Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 2

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Chapter 2. Committee on Agriculture and Forestry and Related Committees, 1825-1968

Records of Committees Relating to Agriculture and Forestry 1825-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Agriculture, 1825-1883

2.2 The records of the Committee on Agriculture consist of three series: (1) Committee reports and papers, 1826-42 with significant gaps; (2) committee papers, 1845-57, 1863-83; and (3) petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures that were referred to the committee, 1825-57, 1863-83. The records are very fragmentary and together measure slightly more than 1 linear foot. The National Archives has committee papers for fewer than half of all Congresses in this period, although for most Congresses some petitions, memorials, and resolutions have been preserved.

2.3 Before the Civil War, committee reports and papers consist of original committee reports and related correspondence about proposed import duties on salt and liquor and about scientific and technical proposals. One exceptional file contains the committee report and related papers on the memorial of Dr. Henry Perrine, former U.S. consul at Campeche, Yucatan, Mexico, requesting a land grant in southern Florida to encourage the introduction and to promote the cultivation of tropical plants. His letters and related exhibits, including illustrations, document the natural history and physical conditions in Florida in the 1830's (25A-D1).

2.4 Petitions and memorials that were referred to the committee concern import duties (19A-G1, 21A-G1); cultivation of grapes for wine making (20A-G1), of mulberry trees for silk production (21A- G1, 25A-G1), of tropical plants for fruit and medicinal purposes (29A-G1), and of sugar beets for sugar (25A-G1); establishment of an agriculture and education department in the executive branch (numerous Congresses after 1838) and an agriculture college and national garden (numerous Congresses after 1840); and support for research on potato rot (31A-H1), among other subjects.

2.5 After the reestablishment of the committee on March 6, 1863, the committee papers continue to be extremely fragmentary. There are records in this series for only 4 of the 10 Congresses between 1863 and 1883 on the following subjects: Taxes on tobacco (38A-E1), the cattle industry in general (41A-E1, 38A-E1), and the need to improve the levees of the Mississippi River (45A-E1), (see also records of the Committee on the Improvement of the Mississippi River and Its Tributaries, 46th-54th Congresses).

2.6 Records relating to the transportation, health, and inspection of cattle constitute much of the committee papers and include various documents concerning pleuro-pneumonia, or cattle lung plague (numerous Congresses after 1879), and the design of cattle cars (41A-E1). Petitions and memorials express the public's desire for Federal support for the treatment and eradication of pleuro-pneumonia and other pest and disease problems encountered by farmers and ranchers (numerous Congresses after 1880).

2.7 Other subjects of petitions and memorials include: Establishment of a Cabinet-level department of agriculture (45A-H1, A-H1.1) and a bureau of veterinary medicine (44A-H1), funding for agriculture and forestry colleges (38A-H1, 42A-H1, 47A-H1), specific agricultural patents (numerous Congresses), foreign immigration to settle homestead lands (38A-H1, 39A-H1, 40A-H1), forest reserves (43A-H1, 45A-H1), and protection from adulterated food (45A-H1).

2.8 Records relating to homestead legislation and land-grant colleges are found with the papers of the Committee on Public Lands because these matters chiefly concern disposition of federally owned land.

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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.