The First Federal Congress Project
Documentary History of the First Federal Congress

Foreign Affairs Bill [HR-8]

 June 2, 1789  
A Bill to establish an Executive Department , to be denominated the Department of Foreign Affairs
[1] Be it enacted by the Congress of the United States , That there shall be an executive department, to be denominated The Department of Foreign Affairs : and that there shall be a principal officer therein, to be called the Secretary to the United States22 for the Department of Foreign Affairs, to be removable from office by the President of the United States,23 and who shall perform and execute such duties, services, and functions,24 as shall, from time to time, be enjoined on, or entrusted to him by the President of the United States, agreeable to the Constitution, relative to correspondences, commissions, or instructions, to or with public ministers or consuls, from the United States, or to negotiations with public ministers from foreign states or princes, or to memorials, or other applications, from foreign public ministers, or other foreigners, or to such other matters respecting foreign affairs, as the President of the United States shall assign to the said department: and furthermore, that the said principal officer shall conduct the business of the said department, in such manner as the President of the United States shall, from time to time, order or instruct.
[2] And be it further enacted , That there shall be in the said department, an inferior officer, to be appointed by the said principal officer, and to be employed therein as he shall deem proper, and to be called the chief Clerk in the Department of Foreign Affairs, and who, in case of vacancy in the said office of Secretary to the United States for the Department of Foreign Affairs,25 shall, during such vacancy, have the charge and custody of all records, books, and papers, appertaining to the said department. Provided nevertheless, That [no] appointment of such chief Clerk shall be valid, until the same shall have been [app]roved by the President of the United States.
[3] And be it further enacted , That the said principal officer, or26 every other [perso]n to be appointed or employed in the said department, shall, before he [enter] on the execution of his office or employment, take an oath or affirma[tion,] well and faithfully to execute the trust committed to him.27
[4] And be it further enacted , That there shall be allowed to the said Secre[tary] for his services, a salary, at the rate of per annum, and that there shall be allowed to the said [chief] Clerk for his services, a salary of per annum; the said salaries to be payable quarterly, in [equal] payments.28
Printed Bill, Wingate Papers, Dartmouth College Library, Hanover, N.H. The document is torn; we supplied the words in brackets from a printing in The [New York] Daily Advertiser, June 17. Unless otherwise noted, we determined the amendments by comparing the bill as introduced with the engrossed bill. Wingate noted the House amendments on the bill. He also changed "Congress" to "senate & house of Representatives" and inserted "of America in congress assembled" after "United States," an amendment made later by the Senate.
    22. The House struck out "to the United States."
    23. On June 16, White made a motion to strike out "to be removable from office by the President of the United States." (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, Gazette of the United States, June 17) The Committee of the Whole House disagreed to this amendment on June 19, by a vote of 33-20 (Gazette of the United States, June 20), but the House agreed to it on June 22, on a motion by Benson and by a recorded vote of 31-19, (The Congressional Register, June 22) which was as follows:

Those who voted in the affirmative, are,

Those who voted in the negative, are,

(DHFFC 3:93.)]
    24. The House struck out "services, and functions."
    25. On June 22, on a motion by Benson, seconded by Madison, the House struck out "in case of vacancy in the said office of secretary to the United States for the department of foreign affairs" and inserted "whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the United States, or in any other case of vacancy," by a recorded vote of 30-18, which was as follows: (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, The New York Daily Gazette, June 23)

Those who voted in the affirmative, are,

Those who voted in the negative, are,

(DHFFC 3:92.)]
Wingate's annotation at this point is as follows: “removal by the President or other whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the U.S.or such in case of vacancy in any other way shall happen shall during such vacancy” These changes may represent amendments suggested in the House and then withdrawn or revised.
    26. The engrossed bill reads "and" in place of "or."
    27. On June 19, on a motion by Benson, the Committee of the Whole House inserted the following clause at this point: “That the Secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs immediately after his appointment, be impowered to take into his custody all the books and papers belonging to the late Department of Foreign Affairs established by the United States in Congress assembled. ”(Gazette of the United States, June 20) The House agreed to this amendment on June 22.
    28. On June 19, a motion by Carroll to establish an expiration date for the bill was withdrawn in favor of a motion by White to strike out the salary clause. White's motion was agreed to. (The Congressional Register, June 19) Carroll, seconded by Page, renewed his motion on June 22, when it was disagreed to. (Gazette of the United States, June 24)

Recommended citation: Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2002). XML version based on the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1994) Vol. 4, pp. 689-697. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]

Copyright 1988-1994. The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.