Monday, September 02, 2002

congress in new york

This week, Congress will meet at Federal Hall in Manhattan. It's the first time the body has met in New York City in 202 years. has an article which focuses on what transpired during their last visit to the Big Apple, called Congress Returns To Its Roots.

If you find your curiosity piqued by their reports of that time, when the United States was still in its infancy, the Library of Congress has a wealth of materials from that time period, including the Journal of William Maclay mentioned in the CBS article. The Journal is very readable:
The very principles which actuated Dr. Rush and myself when we puffed John Adams in the papers and brought him forward for Vice-President will probably make him President. We knew his vanity, and hoped by laying hold of it to render him useful among the New England men in our scheme of bringing Congress to Pennsylvania. But his pride, obstinacy, and folly are equal to his vanity, and, although it is a common observation that fools are the tools of knaves--and I am certain weak men are often brought forward with such views--yet John Adams has served to illustrate two points at least with me, viz., that a fool is the most unmanageable of all brutes, and that flattery is the most irksome of all service.

June 23d.--Attended at the Hall a little after ten. Came into the Senate chamber. There was nobody here but Mr. Adams. He was in the great chair. When I came in he left it; came and sat near me until he read a newspaper; shifted to the chair next to me; began a discourse on the subject of Pennsylvania. Said they were "the best republicans in the Union. Their adoption was unequivocal. This could not be said of Boston, New York, or Virginia." Surely there was a meaning in this. I replied that we had, no doubt, our faults; but certainly the virtues of plainness, industry, and frugality would be allowed to us in some degree; that Federalism was general, but there was a general abhorrence of the pomp and splendid expense of government, especially everything which bordered on royalty. Several members came in and joined us.
It's great that we have records of that time period like this one. MaClay's Journal gives a fascinating look at the time and the people involved in the early days of Congress.

No comments: