Pre-1861 U.S. foreign relations materials

The Foreign Relations of the United States began publication in 1861. Prior to that time, the U.S. government released documents through a variety of means.

One of those means was the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, which began publication in 1817. Your local library may hold the Serial Set or subscribe to an electronic database which contains these documents. Two indexes of foreign affairs-related documents in the Serial Set are available:

Other sources for early U.S. foreign affairs documentation are also available online. These include:

  • American State Papers , which covers 1789 to 1838 and is available online via the Library of Congress.
  • Founders Online , which includes documents from the papers of Secretaries of State Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, among others.