The First Congress : How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government
Overview - The little known story of perhaps the most productive Congress in US history, the First Federal Congress of 1789-1791. The First Congress was the most important in US history, says prizewinning author and historian Fergus Bordewich, because it established how our government would actually function. Read more...
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More About The First Congress by Fergus M. Bordewich
The little known story of perhaps the most productive Congress in US history, the First Federal Congress of 1789-1791.
The First Congress was the most important in US history, says prizewinning author and historian Fergus Bordewich, because it established how our government would actually function. Had it failed--as many at the time feared it would--it's possible that the United States as we know it would not exist today.
The Constitution was a broad set of principles. It was left to the members of the First Congress and President George Washington to create the machinery that would make the government work. Fortunately, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and others less well known today, rose to the occasion. During two years of often fierce political struggle, they passed the first ten amendments to the Constitution; they resolved bitter regional rivalries to choose the site of the new national capital; they set in place the procedure for admitting new states to the union; and much more. But the First Congress also confronted some issues that remain to this day: the conflict between states' rights and the powers of national government; the proper balance between legislative and executive power; the respective roles of the federal and state judiciaries; and funding the central government. Other issues, such as slavery, would fester for decades before being resolved. The First Congress
tells the dramatic story of the two remarkable years when Washington, Madison, and their dedicated colleagues struggled to successfully create our government, an achievement that has lasted to the present day.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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Historian and journalist Bordewich (Americas Great Debate) addresses a less-discussed institution of the Revolutionary period in this mainstream history of Americas first Congress. Tasked with making the promise of the recently minted U.S. Constitution a functioning reality, the first Congress began its work in 1789. At the time the Constitution, still absent the Bill of Rights, was a work in progress, with a long list of difficult questions lurking in its aspirational text. The legislator players included Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, John Adams, and Washington, as well as a colorful mix of others, many of whom Bordewich skillfully brings to life through brief biographical sketches. Bordewich doesnt tie then-dominant issues to current politics, but the constancy of fundamental political issues is striking: the question of congressional power versus presidential power, the nature of the federal courts, the powers that the Constitution respectively conveys to federal and state governments, taxes and finances, citizenship, and the intractable challenges of slavery and race. Additionally, the first Congress also debated the pivotal issues included in the Bill of Rights. Bordewichs noteworthy exploration of the foundation for a working constitutional government provides an important perspective on American history. Agent: Elise Cheney, Elise Cheney Literary Associates. (Feb.)