BIBLIOGRAPHIES. - W. E. Foster, References to Presidential Administrations, 1-5; References to the Constitution, 18, 19; Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, VII. 299-309, 323-329, 413-418, 446, 454, VIII. App.; P. L. Ford, Bibliotheca Hamiltonia; Channing and Hart, Guide, secs. 157-161.

HISTORICAL MAPS. - Nos. 1 and 3, this volume, and No. 1 in W. Wilson, Division and Reunion (Epoch Maps, Nos. 6, 7, and 8); T. MacCoun, Historical Geography; Scribner, Statistical Atlas, Plate 13.

GENERAL ACCOUNTS. - J. B. McMaster, People of the United States, I. 525-604, II. 1-88; R. Hildreth, United States, IV. 25-410; J. Schouler, United States, I. 74-220; H. Von Holst,Constitutional History, I. 64- 111; T. Pitkin, Political and Civil History, II. 317-355; Gen. Tucker, United States, I. 384-503; J. S. Landon, Constitutional History, 97- 119; Bryant and Gay, Popular History, IV. 100-123.

SPECIAL HISTORIES. - George Gibbs, Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and Adams, I. 28-88; J. C. Hamilton, History of the Republic, IV.; W. G. Sumner, Alexander Hamilton; H. C. Adams, Taxation in the United States (1789-1816); W. G. Sumner, Financier and Finances of the American Revolution, II. chs. xvii.-xxxii.; J. T. Morse, Life of Hamilton, I. chs. vii.-xii.; M. P. Follet,Speaker; H. C. Lodge, Hamilton, 88-152, and Washington, II. 1-128; J. T. Morse, John Adams, 241-264, and Jefferson, 96-145; S. H. Gay, Madison, 128-192.

CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS. - W. Maclay, Journal (1789-1791) (a racy account of the Senate in the First Congress); Thomas Jefferson, Anas, in Works, ix. 87-185 (confessedly made up twenty-five years later); William Sullivan, Familiar Letters on Public Characters, 36-47 (written in reply to Jefferson); Joel Barlow, Vision of Columbus, 1787 (an epic poem); correspondence in works of Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, and John Jay; newspapers, especially the Columbian Centinel, Gazette of the United States, National Gazette. - Reprints in American History told by Contemporaries, III.


[Boundary questions.]

What were the physical, social, and political conditions under which the new government was to be established? In 1789 the exterior boundaries of the country were loosely defined by treaty (sec. 46), but were not yet marked out, and there were several serious controversies. From the mouth of the St, Croix River to the head of the Connecticut the boundary was in confusion, and no progress had been made towards settling it. The water- line through the St. Lawrence and the Lakes was still unadjusted. It was found that the headwaters of the Mississippi lay to the south of the Lake of the Woods, so that there was a gap on the northwest. On the south Spain disputed the right of Great Britain to establish the boundary, insisted that her own undoubted settlements lay within the territory claimed by the United States, and declined to grant the free navigation of the lower Mississippi to the sea. Still more humiliating was the presence of British garrisons at Fort Niagara, Detroit, and other points within the undisputed boundaries of the United States.

[Interior boundaries.]

The interior boundaries of the country were in a like unsettled condition. Neither North Carolina nor Georgia had yielded up their western claims (sec. 52). Vermont had not yet been recognized by New York as outside of her jurisdiction, and the Western Reserve lay along the southern shore of Lake Erie as an outlying part of Connecticut. No territorial government had been established for the Northwest territory, although settlement had begun to pour in. The southern territory was in complete confusion: Kentucky and the Tennessee valley were practically independent communities; and Georgia claimed the whole region south of them.



A census taken in 1790 gives us the number of inhabitants as a little under 4,000,000. Of these, 750,000 - nearly one-fifth of the whole population - were negroes. Of the 3,170,000 whites, the ancestors of eight- tenths were probably English, and most of the others spoke English and were a homogeneous part of the community. Counting by sections, the States north of Maryland had a population of 1,968,000, and those south of Pennsylvania had 1,925,000; the States which were to be permanently slave- holding contained, therefore, a population about equal to that of New England and the Middle States. Only a small part of this population was to be found west of the mountains. Settlement was working into central New York, southwest Pennsylvania, the neighboring parts of Virginia, and the upper waters of the Tennessee; but the only considerable western community was in Kentucky. These distant settlers had an important influence on the Union, since they lay within easy reach of the Spanish settlements, and occasionally threatened to withdraw.

