Guide to the Records of the U.S. Senate at the National Archives (Record Group 46)
Chapter 7. Records of the Committee on Commerce and Related Committees, 1816-1968
Records of Committees Relating to Commerce, 1816-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States
Committee records discussed in this chapter:
- Commerce and Manufactures Committee (1816-25)
- Commerce Committee (1825-1946)
- Manufactures Committee (1825-1946)
- Pacific Railroad Committee (1863-73)
- Railroads Committee (1873-1921)
- Pacific Railroads Committees (1889-1921)
- Transportation Routes to the Seaboard Committee (1879-1921)
- Mississippi River and Its Tributaries Committee (1879-1921)
- Interoceanic Canals Committee (1899-1946)
- Fisheries Committee (1884-1921)
- Industrial Expositions Committee (1899-1921)
- Standards, Weights, and Measures Committee (1909-21)
- Interstate Commerce Committee (1887-1946)
- Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee (1947-61)
- Commerce Committee (1961-68)
- Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee (1958-68)
Records of the Committee on Manufactures, 1825-1946
7.33 On December 7, 1825, the Senate agreed to create a separate standing Committee on Manufactures as a result of the debate and vote briefly described above. Five days later Mahlon Dickerson of New Jersey became its first chairman. Under the Senate rules at the time, committees did not continue from one Congress to the next, but rather were reconstituted at the beginning of the first session of each Congress. From the beginning of the 34th Congress in 1855 until February 10, 1864, in the 2d session of the 38th Congress, there was no Committee on Manufactures. Thereafter the committee met in each Congress until the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 transferred its jurisdiction to the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce.
7.34 Despite its long, though interrupted, history, there are comparatively few records of the committee. The records consist of committee reports and papers, 1829-1842 with gaps (5 in.); committee papers, 1900-01 and 1918-28 (5 ft.); and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures referred to the committee, 1827-55 and 1895-1938 with gaps (4 ft.).
7.35 Among the early records, 1825-55, the principal subject is the tariff. The committee reports and papers contain several original committee reports that were printed, including a major one on the tariff, July 1, 1842 (27A-D8, 3 in.). A unique file, on S. 235, 24th Cong., a bill to amend certain laws imposing duties on imports, contains samples of mohair and goat hair that were submitted in support of the bill (24A-D9). Likewise, petitions and memorials of this period (3 ft.) also address the issue of the tariff generally (27A-G9, 21 in.) or tariffs on particular imported commodities, such as wool (19A-G9, 20A-G9), coal (22A-G9, 24A-G8, 25A-G10), and manufactured items that competed with developing American industries, such as ready-made clothing (20A-G9) and wire pins (25A-G10).
7.36 Although the committee was reestablished in 1864, there are no committee papers until the 56th Congress (1899-1901), and even then the file consists of a single legislative case file. In fact, there is only one significant body of records in the committee's papers after 1900. These concern an investigation of the condition of the crude oil and gasoline market during the years 1920-22. The investigation was authorized by S. Res. 295, 67th Cong., and chaired by Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., of Wisconsin. The records of the investigation (4 ft.) consist of subject files on various oil companies, information on selected refineries, numerous hearings exhibits, and an original copy of a 1923 committee print, "Foreign Ownership in the Petroleum Industry" (67A-F14). The last committee paper is an original report of the Federal Trade Commission on panhandle crude petroleum, 1928 (70A-F13).
7.37 The petitions and memorials of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (7 in.) focus principally on pure food and drug laws (59A-J70, 60A-J80, 61A-J62), classification and proper labelling of paints and other items (60A-J81, 60A-J82), and other Progressive reforms. One interesting item is a protest from the National Brick Manufacturers Association in 1908 against an appropriation to develop the use of concrete as a building product (60A-J82). After 1911, less than 1 inch of petitions and memorials were referred to the committee.
Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-42). By Robert W. Coren, Mary Rephlo, David Kepley, and Charles South. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.