The Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, 1789-1791

Foreign Affairs Act [HR-8] [Legislative History]


Foreign Affairs Act [HR-8]

AN ACT FOR ESTABLISHING AN EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, TO BE DENOMINATED THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

[1] BE IT ENACTED BY THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED, That there shall be an Executive department, to be denominated the department of foreign Affairs: and that there shall be a principal Officer therein, to be called the Secretary for the department of foreign Affairs, who shall perform and execute such duties as shall from time to time be enjoined on, or intrusted to him by the President of the United States, agreeable to the Constitution, relative to correspondences, commissions, or instructions to, or with public Ministers or Consuls from the United States, or to negociations with public Ministers from foreign States or princes, or to Memorials or other applications from foreign public Ministers, or other foreigners, or to such other Matters respecting foreign Affairs, as the President of the United States shall assign to the said department: And furthermore, that the said principal Officer shall conduct the business of the said department in such manner as the President of the United States, shall from time to time Order or instruct.
[2] AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That there shall be in the said department an inferior Officer, to be appointed by the said principal Officer, and to be employed therein as he shall deem proper, and to be called the chief Clerk in the department of foreign Affairs, and who, whenever the said principal Officer shall be removed from Office by the President of the United States, or in any other case of vacancy, shall during such Vacancy, have the charge and custody of all Records, Books, and Papers, appertaining to the said department.
[3] AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the said principal Officer, and every other person to be appointed or employed in the said department, shall, before he enters on the execution of his Office or employment, take an Oath or Affirmation well and faithfully to execute the trust committed to him.
[4] AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the Secretary for the department of foreign Affairs, to be appointed in consequence of this Act, shall, forthwith after his Appointment, be entitled to have the Custody and charge of all Records, Books, and Papers in the Office of Secretary for the department of foreign Affairs, heretofore established by the United States in Congress Assembled.
FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG
Speaker of the House of Representatives
JOHN ADAMS
Vice-President of the United States, and
President of the Senate
GO. WASHINGTON
President of the United States
Approved July Twenty seventh 1789
I certify that this Act did originate in the House of Representatives.
Clerk
Signed enrolled acts, RG11, National Archives.

Calendar

May 15, 1789

House: Notice by Boudinot of intention to propose resolution for the establishment of executive departments on May 19.[1]
Senate:

May 19, 1789

House: On a motion by Boudinot, executive departments debated in COWH; motion by Boudinot, "that a Secretary of Finance" be appointed; amendment by Benson to establish three departments, foreign affairs, treasury, and war; motion by Vining for a home or domestic department; motions withdrawn in favor of resolution by Madison, seconded by Vining; resolution debated in COWH; amendment agreed to; two other amendments disagreed to.[2]
Senate:

May 20, 1798

House: Madison resolution debated in COWH; amendments disagreed to; resolution agreed to by COWH.[3]
Senate:

May 21 , 1789

House: COWH resolution amended and agreed to by House; committee appointed to prepare a bill or bills pursuant to resolution (Baldwin, Vining, Livermore, Madison, Benson, Burke, Fitzsimons, Boudinot, Wadsworth, Gerry, and Cadwalader).[4]
Senate:

June 2, 1789

House: Baldwin presented a bill to establish an executive department, to be denominated the department of foreign affairs, which was read; 100 copies ordered printed.[5]
Senate:

June 3, 1789

House: Read and committed to COWH.
Senate:

June 9, 1789

House: Postponed as order of the day.
Senate:

June 10, 1789

House: Postponed until June 16 on a motion by Smith (S.C.).[6]
Senate:

June 16-18, 1789

House: Debated in COWH; White motion on president's power of removal debated.[7]
Senate:

June 19, 1789

House: Debated and amended in COWH.
Senate:

June 22, 1789

House: COWH amendments agreed to; further amendments agreed to.
Senate:

June 23, 1789

House: Considered in COWH; motion by White, seconded by Sherman, to recommit so "that other departments might be added, and one system formed," disagreed to; postponed on a motion by Sumter.[8]
Senate:

June 24, 1789

House: Read and agreed to, by a recorded vote of 29-22[ 9], as An act for establishing an executive department, to be denominated the department of foreign affairs.
Senate: Received.

