The Compromise of 1790

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 … Continue reading The Compromise of 1790

Protecting Copyright and the “Encouragement of Learning”

Today’s post comes from Madeline Espeseth, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC.  In 1789, David Ramsay, author of History of the Revolution of South Carolina and History of the American Revolution, petitioned Congress to pass a law granting him the exclusive right of “vending and disposing” the books within the United States. This … Continue reading Protecting Copyright and the “Encouragement of Learning”

Location, Location, Location: Settling on a Capital City

Today’s post comes from Judith Adkins, an archivist at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. While the First Congress met for its two sessions in New York City, delegates from Pennsylvania longed to move the seat of government back to Philadelphia, home of the Continental Congress. On May 24, … Continue reading Location, Location, Location: Settling on a Capital City

“Rogue Island”: The last state to ratify the Constitution

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 … Continue reading “Rogue Island”: The last state to ratify the Constitution

Opening the Doors to Debate

Today’s post comes from Kate Mollan, archivist in the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC.  From the earliest days of the First Congress there were clamors for the Senate to open the doors to its chamber so that the public and press could witness the proceedings. Unlike the House of Representatives, the early Senate chose … Continue reading Opening the Doors to Debate

Inventing in Congress: Patent Law since 1790

Today’s post comes from Samantha Payne, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC.  In August 1791, two men received identical patents from the Federal Government. John Fitch and James Rumsey claimed to have invented the same technology: a steamboat. After a two-year battle for exclusive rights to their discovery, with Fitch calling Rumsey … Continue reading Inventing in Congress: Patent Law since 1790

From Ben Franklin to the Civil War: Antislavery Petitions in Congress

Today’s post comes from Natalie Rocchio, an archives specialist in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. One of the most contentious issues facing our nation in the early years was slavery. Unsurprisingly, the First Congress received a series of antislavery petitions as part of the first unified campaign to the new Federal Government. … Continue reading From Ben Franklin to the Civil War: Antislavery Petitions in Congress

Changing the Boundaries: Women at Work in the Government

Today’s post comes from Samantha Payne, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives. in Washington, DC.  On January 29, 1790, Mary Katherine Goddard sent the Senate a singular request: to be reinstated as postmistress of Baltimore. After running the post office for 14 years, and paying post-riders with her own savings during the American Revolution, … Continue reading Changing the Boundaries: Women at Work in the Government

Currently on Exhibit: George Washington’s First Annual Message

Continuing our celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the First Congress, the National Archives is displaying George Washington's first annual address from January 6 to February 4, 2015, in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives in Washington, DC. This version, from the first Journal of the House of Representatives, shows the final page of George Washington's annual address (what … Continue reading Currently on Exhibit: George Washington’s First Annual Message

Annual Message on the State of the Union: The President Speaks

Today’s post comes from Christine Blackerby, an Outreach Specialist at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. On January 8, 1790, President George Washington delivered a speech at Federal Hall in New York City. This speech, called his first annual message to Congress (which we now refer to as the State … Continue reading Annual Message on the State of the Union: The President Speaks