Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 10
Committee records discussed in this chapter:
- Committee on Foreign Relations: Treaty Files (1789-1968)
- Committee on Foreign Relations (1817-1861)
- Committee on Foreign Relations (1861-1917)
- Committee on Foreign Relations (1917-1946)
- Committee on Foreign Relations (1947-1968)
History and Jurisdiction
10.1 The Committee on Foreign Relations was established on December 10, 1816, when the Senate adopted a resolution offered by James Barbour of Virginia to create 11 standing committees, including one on foreign relations. There were both functional and political reasons for making foreign relations a standing committee. In the Senate's first 27 years, more than 200 separate committees dealt with foreign affairs. No rules governing Senate procedure with respect to either treaties or legislative matters existed. The general practice was to establish a select committee to report on each bill or treaty. The Senate relied on a rather small group of Members with a special interest or background in foreign relations to be appointed members of these select committees. Furthermore, the Senate's rules permitted a select committee to be kept in continuous existence throughout a session by referring to it related subjects. These factors provided an unexpected consistency in the Senate's handling of foreign relations.
10.2 By 1816, however, the increased business of the Senate, especially the consideration of nominations and national defense needs arising from the War of 1812, imposed additional burdens on the Senate and provided a further incentive to create standing committees. From the 2d session of the 14th Congress to the present, the Committee on Foreign Relations has met to consider legislation relating to foreign affairs, treaties (except those with Indian tribes), and nominations of diplomatic and consular representatives, among other subjects.
10.3 There is no single comprehensive history of the Committee on Foreign Relations, but several monographs on particular periods or aspects of its activities have been written. Periodically, the staff of the committee produces a brief history, printed as a Senate document, that contains a thorough description of committee procedures, responsibilities, and activities. Its most recent publication, S. Doc. 21, 99th Cong., 1st sess., contains an extensive bibliography on the role of Congress in foreign policy.
10.4 Presidential messages—foreign relations ("treaty files"), 1789-1968 (89 ft.), include records of the Foreign Relations Committee as well as the select committees that preceded it. This series comprises communications from the President on foreign relations that transmit treaties, except Indian treaties, and nontreaty messages on foreign relations; copies of the text of the treaty being transmitted; and committee executive reports on both bilateral and multilateral treaties and conventions. Some files, particularly those of the 20th century, also include correspondence, exhibits, drafts and/or copies of conditions and stipulations, staff memorandums, and hearing transcripts. Since the early 1900's, Presidential messages on foreign relations that do not transmit treaties may be found in either the Foreign Relations Committee's committee papers (before 1947) or the Presidential messages and executive communications series (after 1947).
10.5 The following description applies to all records in the treaty series, whether the files were referred to early select committees or to the standing Committee on Foreign Relations after 1816.
10.6 The records are arranged by Congress and thereunder alphabetically by name of country, except for the earliest Congresses, which are arranged chronologically. For later Congresses, records of multilateral treaties and conventions are filed separately from bilateral treaties, chronologically for each Congress. Each message (and accompanying treaty, if applicable) is assigned an alphabetical designation (e.g., Executive A, 23d Cong., 1st sess.) by which the treaty is identified in the Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Executive Journal), which summarizes actions taken on treaties and nominations and serves as an index to executive proceedings.
10.7 Treaty files that have been transferred to the National Archives are open to researchers. To supplement the Executive Journal, an unpublished finding aid to the records has been prepared by National Archives staff and is available at the National Archives.
10.8 Original and exchange copies of treaties are in Record Group 11, General Records of the U. S. Government, and texts of treaties and international agreements are published by the Department of State.
10.9 The pre-Civil War records of the Committee on Foreign Relations consist of three series: Committee reports and papers, 1817-47 (9 in.); committee papers, 1851-60 (10 in.); and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures that were referred to the committee, 1817-61 (5 ft.). There are no extant committee reports and papers for the 22d and 30th Congresses, but there are at least some records in the other two series for each Congress. The records are arranged by Congress, thereunder by series, and thereunder chronologically by date of petition, memorial, or report or by bill number. For some Congresses, petitions and memorials have been partially arranged by subject if warranted by volume.
10.10 Many of the committee papers and petitions referred to the committee during the pre-Civil War period concern claims. A file may occasionally contain correspondence, business and financial records, and affidavits and other written statements as exhibits to substantiate a claim.
10.11 Three types of claims were referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. One type includes claims from diplomatic and consular officers for additional compensation or relief for personal expenses incurred in the conduct of their official duties. These may detail certain aspects of the diplomatic relations between the United States and the host country. Some claims dragged on long after the claimant (minister, consul, or agent) left Government service or even after his death. For example, the heirs of Thomas Sumter, U.S. Minister to Brazil (1809-11) and Senator from South Carolina (1801-9), submitted 9 inches of correspondence and exhibits, mostly dated 1833, relating to their claim (25A-G7.2). While the volume of documentation in this case is atypical, many such officials, including Edmund Roberts (23A-G5) and Commodore Matthew C. Perry (33A-E5), who were instrumental in opening up the Far East to the United States, submitted petitions or had bills introduced on their behalf. Both the Roberts and Perry files contain correspondence and other records in addition to the bill or petition.
10.12 The second type includes claims of nondiplomatic personnel for contributions they believed they had made, directly or indirectly, to the U.S. Government through their overseas activities. For example, James Morrow, an agriculturist on Perry's China expedition, collected specimens for the Smithsonian Institution, and upon his return a bill to compensate him was introduced (34A-H7). Similarly, when John Reeves, an American naval architect residing in Turkey, was forced by the Sultan to construct vessels for the Ottoman Navy, he sought financial relief from the U.S. Government (36A-H7).
