Archive for 'U.S. Senate'
Today’s post comes from Dan Ruprecht, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
From its earliest days, the Federal Government has been concerned with preserving its records.
During its very first session, the First Congress under the new Constitution in 1789 passed the Records and Seals Act, setting the expectation that government records were to be preserved for future generations.
The Records and Seals Act holds a special place in the heart of the National Archives and Records Administration.
During the formative years of the Republic, the act established the importance of recordkeeping and provided that copies of government records would be made available to the public via newspapers.
With the act’s passage, the Founding Fathers attempted to archive the nation’s documents and set a precedent to record, preserve, and report national history—a reflection of their belief that the American public ought to be a well-informed citizenry. Many of the nation’s founders shared the belief that it was imperative for the people of the young nation to be educated and informed in order for the government to properly function.
The act changed the name of the Department of Foreign … [ Read all ]
This post continues our celebration of the 225th anniversary of the First Congress.
The Constitution gives the President the “power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties.”
This first time the President attempted to seek that advice occurred in August 1789 when first President George Washington sent a message to the Senate asking “to advise with them” on a treaty with the Southern Indians (at that time the United States treated Indian tribes as foreign nations).
On August 22, 1789, Washington arrived at Federal Hall in New York City (then the capital) with Secretary of War Henry Knox, and they proceeded to read aloud a series of documents related to the various Southern Indian tribes.
The incident was not recorded in the Senate Executive Journal, but Senator William Maclay of Pennsylvania kept a diary and documented what transpired: apparently the noise from the Manhattan traffic below drowned out the reading of the documents.
As a result, the Senate decided to appoint a committee rather than debate the issue in front of the President, which caused great consternation to Washington.
After regaining his composure, Washington agreed to come back to receive the Senate’s advice. Shortly thereafter, however, Washington decided that all future dealings with the Senate … [ Read all ]
Continuing our celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the First Congress, the National Archives is displaying a draft of the Bill of Rights from August 12 to September 11, 2014, in the East Rotunda Gallery.
During the 1787–1788 Constitutional ratification process, opponents criticized the Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights. They argued that the Constitution should include one, because without it a strong central government would trample individuals’ liberties and freedoms.
As states debated whether to ratify the Constitution or not, two kinds of amendments emerged: rights-related amendments (amendments intended to protect individuals) and structural amendments (amendments intended to fundamentally alter the structure of the new government).
In the end, enough states supported the Constitution without amendments that it was ratified without changes. However, the effort to amend the Constitution carried over into the first Federal elections. Anti-Federalists—those who opposed the Constitution—pushed to elect pro-amendment members to the First Federal Congress.
This was especially true in Virginia, a state whose ratification convention proposed 20 amendments and a separate bill of rights to the Constitution.
In one Virginia House race, James Madison—who opposed amendments—faced James Monroe—who supported them. Because Virginia had such strong anti-Federalist sentiments, Madison softened his stand against Constitutional amendments, which … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Christine Blackerby, an Outreach Specialist at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The Center for Legislative Archives is marking the 225th anniversary of the First Congress by sharing documents on Tumblr and Twitter; use #Congress225 to see all the postings.
Two hundred and twenty-five years ago, on August 3, 1789, President George Washington sent the Senate a seven-page list of nominees for port collectors. Several days before, he had signed an act establishing a system for collecting import taxes at the ports, and he acted quickly to staff the customs system so the new government could establish a steady flow of revenue.
The government’s inability to raise adequate revenue under the Articles of Confederation was one of the main reasons the Constitution had been adopted just the year before.
Washington sent his list of nominees to the Senate in observance of the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate give its “advice and consent” to Federal officers. The neatly prepared document listed each port and the positions to be filled.
The name of each nominee appears next to each position. Next to each name, a clerk in the Senate noted the outcome of the Senate’s votes. “Aye” … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Dan Ruprecht, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The Center for Legislative Archives is marking the 225th anniversary of the First Congress by sharing documents on Tumblr and Twitter; use #Congress225 to see all the postings.
When Congress opened its doors under the new Constitution for the first time on March 4, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City there were only eight senators present out of 22 expected. The senators from the host state of New York were not among them. The day before, the New York state legislature had adjourned without electing any senators.
In February and March, the New York State Senate, controlled by the Federalists, and the State Assembly, controlled by the Anti-Federalists, fought bitterly over their preferred candidates for the U.S. Senate. Since both parties expected to win a majority in each house in New York’s upcoming elections in April, they were content to allow its Senate seats to remain vacant.
Therefore, as the First Congress met in New York City, New York itself was not represented in the Senate. The state legislature remained in a deadlock for five months. It was not … [ Read all ]