June 25, 1789

House:
Senate: Read.

July 6, 1789

House:
Senate: Postponed until July 9.

July 14, 1789

House:
Senate: Read; first clause agreed to; second clause debated.[10]

July 15, 1789

House:
Senate: Second clause debated.

July 16, 1789

House:
Senate: Debated; amendment to second clause disagreed to.[11]

July 17, 1789

House:
Senate: Debated and amended.

July 18, 1789

House:
Senate: Motion by Ellsworth to read; motion by Ellsworth, seconded by Langdon, for two week postponement, disagreed to;[12] read, amended, and agreed to by a recorded vote of 10-9.[13]

July 20, 1789

House: Senate amendments agreed to.
Senate:

July 22, 1789

House: Signed by speaker.
Senate: Signed by vice president.

July 27, 1789

House: Signed by president.
Senate:

Madison Resolution

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee there should be established for the aid of the chief magistrate in executing the duties of his station,[14] the following[15] departments,[16] to wit: a department for foreign affairs, at the head of which shall be an officer called the Secretary of the United States for foreign affairs;[17] that there should be a department of the Treasury, at the head of which shall be, & c.[18] and a department of war, at the head of which & c.[19] To be nominated by the President, and appointed by him, with the advice and consent of the senate[20]— and removable by the President.[21]
The [New York] Daily Advertiser, May 20.

House Resolution

RESOLVED, That it is the opinion of this committee, that there ought to be established, the following executive departments, to wit; A department of foreign affairs, at the head of which shall be an officer to be called secretary to the United States for the department of foreign affairs, removable by the President. A treasury department, at the head of which shall be an officer, to be called secretary to the United States, for the treasury department, removable by the President. A department of war, at the head of which shall be an officer, to be called secretary to the United States for the department of war, removable by the President.
House of Representatives Journal, pp. 68-69.

Foreign Affairs Bill [HR-8]

A BILL to establish an EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, to be denominated the DEPARTMENT of FOREIGN AFFAIRS
[1] BE IT ENACTED BY THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, That there shall be an executive department, to be denominated THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: and that there shall be a principal officer therein, to be called the Secretary to the United States[22] for the Department of Foreign Affairs, to be removable from office by the President of the United States,[23] and who shall perform and execute such duties, services, and functions,[24 ]as shall, from time to time, be enjoined on, or entrusted to him by the President of the United States, agreeable to the Constitution, relative to correspondences, commissions, or instructions, to or with public ministers or consuls, from the United States, or to negotiations with public ministers from foreign states or princes, or to memorials, or other applications, from foreign public ministers, or other foreigners, or to such other matters respecting foreign affairs, as the President of the United States shall assign to the said department: and furthermore, that the said principal officer shall conduct the business of the said department, in such manner as the President of the United States shall, from time to time, order or instruct.
[2] AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That there shall be in the said department, an inferior officer, to be appointed by the said principal officer, and to be employed therein as he shall deem proper, and to be called the chief Clerk in the Department of Foreign Affairs, and who, in case of vacancy in the said office of Secretary to the United States for the Department of Foreign Affairs,[25] shall, during such vacancy, have the charge and custody of all records, books, and papers, appertaining to the said department. Provided nevertheless, That [no] appointment of such chief Clerk shall be valid, until the same shall have been [app]roved by the President of the United States.
[3] AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the said principal officer, or[26] every other [perso]n to be appointed or employed in the said department, shall, before he [enter] on the execution of his office or employment, take an oath or affirma[tion,] well and faithfully to execute the trust committed to him.[27]
[4] AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That there shall be allowed to the said Secre[tary] for his services, a salary, at the rate of per annum, and that there shall be allowed to the said [chief] Clerk for his services, a salary of per annum; the said salaries to be payable quarterly, in [equal] payments.[28]
Printed Bill, Wingate Papers, Dartmouth College Library, Hanover, N.H. The document is torn; we supplied the words in brackets from a printing in The [New York] Daily Advertiser, June 17. Unless otherwise noted, we determined the amendments by comparing the bill as introduced with the engrossed bill. Wingate noted the House amendments on the bill. He also changed "Congress" to "senate & house of Representatives" and inserted "of America in congress assembled" after "United States," an amendment made later by the Senate.

