1st United States Congress

Congress Hall in Philadelphia, meeting place of this Congress's third session.
Statue of George Washington in front of Federal Hall, where he was first inaugurated as president.
Senate President John Adams
Senate President pro tempore John Langdon
Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania
Beginning of the Congress
End of the Congress
Beginning of the Congress
End of the Congress

The 1st United States Congress, comprising the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, met from March 4, 1789, to March 4, 1791, during the first two years of George Washington's presidency, first at Federal Hall in New York City and later at Congress Hall in Philadelphia.

- 1st United States Congress

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Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.

Constitution of the United States

Supreme law of the United States of America.

Supreme law of the United States of America.

Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.
Signing of the Constitution, September 17, 1787 (1940 by Howard Chandler Christy)
Dates the 13 states ratified the Constitution
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"We the People" in an original edition
Closing endorsement section of the United States Constitution
United States Bill of Rights
Currently housed in the National Archives.
John Jay, 1789–1795
John Marshall, 1801–1835
Salmon P. Chase {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Chase Court, 1864–1873, in 1865 were Salmon P. Chase (chief Justice); Hon. Nathan Clifford, Maine; Stephen J. Field, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Hon. Samuel F. Miller, U.S. Supreme Court; Hon. Noah H. Swayne, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Judge Morrison R. Waite}}
William Howard Taft {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Taft Court, 1921–1930, in 1925 were James Clark McReynolds, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., William Howard Taft (chief justice), Willis Van Devanter, Louis Brandeis. Edward Sanford, George Sutherland, Pierce Butler, Harlan Fiske Stone}}
Earl Warren {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Warren Court, 1953–1969, in 1963 were Felix Frankfurter; Hugo Black; Earl Warren (chief justice); Stanley Reed; William O. Douglas. Tom Clark; Robert H. Jackson; Harold Burton; Sherman Minton}}
William Rehnquist {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Rehnquist Court, 1986–2005.}}
José Rizal
Sun Yat-sen

The precedent for this practice was set in 1789, when Congress considered and proposed the first several Constitutional amendments.

Graph showing historical party control of the U.S. Senate, House and Presidency since 1855

United States Senate

Upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the House of Representatives being the lower chamber.

Upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the House of Representatives being the lower chamber.

Graph showing historical party control of the U.S. Senate, House and Presidency since 1855
Members of the United States Senate for the 117th Congress
A typical Senate desk
The Senate side of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Committee Room 226 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building is used for hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Senate has the power to try impeachments; shown above is Theodore R. Davis's drawing of the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, 1868
U.S. Senate chamber c. 1873: two or three spittoons are visible by desks

This was achieved by dividing the senators of the 1st Congress into thirds (called classes), where the terms of one-third expired after two years, the terms of another third expired after four, and the terms of the last third expired after six years.

Portrait by John Vanderlyn, 1816

James Madison

American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817.

American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817.

Portrait by John Vanderlyn, 1816
Madison's Birthplace
Madison at Princeton, portrait by James Sharples
Congressional delegate Madison, age 32 by Charles Willson Peale
page one of the original copy
of the U.S. Constitution
Gouverneur Morris signs the Constitution before George Washington. Madison sits next to Robert Morris, in front of Benjamin Franklin. Painting by John Henry Hintermeister, 1925.
Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party with Madison.
Montpelier, Madison's tobacco plantation in Virginia
The 1803 Louisiana Purchase totaled 827,987 sqmi, doubling the size of the United States.
James Madison by Gilbert Stuart,
1808 electoral vote results
James Madison engraving by David Edwin from between 1809 and 1817
USS Constitution defeats HMS Guerriere, a significant event during the war. U.S. nautical victories boosted American morale.
The British set ablaze the U.S. Capital on August 24, 1814.
Battle of New Orleans. 1815
Battle of Tippecanoe November 7, 1811
Portrait of James Madison c. 1821, by Gilbert Stuart
Madison's gravestone at Montpelier
Portrait of Madison, age 82, c. 1833
A life-sized statue of Madison at James Madison University.

