Petitioning

The simple act of adding your name, along with others, to an official appeal asserts your political identity and rights. While petitioning has been open for everyone, it was especially important for those barred from voting. In the early Republic, mass petitioning provided poor white men, women, free blacks, and other minorities a means to voice grievances and to claim a role in determining the direction of the country.

Petitions

Petitions

A small sampling of petitions from the 19th and early 20th century presented to Congress

Courtesy of National Archives Foundation

Petitioning has maintained a role in the democratic process. Whether they are traditional paper forms or electronic mailings, petitions continue to offer a means for individuals to shape political discourse.

Petitions to Congress

The first nationally organized petitioning drive was a protest against the federal government removing Cherokee Indians from their eastern native lands. Since then petition drives have focused on topics as diverse as can be imagined.

Memorial from the ladies of Steubenville, Ohio, protesting Indian removal, February 15, 1830

Memorial from the ladies of Steubenville, Ohio, protesting Indian removal, February 15, 1830

Loan from National Archives and Records Administration

Continuing the Tradition

Continuing the Tradition

Petition from citizens of East Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut, against Sunday mail, January 18, 1830

Loan from National Archives and Records Administration

Postcards sent to Congressman William Fuller requesting support for the labeling of imitation butter and cheese, 1886

Postcards sent to Congressman William Fuller requesting support for the labeling of imitation butter and cheese, 1886

Loan from National Archives and Records Administration

Petitioning Congress

Petitioning Congress

Congress receiving petition for reduction of federal tax on earned income, December 1929

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Environmental organizations delivering written petitions to Congress opposing the Keystone Pipeline, February 14, 2012

Environmental organizations delivering written petitions to Congress opposing the Keystone Pipeline, February 14, 2012

Courtesy of 350.org