Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Stanton, James L.
James L. Stanton Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1879-1922 (mostly 1883-1886)
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box B-000791


Consists of correspondence and a few related writings documenting the work of attorney James L. Stanton as Chief Pardon Clerk (1882-1884) and General Agent (1884-1885) under Attorney General Benjamin Harris Brewster in the United States Department of Justice during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur. Among the many cases and events the letters document are those surrounding the Star Routes scandal, which involved fraud by United States postal officials. Frequent correspondents include Benjamin Harris Brewster, Brewster Cameron, and William Haight.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence documenting the work of attorney James L. Stanton as Chief Pardon Clerk (1882-1884) and General Agent (1884-1885) in the United States Department of Justice under Attorney General Benjamin Harris Brewster, along with a few related writings by Stanton. Among the many cases and events the letters document are the trials surrounding the Star Routes scandal involving United States postal officials, which Attorney General Benjamin Harris Brewster prosecuted, as well as a Western Union Telegraph quo warranto case, and the House of Representatives' Springer Committee investigations.

Correspondence includes handwritten and typewritten letters, both incoming and outgoing, telegrams, and interoffice directives, comprising over 200 loose items that total about 380 pages, as well as a letter press-copy book containing Stanton's outgoing letters from July 9, 1884, to June 30, 1885, which number over 150 in total and span nearly 300 additional pages. While there are several earlier and later letters, the bulk of the correspondence in this collection dates from April 1883 to December 1886. Frequent correspondents include Benjamin Harris Brewster, William Haight, and Brewster Cameron, though Stanton also corresponds with many others, including Senator James R. Young, Representative William Springer, and several United States attorneys and post office inspectors.

Most letters are professional in nature, regarding cases prosecuted or under consideration by the Department of Justice, including many references to mail routes important to the Star Routes graft; congressional hearings with which the department was involved; routine operations of the department; conversations with various local attorneys general and other officials across the United States; and political maneuvering surrounding government appointments and elections; though a few personal letters regarding Stanton's family and finances are also included. Stanton assisted Brewster very closely as reflected in Brewster's many letters and memoranda to Stanton that contain highly detailed, methodical instructions as to how to proceed on specific cases. While most letters are either written by or to Stanton directly, there are several related letters between third parties present throughout his correspondence.

The small amount of Stanton's writings included in the collection consist of drafts and notes on the topics of eminent domain, the appropriate response to insults to the American flag, the 1884 Republican National Convention, and a pardon case.


Arranged by material type, then chronologically.

Collection Creator Biography:

Stanton, James L.

James L. Stanton was born in Wilmington, Newcastle County, Delaware, circa 1858-1862, the son of Louis Stanton and Elizabeth R. Stanton. He became a lawyer by his early twenties in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and practiced law until at least 1920. Stanton worked in the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. under Attorney General Benjamin Harris Brewster (1816-1888), first as Chief Pardon Clerk from 1882 to 1884, and then as General Agent from 1884 to 1885, in which role he was preceded by Brewster Cameron. Established as a statutory office by the attorney general under annual appropriation acts in 1873, the General Agent was responsible for the detection and prosecution of crimes. During Stanton's tenure, the Department of Justice prosecuted the Star Routes cases, which dealt with the fraudulent awarding of postal delivery contracts by postal officials in southern and western areas of the United States. Stanton left the federal government in 1885 to return to private practice in Philadelphia.

Collection History


Purchase, 2016 (AM 2016-92).


No materials were separated during 2016 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in September 2016. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in September 2016.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

James L. Stanton Correspondence; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box B-000791