Trisha Shetty (Editor)

1st United States Congress

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Senate President  John Adams (P)
Senate Majority:  Pro-Administration
Senate Pres. pro tem:  John Langdon (P)
House Majority:  Pro-Administration
1st United States Congress
House Speaker:  Frederick Muhlenberg (P)
Members:  21–26 Senators 59–65 Representatives 0 Non-voting members

The First United States Congress, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, met from March 4, 1789, to March 4, 1791, during the first two years of George Washington's presidency, first at Federal Hall in New York City and later at Congress Hall in Philadelphia. With the initial meeting of the First Congress, the United States federal government officially began operations under the new (and current) frame of government established by the 1787 Constitution. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the provisions of Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution. Both chambers had a Pro-Administration majority. Twelve articles of amendment to the Constitution were passed by this Congress and sent to the states for ratification; the ten ratified as additions to the Constitution on December 15, 1791 are collectively known as the Bill of Rights.

Contents

Major events

  • April 1, 1789: House of Representatives first achieved a quorum and elected its officers
  • April 6, 1789: Senate first achieved a quorum and elected its officers.
  • April 6, 1789: The House and Senate, meeting in joint session, counted the Electoral College ballots, then certified that George Washington had been unanimously elected President of the United States and John Adams (having received 34 of 69 votes) was elected as Vice president.
  • April 30, 1789: George Washington was inaugurated as the nation's first president at Federal Hall in New York City
  • January 8, 1790: President Washington gave the first State of the Union Address
  • June 20, 1790: Compromise of 1790: James Madison agreed to not be "strenuous" in opposition to the assumption of state debts by the federal government; Alexander Hamilton agreed to support a national capital site above the Potomac River.
  • Session 1

    Held March 4, 1789, through September 29, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City

  • June 1, 1789: An act to regulate the time and manner of administering certain oaths, ch. 1, 1 Stat. 23
  • July 4, 1789: Hamilton Tariff, ch. 2, 1 Stat. 24
  • July 27, 1789: United States Department of State, was established, originally named the Department of Foreign Affairs, ch. 4, 1 Stat. 28.
  • July 31, 1789. Regulation of the Collection of Duties on Tonnage and Merchandise, ch.5, 1 Stat. 29.
  • August 7, 1789: Department of War was established, ch. 7, 1 Stat. 49.
  • September 2, 1789: United States Department of the Treasury was established, ch. 12, 1 Stat. 65
  • September 24, 1789: Judiciary Act of 1789, ch. 20, 1 Stat. 93, which created courts, district attorneys and the Attorney General
  • Session 2

    Held January 4, 1790, through August 12, 1790, at Federal Hall in New York City

  • March 1, 1790: Made provisions for the first Census, ch. 2, 1 Stat. 101
  • March 26, 1790: Naturalization Act of 1790, ch. 3, 1 Stat. 103
  • April 10, 1790: Patent Act of 1790, ch. 7, 1 Stat. 109
  • April 30, 1790: Crimes Act of 1790, ch. 9, 1 Stat. 112
  • May 31, 1790: Copyright Act of 1790, ch. 15, 1 Stat. 124
  • July 6, 1790: Residence Act, ch. 28, 1 Stat. 130, established Washington, D.C. as the seat of government of the United States.
  • July 22, 1790: Indian Intercourse Act of 1790, ch. 33, 1 Stat. 137, regulated commerce with the Indian tribes.
  • Session 3

    Held December 6, 1790, through March 3, 1791, at Congress Hall in Philadelphia

  • February 25, 1791: First Bank of the United States, ch. 10, 1 Stat. 191
  • March 3, 1791: Whiskey Act, ch. 15, 1 Stat. 199, which triggered the Whiskey Rebellion
  • Constitutional amendments

  • September 25, 1789: Twelve articles of amendment to the Constitution passed Congress (without recorded vote), 1 Stat. 97. They were officially submitted to the legislatures of the several states for consideration on September 28, 1789. Articles Three through Twelve were ratified as additions to the Constitution on December 15, 1791, and are collectively known as the Bill of Rights. Article Two was ratified on May 7, 1992, becoming the Twenty-seventh Amendment, and Article One is technically still pending before the states.
  • States admitted and territories organized

  • November 21, 1789: North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the United States Constitution and thereby joined the Union
  • May 26, 1790: Territory South of the River Ohio organized from land ceded by North Carolina
  • May 29, 1790: Rhode Island became the 13th state to ratify the United States Constitution and thereby joined the Union
  • Party summary

    There were no political parties in this Congress. Members are informally grouped into factions of similar interest, based on an analysis of their voting record.

    Details on changes are shown below in the "Changes in membership" section.

    Senate

    During this congress, two Senate seats were added for North Carolina and Rhode Island when each ratified the Constitution.

    House of Representatives

    During this congress, five House seats were added for North Carolina and one House seat was added for Rhode Island when they ratified the Constitution.

    Senate

  • President: John Adams (P)
  • President pro tempore: John Langdon (P)
  • House of Representatives

  • Speaker: Frederick Muhlenberg (P)
  • Members

    This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed in order of seniority, and Representatives are listed by district.

    Senate

    Senators were elected by the state legislatures every two years, with one-third beginning new six-year terms with each Congress. Preceding the names in the list below are Senate class numbers, which indicate the cycle of their election. In this Congress, all Senators were newly elected, and Class 1 meant their term ended with this Congress, requiring reelection in 1790; Class 2 meant their term ended with the next Congress, requiring reelection in 1792; and Class 3 meant their term lasted through the next two Congresses, requiring reelection in 1794.

    Skip to House of Representatives, below

    House of Representatives

    The names of members of the House of Representatives are listed by their districts.

    Changes in membership

    There were no political parties in this Congress. Members are informally grouped into factions of similar interest, based on an analysis of their voting record.

    New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, were the last states to ratify the U.S. Constitution, and because of their late ratification, were unable to send full representation at the beginning of this Congress. Five Senators and nine Representatives were subsequently seated from these states during the sessions as noted.

    Senate

    There was 1 resignation, 1 death, 1 replacement of a temporary appointee, and 6 new seats. The Anti-Administration Senators picked up a 1-seat net gain and the Pro-Administration Senators picked up 4 seats.

    House of Representatives

    There was 2 resignations, 1 death, and 6 new seats. Anti-Administration members picked up 3 seats and Pro-Administration members picked up 2 seats.

    Committees

    Lists of committees and their party leaders.

    Senate

  • Whole
  • House of Representatives

  • Elections
  • Rules (Select)
  • Ways and Means
  • Whole
  • Joint committees

  • Enrolled Bills
  • Senate

  • Secretary: Samuel A. Otis, elected April 8, 1789
  • Doorkeeper: James Mathers, elected April 7, 1789
  • Chaplain:
  • Samuel Provoost (Episcopalian), elected April 25, 1789
  • William White (Episcopalian), elected December 9, 1790
  • House of Representatives

  • Clerk: John J. Beckley
  • Sergeant at Arms: Joseph Wheaton
  • Doorkeeper: Gifford Dalley
  • Chaplain:
  • William Linn (Presbyterian), elected May 1, 1789
  • Samuel Blair (Presbyterian), elected January 4, 1790
  • References

    1st United States Congress Wikipedia


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