3 weeks probably wouldn't have been enough time to research and write a memo even half as long as the one I just completed, so I didn't receive another formal assignment. I spent the last few days researching an incredibly specific and obscure aspect of the Bank War, and this involved skimming over 200 pages of the Congressional Globe, which was a lot more fun than you'd think.
After I turned in a rough draft of my naturalization assignment a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to work on a small side-project regarding the issuance of paper currency and the development of a national banking system during the Civil War. In the course of this research I had no choice but to familiarize myself with the House and Senate finding aids, internal guides that allow one to locate particular boxes of Congressional records in the stacks. It was only then that I realized the full extent of the documents stored mere rooms away from my office: original bills (either handwritten or typed, usually depending on the era) and any surviving papers accompanying them, House and Senate committee documents, Congressmen's credentials, records from disputed elections, presidential messages to Congress, petitions and memorials (though I already knew about those), executive nominations, papers related to treaties, etc. I reasoned that even though the Vault is a repository of some of the most important documents in our nation's history, its holdings are quite limited, and there must be a lot of awfully neat items in the stacks that didn't make the cut.
Right I was. As I'm sure you've been able to tell from the pictures I posted last week, I've taken full advantage of the access I enjoy while I'm still here. Researchers can request to see just about anything in the Archives' holdings, but only employees and interns can pull and view presidential messages. I've stayed until 6-6:30 for a few days now doing just that. I've held in my hands communications from Presidents Jackson, Tyler, Taylor, and McKinley transmitting the Treaty of New Echota, Webster-Ashburton Treaty, Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, and Treaty of Paris (1898), respectively, to the Senate and recommending their swift ratification. I've seen and touched hundreds of executive appointments signed by Presidents Monroe and John Quincy Adams, and I've made it my mission to locate every Supreme Court nomination that's kept in the stacks. Quite a few trays of presidential messages (Jackson's, Lincoln's, etc.) have been moved from the stacks for what I presume are security purposes, and you'd be surprised how difficult it can be to figure out the exact date on which an appointment occurred; few web sites trouble themselves to make any distinction between the dates on which individuals were nominated, confirmed, commissioned, sworn in, etc. But I haven't been entirely unsuccessful, and I've learned quite a bit along the way. For instance, how many of you knew that Ulysses S. Grant nominated Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's second Secretary of War, to the Supreme Court mere days before Stanton died? Or that some nominations (including the first John Marshall Harlan's) were written in pencil? I'll have some mighty fine stories to tell in the years to come, and I've got the pictures to prove it. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity won't last much longer, and I'm going to make the most of it, even if it means no blogging for a while.
I helped with a Vault tour for one of Nancy Pelosi's daughters about a week ago. Speaking of Vault tours, I was able to book one for the group of incoming Bodenhamer fellows visiting D.C. in August. If they don't enjoy it, Professor Stewart sure will! Speaking again of Vault tours, after Congressman Gregg Harper visited in June, he told us that he would do all he could to get the Center's interns a tour of the Capitol dome before our internships ended. The man delivered: three of us (John didn't arrive until after our names had been submitted, unfortunately) get to tour the dome on Wednesday! Those pictures should be among the best I've taken all summer.
I'm eagerly/anxiously awaiting the release of law school applications. In the meantime, I'll start writing personal statements for each school (yes, I'm doing this the hard way) after I finish this book. And there's nothing like another application to distract me from tons of applications. I'm applying for an O[ctober] T[erm] 10 internship with s[upreme]c[ourt]o[f]t[he]u[nited]s[tates]blog.com. This is the sort of internship that makes a résumé scintillate and could open doors in the future. I think I'm just as qualified as any other undergrad, all of the work can be done remotely, and the timing couldn't possibly be better for me as far as fitting the internship into my schedule. *Crossing my fingers*
As always, thanks for reading! I'll be floating around in Nerdland until Elise gets here on Saturday (YAY!!!!!), and then I'll be spending my evenings seeing whatever she wants to see. I won't make a detailed itinerary for our Boston trip, but we're going to Concord, Salem, Quincy, and Cambridge in addition to Boston proper. We should have a great time.
Edit: I've dug up a few C-SPAN videos to help you put names to faces if you so choose. Richard Hunt, Director of the Center for Legislative Archives, delivers some opening remarks at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/201142-1. Christine Blackerby (who works in my office), Jessie Kratz (across the hall), and Martha Grove (across the hall) speak at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/288096-1. Charlie Flanagan, who also works in my office, begins speaking at 17:05 of http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/197659.