Tag: First Congress
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 ]
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 ]
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 ]