American State Papers

American State Papers

During the first fourteen Congresses printing was done without guidelines or provision by law as to what would be printed.  The destruction of a large part of Washington in 1814 by the British during the War of 1812 contributed greatly to this lack of Congressional documents.

The American State Papers, comprising a total of thirty-eight physical volumes, contain the legislative and executive documents of Congress during the period 1789 to 1838. The collection includes documents that cover the critical historical gap from 1789 to the printing of the first volume of the United States Congressional Serial Set in 1817. The books are arranged into ten topical classes or series:

I. Foreign Relations VI. Naval Affairs
II. Indian Affairs VII. Post Office Department
III. Finances VIII. Public Lands
IV. Commerce and Navigation IX. Claims<
V. Military Affairs X. Miscellaneous

The compilation, printing, and distribution of the Papers took place from 1831 to 1861 and the thirty-eight volumes contain 6,278 documents. Not all of the classes contain documents from the entire 1789-1838 period. Every volume contains an index and all but one has a table of contents, both with machine-searchable transcriptions.
The Introductory Notice in the first printed volume of the American State Papers cites legislation on its development.

Davidson College Library

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