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Washington’s Second Annual Message to Congress and Congressional Responses

DATE
December 8, 1790
Series
Presidential Series [ 1788 - 1797 ]
Topics
Presidency, Proclamations and Addresses, Washington & Politics
VIEW
ico

Washington delivered his second State of the Union address in the Senate chambers on 8 Dec. 1790. A joint committee of Congress consisting of senators Robert Morris and John Langdon and congressmen Elias Boudinot, John Laurance, and William Loughton Smith waited on Washington on 7 Dec. 1790 to inform him that a quorum had been reached and that Congress was ready to proceed with business. The committee reported that “The President was pleased to say, that he would attend, to make a communication to both Houses of Congress, to-morrow at twelve o’clock, in the senate-chamber” (Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, Linda G. De Pauw et al., eds. [Baltimore, 1972–], vol. 3, p. 619).

The two houses assembled the next morning at 11 A.M., and Washington arrived at the appointed time. William Maclay reported that the event “was attended with all the Bustle and hurry usual on such Occasions[.] the President was dressed in black, and read his speech well enough, or at least tolerably[.] after he was gone and the senate only remained our President [John Adams], seemed to take great pains to read it better, if he had such a View he succeeded. but the difference between them amounted to this[:] One might be considered as at home. and the other in a strange company. the speech was committed” (Diary of William Maclay, Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit, eds [Baltimore, 1988], p. 340.

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 Washington retired the Senate ordered the speech printed and appointed a committee to draft a suitable reply, and the House resolved to present Washington with a reply on 9 Dec. 1790.

The Senate responded to Washington’s address on 13 December: Senate’s reply.

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

The House of Representatives’s reply, dated 11 Dec., was presented to the President on 13 December: House’s reply.

Original manuscript images of the House’s reply at the Library of Congress: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5

Washington replied to the Senate and House with the following notes: Washington’s reply to the Senate and 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, page 1 | Reply to the House, page 2

Notes

Presidential Series, Volume 7
LS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; copy, DNA: RG 233, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals; LB, DLC:GW; extract, NHi: Henry O’Reilly Collection; extract, DLC: Thomas Jefferson Papers.
The original manuscript images of Washington's address used here are letter-book copies from the Library of Congress.

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