Nathan Belcher Correspondence
Nathan Belcher was born in Preston, Connecticut in 1813. He was graduated from Amherst College in 1832 and trained in law at Harvard Law School. He began business in manufacturing in New London, Connecticut in 1841 and was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1846 and the state Senate in 1850. He was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1853, before choosing not to stand for re-election in 1855 as Know Nothings swept the polls statewide.
The bulk of the Belcher Correspondence consists of letters from constituents during his two years in the U.S. House. Many of the letters deal with common constituent services, like requests for official documents, help with patent applications, and inquiries into civil service appointments. Much of the correspondence concerns the major issue of the day: the Kansas-Nebraska Act (referred to in the correspondence as the Nebraska Bill). The Act was enormously unpopular with Belcher's constituents, even as many of them expressed at least some tolerance for slavery. Other letters describe the evolving political atmosphere in Connecticut, as the Know Nothings and temperance movement began to gather strength in the months prior to the 1855 elections.