Iran, Tom Cotton and the Bizarre History of the Logan Act

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tags: Iran, Logan Act, Tom Cotton



It’s been over 200 years since members of Congress wore white silk stockings and silver shoe buckles on the House floor, but if you read Tom Cotton’s letter to the leaders of Iran, you wouldn’t necessarily know it.

On March 9th, 47 Republican members of the United States Senate appeared to violate the Logan Act—a law dating to 1799 prohibiting unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments during a dispute with the United States.

The law was a response to the actions of George Logan, a physician and zealous Republican from Pennsylvania, who undertook a lone voyage to Paris in an effort to negotiate an end to the Quasi-War with France. Logan had no official standing or stature, and his private diplomacy stoked Federalist fears of a widespread plot among Republicans (as members of the Jeffersonian party, also known as the Democratic-Republican party, called themselves) to subvert the elected government in Philadelphia.






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