 6, folder 8; and Kate Hipple, Plymouth, to Stephen A. Douglas, December 24, 1857, box 8, folder 3.

120. Wood, Gordon S., Representation in the American Revolution, revised ed. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 45.

121. Id. 1.

122. Wood, Radicalism, 259.

123. The best work on political representation has focused on the eighteenth century; see Adams, Willi Paul, The First American Constitutions: Republican Ideology and the Making of the State Constitutions in the Revolutionary Era, expanded ed. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), 228–53; Wood, Gordon S., The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998); Rakove, Jack N., Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (New York: Vintage Books, 1997); Reid, John Phillip, The Concept of Representation in the Age of the American Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989); and Pole, J.R., The Gift of Government: Political Responsibility From the English Restoration to American Independence (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983); and Political Representation in England and the Origins of the American Republic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966). For the nineteenth century, see, for example, Zagarri, Rosemarie, The Politics of Size: Representation in the United States, 1776–1850 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987); Argersinger, Peter H., “The Value of the Vote: Political Representation in the Gilded AgeJournal of American History 76 (1989): 59; Shields, Johanna Nicol, “Whigs Reform the ‘Bear Garden’: Representation and the Apportionment Act of 1842,” Journal of the Early Republic 5 (1985): 355; and Pole, J.R., “Suffrage and Representation in Massachusetts: A Statistical Note,” The William and Mary Quarterly 14 (1957): 560, Representation and Authority in Virginia From the Revolution to Reform,” The Journal of Southern History 24 (1958): 16, and Suffrage and Representation in Maryland From 1776 to 1810: A Statistical Note and Some Reflections,” The Journal of Southern History 24 (1958): 218; see also Grazia, Alfred De, Public and Republic: Political Representation in America (New York: Knopf, 1951). There are also several studies on the right to vote. For a good synthesis of that work, see Keyssar, Alexander, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (New York: Basic Books, 2000).

124. Mettler, Suzanne and Milstein, Andrew, “American Political Development From Citizens' Perspective: Tracking Federal Government's Presence in Individual Lives Over Time,” Studies in American Political Development 21 (2007): 110. Julian Zelizer has also recently encouraged historians to look beyond voting and elections to understand citizenship. Zelizer, Julian E., “History and Political Science: Together Again?Journal of Policy History 16 (2004): 127, 130.

125. John, Spreading the News.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed