"Department of State," Philadelphia: April 2, 1799. pp., totaling approximately 375 words, on a single quarto sheet, docketed on verso of integral blank leaf. Original folds, a few tiny bits of loss along folds costing jus a few letters, early unobtrusive staining. Very good. Item #4810
An informative correspondence concerning official printing of Congressional laws by the U.S. government during the Federal Era, sent by the United States Secretary of State, Timothy Pickering (1745-1829) to important Providence printer John Carter, Jr (1745-1814). At the time he sent this letter, Pickering was serving under President John Adams, and John Carter, who had been a printing apprentice to Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, was the publisher of the Providence Gazette. Pickering's correspondence mentions the impetus for his contact with Carter, lays out a very specific method for publishing the laws in Carter's newspaper, and touches upon compensation for the job work. In addition, Pickering makes several mentions of Gershom Craft, the publisher of The Federalist: New-Jersey Gazette in Trenton. A fascinating Federal-era letter wholly concerned with early American print work which reads, in full:
"Sir, An act passed in the last session of Congress directs me to publish the laws of the United States & beginning with the laws of that session, in at least one news-paper in each of the States. I have chosen yours for their promulgation in the State of Rhode Island. To render the publication in the newspapers more useful, by providing for the preservation of the laws, in a convenient form, I have determined on the mode which the inclosed Trenton paper exhibits. By devoting one half sheet weekly to the publication of the laws, disposed in octavo pages, each of your subscribers will, with the current news, receive a complete copy of the laws of the United States, in a form to be folded into a pamphlet, unmixed with any other matter, by their separating the half sheets of the laws from the other half sheets of your news-papers. Presuming that it will be agreeable to you to make this publication in Rhode-Island, I have enclosed the first half sheet of Mr. Craft's Trenton paper [not present], which begins with the first laws of the last Session of Congress. To shew your authority to print the laws, you will print on the back of the title page your appointment in the words prescribed to Mr. Craft, inserting your own name instead of his. For want of sufficient information, I have not yet fixed the compensation for the publication of the laws in this new form: but Mr. Craft tells me there will be little difference between this and printing them in common news-paper columns. Whatever others receive I shall allow to you. If not too inconvenient, I would recommend your printing the laws page for page with Mr. Craft's edition. While you are printing the laws, be pleased to send me your news-papers containing them under a coarse but closed cover. I am Sir, your most obt. servant, Timothy Pickering."