The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
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 .
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.
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