Foreign Affairs Bill [HR-8]

{An act for establishing an executive department, to be denominated the department of foreign affairs}
[1] Be it enacted by the Congress of the U.S.[29] That there shall be an executive department to be denominated the department of War Foreign affairs: And that there shall be a principal officer therein, to be called the Secy. for the department of foreign affairs, who shall perform & execute such duties, as shall from time to time be enjoined on, or be entrusted to him by the Prest. of the U.S. agreeable to the Constitution, relative to correspondencies Commissions, or instructions, to or with public Ministers or consuls, from the United States, or to negotiations with public ministers from foreign States or Princes, or to memorials or other applications, from foreign public ministers, or other foreigners, or to such other matters respecting foreign affairs, as the President of the U.S. shall assign to the said department: And furthermore that the said principal officer, shall conduct the business of said the said department in such manner as the President of the U.S. shall from time to time, order or [lined out] instruct.[30]
[2] And be it further enacted That there shall be in the said department, an inferior officer, to be appointed by the said principal officer,[31] & to be employed therein as he shall deem proper, & to be called the chief Clerk in the department of foreign affairs, and who whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the U.S.,[32] or in any other case of Vacancy, Shall during such Vacancy have the charge & custody of all records, books, & papers appertaining to the sd. department — Provided nevertheless that no appointment of such chief Clerk shall be valid, until the same shall have been approved by the President of the United States.[33]
[3] And be it further enacted, That the said principal officer, and every other person to be appointed or employed in the said department, shall before he enters on the execution of his office or employment take an oath or affirmation, well & faithfully to execute the trust committed to him.
[4] And be it further enacted That the Secretary for the department of foreign affairs, to be appointed in Consequence of this act shall forthwith after his appointment be entitled to have the Custody & charge of all records books & papers in the office of Secretary for the department of foreign affairs heretofore established by the U.S. of A. in C. assembled.
Passed the House June 24 1789
Ms. House Bills, Senate Records, National Archives, hand of Samuel A. Otis.
    [1.] The [New York] Daily Advertiser, Gazette of the United States, May 16.
    [2.] The [New York] Daily Advertiser, The New York Daily Gazette, Gazette of the United States, May 20; The Congressional Register, May 19. Motions relating to the establishment of the home or domestic department are calendared with the Records Act [HR-19].
    [4.] On June 2 this committee presented the War Department Bill [HR-7] and on June 4 the Treasury Bill [HR-9].
    [5.] Gazette of the United States, June 3.
    [6.] The [New York] Daily Advertiser, June 11.
    [8.] The [New York] Daily Advertiser, Gazette of the United States, June 24.
    [9.]An engrossed bill "for establishing an executive department, to be denominated the department of foreign affairs," was read the third time, and the question being put that the said bill do pass,
It was resolved in the affirmative,
AYES 29
NOES 22
The ayes and noes being demanded by one fifth of the members present,

Those who voted in the affirmative, are,

Elias Boudinot
John Brown
Aedanus Burke
Lambert Cadwalader
Daniel Carroll
George Clymer
Benjamin Contee
Thomas Fitzsimons
Nicholas Gilman
Benjamin Goodhue
Samuel Griffin
Thomas Hartley
Daniel Hiester
Daniel Huger
Richard Bland Lee
James Madison, junior
Andrew Moore
Peter Muhlenberg
James Schureman
Thomas Scott
Theodore Sedgwick
Joshua Seney
Thomas Sinnickson
Peter Silvester
Johnathan Trumbull and

Those who voted in the negative, are,

Isaac Coles
Elbridge Gerry
Jonathan Grout
John Hathorn
Benjamin Huntington
George Leonard
Samuel Livermore
George Mathews
John Page
Josiah Parker
George Partridge
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer
Roger Sherman
William Smith (of Maryland)
William Smith (of South-Carolina)
Michael Jenifer Stone
Jonathan Sturges
Thomas Sumter
George Thatcher
Thomas Tudor Tucker and
Alexander White
(DHFFC 3:95)
    [12.] Maclay Diary, July 18.
    [13.]Upon the question, "To concur in this bill as amended?" and one fifth of the Senators present requiring the yeas and nays, the determination was as follows: —