At the start of the first Congress, he introduced a tariff bill similar to the one he had advocated for under the Articles of the Confederation, and Congress established a federal tariff on imports through the Tariff of 1789.

United States Bill of Rights

The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

On June 5, 1788, Patrick Henry spoke before Virginia's ratification convention in opposition to the Constitution.
George Washington's 1788 letter to the Marquis de Lafayette observed, "the Convention of Massachusetts adopted the Constitution in toto; but recommended a number of specific alterations and quieting explanations." Source: Library of Congress
James Madison, primary author and chief advocate for the Bill of Rights in the First Congress

The 1st United States Congress, which met in New York City's Federal Hall, was a triumph for the Federalists.

Opening of the 112th Congress in the House of Representatives chamber, January 5, 2011

Article One of the United States Constitution

Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the federal government, the United States Congress.

Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the federal government, the United States Congress.

Opening of the 112th Congress in the House of Representatives chamber, January 5, 2011
Gilded Age monopolies could no longer control the U.S. Senate (left) by corrupting state legislatures (right).
The impeachment trial of President Clinton in 1999, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist presiding
Newly naturalized citizen Albert Einstein received his certificate of American citizenship from Judge Phillip Forman.
Congress's "power of the purse" authorizes taxing citizens, spending money, issuing notes and minting coins.
Chief Justice John Marshall established a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause.
Congress authorizes defense spending such as the purchase of the USS Bon Homme Richard.
U.S. brig Perry confronting the slave ship Martha off Ambriz on June 6, 1850

After the first group of senators was elected to the First Congress (1789–1791), the senators were divided into three "classes" as nearly equal in size as possible, as required by this section.

Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.

Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Twenty-seventh Amendment (Amendment XXVII) to the United States Constitution prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until after the next election of the House of Representatives has occurred.

The Twenty-seventh Amendment (Amendment XXVII) to the United States Constitution prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until after the next election of the House of Representatives has occurred.

Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.

The 1st Congress submitted the amendment to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, along with 11 other proposed amendments (Articles I–XII).

The U.S. constitutional amendment process

Article Five of the United States Constitution

Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process for altering the Constitution.

Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process for altering the Constitution.

The U.S. constitutional amendment process
Resolution proposing the Nineteenth Amendment
Tennessee certificate of ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. With this ratification, the amendment became valid as a part of the Constitution.

When the 1st Congress considered a series of constitutional amendments, it was suggested that the two houses first adopt a resolution indicating that they deemed amendments necessary.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives.

Presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives.

Frederick Muhlenberg (1789–1791, 1793–1795), was the first speaker.
Henry Clay (1811–1814, 1815–1820, 1823–1825) used his influence as speaker to ensure the passage of measures he favored
Joseph Gurney Cannon (1903–1911) was one of the most powerful speakers.
Sam Rayburn (1940–1947; 1949–1953; and 1955–1961) was the longest serving speaker
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) with Vice President Dick Cheney behind President George W. Bush at the 2007 State of the Union Address making history as the first woman to sit behind the podium at such an address. President Bush acknowledged this by beginning his speech with the words, "Tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own — as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker".
Paul Ryan taking the oath of office upon becoming speaker on October 29, 2015
James Polk is the only speaker to also serve as president of the United States.
The speaker's office in the US Capitol, during the term of Dennis Hastert (1999–2007)

The first speaker of the House, Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania, was elected to office on April 1, 1789, the day the House organized itself at the start of the 1st Congress.

Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives

Officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities.

Officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities.

Sergeant at Arms Wilson "Bill" Livingood announces President Barack Obama at the 2011 State of the Union.

In one of its first resolutions, the 1st United States Congress (April 14, 1789) established the role of Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives.

States that ratified the amendment

Congressional Apportionment Amendment

Proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that addresses the number of seats in the House of Representatives.

Proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that addresses the number of seats in the House of Representatives.

States that ratified the amendment

In the 1st United States Congress, James Madison put together a package of constitutional amendments designed to address the concerns of Anti-Federalists, who were suspicious of federal power under the new constitution.