Archive for '- Constitution'
Today’s post comes from Tom Eisinger, senior archivist at the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC.
When Richard O’Bryen, captain of the Philadelphia ship Dauphin, penned his July 12, 1790, letter to Thomas Jefferson, he had been a captive of the Barbary pirates in Algeria for almost five years.
This letter, and others, helped bring attention to an unexpected problem the Federal Government inherited from the government under the Articles of Confederation: pirates.
The new nation was faced with the questions: What could be done about the Barbary pirates? And what could be done for the American prisoners held for ransom in Algeria?
In the late 18th century, the Barbary pirates were a well-known problem in Europe. These pirates—who came from Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunisia—captured vessels sailing in the Mediterranean Sea and held their crews for ransom.
To free a captured vessel, European nations were forced to pay the ransom. Some European nations signed treaties with the four Barbary nations and paid tribute for safe passage of their vessels.
The Barbary pirates were not an issue for the American colonies while they were under the protection of the British Empire or during the Revolutionary War while they were under the protection of France. However, … [ Read all ]
For 18 months in the late 1940s, some of the nation’s most important historical documents toured the country in a traveling museum called the Freedom Train.
The National Archives History Office has produced a new online exhibit on the Freedom Train, which is available in the Google Cultural Institute.
Viewed by more than 3.5 million Americans, the Freedom Train stopped in cities in each of the 48 states (Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states at this time).
The Freedom Train was intended to increase awareness of the need to preserve important documents as well as to allow Americans throughout the country to see these documents.
The American Heritage Foundation was created to design, protect, and operate the train and its contents.
A committee containing members from the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and other government agencies planned and designed the exhibit.
A group of 27 Marines was hand selected to protect the Freedom Train on its tour, and a coalition of railroad companies ensured that the Freedom Train would travel across America as efficiently as possible.
Today’s post comes from Rebecca Brenner, an intern in the History Office at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
For almost a half-century, the National Archives has held an annual birthday party on July 4, at the document’s home at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
This timeline marks the significant milestones in Archives Fourth of July celebrations:
- 1776: Representatives to the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration was printed on July 4, and John Carlisle, a friend of George Washington’s and successful merchant, read it aloud on the streets of Philadelphia.
- 1952: The Library of Congress, which held the Declaration from 1924 through 1952, transferred the document to the National Archives. The first Independence Day it was on display at the Archives was July 4, 1953.
- 1969: The National Archives Fourth of July became more extensive. A special exhibit opened to the public. In the early afternoon, the U.S. Army Band played a concert on the Constitution Avenue side of the Archives.
- 1970: Visitors listened to the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence in the Rotunda.
- 1976: Celebrations reached new levels when the Declaration turned 200 years old and the Archives established its annual July 4th event. On July 2,
On June 20, 1790, when Congress was temporarily meeting in New York City, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson hosted a dinner. In attendance were Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Representative from Virginia James Madison.
Keep in mind these men were on opposing ends of the political spectrum. Hamilton, a Federalist, wanted the Federal Government to hold the bulk of the political and economic power; Madison and Jefferson, Republicans, wanted that power to remain with the states.
Nonetheless, the three men met to discuss a prolonged deadlock in Congress, and this meeting was a pivotal turning point in what is known as the “Compromise of 1790.”
Back in January 1790, Hamilton had given his “First Report on Public Credit” to Congress. One of the most contentious issues in the report was Hamilton’s recommendation that the Federal Government assume the states’ substantial Revolutionary War debts.
Hamilton believed this was necessary to establish the United States’ credit and promote investment. Furthermore, the debt rested in the hands of a small number of wealthy citizens. Hamilton knew these men would take a keen interest in the success of a country that owed them money.
The assumption issue had been debated in Congress for months. Northern members supported … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Samantha Payne, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC.
In 1781, Rhode Island began acquiring nicknames.
American newspapers called it “the perverse sister.” “An evil genius.” The “Quintessence of Villainy.” The name “Rogue Island” stuck all the way to 1787, when the Constitutional Convention began and the small state refused to send delegates. Although this press war started because Rhode Island vetoed an act passed by Congress under the Articles of Confederation, it lasted for nearly 10 years.
On May 29, 1790, “the rogue’s” persistent efforts to defy the national government finally failed, and it became the last state to ratify the Constitution, more than a year after it went into effect.
Ironically, Rhode Island played a key role in advancing the Constitution it strongly opposed. In 1786, an electoral revolution took place in Rhode Island that swept the populist Country Party into power. Infuriated by the prospect of a national tax, this faction opposed the expansion of the national government and favored an inflationary monetary policy.
In a single month, the legislature printed 100,000 pounds worth of paper currency. The resulting rampant inflation made Rhode Island—for many Americans—a dark symbol of what ailed the Confederation. Opponents of … [ Read all ]