Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 7 Railroads

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 Railroads, 1873-1921

7.40 The Committee on Railroads succeeded the Committee on the Pacific Railroad on March 12, 1873. The records consist of committee papers, 1875-1889 (5 in.), and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures referred to the committee, 1873-1911 (1 ft.). Although the committee continued to exist after the 50th Congress (1887-89), other committees acquired legislative jurisdiction over matters formerly within its authority, and there are few papers after 1889. In particular, the Committee on Interstate Commerce, with its interest in regulating railroad rates and assuring safety of railroad passengers and crews, and the Committee on Pacific Railroads, which focused on the financial status of the Union Pacific Railroad, played significant roles affecting railroad legislation in the Senate.

7.41 The committee papers include a small number of legislative case files, particularly concerning the rights-of-way through the Indian Territory (47A-E23); communications printed as House documents; papers relating to the Union Pacific Railroad such as copies of freight tariffs and letters from railroad executives Colis P. Huntington and Sidney Dillon (44A-E18); and a 22-page subcommittee report on aid to construction of railroads in Southern States, 1878 (45A-E21). The petitions and memorials favor financial aid to particular railroads, such as the Texas Pacific, and additional time for various railroads to complete construction in compliance with their Federal land grant (43A-H23, 44A-H22, 45A-H23). Another significant issue before the committee was the granting of rights-of-way through Indian lands; a noteworthy example of a document on this subject is an 1882 memorial from the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Nations of the Indian Territory entreating Congress to maintain their treaty rights (47A-H26).

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.