I’m not fancy. I’m what I appear to be.
Today in history, March 11, 1993, Janet Reno was appointed as the first woman Attorney General of the United States by President Clinton. She served from 1993-2001, longer than any other Attorney General in the 20th century.
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.
As recorded in the first House Journal, only eleven representatives were present on March 4, 1789, the first day of the First Congress under the Constitution. Neither the House nor the Senate had enough members present to attain a quorum, so they adjourned from day to day until they could proceed with official business.
Congratulations to our friends at congressarchives!
It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating 1,000 followers, and now here we are with over 100,000 followers after two short years! We are blown away! We love being able to share our documents and their stories with you—thanks for making that possible. We have the best followers ever!
Proclamation to the People of New Orleans, 12/20/1803
Following Senate ratification of the Louisiana Purchase in October, 1803, this three-language broadside was written to announce the United States’ purchase of the Louisiana Territory and to clarify for the people of New Orleans their citizenship status.
The Bill of Rights: 14 Originals
On September 28, 1789, Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg and Vice President John Adams signed the enrolled copy of the first proposed amendments to the new Constitution—the document later known as the Bill of Rights.
The final, signed copy contained the 12 constitutional amendments that Congress proposed to the states (10 of them, articles 3 through 12, were subsequently ratified and became the Bill of Rights). Shortly after it was signed, clerks created 13 additional copies, which President George Washington sent to the 11 existing states and to Rhode Island and North Carolina—which had not yet adopted the Constitution. On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified by Virginia, the eleventh and final state needed to officially add them to the Constitution.
So, there were 13 additional copies of the “Bill of Rights”— find out what happened to them in: Prologue: Pieces of History » The Bill of Rights: 14 Originals.
Senate revisions of the House proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, 9/9/1789, SEN 1A-C2, Records of the U.S. Senate (NAID 3535588)
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the first time the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress. The proposed constitutional amendment asserted that, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
The ERA was drafted in 1923 by well-known women’s rights activist Alice Paul. It was first introduced in Congress on December 13 by Representative Daniel Anthony (R-KS), who was suffragette Susan B. Anthony’s nephew. The debate over the ERA continued for decades, and was reintroduced in every Congress until 1972.
While the ERA ultimately failed, it remains the most popular proposed amendment to the Constitution. About ten percent—over 1,100—of all the amendments introduced in Congress have been for the ERA.
Read more about the ERA debate on Education Updates.
H.J. Res. 75, Proposing an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution (7452156), 12/13/1923, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
We asked Senior Paper Conservator, Kathy Ludwig, about the most interesting project she’s worked on. The most intrinsically valuable document she has treated at the National Archives is the Monroe Doctrine. The document is the Senate version the 36-page text of President James Monroe’s seventh annual Message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, hand-written by an administrative assistant and signed by the President, was a defining moment in American foreign policy. We’ll explore its conservation treatment in the next few posts.
Did you know that President Ford signed legislation to ensure Veterans Day wouldn’t fall on Monday every year?
Since World War I the United States traditionally commemorated Veterans Day on November 11, which had formerly been recognized as Armistice Day. The “Monday holiday” law passed in 1968 established a uniform holiday schedule for the Federal Government but as a consequence moved the observance of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October.
Although the official Federal holiday was observed on Mondays for several years many people continued to hold commemorations on November 11 as well. In September 1975 President Ford signed into law S.331 officially designating the original date as Veterans Day.
“I believe restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 will help preserve in the hearts and lives of all Americans the spirit of patriotism, the love of country and the willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good symbolized by this very special day,” President Ford said in his signing statement.
-from the Ford Library
Due to the Federal Government shutdown, the National Archives (www.archives.gov) is closed. We are unable to post or participate in any of our social media channels during this closure. All National Archives facilities are closed, with the exception of the Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register until the Federal government reopens.
Feast your eyes on this historic booty our mateys at congressarchives have dug up, those scurvy dogs!
'Tis Speak like a Scurvy Pirate Day, 'n what better way to celebrate than wit' some scurvy pirate documents!
Band o’ pirates from th’ Barbary States preyed on ships off Africa’s western ‘n Mediterranean coasts fer centuries. After gainin’ independence, th’ U.S. lost British protection on th’ seven seas. In th’ 1780s ‘n 1790s, band o’ pirates captured ‘n enslaved many American sailors ‘n demanded exorbitant ransoms fer their return. Wit’ diplomatic means failin’, Congress authorized th’ creation o’ th’ U.S. Navy to defend against further attacks on American commerce.
In 1802 Congress responded to years o’ attacks by Barbary band o’ pirates. Though not a declaration o’ war, it supported President Jefferson’s decision to send a U.S. Navy squadron to th’ Mediterranean ‘n to use force to protect American citizens ‘n property.
An Act for the Protection of Commerce of the U.S. in the Mediterranean, 2/1/1802, Records of the U.S. Senate
Resources for Teaching about the Constitution
September 17 is designated as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The National Archives is the permanent home of the U.S. Constitution.
Here we’ve compiled some resources from the National Archives and some of our partner organizations that you can use for teaching about the Constitution.
- A featured page for teaching about the Constitution, from DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.
- “The Charters of Freedom” online exhibit about the creation and history of the Constitution, housed at the National Archives.
- Exploring the United States Constitution eBook, connecting the billions of records in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution.
- The United States Constitution course on iTunes U
- Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution
- Founders Online
- Primary Sources related to the U.S. Constitution. from congressarchives on Tumblr
- And don’t forget past U.S. Constitution-related posts here on todaysdocument!
To the President of Congress
[Philadelphia, 17 September 1787]
We have now the Honor to submit to the Consideration of the United States in Congress assembled that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.
The Friends of our Country have long seen and desired that the Power of making War Peace and Treaties, that of levying Money & regulating Commerce and the correspondent executive and judicial Authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general Government of the Union. But the Impropriety of delegating such extensive Trust to one Body of Men is evident—Hence results the Necessity of a different Organization.
It is obviously impracticable in the fœderal Government Of these States to secure all Rights of independent Sovereignty to each and yet provide for the Interest and Safety of all—Individuals entering into Society must give up a Share of Liberty to preserve the Rest. The Magnitude of the Sacrifice must depend as well on Situations and Circumstances as on the Object to be obtained. It is at all Times difficult to draw with Precision the Lines between those Rights which must be surrendered and those which may be reserved. And on the present Occasion this Difficulty was encreased by a Difference among the several States as to their Situation Extent Habits and particular Interests.
In all our Deliberations on this Subject we kept steadily in our View that which appears to us the greatest Interest of every true american the Consolidation of our Union in which is involved our Prosperity Felicity Safety perhaps our national Existence. this important Consideration seriously and deeply impressed on our Minds led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on Points of inferior Magnitude than might have been otherwise expected. And thus the Constitution which we now present is the Result of a Spirit of Amity and of that mutual Deference & Concession which the Peculiarity of our political Situation rendered indispensible.
That it will meet the full and entire Approbation of every State is not perhaps to be expected. But each will doubtless consider that had her Interests been alone consulted the Consequences might have been particularly disagreable or injurious to others. That it is liable to as few Exceptions as could reasonably have been expected we hope and believe That it may promote the lasting Welfare of that Country so dear to us all and secure her Freedom and Happiness is our most ardent wish.