FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE SECOND CONGRESS, 1791-2, WITH RARE EARLY PRINTING OF WASHINGTON’S ANNUAL MESSAGE, CITING PASSAGE OF THE BILL THAT TRIGGERED THE WHISKEY REBELLION
UNITED STATES CONGRESS. Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Being the First Session of the Second Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Philadelphia, October 24th, 1791; and in the Sixteenth Year of the Sovereignty of the Said United States. Philadelphia: Printed by John Fenno, 1791 [i.e. 1792]. Folio, original cream self-wrappers and original rear green stiff paper wrapper, stitched as issued, uncut. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4500.
First edition of the official record of the First Session of the Second Congress convened in Philadelphia in 1791, with an early printing of Washington’s October 25th Annual Message to Congress and marking “the emergence of what could for the first time be clearly discerned as an opposition” to Administration policies, one of only 700 copies printed.
The First Session of the Second Congress convened in Philadelphia on October 24, 1791, beginning a legislative period “marked by the emergence of what could for the first time be clearly discerned as an opposition… in reaction to the rising influence of the Treasury over Administration policy, and to the fierce urge of Jefferson and Madison to prevent the completion of Hamilton’s grand design” (Elkins & Kilpatrick, 257). This “widening rift between Washington’s two principal officers of administration [Jefferson and Hamilton] was becoming the daily order of politics,” yet one Washington did his best to avoid (Freeman, 604). In his Annual Message delivered on October 25th and contained here in one of its earliest printings, Washington instead spoke of the importance of “the defence and security of the Western Frontiers” and relations with Indian tribes, the creation of a permanent federal seat along the Potomac, the successful inauguration of the National Bank, and powers granted to his office by the newly passed Excise Tax (1791). Though the President spoke hopefully of that bill’s favorable reception by “enlightened and well disposed Citizens,” he recognized that the “novelty… of the tax” would give rise “in particular places to some degree of discontent” (7), and was proved correct in foreseeing its role in the consequent Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. For the present, however, Washington’s speech was met with a highly favorable response, and the entire Senate rose and walked to his nearby residence on October 31 to offer a formal reply. Washington responded by praising the legislators for “this manifestation of your zeal for the honor and happiness of our country” (17). Continuing until May 8, 1792, this long Senate Session ultimately involved tense sectional disputes over the census and the related effect of slavery on congressional representation, and the Journal notes the introduction and passage of laws on consular offices, the budget and the judiciary, and those authorizing a Post Office and a National Mint. No more than 700 copies of each bound Journal of a Senate session were printed, intended for distribution to members of the government only. Page 228 correctly numbered. Without original stiff front paper wrapper. Evans 24911. Powell, Books of a New Nation, 85-100.
Interior quite fresh, scarce original rear wrapper with slight dampstaining and wormholing, mild dampstaining to title page without affecting text, traces of original spine wrapper. An extremely good copy of an fundamental American document.