10.13 The third type of claims concerns damage to or loss of private property of Americans at the hands of foreign nationals or damage to foreign-owned property resulting from the action of the U.S. Government. One set of claims, known as the French spoliation cases, resulted from French attacks chiefly on American merchant vessels during the French Revolution through 1800, including the period of the so-called undeclared war. Between 1826 and 1860, four separate select committees considered these claims; however, many such claims were referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
10.14 Other than claims, the subjects of the papers referred to the committee most often relate to diplomatic relations with Great Britain, Spain, and their respective colonies (e.g., Canada, West Indies, Mexico, Cuba) and matters concerning present and future States, chiefly Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.
10.15 Great Britain: Much of the diplomatic activity of the United States between the Treaty of Ghent and the onset of the Civil War concerned Great Britain, including British colonies such as Canada and the British West Indies. The records concern commercial relations with the West Indies (17A-D6), U.S. reaction to the 1854 reciprocity treaty with Great Britain (36A-H5.1), U.S. policy of neutrality in the 1837 Canadian rebellion against the British and modification of U.S. naturalization laws to challenge the British principle of perpetual allegiance (25A-G7.1), and U.S.-Canadian boundary disputes. The records document the long-running border dispute between the United States and Canada over the Maine-New Brunswick border and include a copy of a report of the Joint Select Committee of the Legislature of Maine on the boundary, 1828 (20A-D5); an original Senate report on the boundary issue (26A-D5); and petitions concerning American prisoners of war taken in the Aroostook War (27A-G6). The Maine border dispute was resolved in 1848 upon ratification of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.
10.16 Spain and Spanish colonies: Also prominent during the period are U.S. relations with Spain and her former and then-existing colonies, including Mexico and Cuba. Many are private claims, but among the major subjects are: Implementation of the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819 (23A-D6), Texas independence (24A-D6, 24A-G5), relations with Cuba (32A-E4, 32A-H7.2), and implementation of conventions with Costa Rica and with New Grenada (36A-E5). Numerous records in both the committee papers and petitions concern U.S.-Mexican relations, especially the Mexican War, l845-48, including several petitions opposing the war (29A-G6, 30A-H6).
10.17 Territory and State relations: Also referred to the committee were papers relating to boundary disputes and annexation claims between States and territories. These include a memorial of the legislature of Alabama seeking to annex part of West Florida in 1821 (16A-G5) and an original report on a boundary dispute between Louisiana and West Florida (23A-D6). The annexation of Texas, which narrowly passed the Senate on February 27, 1845, is documented by the committee papers and by petitions and memorials of the 28th and 29th Congresses (28A-D5, 28A-G5, 29A-D5). Also relating to territorial affairs, though not boundary disputes, is a petition from Mormon leader Joseph Smith "praying to be authorized to raise a body of armed volunteers for the protection of citizens of the United States emigrating to the adjoining territories," chiefly Texas and Oregon, dated March 26, 1844, only 3 months before his death at the hands of a mob in Carthage, IL. Accompanying the Smith petition is an April 1834 letter to President Andrew Jackson from three Mormon leaders in Missouri, A. S. Gilbert, W. W. Phelps, and E. Partridge, describing their mistreatment by the citizens and officials of Jackson Co., MO, and requesting Federal protection. How this letter became associated with the Smith petition dated 10 years later is unknown (28A-G5.1).
10.18 Other subjects: There are also a significant number of petitions supporting a more general peace movement. The American Peace Society and various religious groups supported the adjudication of international disputes by a "Congress of Nations" or similar international body, beginning in the late 1830's (25A-G7, 26A-G6, 27A-G6, 31A-H6). Other petitions supported recognition of the independence of Liberia and Haiti (29A-G6.1, 31A-H6.1, 35A-H5.1).
10.19 Records of the committee for this period consist of two series. The committee papers, 1869-1917 (8 ft.), include legislative case files, 1869-1901; certain Presidential messages on foreign affairs; executive communications, chiefly from the Department of State; and originals of certain Senate documents and reports. No committee papers from the 37th-40th Congresses (1861-69) have survived. Beginning with the 57th Congress (1901), legislative case files for all committees are found in the series papers supporting specific bills and resolutions for each Congress. The committee papers also include a small amount of correspondence of Chairman Shelby Cullom (62A-F8) and an unpublished hearing transcript concerning the alleged sale of U.S. Military Academy cadetships (45A-E7). Of the petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures referred to the committee, 1861-1917 (66 ft.), over half concern the issues of U.S. neutrality and the prohibition of export of firearms to belligerent nations before the entry of the United States into World War I (63A-J29, 64-J32).
10.20 The subject matter of the committee records reflects the transformation of the United States from a minor power into a burgeoning imperial nation during this period. Whereas its records before 1861 had focused on Great Britain and its colonies and on Western Hemisphere neighbors, by 1917 its records demonstrate the expansion of America's worldwide interests.
