Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress 1789-1791
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    The Senate and Foreign Affairs
Fort Harmar in 1790
(Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

". . . by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate . . ."

Article II, Section 2

The first Senate considered several matters relating to foreign affairs sent to them by President Washington. Issues on which the President consulted the Senate included negotiating and ratifying Indian treaties, freeing American citizens held hostage in Algiers, reopening trade with Great Britain, settling the dispute with Britain over the Maine boundary, and approving a Consular Convention with France. The first time Washington sought the advice and consent of the Senate, he did so in person. After the senators insisted on discussing the questions he had posed rather than simply giving consent as they were read aloud, he chose not to appear in the Senate chamber again. This set a precedent that continues today.

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