[Intellectual life.]

The intellectual life of the people was little developed. Schools had not sensibly improved since colonial times. The graduating classes of all the colleges in 1789 count up to about 170. There were but two schools of medicine in the country, and no regular school of law. In one department of literature alone were the Americans eminent: the state papers of public men such as Washington, Hamilton, and Jefferson are written with the force and directness of the best school of English. Poetry there was; its character may be judged by a single quotation from Barlow's "Vision of Columbus," a favorite epic, published in 1787: -

  "There stood stern Putnam, seamed with many a scar, 
  The veteran honours of an earlier war; 
  Undaunted Stirling, dreadful to his foes, 
  And Gates and Sullivan to vengeance rose; 
  While brave McDougall, steady and sedate, 
  Stretched the nerved arm to ope the scene of fate."

[Economic conditions.]

In economic conditions the United States were little more advanced than had been the colonies. The country abounded in natural resources: timber clad the whole Appalachian range, and spread far into the Mississippi valley; the virgin soil, and particularly the rich and untouched prairies of the West, were an accumulation of unmeasured wealth. Yet it was little easier to get from the sea to Lake Erie or to the Ohio than it had been forty years before. It seemed impossible that a country could be held together when it was so large that a courier might be two months on his way from the seat of government to the most distant frontier; and Jefferson predicted that it would be a thousand years before the country would be thickly settled as far west as the Mississippi. The chief resource of the country was agriculture; almost every State raised its own food, and there were considerable exports, particularly of wheat and flour. Manufactures were chiefly imported from England, the only widely known American industry being the distilling of New England rum. The chief source of wealth was still commerce; in 1790 the exports and imports were about twenty million dollars each, or five dollars per head of the population. The movement of vessels to foreign ports was tolerably free, but the vexatious restrictions and taxes imposed by England tended to throw an undue part of the profit into the hands of the English merchants. Business of every kind was much hampered by the want of bank capital and by the state of the currency.


[Current political theories.]

The chief intellectual interest of the people was in politics. The State and the national constitutions both protected freedom of speech, and Americans were accustomed freely to discuss public men and public measures. Public opinion was, however, created by a comparatively small number of persons, - the leading planters of the South, merchants and great families in the Middle States, the gentlemen and clergy in New England. Already two different schools of political thought had appeared. The one is typified by John Adams's elaborate work, "The Defence of the American Constitutions," published in 1787. "The rich, the well-born, and the able," he says, "... must be separated from the mass and placed by themselves in a senate." The leading spirit in the other school was Thomas Jefferson. He wrote in 1787: "I am persuaded that the good sense of the people will always be found the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves." The accepted principle of republican government was nevertheless that there should be a limited number of voters, following the lead of experienced statesmen of a higher social class.

[Political methods.]

A few symptoms of a change in political methods were visible. In 1788 a nominating convention was held in Harrisburg; this method of selecting candidates by representatives of the voters of their party was rapidly extended. In 1789 the secret Columbian Order, or Tammany Society, was formed in New York. At first benevolent and literary, the correspondent of the Massachusetts Historical Society, by 1800 it had become a political organization and was controlling local elections. In several States, and particularly in New York, factions had grown up about leading families of public men; in a few years they became political machines subject to the direction of a few leaders. Buying of votes was almost unknown, but there was much disorder at elections.

[Respect for authority.]

In many respects both the State and national governments were weak. The legislatures had, during the Revolution, been accustomed to ride roughshod over the minority, and they were still inclined to grant charters and privileges only to party friends; Federalist legislatures would charter only Federalist banks. Americans enjoyed their individual liberty, but resented the use of force either for collecting taxes or for upholding the authority of government; and the States were not accustomed unhesitatingly to accept the action of Congress. On the other hand, the Anglo-Saxon respect for law was recovering from the shock of the Revolution. There was a strong feeling of loyalty to the State governments, and the beginning of national interest and patriotism. By common consent the new Constitution was put quietly into effect by those who expected its success.


