Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 7 Interoceanic Canals

Table of Contents

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:
Records of the Committee on Interoceanic Canals, 1899-1946

7.46 The Committee on Interoceanic Canals was established on December 15, 1899, succeeding the Select Committee on the Construction of the Nicaragua Canal, 1895-99. As its name implies, the initial focus of this committee was on legislation to authorize the construction of an isthmian canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There are less than 2 in. of records for the select committee. Following the completion of the canal's construction, the committee was responsible for monitoring conditions within the Canal Zone and reporting appropriate legislation. The committee continued as a standing committee until the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 transferred its functions to the newly established Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce.

7.47 The records of the committee include committee papers, 1899-1945 (1 ft.), and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures referred to the committee, 1899-1917 (8 in.). The committee papers consist almost entirely of Presidential messages transmitting reports and executive communications reporting on the activities of the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua, the Isthmian Canal Commission, the Governor of the Panama Canal, the Panama Railroad, and the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Tropical and Preventive Illness. There is also one transcript of an unprinted hearing, January 25, 1933, relating to the Canal Zone legal code and several pending House bills (72A-F13) and a small amount of correspondence and legislative reference files for the 77th Congress (1941-42). More than half of the petitions and memorials concern the free tolls for U.S. ships engaged in domestic shipping (62A-J48, 63A-J34, 6 in.), but other subjects include working conditions and the use of alien labor during the construction of the canal (59A-J51), wages of canal employees (64A-J37), and whether or not the canal should be fortified (61A-J47).

Table of Contents

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.