Yea

Mr. Bassett
Mr. Carroll
Mr. Dalton
Mr. Elmer
Mr. Henry
Mr. Morris
Mr. Read
Mr. Strong

Nay

Mr. Few
Mr. Grayson
Mr. Gunn
Mr. Johnson
Mr. Izard
Mr. Langdon
Mr. Lee
Mr. Maclay
Mr. Wingate

So the bill was concurred with amendments.(DHFFC 1:87)
    [14.] On May 21 the House struck from "for the aid" through "station." (Gazette of the United States, May 23)
    [15.] On May 21 the House inserted "executive" at this point. (Ibid.)
    [16.] On May 19, the Committee of the Whole House agreed to consider each department separately. On the same day, Vining made and withdrew a motion to create a department for domestic affairs. (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, May 20; The Congressional Register, May 19) Motions relating to the establishment of a domestic or home department are calendared with the Records Bill [HR-19].
    [17.] On May 19 the Committee of the Whole House agreed to a department of foreign affairs. (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, May 20)
    [18.] On May 20, a motion by Gerry to substitute a board of three commissioners, to be known as the Board of Treasury, for a secretary of the treasury was disagreed to. On the same day, the Committee of the Whole House disagreed to a motion by Bland to institute a board of treasury under the secretary. (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, May 20; The Congressional Register, May 20) The clause was then agreed to.
    [19.] On May 20 the Committee of the Whole House agreed to this clause. (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, May 21)
    [20.] On May 19 a motion by Smith (S.C.) to strike out the method of nomination of the secretary for foreign affairs was agreed to. (The Congressional Register, May 19)
    [21.] On May 19 a motion, probably by Smith (S.C.), to strike out the method of removal of the secretary of foreign affairs, was disagreed to. On the same date a motion by Bland to insert "by and with The advice and consent of the Senate," was disagreed to. (The Congressional Register, May 19) On May 20 the Committee of the Whole House adopted a motion that the secretaries of the treasury and war be removable by the president. (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, May 21; Gazette of the United States, May 23)
    [22.] The House struck out "to the United States."
    [23.] On June 16, White made a motion to strike out "to be removable from office by the President of the United States." (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, Gazette of the United States, June 17) The Committee of the Whole House disagreed to this amendment on June 19, by a vote of 33-20 (Gazette of the United States, June 20), but the House agreed to it on June 22, on a motion by Benson and by a recorded vote of 31-19, (The Congressional Register, June 22) which was as follows:

Those who voted in the affirmative, are,

Abraham Baldwin
John Brown
Aedanus Burke
George Clymer
Isaac Coles
Elbridge Gerry
Benjamin Goodhue
Samuel Griffin
Jonathan Grout
John Hathorn
Benjamin Huntington
George Leonard
Samuel Livermore
James Madison, junior
George Mathews
Andrew Moore
Peter Muhlenberg
John Page
Josiah Parker
George Partridge
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer
Thomas Scott
Roger Sherman
Thomas Sinnickson
William Smith (of South-Carolina)
Johnathan Sturges
Thomas Sumter
Alexander White

Those who voted in the negative, are,

Elias Boudinot
Lambert Cadwalader
Daniel Carroll
Benjamin Contee
Thomas Fitzsimons
Nicholas Gilman
Thomas Hartley
Daniel Hiester
Richard Bland Lee
James Schureman
Theodore Sedgwick
Joshua Seney
William Smith (of Maryland)
Peter Silvester
George Thatcher
Jonathan Trumbull
Thomas Tudor Tucker and
Jeremiah Wadsworth
(DHFFC 3:93.)]
    [24.] The House struck out "services, and functions."
    [25.] On June 22, on a motion by Benson, seconded by Madison, the House struck out "in case of vacancy in the said office of secretary to the United States for the department of foreign affairs" and inserted "whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the United States, or in any other case of vacancy," by a recorded vote of 30-18, which was as follows: (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, The New York Daily Gazette, June 23)

