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Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200.
In August 1774, Mr. Lee was chosen as a delegate to the First Continental Congress.
John Adams seconded the motion. Congress deferred action for three weeks, in order that more definite instructions might be received from the middle colonies. In an uncanny twist of fate Mr. Lee was called home by the illness of his wife. It was at this time that Thomas Jefferson was appointed in his place as chairman of the committee for preparing a draft of the proposed Declaration of Independence. For the same reason, the task of defending the motion, when taken up for discussion, fell mainly upon John Adams, who had seconded it.
| Resolution for Independency Manuscript, which was passed on July 2, 1776. |
The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more." -- John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
Neil Ronk, Senior Guide and Historian of the Christ Church Preservation Trust holds up John Dunlap's 1777 York-Town printing of the 1776 Journals of Congress flanked by NCHC Honors Students. The Journals have been opened to July 2nd 1776, marking the passage of the Resolution for Independency. - For more information visit our National Park and NCHC Partners in the Park Class of 2017 website
United Colonies of America roll call vote result written on the July 2, 1776 "Resolution for Independency" which is clearly marked on this original Continental Congress manuscript passed on July 2, 1776. The roll indicates that New Hampshire was the first State to vote for Independence. Mew York is not listed as the delegation abstained from the vote - Image courtesy of the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1783; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives
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That the place on the Delaware for erecting buildings for the use of Congress, be near the falls. Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to repair to the falls of Delaware, to view the situation of the country in its neighbourhood, and report a proper district for carrying into effect the preceding resolution: the members, Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry, Mr. S[amuel] Huntington, Mr. [Richard] Peters, Mr. [James] Duane, Mr. [Abraham] Clark.
On October 21, 1783, the USCA also resolved:
That buildings be likewise erected for the use of Congress, at or near the lower falls of Potomac or Georgetown; provided a suitable district on the banks of the river can be procured for a federal town, and the right of soil, and an exclusive jurisdiction, or such other as Congress may direct, shall be vested in the United States: and that until the buildings to be erected on the banks of the Delaware and Potomac shall be prepared for the reception of Congress, their residence shall be alternately at equal periods, of not more than one year, and not less than six months in Trenton and Annapolis; and the President is hereby authorised and directed to adjourn Congress on the 12th day of November next, to meet at Annapolis on the twenty-sixth day of the same month, for the despatch of public business.
On October 30, 1783, the USCA resolved:
That the President transmit to the executives of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, copies of the acts of Congress of the 7 instant respecting buildings to be erected for a federal town on the banks of the Delaware; and of the acts of the 1 instant respecting buildings to be erected on the banks of the Potomac, for a second federal town, and the adjournment of Congress to Annapolis.
The idea was for Congress to perform its business in one capital for a portion of the year before moving to another capital for the remaining portion of the year. On November 1st it was "Resolved, That the several matters now before Congress, be referred over and recommended to the attention of the United States in Congress assembled, to meet at this place on Monday next." On November 4, authorized the discharge of the Continental Army, "except 500 men, with proper officers. "Adjourns to Annapolis, to reconvene the 26th.
The Fourth USCA, was unable to form a quorum until December 13th took up the matter of two federal districts but made little headway on the capitals' development during their Annapolis, MD session. On May 7, 1784, however, the USCA elected Paris Peace Commissioner and former Continental Congress President John Jay, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, while he was overseas without his knowledge or consent. John Jay did not learn of Congress' action until he arrived in New York on July 24th and indicated that with the current flux of the U.S. Seat of Government’s bilocation, he was not interested in accepting the position.
As late as October 20, 1784, John Jay wrote USCA Secretary Charles Thomson:
"I must decline accepting the Place offered me, at least until the Sense of Congress may be known on two or three points....as I have a Family it is necessary in my opinion, that my Residence should be stationary---; and I think it both reasonable & important that the Persons to serve under me in the office, should be of my appointment."
