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.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution gives the President the “Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties.” The first time this was put into practice was in August 21, 1789 when President George Washington sent this message to the Senate asking “to advise with them” on a treaty with the Southern Indians.
President Washington appeared before the Senate on August 22 to present documents relating to various tribes, but rather than discussing the matter with him in person, the Senate voted to appoint a committee to consider the treaty. Unhappy that the consideration of the treaty was done without him, the President decided that in the future he would only communicate with the Senate in writing when requesting their consent on treaties. This precedent set by the first President still continues today.
Message of President George Washington Requesting that the Senate Meet to Advise Him on the Terms of the Treaty to Be Negotiated with the Southern Indians, 8/21/1789, Records of the U.S. Senate (NAID 306283)