Today’s post comes from Samantha Payne, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC.
The Constitution requires that Congress conduct a census every ten years to determine the representation of each state in the House of Representatives. When the authors of the Constitution allocated seats in the House for the First Congress, they had no census data to guide them. As a result, the sizes of the first congressional districts varied dramatically. A Massachusetts congressman represented 96,550 people, while one from Georgia represented only 16,250.
To solve this problem, Congress had to determine how to conduct a census. The new nation was the first to institute a national, periodical census. The size of the United States made the task rather daunting. The Senate census committee worked for eight months before they decided to start from scratch in January of 1790.
Regional interests dominated the debate over the census. Northern representatives pushed for a rapid enumeration, but southerners insisted on more time, so that census-takers could canvas their large, rural states. On February 4, 1790, Congressman Theodore Sedgwick implied that Georgia’s population did not merit three representatives. A South Carolinian retorted that Sedgwick “would not be content until there were 24 members” … [ Read all ]
Today’s post comes from Christine Blackerby, Archives Specialist 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 the First Congress met in New York City in March of 1789, they faced an enormous undertaking. The new Constitution had just been ratified, and Congress was the first part of the new Federal government to meet and take shape. Ahead of them lay numerous important and urgent tasks: they needed to create the Treasury, War, and Foreign Affairs departments; the Federal judiciary; and a system of taxation and collection. They also needed to determine patent and copyright laws, rules for naturalization, the location of a new capital city, administration of the census, amendments to the Constitution, and much more.
But before the members of Congress could get to all of this pressing business, there was something more important they needed to do—so important that it was the first bill introduced in the House of Representatives, and the first act signed into law by President George Washington.
“An Act … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on May 30, 2014, under - Constitution, U.S. House, U.S. Senate.
Tags: Center for Legislative Archives, civil war, Congress, Congress225, Constitution, Daniel Inouye, Oath, sabotage, signatures
Due to the popularity of the inaugural Rotunda sleepover in January, the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives (FNA) have partnered to host summer and fall sleepovers for children 8 to 12 years old. The sleepovers are scheduled for August 2 and October 18.
The Foundation is giving away 3 free tickets–enter the drawing before May 19!
One hundred children and parents will have a chance to explore our documents in fun and educational ways before rolling out their sleeping bags to spend the night in the Rotunda with the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
This summer’s sleepover theme is “Explorers Night,” and will feature hands-on activities to help young explorers investigate–through music, chats with historical figures, games, and more–some of the greatest adventures of all time. Campers will journey to the Arctic, visit outer space, and discover the American West as they explore the National Archives Museum’s treasured records.
“Our first-ever sleepover in January was incredibly popular, drawing families from around the country–many of whom had never visited … [ Read all ]
Wow–what a year! Our editorial panel tried to limit this list to ten, but eventually we gave up and picked 14 instead. (For more great National Archives moments, check on out the Top 10 Innovative Moments of 2013.)
We also want to send a big thank you to the staff members of the National Archives across the nation, who worked so hard to make these moments possible. And a huge thank you to our partners, sponsors, researchers, visitors, and social media followers who share in our love of history. We are grateful to be able to make your history accessible to you in so many ways in 2013!
40th Anniversary of the Fire in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis
If you have served in the U.S. military, your file is part of the holdings in the National Archives in St. Louis. Each year, staff respond to one million requests for direct military benefits and entitlements from veterans and their next of kin. In the Research Room, staff pulled more than 41,000 military personnel records.
And Preservation Programs in St. Louis responded to more than 200 daily requests for burned Army and Air Force records. The fire that swept through the sixth floor of the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973, damaged and destroyed millions of documents. Each … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on December 31, 2013, under Direct electon of senators, Uncategorized.
Tags: Acts of Congress, archives, Archivist, asssination, Baghdad, bill of rights, Constitution, David M. rubenstein, declaration of independence, digitization, Edith Lee-Payne, Emancipation Proclamation, FDR, fire, First Motion Picture Unit, Foundation for the NAtional Archives, Founders Online, Founding Fathers, Fourth of July, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Genealogy Fair, George W. Bush Library, Iraq, Iraqi Jewish Archive, Kate Mollan, Ken Burns, Kennedy, lincoln, March on Washington, Mount Vernon, NHPRC, nprc, presidential libraries, St. Louis, Steven Spielberg, thank you, USIA, UVA, veterans
Today’s Constitution Day guest post was written by Jim Zeender, senior registrar in exhibits at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
The Constitution of the United States turned 226 this year and continues to be the oldest and longest-serving written constitution in the world. It consists of exactly 4,543 words and has been amended only 27 times.
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in September 1787, the attendees had various opinions on the result of the Convention. Benjamin Franklin has probably been quoted most often from his speech that day, “I confess that I do not entirely approve this Constitution at present, but Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it.”
John Adams was not present in Philadelphia. He was in London, serving as the U.S. envoy to Great Britain. Adams received a copy of the new constitution from Massachusetts delegate Elbridge Gerry, and he later praised the Convention’s work in a letter to Jefferson, who was in Paris.
… [ Read all ]
It seems to be admirably calculated to preserve the Union, to increase Affection, and to bring us all to the same mode of thinking. They have adopted the Idea of the Congress at Albany in 1754 of a President to nominate officers and a Council to Consent: but
Posted by Hilary on September 17, 2013, under - Constitution, Letters in the National Archives.
Tags: checks and balanes, Commander in Chief, Confederation Congress, Constitution, Elbridge Gerry, executive powers, federal government, Government, Henry Knox, John adams, President, Thomas Jefferson, washington