10.21 Great Britain: Strained relations with Great Britain, beginning with British sympathy for the Confederacy during the Civil War and aggravated by a succession of other incidents through the late 1890's, are amply illustrated by petitions and memorials referred to the committee. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, many petitioners sought a reciprocity treaty with Great Britain to improve trade by reducing the high duties of the Morrill Tariff of 1861 (37A-H6, 38A-H6, 39A-H6, 40A-H8, 43A-H9). Petitions concerning the Alabama claims also document exacerbated ill feelings of Americans toward the British (41A-H8.1). By far the most outspoken of the anti-British groups were Irish-American sympathizers of the Fenians, who petitioned the Senate to protect the rights of naturalized U.S. citizens in foreign countries (40A-H8.1, 41A-H8.1). These petitioners protested the arrest of fellow Irish-Americans charged with riot incitement while visiting Ireland. Even after the British recognized U.S. naturalization in 1870, individual arrests still provoked outpourings of support for these alleged victims of British policy (44A-H8, 46A-H8, 52A-J11.2). Americans' general support of Venezuela's demand for arbitration of a long-standing dispute with Great Britain over the border with British Guiana is documented in the petitions and memorials referred to the committee (54A-J12.2, 54A-J12.3, 55A-J11). The Senate rejected a U.S.-British arbitration treaty in May 1897, but calls for such a treaty persisted until 1912 (58A-J22, 59A-J36, 60A-J48, 62A-J36). American reaction to the Boer War was mixed. Petitions and memorials reflect Irish-American support for the Boers (56A-J12, 57A-J18). Lingering anti-British sentiment in the early 20th century was expressed in opposition to proposals to appropriate money to commemorate the centennial of the Treaty of Ghent (62A-J37, 63A-J27).
10.22 Other European nations: The records of the committee suggest that relations between the United States and European states other than Great Britain were uneventful during the 1861-1917 period, except for certain colonial issues, such as German interest in the Samoan Islands (50A-J10.1) and conflict with Spain over Cuba and the Philippines (50A-J10.1, 55A-J11.1, 56A-J12.3). Other subjects include: The transatlantic cable (39A-H6, 41A-H8.1), international expositions (43A-E5, 50A-F9), reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Belgrade and Bucharest in 1884 (48A-E9), commercial treaties and relations with France (53A-F11, 56A-J12.1, 57A-J22) and Spain (48A-H10), and persecution of Jews in Rumania (41A-H8.1) and in Russia (47A-H10.1, 51A-H10, 58A-J28, 62A-J41).
10.23 Canada: Petitions and memorials on U.S-Canadian relations, 1861-1917, indicate that trade, especially reciprocal tariffs, was the foremost issue from 1870 to 1910 (40A-H8, 43A-H9, 44A-H8.1, 55A-J11.5, 57A-J19, 61A-J33). Also related to trade are records of the Select Committee on Relations with Canada (51A-J32) and the standing Committee on Relations with Canada (57A-J64, 59A-F3), in which documentation relating to the Great Lakes deep sea waterway (56A-F11) and preservation of the Niagara Falls (59A-J38) also can be found.
10.24 Cuba: The 1868 rebellion against Spanish rule spawned public demands for the recognition of Cuban independence (41A-H8, 42A-H9.1) that almost led to war in 1870. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish's 1874 executive communication on S.J. Res. 8 (43A-E5), illustrates the administration's efforts to diffuse the warlike atmosphere, but in the mid-1880's, local residents petitioned the Senate to remove the collector of customs at Key West, FL, for "filibustering" (sic) on behalf of Cuban insurgents (48A-H10.1). In 1896, growing support for the Cubans led to Senate passage of S. Res. 163 recognizing Cuban independence. Papers supporting this resolution include communications to Senator Wilkinson Call and clippings from various Cuban newspapers (54A-F11). Petitions referred to the committee in the following Congress urged U.S. intervention in Cuba (55A-J11.1). Following the Spanish-American War, records of U.S.-Cuban relations focus on trade reciprocity (57A-J21), tobacco tariffs (58A-J25), and the Isle of Pines Treaty (59A-J37). In 1899, the Senate established the standing Committee on Relations with Cuba. The records, 1899-1921 (10 in.), include petitions relating to cable construction (56A-J36), trade reciprocity (57A-J65), and postal affairs (59A-J16); a report of the Provisional Governor of Cuba for 1908 (60A-F7); and minutes of a meeting on S. Res. 322, 62d Cong., to determine what legislation was necessary to intervene in Cuba under the Platt Amendment (62A-F5).
10.25 Hawaii: Records of the committee relating to Hawaii focus on trade, reciprocity, and annexation. Rice farmers in southern States, concerned about competition, petitioned for a rice duty in a pending treaty (44A-H8.1). Other petitions followed the 1875 reciprocity treaty (47A-H10.1). The records include a message from President Grover Cleveland, December 18, 1893, on relations with Hawaii following the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani (53A-F11) and a number of pro-annexation petitions in 1893 (53A-J11.3). When native Hawaiians submitted an anti-annexation petition to the Senate, its authenticity was challenged (55A-J11.1). This petition has been published in microfilm as "Petition against the Annexation of Hawaii Submitted to the U.S. Senate in 1897 by the Hawaiian Patriotic League of the Hawaiian Islands," M1897.
10.26 Mexico: Post-Civil War records relating to Mexico begin with petitions opposing Maximillian's intervention in Mexico (39A-H6). Except for petitions relating to claims dating from the Mexican War, there are few records until the eve of the Mexican Revolution in 1911. The Senate received petitions from groups and individuals who feared U.S. intervention (62A-J39, 63A-J28). Undertaking an investigation of the Mexican Revolution pursuant to S. Res. 335, 62d Cong., the Senate held extensive hearings, the transcripts of which have been printed (62A-F8). Records of this investigation also include correspondence of Senator Albert Fall, chairman of the subcommittee conducting the investigation (63A-F9).
