Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Stanton, James L.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
James L. Stanton Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1879-1922 (mostly 1883-1886)
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): 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


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:

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).

Archival Appraisal Information:

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

Access Restrictions:

Open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

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

Permanent URL:
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