Those who voted in the affirmative, are,

Abraham Baldwin
John Brown
Aedanus Burke
Daniel Carroll
George Clymer
Benjamin Contee
Thomas Fitzsimons
Nicholas Gilman
Benjamin Goodhue
Samuel Griffin
Thomas Hartley
Daniel Hiester
Richard Bland Lee
George Leonard
James Madison, junior
Andrew Moore
Peter Muhlenberg
Thomas Scott
Theodore Sedgwick
Joshua Seney
Thomas Sinnickson
William Smith (of Maryland)
Peter Silvester
George Thatcher
Jonathan Trumbull
Jeremiah Wadsworth

Those who voted in the negative, are,

Lambert Cadwalader
Isaac Coles
Elbridge Gerry
Jonathan Grout
John Hathorn
Benjamin Huntington
Samuel Livermore
George Mathews
John Page
Josiah Parker
George Partridge
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer
Roger Sherman
William Smith (of South-Carolina)
Jonathan Sturges
Thomas Sumter
Thomas Tudor Tucker and
Alexander White
(DHFFC 3:92.)]
Wingate's annotation at this point is as follows: “removal by the President or other whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the U.S.or such in case of vacancy in any other way shall happen shall during such vacancy” These changes may represent amendments suggested in the House and then withdrawn or revised.
    [26.] The engrossed bill reads "and" in place of "or."
    [27.] On June 19, on a motion by Benson, the Committee of the Whole House inserted the following clause at this point: “That the Secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs immediately after his appointment, be impowered to take into his custody all the books and papers belonging to the late Department of Foreign Affairs established by the United States in Congress assembled. ”(Gazette of the United States, June 20) The House agreed to this amendment on June 22.
    [28.] On June 19, a motion by Carroll to establish an expiration date for the bill was withdrawn in favor of a motion by White to strike out the salary clause. White's motion was agreed to. (The Congressional Register, June 19) Carroll, seconded by Page, renewed his motion on June 22, when it was disagreed to. (Gazette of the United States, June 24)
    [29.] On July 17, the Senate struck out "Congress of the U.S." and inserted "Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled." (Senate Legislative Journal, p. 84)
    [30.] On July 18, the Senate disagreed to a motion by Lee to strike out "such duties, as shall" through "instruct" and insert "the duties of his office with integrity, ability, and diligence." (Maclay, July 18)
    [31.] On July 18, the Senate disagreed to a motion by Langdon to strike out "to be appointed by the said principal officer." (Maclay, July 18)
    [32.] On July 14, Langdon moved to strike out the president's power of removal from office. This motion was disagreed to on July 16 by a vote of 10-10, decided by the negative vote of the vice president. The vote was as follows:

For Striking out

Butler
Izard
Langdon
Johnson
Wyngate
Few
Gun
Grayson
Lee
10

Against Striking out

Reed
Basset
Elsworth
Strong
Dalton
Elmer
Morris
Henry
Carrol
President
11
(Maclay, July 14, 16) On July 18, by a recorded vote of 9-9, decided by the vote of the vice president, the Senate disagreed to a motion to strike out "by the President of the U.S." [On motion to strike out of the bill these words—Page 3d, line 15th, "By the President of the United States," and the yeas and nays being required thereupon by one fifth of the Senators present, the determination was as follows:—

Yea

Mr. Few
Mr. Grayson
Mr. Gunn
Mr. Johnson
Mr. Izard
Mr. Langdon
Mr. Lee
Mr. Wingate

Nay

Mr. Bassett
Mr. Carroll
Mr. Dalton
Mr. Elmer
Mr. Henry
Mr. Morris
Mr. Read
Mr. Strong
The Vice President

So it passed in the negative, and the clause proposed to be struck out was retained.(DHFFC 1:86.)]
    [33.] On July 14, Maclay moved to strike out the second section but was not seconded. (Paterson, Notes [14 July 1789], Paterson Papers, NjR) On July 18, the Senate struck out the proviso.