10.27 Other Western Hemisphere nations: Records include petitions concerning the Russian-American Fur Company (41A-H8.1); a report on the Alaskan fur seal fisheries (59A-F10); committee papers and petitions relating to Chile (52A-J11.3, 52A-F12); petitions from insurance companies requesting restoration of the diplomatic mission in Bogota, Colombia (45A-H8.1); petitions favoring recognition of Haiti (37A-H6); papers accompanying S. 2636 to incorporate the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua (49A-E12) and petitions supporting completion of the canal (47A-H10.1, 52A-J11.1, 53A-J11.1); petitions supporting the ratification of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty (58A-J28); papers relating to Samoa (50A-J10.1); and claims against Venezuela (41A-H8.1, 48A-H10.1, 49A-E12, 52A-F12).
10.28 China: Records relating to China concern the use of the Chinese Indemnity Fund (41A-H8.1, 42A-H9.1, 48A-E9, 48A-H10.1), U.S courts in China (63A-F9), and restriction of Chinese immigrants to the United States. (44A-H8.1, 45A-H8.1, 47A-H10.1, 48A-E9, 48A-H10.1, 49A-H11, 50A-J10, 50A-J11, 52A-J11).
10.29 Japan: The records concern protection of U.S. citizens living in Japan and the administration of the consular courts (41A-E7, 44A-E6, 47A-E8, 47A-H10.1) and the use of the Japanese Indemnity Fund (46A-H8).
10.30 Philippines: The records include petitions from antiimperialist organizations opposed to the extension of U.S. sovereignty over the Philippines (55A-J11.4, 56A-J12.3). On December 15, 1899, the Senate created the standing Committee on the Philippines, for which the National Archives has records for the 56th-66th Congresses (1899-1921).
10.31 Other subjects: Committee records also document State Department administrative issues and miscellaneous foreign policy interests of the Senate and the public between 1861 and 1917. Among them are a series of petitions, 1866, supporting an international copyright law signed by such 19th-century U.S. literary figures as William Cullen Bryant, James Russell Lowell, and Walt Whitman (39A-H6); several petitions by peace groups calling for establishment of a congress of nations to arbitrate international disputes (42A-H9); petitions supporting a metric system of weights and measures (45A-H8); petitions and memorials calling for reform of the consular service (56A-J12.5, 57A-J20, 58A-J23, 59A-J35, 62A-J38) and construction of new diplomatic and consular buildings (60A-J49, 61A-J34, 62A-J38, 63A-J30); and a message from the Secretary of State endorsing the establishment of a prime meridian and a universal day (50A-F9). Bills and supporting documents concern the incorporation of the American National Association of the Red Cross (51A-F12, 52A-F12, 53A-F11) and the National White Cross of America (56A-F11). Bills and related papers relating to individual claims are found throughout the committee papers, 41st-56th Congresses (1869-1901).
10.32 The records consist of five series: Committee papers (17 ft.), containing some correspondence of the chairman, arranged by subject, 1917-23 and 1933-46, but few papers for 1923-33, most of which were printed; petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures referred to the committee (27 ft.), arranged by subject for most Congresses through 1940, but thereafter arranged chronologically; minutes of committee meetings, 1933-46 (3 ft.), which are generally complete for 1941-46, but not always before that time transcribed from stenotype;) miscellaneous executive session transcripts, 1941 and 1946 (5 in.); and papers of Francis O. Wilcox (the committee's first staff director), 1945-46 (8 in.), which consist mostly of reference material relating to his experience as Senator Arthur Vandenberg's advisor on the establishment of the United Nations before his formal appointment as staff director.
10.33 These records are supplemented by legislative case files ('papers accompanying specific bills and resolutions") and the Presidential messages ("treaty files" and "records relating to treaties with foreign countries"). A transcript of an oral history interview with Francis O. Wilcox, prepared by the Senate Historical Office, may also be useful for the 1945-46 period.
10.34 World War I and Versailles: Petitions concern U.S. involvement in the war (65A-J20, 65A-J21). Armenian, Irish, and Lithuanian groups petitioned for congressional intervention on behalf of their countrymen's freedom (65A-J17, 65A-J19, 65A-J21; 66A-J20, 66A-J23). Similar documents plead for support for the return of Thrace to Greece (66A-J24) and creation of an independent Ukraine (66A-J25). Subject files of the committee papers (65A-E5), petitions, and memorials (66A-J19, 66A-J21) cover the Italian-Yugoslav conflict over the port city of Fiume. The committee papers for the 66th Congress (66A-F8) contain the original Harbord Report, officially titled Conditions in the Near East—Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia (1919), which has been microfilmed on National Archives Microfilm Publication M820, rolls 229-234.
10.35 The League of Nations and the World Court: The struggle between President Woodrow Wilson and Senators with reservations about U.S. membership in the League of Nations, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, is one of the classic battles in the history of the Senate. The committee papers for the 66th Congress (66A-F8) contain original letters from Wilson to Lodge as well as a memo from the Department of State on the withdrawal provision of the League of Nations Covenant. Additional printed material on the League can be found in the committee files for the 67th Congress (67A-F9). There are also petitions concerning U.S. membership in the League (65A-J18, 66A-J22). A longer standing and more popular issue was U.S. participation in the Permanent International Court of Justice, or World Court. Petitions largely supporting U.S. involvement with the World Court were referred to the committee in each Congress from the 68th through the 73d (68A-J25, 69A-J17, 70A-J15, 71A-J30, 72A-J32, 73A-J23). Committee files for the 72d and 73d Congresses (72A-F10, 73A-F10) contain some correspondence of Senator William Borah, leader of the opposition to the Court, and other records relating to committee hearings on the Court. The final vote in the Senate on January 29, 1935, fell seven votes short of the necessary two-thirds to permit U.S. participation.
