225th Anniversary of the First Congress: We’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution through March 2016.
On August 3, 1789, President George Washington sent to the Senate a list of nominees to be port collectors. The name of each nominee appear next to each position with a note on the outcome of the Senate’s vote. “Aye” is written next to each name but Benjamin Fishbourn. Fishbourn was the first presidential nominee to be rejected by the Senate, and the event marked the beginning of the custom of senatorial courtesy—a tradition which continues today.
This tradition holds that the Senate may reject a nominee who is not supported by the nominee’s home state senators. It encourages the President to engage the Senate in the “advice” part of the nomination process, as well as the “consent” part.
Nomination of Port Collectors, including the nomination of Benjamin Fishbourn, 8/3/1789, SEN1B-A1, Records of the U.S. Senate