[First congressional election.]

The first step in the organization of the government was to elect senators and representatives. The Senate was small, and was expected to be a kind of executive council. In due time John Adams was chosen vice-president, and became chairman. The Senate sat for several years in secret session; but from the journal of William Maclay, senator from Pennsylvania, we learn many interesting details, and know that the casting vote of the chairman was often necessary to settle important questions. The time and manner of electing members of the House was left to the States. In some cases all the members from a State were elected on one general ticket; in others the State was divided into districts. Among the distinguished members were Theodore Sedgwick and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut, and James Madison of Virginia. From the first, the custom obtained that a member of the House should be a resident of the district from which he was chosen.

[Organization of Congress.]

The House organized April 6. In the Speaker appeared an officer until now unknown in the Federal system. At first he was only a moderator; after about a year he was given the power to appoint committees; and from that time dates the growth of those powers which have made him second in influence only to the President of the United States. The procedure was modelled partly on that of the old Congress, and partly upon that of the State legislatures: it is noticeable, however, that the system of permanent committees so familiar during the previous twelve years was not immediately readopted; It began to come in about 1794. The first act on the statute book was passed June 1, 1789, and prescribed a form of oath. Congress voted itself a moderate per diem of six dollars. The only other important question relative to the form of Congress was that of apportionment. On April 5, 1792, a bill allotting the members of the House to the States was the subject of the first executive veto.


One important function was performed before Congress adjourned, by submitting to the States twelve amendments to the Constitution. These were made up by comparison of the propositions submitted by the States at the time of ratification, and practically constituted a brief bill of rights. In due time all but two unimportant clauses were ratified by the States, and the great objection to the Constitution was thus removed.

The importance of the First Congress was that the general forms adopted for the transaction of its business have continued without serious change to the present day. Its officers have increased, its powers have developed, its political importance has expanded; but its parliamentary procedure is still much the same as in 1789.


[The first President.]

While the senators and representatives were being selected, Presidential electors were also chosen in all the eleven States except New York. The States exercised their constitutional discretion: in some the electors were chosen by the legislatures, in others by general ticket, and in others by districts. In one thing they agreed: when quorums of both houses were obtained, so that the votes could be counted, April 6, 1789, it was found that every elector had cast a ballot for George Washington. On April 30 he took the oath of office in Federal Hall on Wall Street, New York, and Maclay records for the benefit of posterity that "he was dressed in deep brown, with metal buttons with an eagle on them, white stockings, a bag, and sword." As the presidency was an entirely new office, there was much difficulty and some squabbling over the details of his place. The question of title was raised; and it was understood that Washington would have liked to be called "His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties." No action was taken, and the simple title of "Mr. President" was by common consent adopted.

[Executive departments.] [Treasury Department.]

The duties of the President were clearly defined by the Constitution. It now became necessary to make some provision for subordinate executive officers. Here for the first time the importance of the legislation of the First Congress is visible. They had it in their power to put flesh and blood upon the dry bones of the Constitution: they might surround the President with a vigorous, active, and well-centred body of subordinates; or they might go back to the practice of the old Congress, and create executive officers who should be practically the servants of Congress. They resolved to trust the President. The first executive department to be established was the Department of Foreign Affairs, of which the name was a little latter changed to the Department of State. In due time Thomas Jefferson was appointed Secretary of State; among his successors have been John Marshall, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Martin Van Buren, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, James Buchanan, and William H, Seward. The War Department bill passed August 7, and Henry Knox, who had been the head of the army under the old system, was reappointed. In establishing the Treasury Department a strong effort was made to create a Secretary of the Treasury as an agent of Congress rather than as the officer of the President. The details of the office were therefore carefully regulated by the statute, and specific duties were assigned to the Secretary. He was, however, appointed by the President, and the question was raised whether he was also removable by the President. The Senate insisted that the removal should not be valid without its approval; the House insisted that the President should be unrestrained by the casting vote of the Vice-President the latter system was adopted. The first Secretary of the Treasury was Alexander Hamilton.

[Relations with Congress.]

