Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 23 Muscle Shoals

Chapter 23. Records of the Joint Committees of Congress 1789-1968 (Record Group 128)

Table of Contents

Records of the Joint Committees of Congress 1789-1989 (Record Group 128) from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Joint Committee on Muscle Shoals (1926)

JC.066 Section 124 of the National Defense Act of 1916 (Public Law 64-85) authorized the President to provide for the generation of power and the production of nitrates in order to manufacture munitions and fertilizers. The facilities were to be constructed and operated solely by the Federal Government. Accordingly, two nitrate plants were built on the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, during World War I. The Wilson Dam was constructed to supply power for the plants.

JC.067 The advent of peace ended the need for munitions, but the plants were not used to manufacture fertilizer as promised. Instead, by the end of 1925, the plants had been standing idle for 7 years, and their future was a controversial issue. In his annual message to Congress of December 8, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge pressed for transfer of the property to private management. He recommended "appointment of a small joint special committee . . . to receive bids, which when made should be reported with recommendations as to acceptance, upon which a law should be enacted, effecting a sale to the highest bidder who will agree to carry out these purposes."

JC.068 Shortly thereafter, on March 13, 1926, Congress established the Joint Committee on Muscle Shoals consisting of three members each from the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry and the House Committee on Military Affairs. The committee was charged with negotiating for the lease of the nitrate and power properties of the United States at Muscle Shoals. To fulfill this mandate, the committee issued a request for bids for a lease of 50 years or less to maintain the nitrate plant, produce fertilizer, and distribute surplus power. After consideration, the committee recommended acceptance of the offer by the Muscle Shoals Fertilizer Company and the Muscle Shoals Power Distributing Company, two corporations created by a consortium of southern power companies. Bills were introduced to this effect, but no action was taken on them.

JC.069 The records of the joint committee contain the nine proposals received in response to the request for bids. Also available is the committee minute book, which includes newspaper clippings and press releases.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1989.

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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), and Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245) by Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989).