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

The First Federal Congress (FFC)

The First Federal Congress (1789-1791), the most important and productive Congress in American history, breathed life into the Constitution, established precedent and constitutional interpretation still guiding the U.S. government today, and held the Union together when sectional interests threatened disunion. Most significantly, it concluded the American Revolution and stabilized the new government. Through consensus and compromise this seminal Congress completed work on its full and difficult agenda and began the process of interpreting the Constitution on such issues as the balance of power between the states and the federal government and among the three branches of the latter. Among its many legislative accomplishments were: passage of the amendments to the Constitution that have become known as the Bill of Rights, fleshing out the government through the Judiciary Act of 1789 and acts establishing the first three executive departments, the creation of a revenue system for the new nation, the admission of two states into the Union, the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury's plan for funding the foreign, domestic and state Revolutionary War debts, establishment of a national bank, and the choice of a location for the U.S. capital city.