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

Foreign Affairs Bill [HR-8]

 June 24, 1789 
{An act for establishing an executive department, to be denominated the department of foreign affairs}
[1] Be it enacted by the Congress of the U.S.29 That there shall be an executive department to be denominated the department of War Foreign affairs: And that there shall be a principal officer therein, to be called the Secy. for the department of foreign affairs, who shall perform & execute such duties, as shall from time to time be enjoined on, or be entrusted to him by the Prest. of the U.S. agreeable to the Constitution, relative to correspondencies 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 U.S. shall assign to the said department: And furthermore that the said principal officer, shall conduct the business of said the said department in such manner as the President of the U.S. shall from time to time, order or [lined out] instruct.30
[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,31 & to be employed therein as he shall deem proper, & to be called the chief Clerk in the department of foreign affairs, and who whenever the said principal officer shall be removed from office by the President of the U.S.,32 or in any other case of Vacancy, Shall during such Vacancy have the charge & custody of all records, books, & papers appertaining to the sd. department — Provided nevertheless that no appointment of such chief Clerk shall be valid, until the same shall have been approved by the President of the United States.33
[3] And be it further enacted, That the said principal officer, and every other person to be appointed or employed in the said department, shall before he enters on the execution of his office or employment take an oath or affirmation, well & faithfully to execute the trust committed to him.
[4] And be it further enacted That the Secretary for the department of foreign affairs, to be appointed in Consequence of this act shall forthwith after his appointment be entitled to have the Custody & charge of all records books & papers in the office of Secretary for the department of foreign affairs heretofore established by the U.S. of A. in C. assembled.
Passed the House June 24 1789
Ms. House Bills, Senate Records, National Archives, hand of Samuel A. Otis.
    29. On July 17, the Senate struck out "Congress of the U.S." and inserted "Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled." (Senate Legislative Journal, p. 84)
    30. On July 18, the Senate disagreed to a motion by Lee to strike out "such duties, as shall" through "instruct" and insert "the duties of his office with integrity, ability, and diligence." (Maclay, July 18)
    31. On July 18, the Senate disagreed to a motion by Langdon to strike out "to be appointed by the said principal officer." (Maclay, July 18)
    32. On July 14, Langdon moved to strike out the president's power of removal from office. This motion was disagreed to on July 16 by a vote of 10-10, decided by the negative vote of the vice president. The vote was as follows:

For Striking out

Against Striking out

(Maclay, July 14, 16) On July 18, by a recorded vote of 9-9, decided by the vote of the vice president, the Senate disagreed to a motion to strike out "by the President of the U.S." [On motion to strike out of the bill these words—Page 3d, line 15th, "By the President of the United States," and the yeas and nays being required thereupon by one fifth of the Senators present, the determination was as follows:—

Yea

Nay


So it passed in the negative, and the clause proposed to be struck out was retained.(DHFFC 1:86.)]
    33. On July 14, Maclay moved to strike out the second section but was not seconded. (Paterson, Notes [14 July 1789], Paterson Papers, NjR) On July 18, the Senate struck out the proviso.

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)]

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