John Jay was elected a delegate to the Fifth United States in Congress Assembled on October 26th. It would not be until November 29, that the Fifth USCA formed a quorum at the French Arms Tavern and the following day the delegates elected Richard Henry Lee USCA President. The session progressed as follows with John Jay first attending on December 6th:
December 3 Registers commission of Swedish consul Charles Hellstedt; orders redeployment of Fort Stanwix troops to West Point. December 7 Countermands redeployment of Fort Stanwix troops, who are ordered to Fort Rensselaer. December 8 Receives Massachusetts and New York agents assembled to select judges for hearing land claim dispute between the two states. December 11 Rejects motion to adjourn from Trenton; com mends the marquis de Lafayette. December 14 Postpones election of treasury commissioners; directs Benjamin Franklin to delay signing consular convention with France. December 15 Receives Spanish announcement closing Mississippi River. December 17 Elects chaplain to Congress; resolves to appoint minister to Spain.
During the session, on December 6, Virginia Delegate James Monroe wrote to James Madison stating:
Mr. Jay is here & will I understand accept the office of foreign affrs. upon condition Congress will establish themselves at any one place.
On December 20, 1784, the important matter of erecting one capital district as opposed to two was addressed by Congress. On a motion made by Rhode Island Delegate David Howell and seconded by John Jay, the USCA considered overturning the Third USCA's decision to create two capitals:
Resolved: That it is expedient the Congress proceed to take measures for procuring suitable buildings to be erected for their accommodation. [Printed Journals add: "And that a sum not exceeding dollars be and they are hereby appropriated for the payment of the expence of erecting such buildings."]
Resolved: (by nine states) That a sum not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars be appropriated for the payment of the expence of erecting such buildings; provided always, that hotels or dwelling-houses for the members of Congress representing the different States, shall not be understood as included in the above appropriation. [Note 2: 2 This paragraph, in the writing of Richard Henry Lee, is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 36, II, folio 477.]
|Proposed National Capitol Site in Trenton original Manuscript Map 1784 - Historic.us|
It would not be until the following day, that Congress agreed that one of the capital towns would be eliminated. The USCA December 21st, 1784, Journals report:
A motion was made by Mr. [Charles] Pinckney, seconded by Mr. [John] Jay,
That it is expedient Congress should determine on a place, at which they will continue to sit until proper accommodations in a federal town shall be erected, and that the subsisting resolutions respecting the alternate temporary residence of Congress at Trenton and Annapolis, be repealed.
Resolved, That it is expedient Congress should determine on a place at which they will continue to sit, until public buildings for their proper accommodations in a foederal town shall be erected.
Resolved, That Congress will not adjourn from this place until they shall have named the place near the falls of Trenton at which the federal buildings mentioned in the resolution of yesterday shall be fixed and ascertained and Commissioners for erecting the same be appointed. [Note 1: 1 This motion, in the writing of John Jay, is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 36, II, folio 487.]
With this resolution and with the knowledge that the there would only be one capital district and the majority of the delegates would most likely choose New York as the temporary Seat of Government, John Jay accepted the position as Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Jay took the oath of office before Justice Isaac Smith of the New Jersey Supreme Court (Red Book, 9:86, MdAA).
Certification of John Jay’s Oath as Secretary for Foreign Affairs --- [Trenton, 21 December 1784]:
Be it remembered that on twenty first day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four at Trenton in the State of New Jersey personally appeared before me Isaac Smith one of the Justices of the supreme Court of said State John Jay Esquire and took an Oath which I administered to him in the words following Viz.
“I John Jay do acknowledge the Thirteen United States of America namely, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia, to be free, independent and sovereign States, and declare that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the third King of Great Britain, and I renounce, refuse, and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him; and I do Swear that I will, to the utmost of my power support, maintain, and defend the said United States against the said King George the third, and his heirs & successors, and his or their abettors, assistants and adherents; and will Serve the said United States in the Office of [653page icon] Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which I now hold, and in any other Office which I may hereafter hold by their appointment, or under their authority, with fidelity and honor, and according to the best of my Skill and understanding. So help me God.