10.36 Other multinational subjects documented by records of the committee include the Washington Naval Conference of 1921 (67A-F9); the Washington Preparatory Committee for the London Economic Conference, 1933 (73A-F10); and the second London Naval Conference, 1935 (74A-F9).
10.37 Soviet Union: Records of this period relating to U.S.-Soviet relations concern the status of Russian exiles following the Bolshevik Revolution (65A-F5) and recognition of and reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union (66A-J26, 67A-J28). The committee papers also include records concerning the Foreign Service Building Commission and other State Department material relating to the selection of the site of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (73A-F10).
10.38 Western Europe: In the early 1920's, the committee received petitions and memorials requesting aid for Germany and Austria (67A-J21, 67A-28). Three prominent U.S. ambassadors, Joseph P. Kennedy, William E. Dodd, and Joseph E. Davies, expressed their opinions about political and other conditions in western and central Europe during the late 1930's in correspondence with Chairman Key Pittman of Nevada (75A-F9.1, 76A-F9). Historian Claude G. Bowers offered Pittman his interpretation of the Spanish Civil War (75A-F9). The committee papers include President Franklin D. Roosevelt's message of December 11, 1941, asking Congress to recognize the state of war between the United States and Germany and approved copies of the joint resolution declaring war on Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, and Rumania (77A-F1).
10.39 The Far East: The outbreak of the Sino-Japanese conflict in 1931 was followed by numerous petitions and memorials advocating noninterference (72A-J31). Committee subject files during Pittman's chairmanship (1933-40) contain a large and varied body of material on Japan and China and on relations between them (75A-F9.1, 76A-F9). Records of the committee during the first chairmanship (1941-47) of Thomas T. Connally of Texas contain an original transcript of a hearing on H.J. Res. 276, 76th Cong., relating to U.S. financial aid to China, November 11, 1942. Connally's correspondence files are less extensive and more constituent-oriented than are Pittman's, but they include correspondence relating to the return of Maj. Gen. Patrick Hurley from China (79A-F10).
10.40 Canada and Latin America: The committee papers contain a transcript of a State Department official's briefing of the committee on the Tinoco coup in Costa Rica in 1918 (65A-F5), correspondence of Chairman Pittman about the expropriation of Mexican lands owned by Americans (75A-F9.1), and records relating to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Deep Waterway treaty (72A-F10). Petitions relating to that treaty (72A-J30, 73A-J22), Mexico (67A-J26, 69A-J18, 74A-J11), and expressing opposition to ceding the Isle of Pines to Cuba (68A-J24) also have been preserved.
10.41 Rescue and settlement of Jews: A recurring issue brought before the Senate was the treatment of Jews by certain European countries. Concern for their plight in Russia continued to be the subject of petitions and memorials (66A-J26). Interest in S.J. Res. 191, 67th Cong., pertaining to Palestine as a Jewish homeland (67A-J27) and concern over Nazi persecutions in Germany generated many petitions (73A-J20, 74A-J11). Chairman Pittman corresponded with Jewish organizations writing on behalf of German and Polish Jews (74A-F9, 75A-F9.1). After the war, the committee received petitions (79A-J9) and correspondence (78A-F11) objecting to the British policy that restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine. The committee files also contain minutes of meetings at which Palestine was discussed (79A-F10).
10.42 Neutrality and aid to the Allies: Petitions received by the committee, including a telegram from Albert Einstein and his students and colleagues at Princeton University, support an embargo on arms and munitions to belligerents in Europe (75A-J15.1, 76A-J13). Other records include a transcript of a hearing, February 13, 1937, on S.J. Res. 51 and 60 to amend the Neutrality Act; a Presidential message proposing Neutrality Act amendments, July 1941; and many examples of printed material from the America First Committee and similar organizations (77A-F11).
10.43 World peace: The committee periodically received petitions and memorials resulting from widespread campaigns on behalf of world peace and opposition to munitions exports (67A-J23, 70A-J14, 70A-J16). Most numerous of these are those supporting a peace proposal advocated by Father Divine (76A-J14).
- 80th-90th Congresses (1947-1968)
- Records of the Subcommittees
- Records of the Committee Chairman
- Records of the Committee Staff
10.44 Records of the Foreign Relations Committee after 1946 reflect changes wrought on all committees after the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (Public Law 79-601). For the first time, the committee had a small professional staff, directed by Francis O. Wilcox, to advise its members. In the postwar world, the committee's jurisdiction expanded to meet the requirements of the dominant role of the United States in world affairs and of the growing interest in international issues, such as nuclear weapons and disarmament, trade, international energy and investment, international organizations, security agreements, foreign aid, and world environment.
10.45 A comparison between the relevant parts of Senate Rule XXV, which defines the jurisdiction of each committee, in 1947 and in 1982 underscores the growth of the committee's responsibilities since the end of World War II. In 1947, subjects under the committee's jurisdiction included relations of the United States with foreign nations generally, treaties, establishment of boundary lines between the United States and foreign nations, protection of U.S. citizens abroad and expatriation, neutrality, international conferences and congresses, the American Red Cross, intervention abroad and declarations of war, measures relating to diplomatic service, acquisition of land and buildings for embassies and legations in foreign countries, measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard U.S. business interests abroad, the United Nations and international financial and monetary organizations, and foreign loans.
