The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Antebellum Congressional corruption: Slidell takes the biscuit?

The competition is stiff (piece yesterday).

But Nevins (Vol 1 p169) presents a tough challenge in the form of Louisiana Senator John Slidell's
smuggling of the Houmas Land claim through Congress in early 1860. This was a claim to title in about 180,000 acres of fertile Louisiana land. The Federal courts had ruled that the old patent on which it rested was worthless, and Congress had blocked a direct attempt to validate it, but Slidell (who had acquired an interest in the claim) succeeded in inserting a disguised item covering the subject into a general land-claim bill referring principally to Missouri.

For checking suggestions like this, we have the resources of the Century of Lawmaking pages at the LOC [1].

Having done a little poking around, I've been daunted by the facts: before one gets to Slidell's jiggery pokery, there's a legal dispute of Jarndyce v Jarndyce complexity and antiquity to be understood going back to the years surrounding the Louisiana Purchase.

Since I have no guarantee that Slidell's chicanery will be apparent in the record, I'm loathe to do all this preliminary cold-towel work.

I have at least got wise to the need for a PDF convertor (I'm trying this one - which has the essential merit of being free) - the Congressional Globe pages are far more easily handled as PDF.

  1. Incredibly frustrating in being in image form (TIFFs and GIFs); and for its absurd timescale - leaving a stupendous gap (1877-1988) before the THOMAS full-text period takes over (with the 101st Congress). But beggars can't be choosers.

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