The committee appointed to report on the rules and orders of proceedings of the House on April 2, 1789 issued its first report on April 7. The report included duties of the Speaker of the House, rules of decorum and debate, rules for bills, and rules for the Committee of the Whole House. The House adopted the rules with little debate.
Upon counting the electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States on April 6, 1789, the Senate appointed Charles Thomson to notify George Washington of his election as President and Sylvanus Bourn to notify John Adams of his election as Vice President. The Senate sent Thomson and Bourn these letter notifying them of their appointments.
Copies of Letters to Charles Thomson and Sylvanus Bourn Appointing Them to Inform the President and Vice President of their Election, 4/6/1789, Records of the U.S. Senate (NAID 7788934)
After the Senate attained its first quorum on April 6, 1789, the House and Senate counted the electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States. The official tally showed that George Washington was unanimously elected President and John Adams was elected Vice President.
Richard Henry Lee from Virginia presented his credentials to the Senate on April 6, 1789. Twelve members of the Senate were needed to attain a quorum. Upon Senator Lee’s arrival, the Senate attained a quorum for the first time since the start of the First Congress on March 4.
On April 4, 1789, the House received this petition from David Ramsay, author of History of the Revolution of South Carolina and History of the American Revolution. Ramsay asked Congress to pass a law to grant him the exclusive right of “vending and disposing” of the books within the United States. The committee to which this petition was referred reported favorably on it on April 20, 1789.
Congress received 7 petitions relating to copyright legislation during the First Congress. HR 43, the Copyright Act, passed on May 17, 1790.
This was the first private petition ever presented to Congress.
Petition of David Ramsay for a Copyright Law, 4/4/1789, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (NAID 7788931)
Congress in the Archives will feature guest posts from our staff. Today’s post come from archivist Adam Berenbak, our resident baseball expert. Happy Opening Day, Washington Nationals fans!
In July of 1949, the House Un-American Activities Committee, or (HUAC), held hearings regarding “communist infiltration of minority groups” in response to comments made by actor and activist Paul Robeson. On the final day of the hearings, Jackie Robinson appeared on behalf of the committee despite his reluctance to participate in political affairs.
Robinson, who was in the middle of an MVP season, delivered an eloquent statement, neither defending nor outright condemning Robeson. He denounced racial discrimination and stated that “talk about ‘Communists stirring up Negroes to protest’ only makes present misunderstanding worse than ever. Negroes were stirred up long before there was a Communist Party, and they’ll stay stirred up long after the party has disappeared — unless Jim Crow has disappeared by then as well.”
Robinson spoke for 20 minutes, and then headed straight from Washington, DC, to Brooklyn, where, in a late afternoon game at Ebbets Field, he hit a triple and stole two bases to lead the Dodgers in victory over the Chicago Cubs.
First Page of Statement of Jackie Robinson before House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), July 18, 1949, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, (NAID 7822182)
On April 4, 1789, the House elected the first doorkeeper, Gifford Dalley, and assistant doorkeeper, Thomas Clayton. The resolution to create the positions was passed by the House of April 2.
On April 3, 1789, the Mayor of New York City, James Duane, signed this resolution by the City’s Common Council, which appropriated the meeting space of the U.S. Congress in Federal Hall.
On April 2, 1789, the second day that the House was officially conducting business, they appointed a committee to determine the standing rules and the rules and duties of the Sergeant at Arms.
Think your driver’s license photo makes you look silly? At least you aren’t Department of Commerce official J. Mishell George. No, this isn’t an April Fool’s prank. Newspaper reader Judge L.S. Oliver really thought George looked downright nefarious.
Letter from Judge L.S. Oliver to the Permanent Subcommitte on Investigations, 3/13/1956, Records of the United States Senate