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

Diary of William Maclay

 Wednesday, 26 August 1789 
attended the Senate  the minutes were lengthy but I was surprized to find no notice taken, of my presenting the Draught of Lancaster the letter, and my nomination of the other places in Pennsylvania, altho I had put in Writing, the Whole Matter and given it to the Secretary. When he had read about half way of his Minutes, I rose and called on him to know Why he had not inserted them. he said he was not come to them but seemed much confused. he however got the letter and handed it to the President. to read it and it was read. after this the nomination was read, and Butler opposed their being put on the minutes  I however had a Vote for their going on. Mr. Morris was all this While out. he was of the Committee on the Compensation bill.1 When he came in Otis the Secretary came to him and wispered something to him  God forgive me if I heard wrong or apprehended Wrong, but I thought he said Maclay has got that put on the minutes   Mr. Morris, went out and staid out untill Senate adjourned leaving his hat & Stick (perhaps he was writing letters in the adjoining room)  he called in as the Senate rose and seemed unwilling to leave me in the room with Otis. I went with him to the Door but returned and spoke to Otis. all this is perhaps the Effect of over observation. I however care not. the penal Law was taken up. Elsworth had a String of Amendments  for a While he was listened to, but he wraught himself so deep in his niceties and distinctions as to be absolutely incomprehensible  he fairly tired the Senate and was laughed at. I think he may be well stiled the Endless Elsworth. I forgot to minute Yesterday that the Treasury bill was taken up. a number of the Senate had recanted again on this Bill, and were against the power of the President's removing, and had amended accordingly. the H. of R. sent us up an d Adherence. and now Mr. Morris proposed to me to leave the House  I would neither do this nor change my mind and he was angry. this was before we had the difference on the Compensation Bill. last night there was a meeting of the Pennsylvania delegation. on the Subject of fixing the permanent Residence, there was little of Consequence said. they agreed however mentioned their former agreement to Vote for every place that should be nominated in Pennsylvania. Clymer said some things that savoured more of independence than any of them. Scot declared he would put himself intirely in their hands and move anything that should be agreed on. Mr. Clymer declared for the Potowmac,2 rather than stay here. I understood him that he thought this politically right. Fitzsimons and the Speaker seemed to second everything that Mr. Morris said. Hartley was for Susquehannah and York Town. But indeed I think the Whole Measure likely to be abortive. They have brought the Matter forward but have no System. {I saw this but did not hazard a single sentiment on the Subject, indeed I could not without implying some kind of Censure. I called this morning and indeavoured to put Mr. Scott on tenable ground in the affair of removal, & left him in a proper way of thinking. at least if he should be defeated, to advance nothing but what is defensible.}
    1. Salaries-Legislative Act [HR-19].
    2. Most congressmen understood the Potomac to mean the environs of Georgetown, Maryland, a tobacco-exporting town at the head of navigation on the river and the seat of Montgomery County. In 1783 Congress voted to locate one of its dual residences at or near Georgetown or the lower falls of the Potomac. Residents of Georgetown petitioned the House on 7 September 1789 and the Senate on 28 June 1790 to become the seat of government, but neither petition is extant. In 1789 and 1790 some congressmen advocated locating the capital as far up the Potomac as Conococheague Creek. The Residence Act [S-12] named the creek and the Anacostia River below Georgetown as the part of the Potomac on which the capital should be placed. (Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 25:714)

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. [Accessed (supply date here)]

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