Little Bits of History

September 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 29, 2017

1789: The First United States Congress adjourns. This first Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) had no political parties as these were not yet established. Historians divide them into Pro- and Anti-Administration. They first met at Federal Hall in New York City and would later move to the Congress Hall in Philadelphia. They convevned on March 4, 1789 and there were three sessions prior to the new elections bringing in the Second Congress. Their first session ended on this day when they adjourned until January 4, 1790. The second session ended on August 12 and the third began on December 6 with the Second Congress beginning on March 4, 1791, thus ending the third session the day before.

During this first session of Congress, they reached a quorum and elected officers in both chambers and then held a joint assembly in which to count Electoral College votes and certify George Washington was unanimously elected President. They were able to pass several pieces of legislation stipulating the workings of the new nation. Many of these had to do with administration of the government and funding of the institutions. They created the United States Department of State as well as the Department of War and Department of the Treasury. The Judiciary Act of 1789 created courts, district attorneys and the Attorney General.

Prior to their adjournment, Congress approved 12 amendments to the US Constitution and submitted them to the state legislatures for ratification. The first of these articles has never been ratified. The second article became the 27th Amendment in 1992 (pay for Congress), and the other ten amendments were ratified on December 15, 1791 and are known today as the Bill of Rights. The only new state in 1789 was North Carolina which entered the Union on November 21, the 12th state to ratify the Constitution.

On March 4, there were 20 Senators (two spots vacant) and by the end of the First Congress there were 26 seats. The majority of senators were Pro-administration (69.2%). The House of Representatives began with 59 members and ended with 64. They, too were Pro-Administration (56.3%). John Adams was President of the Senate with President pro tempore held by John Langdon. Speaker of the House was Frederick Muhlenberg. Senators were elected for two year terms, with one-third given a six year term with each Congress. The House of Representatives members are based on state populations and Virginia had the most seats with ten. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania both had eight members. Rhode Island had a single representative. There were zero non-voting members. Today’s US Congress is made up of 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, and 6 non-voting members.

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. – Mark Twain

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. – Winston Churchill

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. – Thomas Jefferson

No man is good enough to govern another man without the other’s consent. – Abraham Lincoln

 

 

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