In 1890, William L. James, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, appealed to the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads to prioritize and advance legislation that would bring down the Louisiana State Lottery Company: “In the name of mothers, fathers, wifes [sic], children and humanity let me beg and plead to a successful end that some action be taken this session.”
The Louisiana State Lottery Company was chartered in 1868 as a revenue-producing venture for the state to rebuild financially in the aftermath of the Civil War. The company was enormously profitable, funded by a network of citizens of other states purchasing lottery tickets advertised through the mail. The company’s success overlapped with the Victorian-era Christian moral reform movement, whose adherents crusaded against all manner of vice, including lotteries. This letter urged the passage of anti-lottery legislation to help end the destructive effects of gambling debt and addiction on families. “If you could only see the Lottery as a long suffering Christian people sees and feels, if your first duty would be in bringing forward some bill that would quit forever the gang of vampires now fastened on us.”
The Committee on Post Office and Post Roads considered several bills during the 51st Congress related to sending lottery material through the mail and offered H.R. 11569 as a substitute bill. It passed the House on August 16, 1890, and became law on September 19, 1890. The Louisiana State Lottery Company closed within a few years.