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The 1st United States Congress, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, met from March 4, 1789, to December 31, 1790, during the first two years of George Washington's presidency, first at Federal Hall at 26 Wall Street in New York City and later at Congress Hall in Philadelphia. Both chambers had a Pro-Administration majority.

The actions of the 1st Congress are sometimes regarded as persuasive evidence of what the U.S. Constitution means. For example, the notion that the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had some requirement of proportionality of punishments to crimes was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Harmelin v. Michigan partly on the grounds that the 1st Congress had passed a law punishing forgery of United States securities, "run[ning] away with [a] sip or vessel, or any goods or merchandise to the value of fifty dollars," treason, and murder on the high seas with the same penalty: death by hanging.

Major LegislationEdit

Session 1Edit

Session 1 started on March 4, 1789 and ended on December 31, 1789.

  • June 1, 1789: Regulatory Oath Act
  • July 4, 1789: Hamilton Tariff
  • July 27, 1789: United States Department of State, was established.
  • August 7, 1789: United States Department of War, was established.
  • September 2, 1789: United States Department of the Treasury, was established.
  • September 24, 1789: Judiciary Act of 1789, which created:
    • Supreme Court
    • District Courts
    • Circuit Courts
    • District Attorneys and Attorney General

Session 2Edit

Session 2 started on January 4, 1790 and ended on December 31, 1790.

  • March 1, 1790: Made provisions for the first Census.
  • March 26, 1790: Naturalization Act of 1790
  • April 30, 1790: Patent Act of 1790
  • May 31, 1790: Copyright Act of 1790
  • July 6, 1790: Residence Act, established Washington, D.C. as the seat of government of the United States.
  • July 22, 1790: Indian Intercourse Act of 1790, regulated commerce with the Indian tribes.

Constitutional AmendmentsEdit

  • September 25, 1789: Twelve proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution were passed and sent to the states for ratification. Ten were ratified as "The Bill of Rights," and one was ratified two centuries later as the 27th Amendment.

States Admitted and Territories OrganizedEdit

  • 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 SummaryEdit

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

SenateEdit

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

Party Total
Anti-Administration Pro-Administration
Begin 6 16 22
End 6 20 26

House of RepresentativesEdit

Party Total
Anti-Administration Pro-Administration
Begin 4 18 22
End 5 21 26

LeadershipEdit

SenateEdit

  • President: John Adams
  • Chancellor: John Langdon

House of RepresentativesEdit

  • Speaker: Frederick Muhlenberg

MembersEdit

This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed in order of seniority, as are Representatives. The new members who came in after North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified the constitution had terms that ended along with everyone else, therefore keeping equal terms, allowing for an entire election to be held for every seat, requiring reelection for every seat in 1794, for the new Congress in 1795.

SenateEdit

Senators were elected by the state legislatures every six years, being that each Senator serves a six-year term.

ConnecticutEdit

  • Oliver Ellsworth (P)
  • William S. Johnson (P)

DelawareEdit

  • Richard Bassett (A)
  • George Pead (P)

GeorgiaEdit

  • William Few (P)
  • James Gunn (A)

MarylandEdit

  • John Henry (P)
  • Charles Carroll (P)

MassachusettsEdit

  • Tristram Dalton (P)
  • Caleb Strong (A)

New HampshireEdit

  • John Langdon (P)
  • Paine Wingate (A)

New JerseyEdit

  • Jonathan Elmer (P)
  • William Paterson (P)

New YorkEdit

  • Rufus King (P)
  • Philip Schuyler (P)

North CarolinaEdit

  • Benjamin Hawkins (P)
  • Samuel Johnston (P)

PennsylvaniaEdit

  • William Maclay (A)
  • Robert Morris (P)

Rhode IslandEdit

  • Theodore Foster (P)
  • Joseph Stanton, Jr. (A)

South CarolinaEdit

  • Pierce Butler (P)
  • Ralph Izard (P)

VirginiaEdit

  • William Grayson (P)
  • Richard Henry Lee (P

House of RepresentativesEdit

Representatives were elected by the state legislatures every two years, being that each Representative serves a two-year term.

ConnecticutEdit

  • Benjamin Huntington (P)
  • Roger Sherman (P)

DelawareEdit

  • Jonathan Sturges (P)
  • John Vining (P)

GeorgiaEdit

  • James Jackson (A)
  • Abraham Baldwin (A)

MarylandEdit

  • Michael J. Stone (A)
  • Joshua Seney (A)

MassachusettsEdit

  • Fisher Ames (P)
  • Benjamin Goodhue (P)

New HampshireEdit

  • Abiel Foster (P)
  • Nicholas Gilman (P)

New JerseyEdit

  • Elias Boudinot (P)
  • Lambert Cadwalader (P)

New YorkEdit

  • William Floyd (A)
  • John Laurance (P)

North CarolinaEdit

  • John Baptista Ashe (P)
  • Hugh Williamson (P)

PennsylvaniaEdit

  • George Clymer (P)
  • Frederick Muhlenberg (P)

Rhode IslandEdit

  • Benjamin Bourne (P)
  • Thomas Fitzsimons (P)

South CarolinaEdit

  • William L. Smith (P)
  • Aedanus Burke (P)

VirginiaEdit

  • Alexander White (P)
  • John Brown (P)

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