Then came the question of the relations of cabinet officers to Congress. Maclay records that on August 22, 1790, the President appeared in the Senate with Knox, and intimated that the Secretary of War would explain a proposed Indian treaty. The only remark that Knox seems to have made was: "Not till Saturday next;" but Maclay was convinced that he was there "to overawe the timid and neutral part of the Senate." With some displeasure, the Senate referred the matter to a committee. Hamilton desired an opportunity to address the House; but it was not accorded, nor does it appear that the privilege has ever been granted to any cabinet officer. Knox's speech is the nearest approach to the Parliamentary system which has been known in Congress.


[The Judiciary Act.]

By the Constitution there was to be a supreme court and such inferior courts as Congress should create. By the Act of Sept. 24, 1789 the federal judicial system was organized substantially as it now stands. Following the precedent of some of the States, two grades of inferior courts were created, - the district and the circuit. The judicial business of the country was small, and for the time being the supreme justices were to hold the circuit courts. Prosecuting officers and marshals were appointed, and here is to be found the germ of the present system of limited terms for public officials: they were to have commissions which should run four years; it seems to have been tacitly understood that they would be reappointed. A few brief clauses defined the manner in which suits could be appealed from the State courts to the national. This statute has made it possible to apply federal law in the same way throughout the Union: errors of construction, and divergencies of judgment involving the national Constitution, laws, and treaties, are corrected through this power of appeal to one central supreme tribunal. A little later an Act was passed defining crimes against the United States. The courts were speedily organized, and John Jay of New York was made the first chief justice.

[Important decisions.]

For a few years no important decisions were made by the court; but in February, 1793, a suit was entertained against the State of Georgia; soon after, one was entered against the State of Massachusetts. Georgia replied by passing a statute punishing with death any United States marshal who might attempt to serve a process upon her. Massachusetts urged the passing of an eleventh constitutional amendment; it was duly adopted in 1798, and prohibited suits before a federal court against a State, by a citizen of another State or of a foreign country.


[Revenue scheme.]

The first necessity of the new government was to lay the taxes authorized under the new Constitution for its own support, for the payment of interest, and eventually for sinking the principal of the public debt. Two days after the House organized, Madison introduced a scheme, which eventually passed into the first tariff act. On May 13, 1789, after agreeing to a duty on "looking-glasses and brushes," it was moved to lay a tax of ten dollars each on imported slaves. A Georgia member protested against the tax as intended for the benefit of Virginia, and "hoped gentlemen would have some feeling for others;" the proposition failed.

[Question of protection.]

Another amendment, however, raised the most important political question connected with taxation. April 9, 1789, a Pennsylvania member wished to increase the list of dutiable articles, so as "to encourage the productions of our country and to protect our infant manufactures." A South Carolina member at once objected. Two days later a petition from Baltimore manufacturers asked Congress to impose on "all foreign articles which can be made in America such duties as will give a just and decided preference to our labors." New England opposed the proposed duties because molasses, hemp, and flax were included; molasses was a "raw material" for the manufacture of rum; and hemp and flax were essential for the cordage of New England ships. Lee of Virginia moved to strike out the duty on steel, since a supply could not be furnished within the United States, and he thought it an "oppressive, though indirect, tax on agriculture."

[The first tariff.]

The act as passed July 4, 1789, bore the title of "An Act for the encouragement and protection of manufactures;" yet the highest ad valorem duty was fifteen per cent. To be sure, the high rates of freight at that time afforded a very large additional protection; but no general revenue act ever passed by Congress has imposed so low a scale of duties.

[Hamilton's scheme.]

By the time the revenue had begun to come in under this Act, Secretary Hamilton had worked out in his mind a general financial system, intended to raise the credit and to strengthen the authority of the Union. The first step was to provide a sufficient revenue to pay running expenses and interest. Finding that the first tariff produced too little revenue, in 1790 and again in 1792 it was slightly increased, at Hamilton's suggestion. The second part of his scheme was to lay an excise, an internal duty upon distilled spirits. In 1791 a tax, in its highest form but twenty-five cents a gallon, was laid on spirits distilled from foreign or domestic materials. The actual amount of revenue from this source was always small; but Hamilton expected that the people in the interior would thus become accustomed to federal officers and to federal law. The effect of the revenue Acts was quickly visible: in 1792 the annual revenue of the government had risen to $3,600,000.