Sworn the Day and Year within written before me Isaac Smith. (Papers of John Jay; Certification of John Jay’s Oath as Secretary for Foreign Affairs)
On December 23rd, 1784, a motion was made to change the single permanent federal capitol's location by Samuel Hardy, seconded by James Monroe, to strike out the words, "on the banks of either side of the Delaware, not lower than Lamberton, nor more than six miles above it;" and in lieu thereof to insert, "at Georgetown, on the Potomac." The motion failed eight states to one.
USCA Journals Manuscript, December 23, 1784 from the US National Archives
John Jay and others defeated motions to name Trenton, Philadelphia and Newport in place of New York City as the temporary seat of government while the new “federal town” was being constructed on the Banks of the Delaware near Trenton. A motion was finally made by David Howell, seconded by Mr.[Richard Dobbs Spaight, "to fill the blank with 'the city of New York.' And on the question to agree to this, the yeas and nays being required by Mr. [David] Howell, So it was resolved in the affirmative."
New York Seat of Government vote - United States National Archives
The complete ordinance was then read for a third time:
Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, that the resolutions of the 20th instant respecting the erecting buildings for the use of Congress, be carried into effect without delay; that for this purpose, three commissioners be appointed, with full powers to lay out a district, of not less than two nor exceeding three miles square, on the banks of either side of the Delaware, not more than eight miles above or below the lower fails thereof, for a foederal town; that they be authorised to purchase the soil, or such part of it as they may judge necessary, to be paid at proper instalments; to enter into contracts for erecting and completing, in an elegant manner, a foederal house for the accommodation of Congress, and for the executive officers thereof; a house for the use of the President of Congress, and suitable buildings for the residence of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary at War, Secretary of Congress, Secretary of the Marine, and officers of the Treasury; that the said commissioners be empowered to draw on the treasury of the United States for a sum not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars, for the purpose aforesaid; that in choosing a situation for the buildings, due regard be had to the accommodation of the states, with lots for houses for the use of their delegates respectively; that on the 24th day of December instant Congress stand adjourned to meet at the city of New York, on the eleventh Day of January following, for the dispatch of public business, and that the sessions of Congress be held at the place last mentioned, until the buildings aforesaid shall be ready for their reception.
There was a stronger party formed against us than I remember to have seen, but I think it will subside and matters be in good train again. We have carried two great points to-day by passing an ordinance, 1st. to appoint three commissioners to lay out a district on the branch of either side of the Delaware, within eight miles of this place, to purchase the soil and enter into contracts for erecting suitable buildings. 2dly. To adjourn to New-York and reside there until suitable buildings are prepared. This I consider a fortunate affair in every respect but one. It is so disagreeable to our worthy secretary [Charles Thomson] that there is reason to apprehend he will resign his appointment.
We have been so happy also as to remove some objections on the part of Mr. Jay to the acceptance of his office, and he yesterday took the oaths and entered on the business of his department.
National Collegiate Honor’s Council Partners in the Park Class of 2017 students at Federal Hall National Historic Park with Ranger holding the 1789 Acts of Congress opened to the 12 Amendment Joint Resolution of Congress issued September 25th, 1789. The only amendment in the "Bill of Rights" that was not ratified is Article the First, which is still pending before Congress. Cintly is holding an Arthur St. Clair signed Northwest Territory document, Imani is holding the First Bicameral Congressional Act establishing the U.S. Department of State and Rachael is holding a 1788 John Jay letter sent to the Governor of Connecticut, Samuel Huntington, transmitting a treaty with France. – For more information visit our National Park and NCHC Partners in the Park Class of 2017 website
Secretary Knox, to support the western expansion, proposed an army mainly composed of state militia, specifically seeking to change attitudes in Congress about a democratically managed military. His plan was not adopted but Congress did authorize the establishment of a 700 man army on April 7th. Knox was only able to recruit six of the authorized ten companies, which were stationed on the western frontier due to poor pay and the limited resources of the federal government.
