Слике страница
PDF
ePub

5. The Compromises on Slavery: Fiske, pp. 256–266; McLaughlin, pp. 254–265; Schouler, Vol. I, pp. 41, 42; B. B. Munford, Virginia's Attitude toward Slavery and Secession, Chap. V.

6. The Ratification of the Constitution : Fiske, pp. 306–345; McLaughlin, chap. VII; Schouler, Vol. I, pp. 53–69; McMaster, Vol. I, pp. 454–499; C. A. Beard, Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, Chaps. VIII-XI; The Federalist, written by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay.

CHAPTER XI

con

THE PRESIDENCY OF WASHINGTON On July 2, 1788, the president of Congress announced that nine States had ratified the new Constitution. Congress then ordered that the States should choose

Election and presidential electors on the first Wednesday in inauguration January, that the electors should vote for presi- of Washdent on the first Wednesday in February, and that the new Congress should assemble in New York on the first Wednesday in March, which happened to be the fourth day of the month. Public sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of Washington for president so that not even in the first election did the electors really exercise their right of choice, nor have they ever done so since. The electoral system as devised by the framers of the Constitution has always been a useless piece of machinery.

New England was conceded the vice-presidency and the choice fell on John Adams. It was April 5 before a sufficient number of senators and representatives arrived to enable Congress to organize. On the following day the electoral votes were counted and messengers dispatched to notify Washington and Adams of their election. Adams reached New York April 22 and immediately took his seat as presiding officer over the Senate. Washington set out from Mount Vernon on April 16, but his progress was delayed by guards of honor, street parades, receptions, and dinners. Finally on April 30 he was formally inaugurated on the portico of the City Hall of New York.

The first session of Congress was held in New York. From 1790 to 1800 its sessions were held in Philadelphia. The first

The seat of government was then permanently session of located in the District of Columbia. Frederick Congress

A. Muhlenberg, of Pennsylvania, was the first speaker of the House of Representatives. He was authorized to appoint all committees, a power which was destined in time to raise the speaker to a position of influence second to that of the president. James Madison, of Virginia, who was recognized as the representative of the administration on the floor, proposed as one of the first measures a revenue bill to meet the immediate demands of the government. The bill was modified at the demand of representatives from the Middle States so as to afford incidental protection to articles manufactured in America, and in this form passed the House July 4, 1789.

Three executive departments were established by Congress at its first session : the Department of State, July 27,

1789; the Department of War, August 7; and Organiza

the Department of the Treasury, September 2. tion of the

The office of attorney-general was created Septive depart- tember 22. This officer was not intended to

rank as a cabinet member, but the importance and nature of his duties soon brought him within that class, though the Department of Justice was not created until 1870.

There was no provision in law for a cabinet, but from the first Washington called the heads of departments into consultation on all important matters and the term cabinet soon came into general use. The American cabinet, however, has never borne much resemblance to the British body from which it derived its name. The British cabinet is responsible for its political acts to Parliament, while the American cabinet is responsible to the president alone and Congress has never established any control over it.

first execu

ments

Members of

Thomas Jefferson was appointed secretary of state by Washington. As he was then absent from the country as minister to France, John Jay, who had been Men in charge of foreign affairs under the Confed- the first eration, was continued in the office until Jeffer- Cabinet son assumed the duties in March, 1790. Alexander Hamilton, who as a mere youth had distinguished himself in the Revolution and who was still only thirty-two years of age, was appointed secretary of the treasury, and General Henry Knox, of Massachusetts, was appointed secretary of war, while Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, accepted the post of attorney-general at the modest salary of $1500. He was not expected to give all his time to the office.

The Constitution provided that the judicial power of the United States should be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as Congress might from the India time to time establish. There was no question ciary Act of as to the necessity of establishing a Supreme 1709 Court, but the Anti-Federalists objected to the creation of inferior courts and insisted that the State courts could attend to minor matters arising under Federal law. This view was, however, overruled and the act of 1789, besides creating a Chief Justice and five associates of the Supreme Court, also established four circuit and thirteen district courts. John Jay was appointed first Chief Justice, but so little were the possibilities of the new court realized that he later resigned the position to become governor of New York.

One other matter of importance was disposed of at this session of Congress. Pledges had been made in several of the State conventions which ratified the Con- The for stitution that amendments embodying a bill Ten Amendof rights would be pushed through Congress ments and submitted to the States as speedily as possible. Patrick Henry and other opponents of the Constitution were now chafing at the delay. Madison finally introduced seven

The first

teen amendments, only twelve of which were passed by Congress and only ten ratified by the necessary number of States. These went into effect November 3, 1791.

Congress adjourned the last of September to meet again in January, and during the interval Washington made a

tour of New England. His visit was without President de Washington incident save for the question of etiquette raised tours the by John Hancock, governor of Massachusetts, country

who let it be known that he would wait for the president to make the first call on him. Washington took a different view, however, of the relative dignity of president and governor, and Hancock conceded the point and paid the first call. In the spring of 1791 the president made a tour of the Southern States, traveling in his own coach. He went as far as Savannah and the journey occupied three months.

When Congress met again in January, 1790, Hamilton submitted the first of his carefully prepared reports on the

ton's public credit. His financial scheme as finally financial set forth embraced four points: the funding of program the public debt, the assumption of the State debts incurred in the Revolution, the increase of duties on imports and an excise tax on spirituous liquors, and the establishment of a United States Bank. As already stated, the government of the Confederation had been unable to meet the interest on the Revolutionary debt, which now amounted to $54,000,000, nearly $12,000,000 of which was held abroad. Certificates of the domestic debt had fallen to twenty or twenty-five cents on the dollar. Hamilton now proposed to refund this debt and pay it off at par in order to make good the public credit.

As soon as his plan was made known speculators began to buy up the certificates and they rose rapidly in value. Many people, among them Madison, were opposed to paying off this debt at its face value on the ground that specu

Hamilton's

« ПретходнаНастави »