CHAPTER XVIII. THE NEW GOVERNMENT

FIRST ACTS OF CONGRESS. - During Washington's first term of office as President (1789-93), the time of Congress was largely taken up with the passage of laws necessary to put the new government in operation, and to carry out the plan of the Constitution.

Departments of State, Treasury, and War were established; a Supreme Court was organized with a Chief Justice [1] and five associates; three Circuits (one for each of the three groups of states, Eastern, Middle, and Southern) and thirteen District Courts (one for each state) were created, and provision was made for all the machinery of justice; and twelve amendments to the Constitution were sent out to the states, of which ten were ratified by the requisite number of states and became a part of the Constitution. [2]

At the second session of Congress provision was made, in the Funding Measure, for the assumption of the Continental and state debts incurred during the war for independence. [3] The District of Columbia as the permanent seat of government was located on the banks of the Potomac, [4] and the temporary seat of government was moved from New York to Philadelphia, there to remain for ten years.

NEW STATES. - The states of North Carolina and Rhode Island, having at last ratified the Constitution, sent representatives and senators to share in the work of Congress during this session.

The quarrel between New York and Vermont having been settled, Vermont was admitted in 1791; and Virginia having given her consent, the people of Kentucky were authorized to form a state constitution, and Kentucky entered the Union in 1792. [5]

THE NATIONAL BANK AND THE CURRENCY. - The funding of the debt (proposed by Hamilton) was the first great financial measure adopted by Congress. [6] The second (1791) was the charter of the Bank of the United States with power to establish branches in the states and to issue bank notes to be used as money. The third (1792) was the law providing for a national coinage and authorizing the establishment of a United States mint for making the coin. [7] It was ordered that whoever would bring gold or silver to the mint should receive for it the same weight of coins. This was free coinage of gold and silver, and made our standard of money bimetallic, or of two metals; for a debtor could choose which kind of money he would pay.

THE REVENUE LAWS. - Other financial measures of Washington's first term were the tariff law, which levied duties on imported goods, wares, and merchandise, the excise or whisky tax, and the law fixing rates of postage on letters. [8]

THE RISE OF PARTIES. - As to the justice and wisdom of the acts of Congress the people were divided in their opinions. Those who approved and supported the administration were called Federalists, and had for leaders Washington, John Adams, Hamilton, Robert Morris, John Jay, and Rufus King; those who opposed the administration were the Anti-Federalists, or Republicans, whose great leaders were Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Gerry, Gallatin, and Randolph.

The Republicans had opposed the funding and assumption measures, the national bank, and the excise. They complained that the national debt was too large, that the salaries of the President, Congressmen, and officials were too high, and that the taxes were too heavy; and they accused the Federalists of a fondness for monarchy and aristocracy.

Washington opened each session of Congress with a speech just as the king opened Parliament, and each branch of Congress presented an answer just as the Lords and Commons did to the king. Nobody could go to the President's reception without a card of invitation. The judges of the Supreme Court wore gowns as did English judges. The Senate held its daily sessions in secret, and shut out reporters and the people. All this the Anti- Federalists held to be unrepublican.

THE ELECTION OF 1792. - When the time came, in 1792, to elect a successor to Washington, there were thus two political parties. Both parties supported Washington for President; but the Republicans tried hard, though in vain, to defeat Adams for Vice President.

OPPOSITION TO THE GOVERNMENT by no means ended with the formation of parties and votes at the polls. The Assembly of Virginia condemned the assumption of the state debts. North Carolina denounced assumption and the excise law. In Maryland a resolution declaring assumption dangerous to the rights of the states was lost by the casting vote of the Speaker. The right of Congress to tax pleasure carriages was tested in the Supreme Court, which declared the tax constitutional. When that court decided (1793) that a citizen of one state might sue another state, Virginia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts called for a constitutional amendment to prevent this, and the Eleventh Amendment was proposed by Congress (1794) and declared in force in 1798. The tax on whisky caused an insurrection in Pennsylvania.

THE WHISKY INSURRECTION. - The farmers around Pittsburg were largely engaged in distilling whisky, refused to pay the tax, and drove off the collectors. Congress thereupon (1794) enacted a law to enforce the collection, but when the marshal arrested some of the offenders, the people rose, drove him away, and by force of arms prevented the execution of the law. Washington then called for troops from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, and these marching across the state by a mere show of force brought the people to obedience. Leaders of the insurrection were arrested, tried, and convicted of treason, but were pardoned by Washington. [9]