Tag: James Madison
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 ]
The Constitution hasn’t changed much since it was adopted in 1787.
However, it has been tweaked by 27 amendments—some were ratified in a few months, another took more than two centuries.
The ink on the Constitution had barely dried in 1787 when people discovered what it did not say. It did not spell out adequately, they argued, the individual rights that citizens of the United States had under the Constitution.
So James Madison, the “father of the Constitution” and a member of the House of Representatives from Virginia, went to work.
The result: 12 amendments. They were approved by Congress in late 1789 and sent to the 13 states for ratification, which, then as now under the Constitution, required three-quarters of the state legislatures or constitutional conventions.
Twelve? Yes, but only ten (originally numbers three through 12), known to us all today as the Bill of Rights, were approved. It took … [ Read all ]
Posted by Jim on September 17, 2013, under - Constitution.
Tags: 27th Amendment, amendments, Congress, Constitution, Constitutional Amendments, Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Madison, John F. Kennedy, John Marshall, legislatures, Presidential term limits, slavery, supreme court
This is the first part of a series, written by Jim Zeender, devoted to letters written by the Founding Fathers in their own words and often in their own hand.
As a registrar in the Exhibits Division of the National Archives for over 25 years, I have had the good fortune to work with many dedicated professionals at the National Archives. It has been a privilege to have access to the holdings, including the rarest of the rare. However, I always return to my favorites, the letters of the Founding Fathers.
Some of the most revealing letters come in a series of records blandly called Miscellaneous Letters in Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State. Thanks to the irregularities of early recordkeeping, personal and official correspondence were sometimes mixed. These are draft letters or short notes with crossouts and annotations that illuminate the thoughts and work habits of the authors. The letters usually have to do with policy issues, but the topics are sometimes private and political. From the 1789 to early 1820s, there are hundreds of letters written by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
In the official files of the early U.S. Government, we expect to find letters and memos on the subjects facing a youthful country: diplomacy, … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on June 11, 2012, under - Presidents, - Revolutionary War, Letters in the National Archives.
Tags: Alice Kamps, Edmund Randolph, Founding Fathers, george washington, George Washington Papers, Henry Knox, James Madison, Jim Zeender, Massachusetts Historical Society, national archives, NHPRC, paprazzi, Record Group 59, University of Virginia Press
Today’s “History Crush” comes from Jessica Kratz, an archives specialist with the Center for Legislative Archives. She’s been carrying a torch for one of our record-makers for quite some time!
Most of my colleagues are all too aware that Alexander Hamilton is my history crush. Maybe the gigantic replica $10 bill hanging in my office gives it away?
I’ve been fascinated by Hamilton for as long as I’ve studied American history. In school, most of my teachers touted the importance of founders like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, but after reading the Federalist Papers, I became hooked on Alexander Hamilton. An orphan from the British West Indies who traveled alone to America as a teenager, Hamilton rose from his humble beginnings to become one of the most important men in our nation’s history.
I often wondered why Jefferson was so beloved while Hamilton, clearly brilliant with remarkable foresight, was so underappreciated. Were his negatives—he was born out of wedlock, philandered, promoted the benefits of child labor, and lost a duel—overshadowing his many accomplishments? Hamilton served in the Continental Army, Continental Congress, and Constitutional Convention; was the first Secretary of Treasury; and established the first National Bank, the U.S. Mint, and the Coast Guard.
Even … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on February 22, 2012, under History Crush, Letters in the National Archives, petitions.
Tags: Alexander Hamilton, British West Indies, Coast Guard., constitutional convention, Continental Army, Continental Congress, Elizabeth Hamilton, Federalist Papers, James Madison, National Bank, orphan, Secretary of Treasury, Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Mint