10.46 Between 1947 and 1982, the concept of U.S. neutrality became obsolete and was dropped, but other areas of responsibility were added, including foreign economic, military, technical, and humanitarian assistance; international aspects of nuclear energy, including nuclear transfer policy; international law as it relates to foreign policy; oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs as they relate to foreign policy; the International Committee of the Red Cross, rather than only the American Red Cross; and the national security and international aspects of trusteeships of the United States. Since 1973, the committee has had responsibility to monitor many executive agreements between the United States and foreign governments that are often used instead of formal treaties.
10.47 The role of the committee has expanded in other respects as well, especially in oversight of executive agencies and foreign policy. Rule XXV now specifies that the committee shall make comprehensive studies of "national security policy, foreign policy, and international economic policy as it relates to the foreign policy of the United States, and matters relating to food, hunger, and nutrition in foreign countries..." The committee's jurisdiction extends over the annual authorization bills for and programs of all foreign relations agencies except the Central Intelligence Agency. Since 1968, committee oversight of executive agreements with foreign governments and the commitment of U.S. armed forces to a potential combat situation has been extended by the Case Act (Public Law 92-403) and the War Powers Resolutions (Public Law 93-148), respectively.
10.48 The records of the Committee on Foreign Relations and its subcommittees from 1947 to 1968 include records of the chairmen, committee members, and staff. They document the evolution of the foreign policy roles of the Senate since World War II, the legislative history of bills referred to it, and committee deliberations on treaties and other foreign policy matters. The records include legislative case files on bills and resolutions, executive communications, Presidential messages, and petitions, memorials, and resolutions of state legislatures referred to the committee; records of investigative and other subcommittees; unpublished public hearing and executive session transcripts; and subject and correspondence files. There are also records of executive proceedings of the Senate relating to treaties and of nominations of ambassadors and other high-level executive appointments to positions in foreign relations agencies submitted to it for advice and consent. Although not Senate records, copies of oral history interview transcripts with key committee staff members Francis O. Wilcox, Carl Marcy, Pat Holt, and Darrell St. Claire are on deposit in the National Archives. These provide insights into the history of the committee and contain observations about committee members.
10.49 While this page describes Senate records through 1968, it must be noted that the Committee on Foreign Relations has opened for research, subject to certain conditions, all treaty files, unclassified executive communications, petitions and memorials, and legislative case files that have been transferred to the National Archives. Unpublished public hearing transcripts are usually available at the National Archives when 2 years old. Public access to executive session transcripts and other executive records less than 12 years old is regulated by the committee's rule 12, providing that requests may be made directly to the committee. Several series also include documents that have been security-classified by the agency of origin and as such must undergo declassification review before release. Questions relating to access to such records may be referred to the clerk of the committee or the Records Declassification Division of the National Archives.
10.50 Beginning with the 80th Congress, legislative case files on bills and resolutions referred to the committee ("accompanying papers"), 1947-68 (103 ft.), are maintained as separate series of committee records. They are arranged by Congress, by type of bill or resolution, and thereunder numerically. Each case file contains at least one copy of the proposed Senate bill or resolution or approved House bill or House joint or concurrent resolutions, a copy of the printed report on it, and, if enacted, a copy of the slip law. Bills and resolutions not originating in the executive branch are routinely referred to the appropriate Department or agency for comment, and these comments, in addition to correspondence from other interested parties, may be included. Many files also contain staff memorandums analyzing provisions of the bill; summarizing hearings, meetings, and telephone conversations; and proposing amendments or other changes to the bill. Other records include conference committee prints and reports, hearing transcripts or printed hearings, copies of formal statements presented at hearings, and reference and other printed or near-print material. A recent change in committee policy has opened all of its legislative case files when they are transferred to the National Archives, and therefore such records from the 1980's are open.
10.51 Presidential messages and executive communications ("messages, communications, and reports"), 1947-68 (26 ft.), are filed separately and chronologically for each Congress for the 1947-50 period. From 1951 to 1968, the records are filed together and arranged by committee calendar docket number. Both Presidential messages and executive communications are formal communications from the executive branch. Presidential messages to the committee include President Harry S. Truman's European Relief Program in the 80th Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower's message of July 15, 1958, announcing the landing of Marines in Lebanon. They also transmit statutorily mandated reports. Executive communications are from Secretaries of Departments, heads of agencies, or their designees and include, since 1973, copies of international agreements transmitted to the Senate under the provisions of the Case Act. Some are security-classified. Both types of documents may be accompanied by correspondence and related printed material. An unpublished shelf list describing this series for the 80th-90th Congresses is available at the National Archives. Unclassified executive communications after the 90th Congress are also open to researchers.
10.52 Petitions, memorials, and resolutions of State legislatures and other bodies referred to the committee, 1946-68 (4 ft.), include special files that have been created for petitions supporting the transformation of the United Nations into a world federal government, 1949-51, and memorials concerning the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, 1968. Records after the 90th Congress are also open to researchers.
10.53 Executive session transcripts and minutes, January 8, 1947-September 5, 1979 (34 ft.), document confidential activities of the committee, including business meetings and briefings considered at the time to be too sensitive for public disclosure. Many pre-1964 transcripts have been published in full or part in Executive Sessions of the Foreign Relations Committee (Historical Series). The records consist principally of original transcripts that were published in the historical series and unpublished transcripts. Also included are some transcripts after 1961 that remain classified and others, up to 1979, that have been partially or fully declassified by the committee. Included is the original, unsanitized hearing transcript of the combined Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the military situation in the Far East, April 30-August 17, 1951. Press conference transcripts are occasionally filed with the related executive session transcript or minute, as are other papers, such as committee votes and attendance records.
