[Washington, DC: 1821]. Single sheet, folded, 32.5 cm. 1p. of text, signed by J.Q. Adams in his capacity as Secretary of State, and directed by him in a holograph postscript, to Mr. Darius Clark, Editor of the Vermont Gazette, Bennington, Vermont. A crisp copy. A circular from the Dept. of State, partly printed, completed in manuscript, authorizing certain prominent newspapers from each state in the union to regularly publish orders, laws, etc. passed by the First Session, 17th Congress. The Dept. of State in turn agreed to pay the newspapers for printing the information. Printed below the instructions and Adams' signature is a partly printed receipt [unused] intended to be used by the newspapers at the end of the year to apply for reimbursement. Item #64481
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) served as Pres. James Monroe's Secretary of State from 1817-1825, before becoming President himself in 1825. The Department of State [originally named the Dept. of Foreign Affairs] was the first Federal Agency created under the Constitution and by September of 1789 the agency had been assigned numerous duties including the responsibility of managing the new republic's foreign policy and promulgating domestic legislation. Over the course of the nineteenth century, many duties of the department were transferred to other agencies as the bureaucracy of the government expanded.
John Quincy Adams accomplished many of his most notable political achievements while a member of James Monroe's Cabinet, the period when this letter was written. Among these accomplishments were the acquisition of Florida, negotiation of the Adams-Onis Treaty, an influential role in the development of the Monroe Doctrine, and several economic initiatives that helped decrease the reliance of the United States on England. It was also during this period that the abundance of legislation passed through Congress began to increase to a point that made it difficult for the government to properly publicize the laws of the land. Adams' solution was simple: prominent newspapers from each state in the union would be required to regularly publish "the Orders, Resolutions, and Laws, except such as are of a private nature, and public Treaties, with the exception of Indian Treaties, which may be approved and ratified during the First Session of the Seventeenth Congress".
The Vermont Gazette was chosen as the publishing agent for Vermont due in part to its status as the oldest newspaper in Vermont (the Gazette was published between 1783 and 1832) and its relatively broad readership (though later the paper became very partisan and its editors became heavily involved in the anti-Mason movement). This document sheds light on the manner in which the government utilized private enterprise for official functions, and demonstrates how limited the early bureaucracy truly was.