November 1, 2007

November 1, 2007 - ...from the penitentiary to Congress

From 1933 to 1946, Illinois Representative Everett Dirksen sent weekly newsletters back to his constituents. These primary sources offer a glimpse into the daily workings of Congress during the Great Depression and World War II, and have been digitized by the Dirksen Confressional Center, a non-for-profit that seeks "to improve civic engagement by promoting a better understanding of Congress and its leaders through archival, research, and educational programs." The letters also offer insight into Dirksen's colleague as shown in his first newsletter describing a Representative from Minnesota.

From Minnesota comes a Member named Shoemaker, who in his Congressional biography stated, "from the penitentiary to Congress. Others often go from Congress to the penitentiary." His right to have the oath administered was challenged and after much debate, he was seated. Congressman Shoemaker is a newspaper editor. A few years ago, he learned that a crooked banker had attempted to pay what was due on a certain trust fund to a widow and her children, in spurious bonds and at once began a crusade in behalf of this family with the result that the banker was compelled to pay the family in proper money with 6% interest for the time he withheld it. The banker, in a letter, upbraided Shoemaker whereupon, he sent the banker a letter, and on the envelope below the banker,s name wrote, "Robber Of Wiidows And Orphans". This constitutes defamation under the Postal laws and on indictment and conviction Shoemaker was sentenced to Leavenworth for one year and one day. After his discharge from penitentiary, he immediately became a candidate for Congress and was elected. Under Minnesota law, anyone convicted of a felony has no civil rights unless they are restored by the legislature. Consequently, his right to a seat in Congress was challenged. But he was seated.

Representative Francis Henry Shoemaker served one term in Congress (1933-1935) and represented the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party. The Party merged with the Democratics in 1944 to from the Democratic Farmer Labor Party.

July 12, 2007

Germany Surrenders Unconditionally

National Archives and Records Administration. 1945. AE 1.2:G 31

The National Archives also has the "End of the War in the Pacific", 1945, AE 1.2: Su 7. These documents contain facsimiles of surrender documents in English, Russian, German and Japanese.


July 5, 2007

How Your Words Get to Japan

Department of the Navy. 1945. N 1.2: J27.

Prepared by the War Advertising Council in cooperation with the Office of War Information, this
document presents facts from the official records of the Army, Navy, FBI, and the Office of Censorship.


June 28, 2007

Attack Upon Pearl Harbor by Japanese Armed Forces

77th Congress, 2d Session, Senate Document Number 159. 1942. 21 pages. Serial Set 10676
This report was prepared by the commission appointed by President Roosevelt to investigate the attack upon Pearl Harbor. the attack occurred on December 7, 1941, the commission was appointed on December 18, and the report was submitted on January 23, 1942.


June 21, 2007

Military Highway to Alaska

Canada, signed March 17 and 18, 1942, Executive Agreement Number 246. 1942. 5 pages. S 9.8:246.
Executive agreements like treaties represent a formal understanding between nations. This agreement endorses the plan to build the Alcan International Highway to further the war effort of regaining the Aleutian Islands. The 1,523 mile highway opened on November 21, 1942.


June 14, 2007

Report of the Special Committee on Un-American Activities

76th Congress, 1st session. House Report Number 2. 1939. 124 pages. Serial Set 10296.
This is the first annual report of the Special Committee whose status later evolved into a standing House committee from 1945-1969. In the 1950s, the committee was chaired by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.

June 7, 2007

Federal Register

National Archives and Records Administration. AE 2.7:1. March 14, 1936.
Because of a case which resulted in the U.S. Attorney General having to explain to the Supreme Court why he was prosecuting two Texas oil companies over violations of regulations that didn't exist at the time of the alleged violation, Congress decided that it would be a good idea if there was a single source that recorded all regulations in force or development, as well as presidential executive orders and proclamations. Thus was born the Federal Register. (Source:

June 1, 2007

Social Security Act of 1935

Statutes at Large. GS 4.111: 49. (49 Stat. 620. P.L. 74-271.)
On August 14, 1935, the Social Security Act established a system of old-age benefits for workers, benefits for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment insurance, aid for dependent mothers and children, the blind, and the physically handicapped. An unofficial transcription is available from the National Archives and Records Administration at Transcript of Social Security Act (1935).


May 24, 2007

Treaty for the Renunciation of War

Department of State. 1933. S 9.2: W 19/5.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 condemned war as a solution to international conflicts. Germany, Japan, and Italy signed the agreement.


May 17, 2007

Works Progress Administration, Sponsored federal project no.1, (Art. music, theatre and writing)

1935. Y3.W89/2: 3/29/supp. 1.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was established by Executive Order No. 7034, May 6, 1935 and charged with employing as many people as quickly as possible to help end the Great Depression.


May 10, 2007

Unemployment in the United States

Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, U. S. Senate, 1930. Y 4.C 73/2: Un 2
Following the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, the government began to realize that this wasn't just a minor correction, but the beginning of an unprecedented recession.


May 3, 2007

Commerce Yearbook 1928

Department of Commerce. C 18.26: 1928.

Given the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed, the summary of banking and finance activities in 1927 (p. 637) is still unnerving after all these years:

"In 1927, there was continued growth in the volume of practically every kind of financial transaction; but, except in the stock market, it was a growth so sound and gradual as to be without great general interest....Stock-market speculation was most pronounced; 1927 was a year of swiftly rising security prices, without any setback worth mentioning. Both stocks and bonds reached new high levels for all time and about one-half of the increased loans by all banks were in the form of brokers' collateral loans."


April 12, 2007

Flight of Captain A. Charles Lindbergh from New York to Paris, May 20-21, 1927

Department of State. 1927. S 1.2: L64. Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic caused so much excitement around the world that the State Department compiled 43 pages of messages on the topic and published them.


March 8, 2007

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) is the official record of the United States' foreign policy. The Department of State has published FRUS since 1861. FRUS can be found in the libraries for 1870-1931 and 1932-present. You can find online versions for 1861-1960 at University of Wisconsin Digital Collections and for 1952-present at the Department of State.