10.54 Miscellaneous hearing transcripts, 1954-62 (7 ft.), are arranged by subject for the 83d-84th Congresses and chronologically for the 85th-87th Congresses. Many of the transcripts in this incomplete set have been printed.
10.55 Unprinted public hearing transcripts, 1963-68 (26 ft.), are arranged chronologically. Their subjects include nominations, legislation, treaties and conventions, oversight activities, and other committee and subcommittee business. Some press conferences are also included. Post-1968 transcripts are also available. Before 1963, transcripts are sometimes found in nomination case files, treaty files, or legislative case files as appropriate, and a few may be found among the miscellaneous hearings transcripts, 1954-62.
10.56 A subject file, 1947-62 (21 ft.), is arranged by Congress and thereunder alphabetically by subject. For some Congresses, there are two separate subject files. The subject files include correspondence, staff memorandums, draft reports, administrative records (1949-56 only), and various printed matter and reference material. Among the more extensively documented subjects are the legislative history of the Mutual Security Act of 1951, including records of markups and conferences, and of the political and military situation in Vietnam in the late 1950's. The files also contain correspondence of the chairmen. For example, Thomas T. Connally (1949-53) received much public comment, particularly from his Texas constituents, following his criticism of Chiang Kai-shek. An unpublished shelf list of these records for the 80th-90th Congress is available at the National Archives.
10.57 The general correspondence, 1949-64 (9 ft.), arranged by Congress and thereunder by name of correspondent, consists mostly of the correspondence with members of the public rather than with officials. There are no records for the 86th Congress, and records for the 87th-88th Congresses consist almost entirely of correspondence of Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota or his legislative assistant concerning his efforts to establish an arms control agency and his support for the nuclear test ban. Some of this correspondence dates from 1957 and is similar to records of the Subcommittee on Disarmament.
10.58 Reference files relating to committee members, 1955-68 (5 ft.), arranged by Congress and thereunder alphabetically by name of Senator, include copies of correspondence, staff memorandums, clippings from the Congressional Record, and copies of speeches if prepared by committee staff. The files are not comprehensive, and for some members no files were maintained. The shelf list applies to these records.
10.59 Administrative and financial records, 1957-64 (8 ft.), include personnel files on staff, office expenses and travel vouchers, administrative correspondence, and agendas for committee meetings. Similar records for the 1949-56 period are interfiled among the subject files. The shelf list for the 80th-90th Congresses also applies to these records.
10.60 Classified records relating to foreign aid, 1951-63 (3 ft.), include security-classified executive communications and reports from executive agencies concerning the implementation of several foreign assistance acts—such as the Mutual Security Act of 1951 and the Battle Act of 1951 (which banned foreign aid to any nation sending arms, military equipment, or other strategic material to the Soviet Union or Soviet-dominated areas)—and foreign aid authorization and appropriation bills through 1963. Also included are security-classified documents submitted to the committee as background data at hearings.
10.61 Nomination case files, 1947-68 (20 ft.), are arranged in three categories: Major appointments, appointments to advisory committees and international organizations, and routine promotion lists for the Foreign Service. In addition to biographical data, the files for the first two categories may contain correspondence, a hearing transcript, clippings, security clearances, and staff memorandums; of the two categories, the major appointments are more fully documented. Routine promotions constitute 90 percent of foreign relations nominations but contain minimal information on the nominees. Nomination files are closed for 50 years under authority of S. Res. 474, 96th Cong., although transcripts of public hearings on the nominations are available. For further information, see the committee print The Senate Role in Foreign Affairs Appointments (revised, 1982).
10.62 Treaty files are part of the series Presidential messages—foreign relations and "records relating to treaties with foreign countries". There are 36 feet of records concerning treaties that were either approved, disapproved, or returned to the President between 1947 and 1968. Treaty files are not closed until the treaty has been disposed of, and because some treaties await approval for many Congresses, locating certain treaty files can be difficult. For example, several treaties signed in the 1920's and 1930's were not closed out until the 80th Congress (1947), when President Truman agreed to a request by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Arthur Vandenberg to withdraw them. All treaty files that have been transferred to the National Archives are open to research.
10.63 From 1950 to 1975 the Committee on Foreign Relations maintained a number of "consultative" subcommittees that more or less corresponded to the organization of the Department of State. Even though they are no longer termed "consultative," the same basic subcommittee structure remains. The committee also uses investigative or oversight subcommittees for major undertakings requiring more staff and funds than are available under its regular budget. Ad hoc subcommittees dealing with single issues or a number of closely related ones, such as double taxation conventions and certain international organization matters, are established infrequently.
10.64 Most of the foreign relations subcommittees for which the National Archives has records are investigative; however, records of the consultative and ad hoc subcommittees may also appear in records of the full committee.
- Subcommittee on the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees ("Tydings Subcommittee")
- Subcommittee on U.S. Foreign Aid to Free Europe ("Green Subcommittee")
- Subcommittee on Overseas Information Programs
- Subcommittee on Disarmament
- Subcommittee to Investigate Activities of Nondiplomatic Representatives of Foreign Principals in the United States
- Subcommittee on American Republics
10.65 The subcommittee was authorized by S. Res. 231, 81st Cong. (1950), to look into charges by Joseph R. McCarthy that he had a list of 205 names of individuals known by the Secretary of State to be members of the Communist Party who were still working in the State Department. Millard E. Tydings chaired the subcommittee. The records, February-July 1950 (5 ft.), consist of administrative records, staff memorandums and hearing exhibits, general subject files, and files on individuals involved in the investigation. A folder title list accompanies the records.
