Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 | Next Page
Creation of the Executive
Washington and his cabinet
Washington and his cabinet: left to right, President Washington, Secretary of War Henry Knox, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

In June 1790 the Pennsylvania delegation invited the heads of the executive departments to dinner. Afterwards, Maclay described them in his diary:
Hamilton has a very boyish giddy Manner. our Scotch Irish People would call him a Skite. Jefferson transgresses on the Extreme of Stiff Gentility, or lofty Gravity. Knox is the easiest Man, and [has] the most dignity of Presence. . . . Knox staid longest. As indeed suited his Aspect best. being more of a Bachanalian Figure.


The position of attorney general was created by Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789. Washington nominated and the Senate confirmed Edmund Randolph of Virginia.

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