77. NATIONAL AND STATE DEBTS (1789, 1790).

[The debt funded.]

The third part of Hamilton's scheme was to fund the national debt into one system of bonds, and to pay the interest. When he assumed control of the Treasury he found, as nearly as could be calculated, ten millions of foreign debt with about two millions of accrued interest, and twenty-nine millions of domestic debt with eleven millions of accrued interest, - a total of more than fifty-two millions. So far as there was any sale for United States securities they had fallen to about twenty-five per cent of their par value. Jan. 14, 1790, Hamilton submitted one of a series of elaborate financial reports; it called on Congress to make such provision for principal and interest as would restore confidence. By this time an opposition had begun to rise against the great secretary, and Madison proposed to inquire in each case what the holder of a certificate of debt had paid for it; he was to be reimbursed in that amount, and the balance of the principal was to be paid to the original holder. Hamilton pointed out that in order to place future loans the Treasury must assure the public that bonds would be paid in full to the person holding a legal title. Congress accepted Hamilton's view, and an act was passed by which the interest was to be promptly paid, and an annual sum to be set apart for the redemption of the principal. The securities of the United States instantly began to rise, and in 1793 they were quoted at par. The credit of the government was reestablished.

[Assumption proposed.]

Now came a fourth part of Hamilton's scheme, upon which he laid great stress: he proposed that the outstanding State debts should likewise be taken over by the general government. The argument was that the States had incurred their debts for the common purpose of supporting the Revolution. There was strong opposition, particularly from States like Virginia, which had extinguished the greater part of their own debt. The House showed a bare majority in favor of the assumption project; on the appearance of members from North Carolina, which had just entered the Union, that majority was, on April 12, 1790, reversed.

[The seat of government.] [Compromise.]

Meanwhile the old question of the permanent seat of the federal government had been revived, and, as in the days of the Confederation, it seemed impossible to agree. It was expected that the capital would lie somewhere in the Northern States; at one time Germantown was all but selected. The Virginia members suddenly took fire, and Lee declared that "he was averse to sound alarms or introduce terror into the House, but if they were well founded he thought it his duty;" and Jackson of Georgia declared that "this will blow the coals of sedition and injure the Union." The matter was laid over until the middle of 1790. It was evident that the friends of assumption were in a small minority, and the friends of a Northern capital in a small majority. Hamilton worked upon Jefferson to secure a compromise. The matter was adjusted at Jefferson's table: a few Northern votes were obtained for a Southern capital, and two Virginia members agreed to vote for assumption. By very narrow majorities it was therefore agreed that the national capital should be placed on the Potomac River, and that State debts amounting to $21,500,000 should be assumed. A few months later the President selected the site of the present national capital, and in due time the debts were taken up.

78. UNITED STATES BANK (1791, 1792).

[A bank proposed.]

Having thus reorganized the finances of the country, Hamilton now proposed the fifth part of his scheme, - the establishment of a national bank. In a report of Dec. 14, 1790, he presented the subject to the attention of Congress. He urged that it would benefit the public by offering an investment, that it would aid the government in making loans and by collecting taxes, and that its notes would be a useful currency. Hamilton drafted a bill, which was an adaptation of the charter of the Bank of England. The capital of $10,000,000, and the management of the bank, were to be private; but the government was to be a stockholder, and to have the right of requiring periodical statements of the bank's condition.

The Senate passed the bill without a division, substantially as drawn by Hamilton. Apparently it was on the point of going through the House, when Smith of South Carolina objected, and Jackson of Georgia declared that he had never seen a bank bill in the State of Georgia; "nor will they ever benefit the farmers of that State or of New York;" and he called it an unconstitutional monopoly.

[The question of implied powers.]