Subcommittee on U.S. Foreign Aid to Free Europe ("Green Subcommittee")
10.66 The subcommittee was established in response to President Truman's message of May 24, 1951, proposing establishment of a "mutual security program." The full committee sent Theodore Francis Green and eight colleagues to survey U.S. foreign aid programs in Europe, where they consulted with foreign and U.S. military and diplomatic officials. The records, 1951 (1 ft.), consist almost entirely of original transcripts of the hearings and briefings held in Europe in July 1951.
10.67 The subcommittee investigated existing U.S. foreign information programs such as the United States Information Service (USIS) and the Voice of America. Proposed by Senators William Benton and Alexander Wiley in S. Res. 74 and approved over a year later, the subcommittee was chaired by J. William Fulbright in 1952, followed by Bourke Hickenlooper in January 1953. By the time its final report was issued, President Eisenhower had implemented Reorganization Plan No. 8, which created the United States Information Agency. The records, June 1952-July 1953 (4 ft.), include correspondence, transcripts of public and executive hearings, copies of locally produced USIS publications and summary information on various USIS field units, reference material, and administrative records.
10.68 When the Senate approved Hubert Humphrey's resolution, S. Res. 93, 84th Cong., to study proposals on disarmament and control of weapons of mass destruction, it established the Subcommittee on Disarmament, chaired by Senator Humphrey. During the next several years, the staff produced at least 17 studies on disarmament and arms control. Its correspondence ("Sen. Humphrey's file"), 1956-61 (10 ft.), reflects public attitudes toward Humphrey's disarmament activities. Correspondents include representatives of disarmament and peace organizations as well as church and diplomatic representatives. The general correspondence of the full committee, 1949-64 contains additional Humphrey correspondence on this subject. The project records, 1960-62 (6 ft.), relate to a study entitled "Economic Impact of Arms Control Agreements," which was completed in 1962. The study is based on 2 questionnaires sent to 439 defense contractors, and the results were published as a confidential committee print.
10.69 The subcommittee was established pursuant to S. Res. 362, 87th Cong., following investigation of extensive lobbying against President John F. Kennedy's 1962 sugar bill (H.R. 11730) that, in turn, uncovered irregularities in the statements of registered lobbyists filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938. The object of the investigation was to determine to what extent foreign governments tried to influence U.S. Government policy outside normal diplomatic channels. The records, 1950-62 (27 ft.), including 43 rolls of microfilm, consist largely of investigative case files on major lobbyists or lobbying organizations and include correspondence and business records. The microfilm is not labeled clearly but appears to be of Department of Justice FARA files and records of investigated companies, for which there are paper copies in subcommittee records. A box list accompanies the records.
10.70 The subcommittee, chaired by Wayne Morse of Oregon, made a study of the Alliance for Progress undertaken during the 90th Congress. The records, 1967-68 (5 in.), include correspondence, reports, copies of State Department documents, staff memorandums, and reference material.
10.71 While the records of the committee are also invariably the records of its chairman, there are separate series of records identified as records of two specific chairmen.
10.72 The records of Thomas T. (Tom) Connally, 1947-53 (1 ft.), are not strictly the chairman's files. They are an accumulation of mainly security-classified correspondence and reports relating to Connally's trip to Western Europe in the summer of 1952 to inspect mutual security installations and other interests of the committee. Connally was chairman from 1943 to 1946 and from 1949 to 1953.
10.73 The records of J. William Fulbright, 1958-74 (3 ft.), include chronological correspondence files, speeches and statements, and miscellaneous subject files. The correspondence includes a transcript of remarks at an informal meeting between Fulbright and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Capitol on September 16, 1959. Fulbright chaired the Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 to 1973.
10.74 Carl Marcy served as a staff consultant to the committee from 1950 to 1955, when he became chief of staff, a position held continuously until his retirement in December 1973. The records of Carl Marcy, 1953-73 (5 ft.), include copies of outgoing letters, memorandums, draft speeches and statements for the periods January-June 1953 and January 1957-December 1973, and correspondence relating to his work with the Special Committee to Study Foreign Aid Programs, 1956. Augmenting these records, the National Archives has a transcript of an oral history interview with Marcy, prepared by the Senate Historical Office.
10.75 Mary Ann Sames served the Foreign Relation Committee from 1956 to 1965, first as a clerical employee and later as a professional staff member. She also worked for the Democratic Policy Committee under Mike Mansfield from 1965 to 1969. The records of Mary Ann Sames, c. 1960-68 (4 ft.), represent working files accumulated during her employment by both committees. Files relating to foreign affairs are arranged by subject and include staff memorandums and other unpublished documentation. Among the subjects best documented are the Chamizal Treaty with Mexico, 1963, and an attempt in the early 1960's to repeal the Connally Amendment (S. Res. 196, 79th Cong.) affecting certain pending conventions and protocols.
10.76 Although not records of the staff, a valuable resource on the history of the committee from the staff's perspective is the collection of oral history interview transcripts prepared by the Senate Historical Office. In addition to those already noted, former staff director Pat Holt and former committee clerk Darrell St. Claire have been interviewed. Transcripts of all interviews are on deposit with the National Archives.
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.
This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1989.