The Nomination files of the United says Senate, 1789–1946

Winter 2005, Vol. 37, No. 4 | family tree Notes

By man P. Deeben


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Article II, section 2, that the U.S. Constitution offers the president the strength to nominate public officials v the Advice and Consent the the Senate. (General records of the United claims Government, RG 11)

It appeared to be a program appointment. On December 12, 1903, chairman Theodore Roosevelt nominated wilhelm Insco Buchanan to be envoy extraordinary and also minister plenipotentiary that the United states to the Republic the Panama. Buchanan was a job diplomat, having actually served previously as U.S. Minister to the Argentine Republic from 1894 to 1899, as well as director basic of the 1901 Pan American Exposition in ~ Buffalo, new York. That had additionally supervised the World"s Columbian Exposition the 1893 and also was generally regarded a competent professional on Latin America. The Senate instantly referred the nomination come its Committee on foreign Relations. 4 days later, Republican city council Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois favorably report the nomination earlier to the complete Senate, and also Buchanan was evidenced on December 17, 1903.

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The an extremely next day, however, autonomous Senator john T. Morgan the Alabama filed a motion to reconsider the nomination. The Senate took up the matter on January 8, 1904. During the following debate, city council Morgan presented a written argument vehemently the contrary Buchanan"s appointment. Although proclaiming no personal objections come the candidate, Morgan categorically refuse the constitutionality the the nomination. Coming as it go on the heels of a revolution in November 1903 the severed Panama from the southern American country of Colombia, the appointment showed up to it is in a hurried, extralegal exercise by Roosevelt to recognize Panamanian sovereignty (and thereby gain exclusive rights to an isthmian canal zone) without congressional participation. Such recognition, Morgan argued, forced a formal contract that established consular authority for a U.S. Representative to Panama. The American minister to Colombia at this time held such diplomatic jurisdiction. Morgan thus warned the Senate not to collection a dangerous precedent that would enable the chairman "to appoint a minister plenipotentiary to any country, or to any type of state, or any government, de facto, or de jure, civil or military, the in his discretion that may choose to recognize as a power." regardless of Morgan"s objections, the Senate tabled his activity on January 11, 1904, and also upheld Buchanan"s confirmation.

For the most part, william I. Buchanan has actually been forgotten together a public servant in America"s diplomatic corps. The presence of a record among the records of the United claims Senate relating to presidential nominations, however, reveals some detail about Buchanan"s career. There, one may discover the declare of senator Morgan, preserved by the Senate more than 100 year ago, the eloquently documents Buchanan"s involvement in one of the foremost occasions of early on 20th-century American diplomacy. The nomination records of the U.S. Senate thus offer a useful source of details for genealogical research concerning presidential appointments.

The Nature and also Arrangement that the Records

The constitution of the United claims (Article II, ar 2) calls for the Senate to carry out advice and also consent because that presidential nominations to major and minor commonwealth offices, the federal judicial courts, and also diplomatic personnel. In the confirmation process, senators frequently considered the credentials of the nominee, the prestige of the position, and also the prevailing politics climate. Uneven a nominee proved glaringly unqualified, the Senate typically upheld presidential choices regarding appointments, especially for cabinet or other high-level positions. Sometimes, however, castle invoked "senatorial courtesy," or the best of any kind of senator who stood for a nominee"s home state to reject particular appointments when jurisdiction because that the position dropped within that state. This practice allowed individual senators, in effect, to pick nominees, transforming the appointment process at times on the head. In a custom comparable to the which enabled the chairman to do nominations without explanation, the Senate staunchly reserved the right to reject any nominee without responsibility to specify reasons.

The check of presidential nominations, together with the ratification of treaties, constituted an executive duty the Senate shared with the President. Both work were as such performed in confidential sessions different from constant legislative proceedings. The Senate just admitted the public and also press on occasion if a nomination or treaty confirmed of special interest. Secrecy about executive sessions remained formally in location until 1929, back the results of proceedings were published regularly. Years later, during the 96th congress (1979–1980), the Senate pass Resolution 474 closeup of the door nomination documents for 50 year to safeguard the privacy that nominees.

Presidential nominations covered a wide array of commonwealth positions end the following years. In enhancement to cabinet-level posts, civilian nominations came to such varied positions as customs and revenue collectors; postmasters; ar administrators; foreign organization personnel such together envoys, consuls, and ambassadors; and also judicial appointments including U.S. Attorneys, marshals, and judges. Armed forces nominations typically affiliated promotions in the army and navy or appointments of armed forces personnel to civilian boards and also commissions. Nineteenth-century nomination papers quite often reflected appointments that a local or regional nature, if 20th-century papers became an ext national and also worldly in scope, comprising an ext diplomatic nominations and appointments relating to new Deal regulation in the 1930s and also world body such as the united Nations.

Records in the nomination documents vary considerably, both in quantity and also content. The is crucial to remember that records were usually generated when appointments stimulated controversy and debate; a document may not exist for regime appointments. Native 1789 come 1867, nominations were regularly debated and approved on the Senate floor on the very same day they arrived from the President and produced no records beyond the President"s nominating message.

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Some gaps appear in the documents of the at an early stage Congresses. No nomination files exist for the second through 5th Congresses (1791–1799) or the Eighth conference (1803–1805.) In 1868 the Senate embraced a ascendancy to refer every nominations to an suitable committee because that consideration, although the is possible to discover occasional referrals native as early on as 1800. As soon as committees ended up being routinely associated in the process, the official records the nominations were much more reliably preserved.