Sen. William Maclay of Pennsylvania
by Nick Ruggieri (Courtesy of Kim Baer, Pennsylvania Bar Association)
late April of 1789, Sen. William Maclay of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, began his
invaluable diary. Except for a few scattered notes taken by other senators and
Vice President Adams, this diary is the only source of the debates on the Senate
floor. Maclay, who had supported the ratification of the Constitution, quickly
became an opponent of most of the Federalist agenda and has been classified as
the first Jeffersonian Republican. His caustic, sometimes witty, and generally
accurate diary stands just behind James Madison's notes from the Federal Convention
as the most important journal in American political and constitutional history.
Fortunately it has survived virtually intact.