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.
The House and Senate had been in session for two weeks by March 18, 1789, and neither chamber were able to attain a quorum to begin operation of the new government. A week after sending a letter to their absent colleagues, the Senate drafted another letter for distribution. This letter was worded slightly stronger than their initial letter, urging the senators’ immediate attendance. While Congress was not officially able to begin conducting business due to the lack of quorums in both houses, members often gathered together to discuss and prioritize issues that would likely surface in the coming months.
Gideon v. Wainwright
Petition for a Writ of Certiorari from Clarence Gideon to the Supreme Court of the United States, 06/05/1962
From the Appellate Jurisdiction Case File Gideon v. Wainright, of the Records of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Convicted on breaking and entering and larceny charges after he was denied a court-appointed attorney and forced to defend himself in court, Clarence Earl Gideon appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that his constitutional right to counsel was violated. On March 18, 1963, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Gideon’s favor and he was granted a new trial in which he was acquitted.