After a week's debate on the question whether the bank was authorized by the Constitution, it passed the House by a vote of 39 to 20, and was sent to the President. He called for the opinions of the members of his cabinet in writing, and the answers submitted by Hamilton and Jefferson are still among the most important documents on the construction of the Constitution. Jefferson's standpoint was simply that, since the Constitution nowhere expressly authorized the creation of a bank, Congress had gone beyond its powers. Hamilton asserted that if the bank were "necessary and proper to carry out any of the specific powers, such as taxation and the borrowing of money, then Congress might create a bank, or any other public institution, to serve its ends." The President accepted Hamilton's view, and the act was signed. The capital of the bank was speedily subscribed, and it immediately entered on a prosperous and useful career.

79. SLAVERY QUESTIONS (1789-1798).

[Anti-slavery memorials.]

The question of the extent of the powers of Congress had already once been raised. On February 11 and 12, 1790, there were presented to Congress two memorials, the one the "Address of the People called Quakers, in their Annual Assembly convened;" the other the "Memorial of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery." These memorials asked Congress to "exert upright endeavors, to the full extent of your power, to remove every obstruction to public righteousness," particularly in the matter of slavery. The motion to commit instantly roused Southern members. Jackson of Georgia said that "any extraordinary attention of Congress to the petition would hold their property in jeopardy." The matter was sent to a subcommittee, composed chiefly of Southern members. On March 8th that committee reported the principles under which Congress acted during the next seventy years. They said that Congress had no power to interfere with slavery or the treatment of slaves within the States; they might pass laws regulating the slave-trade, but could not then stop the importation of slaves from foreign countries into the United States. Another resolution, to the effect that Congress would exercise its powers for the humane principles of the memorial, was struck out by the House. The anti-slavery organizations from which these memorials had proceeded kept up a brisk fusillade of petitions. In some cases the House refused to receive them, but Congress did pass several laws reducing the evils of the slave-trade.

[Fugitive slaves.]

In 1793 the question came up, how fugitive slaves should be restored if they had fled and taken refuge in another State. An act was passed by which the United States assumed authority in the matter; the claimant was simply to satisfy any national or State magistrate that he was entitled to the person claimed. The act had hardly gone into effect before a fugitive was apprehended in Massachusetts. Josiah Quincy, who was employed to defend him, tells us that he "heard a noise, and turning round he saw the constables lying sprawling on the floor, and a passage opening through the crowd, through which the fugitive was taking his departure, without stopping to hear the opinion of the court." From the very first, therefore, we find in vigorous action the paraphernalia of the later anti- slavery movement, - societies, petitions, laws, and deliberate violation of laws.


[The government established.]

The end of Washington's first administration in March, 1793, saw the government completely organized, and accepted throughout the Union. The distinction between friends and opponents of the Constitution had entirely disappeared. There was no longer any suggestion of substantial amendment. Two Congresses had gone through their work, and had accustomed the people to a national legislature. The President had made appointments, sent ambassadors, commanded the army, and vetoed bills, and yet there was no fear of a monarchy. The national courts were in regular and undisturbed session. The Union was complete, and two new States, Vermont and Kentucky, had been admitted.

This remarkable success was due in considerable part to the personal influence of a few men. Washington's great popularity and his disinterested use of his new powers had taken away a multitude of fears. The skill of Hamilton had built up a successful financial system. In Congress Madison had been efficient in working out the details of legislation. Washington, with his remarkable judgment of men, had selected an able staff of officials, representing all the sections of the country.


Yet, as Washington himself had said, "Influence is not government." One of the chief elements of the Union's strength was that it pressed lightly upon the people. For the first time in the history of America there was an efficient system of import duties. They were almost the sole form of taxation, and, like all indirect taxes, their burden was not felt. Above all, the commercial benefits of the new Union were seen from North to South. Trade between the States was absolutely unhampered, and a brisk interchange of products went on. The country was prosperous; its shipping increased, and foreign trade was also growing steadily.

[Relations with the States.]

So far the Union had met no violent resistance either from insurgents or from the States. In the Virginia convention of 1788 Patrick Henry had said: "I never will give up that darling word 'requisitions;' my country may give it up, the majority may wrest it from me, but I never will give it up till my grave." Nevertheless, when the requisitions on the States were given up, the chief cause of dispute in the Union was removed. Up to this time the only distinctly sectional legislation had been the assumption of the State debts and the fixing of the national capital; and these two had been set off against each other. If peace continued, there was every prospect of a healthy growth of national spirit.