On March 24th, 1785, Richard Henry Lee welcomed his nephew, Thomas Lee Shippen, and invited him to stay with him at the house provided for the President in New York. The following day Lee's nephew wrote his father William Shippen and provided this account of the Presidential residence:
Presidents House, New York, Thursday March 25th, 1785
My very Dear Papa
I arrived here yesterday at noon; left Mr. and Mrs. Miluard at Elizabethtown under the care of Mr. Bernard, who introduced them yesterday, I believe, to Governor Livingston and family. I did not chuse, as I had little time to stay in New York, to suffer any thing to delay my arrival there. I find already I shall have a difficult struggle with my feelings and inclinations on the fourth of April. However, I shall resolve to be with you about that time unless some unforeseen event should render it impractical.
I find my uncle in a palace and think indeed that he does the honor of it with as much ease and dignity as if he had been always crowned with a regal diadem. The chamber is a spacious and elegant one and prettily furnished. I now write in it and which way so ever I turn my eyes I find a triumphant Bar, a liberty leaf, a temple of flame on the Hero of Heroes, all these and many more objects of a piece with them being finally represented on the hangings. Never were more honors, I believe, paid to any man and very seldom with more cordiality than are daily heaped upon the head of the master of this castle. I rejoice at it because I believe no man ever better deserved them. Billeted of invitation without number, visiting cards and letters of friendly congratulations fill every mantel piece and corners of every chamber. Sentinels guard his door, crowds of obedient domestics run to his call and fly at his command, and a profusion of the delicacies of good living crowns his hospitable board. This you will say is not among the most unpleasant circumstances of the business in your son's estimation. I acknowledge it, my good father, I acknowledge that from a spirit observance and your and a constant endeavor no end from my youth to do as my father did I have imbibed an epicurean cask and really I think with Mont De St Evremond whose expression I have just used, that even Cato's virtues without it would not make us completely estimable or happy. But he speaks as I mean to do of all the pleasures we are susceptible of when he uses the word Epicurean.
1785 Broadside of the "Estimate of the Annual Expenditure of the Civil Departments of the United States, on the present Establishment" indicating the expenditure for President Richard Henry Lee's household was $12,203.12 The President was paid no salary for that office but did received a salary from his home State at the same rate of his fellow Virginia Delegates.
1785 Broadside of the "Estimate of the Annual Expenditure of the Civil Departments of the United States, on the present Establishment" - It is important to note that no paper Continental dollars were issued after 1779, and they had stopped circulating as money by 1781. In 1785, the United States in Congress Assembled made the dollar the official unit of account of the U.S. government, but did not issue physical dollar currency, thus by "dollars" they meant the Spanish milled dollar. No one denominated any transactions in Continental paper dollars after 1781. Now, banknotes denominated in dollar units (again meaning Spanish milled dollars) were being used from 1781 on (Bank of North America, several state banks, and then the First Bank of the US), but these notes were not official legal tender currency before Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, simply declared paper banknote dollars of several banks as good as Spanish milled dollars for paying Federal taxes.It would not be until 1792 that the US Mint struck its own silver dollar at a slightly different value (weight) then Spanish milled dollar. Spanish milled dollars, along with many other foreign specie coins, remained a legal tender in the United States until 1854. - Email Excerpt paraphrased from Dr. Farley Grubb, Economics Professor, University of Delaware.
Debate began on the expanding the Ordinance of 1784 on April 14 and discussion of Thomas Jefferson’s survey method “hundreds of ten geographical miles square, each mile containing 6086 and 4-10ths of a foot” and “sub-divided into lots of one mile square each, or 850 and 4-10ths of an acre.” On May 3, 1785, William Grayson of Virginia made a motion seconded by James Monroe to change “seven miles square” to “six miles square” and the current US Survey system was born. President Lee wrote to his friend and colleague Samuel Adams:
Western Land Ordinance Broadside dated May 20, 1785 and signed in type by Richard Henry Lee as President of the United States in Congress Assembled and Charles Thomson as Secretary of the United States in Congress Assembled
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents
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