The Judiciary Act Is Passed


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shadowshadow > American History > New Nation > Major Events > 1789 Government Begins
The Government Begins

From the day that Congress convened, it had to pass a series of laws that created the government. It passed laws authorizing the establishment of the Department of the Army, State Department, Treasury Department and the Post Office. The Congress also passed the Judiciary Act.

The first Congress was scheduled to meet on March 4, 1789. It was not until April 1, however, that a quorum was reached. The next day, Frederick Muhlenberg was elected the first speaker of the House and, thus, the presiding officer. He appointed a committee to establish the rules of the House. On April 6, 1789, the 12th member of the Senate arrived establishing a quorum. John Langdon of New Hampshire was elected president pro tempore of the Senate. The Senate informed the House that it was in session and ready to count the electoral votes. The House and Senate then met in joint session and counted the votes, which showed that George Washington had been unanimously elected President, with John Adams as Vice President.

The early days of the first Congress were dedicated to establishing procedures and methods of operation. Even people's titles were debated endlessly. Soon, however, Congress needed to get down to the business of organizing the government. On May 19th, it held the first debate on establishing the executive branch. On July 4th, the first bill was passed to put the new government on a firm financial footing- a tariff bill that set import tariffs at 15%. On July 27th, the Department of State was established, with John Jay as its head; on August 7th, the War Department followed. The Treasury Department was established on September 2nd, and the Post Office was created on the 22nd. On September 24th, the Congress passed the Judiciary Act. Finally, on September 25th, Congress submitted to the states the first 12 amendments to the Constitution, ten of which were ratified to become the Bill of Rights.

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