Cornelius Van Vorst, ca.1620; 
Jersey City Free Public Library; Grover Cleveland Political Cartoon; 
Grover Cleveland Birthplace Historical Site Collection Peter Lee, former slave, ca.1880; 
Hoboken Historical Photographs Collection; Farm Map of Hillsboro, Somerset County, 1860; 
Historical Maps of New Jersey Collection; Bathing Beauties, 1890-1930; 
American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark Collection; Flag Salute, 1950; 
Seabrook Farms Collection;

Dear Senator Case
Image of Constituent Postcard to Senator Case
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to petition their government officials. In Senator Case's day, the most common method of contacting an elected official was by sending a letter to the individual's office. Constituents aired their grievances, asked for favors, offered suggestions, and commented on current events. Although the First Amendment only assures the citizen of the right to voice their opinions, those who wrote to Senator Case and his colleagues expected a response that actually addressed their concerns in a timely manner.
Provided below are letters from New Jersey residents and Case's response to them, which represent a cross-section of viewpoints on the unfolding Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon's presidency. Using these documents, complete the following activities.
  1. Americans expressed a range of reactions to the Watergate scandal. These fall into the broad spectrum of disgust with President Nixon's actions and the desire for his punishment or removal to disgust with Congress for unfairly pursuing the president. Based on the comments received by Case's office, record and categorize the viewpoints of his constituents.
  2. What strategies did Case use to communicate with those citizens that did not share his viewpoints on Watergate? Do you believe this Case's responses would have swayed his opponents? Use specific evidence to support your conclusions.
  3. After reading Case's replies to the letters, identify which of the Senator's principles remain consistent throughout this time period.
  4. Examining the dates of the letters, how did Case's reactions fluctuate in response to unfolding events in the Watergate scandal. (You may need access to a timeline of events associated with Watergate)
Links to Documents
  • October 12, 1972 Letter and Clifford Case's response from October 30, 1972. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)
  • October 13, 1972 Telegram and Clifford Case's response from dated October 20, 1972. View below or open the PDF version (0.2MB)
  • May 31, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from June 28, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.2MB)
  • June 13, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from June 19, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.5MB)
  • Postcard and Clifford Case's response from August 10, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.2MB)
  • Letter received on October 4, 1973 and Clifford Case's response from October 9, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)
  • October 22, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from October 30, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)
  • November 2, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from November 20, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.5MB)
  • Postcard postmarked November 3, 1973 and Clifford Case's response from December 13, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)
  • November 26, 1973 and Clifford Case's response from December 3, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.4MB)
  • November 23, 1973 Petition and Clifford Case's response from December 5, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.2MB)
  • December 7, 1973 Petition and Clifford Case's response from December 18, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.6MB)
  • December 20, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from December 28, 1973. View below or open the PDF version (0.8MB)
  • December 28, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from January 14, 1974. View below or open the PDF version (0.4MB)
  • Letter received on May 2, 1974, copy of letter from Department of Labor and Industry dated April 18, 1974, and Clifford Case's response from May 9, 1974. View below or open the PDF version (0.5MB)
  • June 27, 1974 Letter and Clifford Case's response from July 11, 1974. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)
  • August 15, 1974 Letter and Clifford Case's response from September 6, 1974. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)
  • Letter received on October 9, 1974 and Clifford Case's response from October 17, 1974. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)
  • November 23, 1974 Letter and Clifford Case's response from December 9, 1974. View below or open the PDF version (0.3MB)

To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 10.0.0 or greater is installed.

Activity III – Dear Senator Case
  1. Provide students with the materials for this activity if they do not have access to Electronic New Jersey.
  2. To complete the activities in this unit students must be familiar the basic flow of events that occurred during the Watergate scandal or be provided with a comprehensive timeline identifying the major actors and the manner in which information became known by the public.
  3. Direct students to the "Dear Senator Case" section of Electronic New Jersey. When arriving at the page, the students will see the following text, prompt, and instructions.
    The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to petition their government officials. In Senator Case's day, the most common method of contacting an elected official was by sending a letter to the individual's office. Constituents aired their grievances, asked for favors, offered suggestions, and commented on current events. Although the First Amendment only assures the citizen of the right to voice their opinions, those who wrote to Senator Case and his colleagues expected a response that actually addressed their concerns in a timely manner.
    Provided below are letters from New Jersey residents and Case's response to them, which represent a cross-section of viewpoints on the unfolding Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon's presidency. Using these documents, complete the following activities.
    1. Americans expressed a range of reactions to the Watergate scandal. These fall into the broad spectrum of disgust with President Nixon's actions and the desire for his punishment or removal to disgust with Congress for unfairly pursuing the president. Based on the comments received by Case's office, record and categorize the viewpoints of his constituents.
    2. What strategies did Case use to communicate with those citizens that did not share his viewpoints on Watergate? Do you believe this Case's responses would have swayed his opponents? Use specific evidence to support your conclusions.
    3. After reading Case's replies to the letters, identify which of the Senator's principles remain consistent throughout this time period.
    4. Examining the dates of the letters, how did Case's reactions fluctuate in response to unfolding events in the Watergate scandal. (You may need access to a timeline of events associated with Watergate)
  4. Examine the following letters delivered to Senator Case's office from 1972 through 1974.
    • October 12, 1972 Letter and Clifford Case's response from October 30, 1972
    • October 13, 1972 Telegram and Clifford Case's response from dated October 20, 1972
    • May 31, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from June 28, 1973
    • June 13, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from June 19, 1973
    • Postcard and Clifford Case's response from August 10, 1973
    • Letter received on October 4, 1973 and Clifford Case's response from October 9, 1973
    • October 22, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from October 30, 1973
    • November 2, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from November 20, 1973
    • Postcard postmarked November 3, 1973 and Clifford Case's response from December 13, 1973
    • November 20, 1973 and Clifford Case's response from December 3, 1973
    • November 23, 1973 Petition and Clifford Case's response from December 5, 1973
    • December 13, 1973 Petition and Clifford Case's response from December 18, 1973
    • December 20, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from December 28, 1973
    • December 28, 1973 Letter and Clifford Case's response from January 14, 1974
    • Letter received on March 21, 1974 and Clifford Case's response from April 8, 1974
    • Letter received on May 2, 1974, copy of letter from Department of Labor and Industry dated April 18, 1974, and Clifford Case's response from May 9, 1974
    • June 27, 1974 Letter and Clifford Case's response from July 11, 1974
    • August 15, 1974 Letter and Clifford Case's response from September 6, 1974
    • Letter received on October 9, 1974 and Clifford Case's response from October 17, 1974
    • November 23, 1974 Letter and Clifford Case's response from December 9, 1974
    1. There are sufficient letters so that each student can be assign a letter if you have a small class
    2. Another option is for the class to be divided into groups and be assigned letters from a specific time period or that cover the entire date range. The students can then compare and contrast their findings.
    3. The teacher is encouraged to examine the letters prior to implementing the lesson to determine which letters to use and to develop their own conclusions about themes apparent in them.
  5. Have the small groups report out their findings to the class.
  6. An extension assignment for this part of the lesson might involve having the students select a local, state, or national elected official and writing a letter to them concerning an issue that concerns the student or their community. The teacher would decide whether or not to send the letter following evaluation or editing or simply discuss the process of communicating with a political leader and the concerns raised by the students.
IMLS Bookmark and Share