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First Congress Under the New Constitution: March 4, 1789

New York, NY

The old Congress under the Articles of Confederation permanently adjourned in October 1788, and there was anxiety about getting the new Congress operating, especially since North Carolina and Rhode Island had refused to ratify the Constitution. When the Congress finally assembled in New York City on March 4, it lacked a quorum for conducting business in the House of Representatives and Senate. Not until April 6 was a quorum present in the Senate, which was sufficient to announce the unanimous election of George Washington as the first president and arrange for his April 30 inauguration. The 52 representatives and 22 senators quickly passed a sweeping tariff to protect American products from foreign competition.


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