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Washington’s First Annual Message to Congress and Congressional Responses

DATE
January 8, 1790
Series
Presidential Series [ 1788 - 1797 ]
Topics
Presidency, Proclamations and Addresses, Washington & Politics
VIEW
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Washington delivered his first State of the Union address in the Senate chambers on 8 January 1790. The Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser, 21 Jan. 1790, noted that Washington “was dressed in a crow coloured suit of clothes, of American manufacture. . . . This elegant fabric was from the manufactory in Hartford.”

According to Sen. William Maclay’s account “The President was dressed in a second Mourning, and . . . read his speech well. the senate headed by their President were on his right The House of Representatives . . . with their Speaker were on his left his [official] Family with the Heads of Departments attended. the business was soon over and the Senate were left alone” (Diary of William Maclay, Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit, eds. [Baltimore, 1988], pp. 179-80).

Washington’s speech was widely printed in the newspapers. See, for example, the New York Daily Advertiser, 9 Jan. 1790, the Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser, 21 Jan. 1790, the Connecticut Courant (Hartford), 14 Jan. 1790, and the New-York Daily Gazette, 9 Jan. 1790.

Original manuscript images of Washington’s speech at the Library of Congress: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7

After President Washington delivered his First Annual Message, the Senate appointed a committee, consisting of Rufus King, Ralph Izard, and William Paterson, to prepare a reply. The committee reported on Monday, 11 January, and the following address was adopted in response to Washington’s speech: Senate’s reply to Washington’s First Annual Message.

Original manuscript images of the Senate’s reply at the Library of Congress: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

On 9 Jan. the House of Representatives appointed a committee of William Loughton Smith, George Clymer, and John Laurance to prepare an answer to Washington’s address, and on 12 January a committee of the whole approved the following reply: House of Representatives’s reply to Washington’s First Annual Message.

Original manuscript images of the House’s reply at the Library of Congress: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

Washington replied to the Senate on 11 Jan. with the following note: Washington’s reply to the Senate.

Washington replied to the House on 14 Jan. with the following note: Washington’s reply to the House.

Original manuscript images of Washington’s replies to the Senate and to the House at the Library of Congress: Reply to the Senate | Reply to the House

Notes

Presidential Series, Volume 4
DS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; copy, DNA: RG 233, First Congress, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals.
The original manuscript images of Washington's address used here are letter-book copies from the Library of Congress.

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