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

Diary of William Maclay

Treasury Act [HR-9] From Vol. 9

 Thursday, 9 July 1789 
Still much afflicted with the Rheumatism  attended this day the usual time at the Hall,  a great part of this day was taken up with light debates chiefly conducted by the lawyers on both sides, and the Object seemed to be the encreasing the powers of Chancery,  Mr. Read a Man of Obstructed Elocution was excessively tedious. Elsworth has Credit with me,  I know not however whether it be the Effect of Judgt. Whim or Caprice, but he is generally for limiting the Chancery powers. Mr. Morris and myself differed in every Vote this day. We always have differed on the Subject of Chancery. This day I got Copies of the 3 Bills for the great departments.1  Besides being calculated on a Scale of great Expence. Two Grand Objections offer themselves on these bills— the lessining the power of the Senate, taking away from them any Vote in the removal of Officers, and the power of advising and consenting, in one Case of the first Consequence. and the other the placing the President above business and beyond the power of responsibility— placing putting into the hands of his officers the duties required of him by the Constitution,  Indeed these appear to me to have been the moving Reasons for bringing forward the bill at all. nor do I see the necessity of having made this business a Subject of legislation. the point of View in which it presented itself to me was. That the President should signify to the Senate. his desire of appointing a Minister of foreign affairs, and nominate the Man  and so of the other necessary departments. if the Senate agreed to the necessity of the office and the Man they would concur,  if not, they would negative. & ca. the House would get the Business before them when Salaries came to be appointed, and could then, give their Opinion by providing for the officer or not. I see this mode might be abused. But for the House of Representatives, by a side Wind, to exalt the President above the Constitution and depress the Senate below it, is. but I will leave it without a name. they know the Veneration entertained for General Washington. and believe the People will be ready to Join, in the Cry against the Senate. in his favour, when they endeavour to make him a party. they think they have fast hold of Us. and that we dare not, refuse our Assent to these bills, & so several of them have not failed to declare.
    1. The War Department Act [HR-7], the Foreign Affairs Act [HR-8], and the Treasury Act [HR-9].

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, 1988) Vol. 9, pp. 104-117; 134-135; 445-449; 465-467; 483-489. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]

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