The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period, 1789-1801

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University of Chicago Press, May 15, 1997 - Law - 327 pages
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In the most thorough examination to date, David P. Currie analyzes from a legal perspective the work of the first six congresses and of the executive branch during the Federalist era, with a view to its significance for constitutional interpretation. He concludes that the original understanding of the Constitution was forged not so much in the courts as in the legislative and executive branches. Judicial review has enjoyed such success in the United States that we tend to forget that other branches of government also play a role in interpreting the Constitution. Before 1800, however, nearly all our constitutional law was made by Congress or the president, and so was much of it thereafter. Indeed a number of constitutional issues of the first importance have never been resolved by judges; what we know of their solution we owe to the legislative and executive branches, whose interpretations have established traditions almost as hallowed in some cases as the Constitution itself. The first half of this volume is devoted to the critical work of the First Congress, which was in many ways a continuation of the Constitutional Convention. In addition to setting up executive departments, federal courts, and a national bank, the First Congress imposed the first federal taxes, regulated foreign commerce, and enacted laws respecting naturalization, copyrights and patents, and federal crimes. In so doing it debated a myriad of fundamental questions about the scope and limits of its powers. Thus the First Congress left us a rich legacy of arguments over the meaning of a variety of constitutional provisions, and the quality of those arguments was impressively high. Part Two treats the Second through Sixth Congresses, where members of the legislative and executive branches continued to debate constitutional questions great and small. In addition to such familiar controversies as the Neutrality Proclamation, the Jay Treaty, and the Alien and Sedition Acts, this part traces the difficult constitutional issues that arose when Congress confronted the problems of presidential succession, legislative reapportionment, and the scope of the impeachment power. Proposals to provide relief to New England fishermen, Caribbean refugees, and the victims of a Georgia fire all helped to define the limits of Congress's power to spend. And the period ended with a burst of fireworks as Federalist congressmen concocted schemes of doubtful constitutionality in an effort to deny their defeat at the polls. Constitutional debates over some of these controversial matters tended to be highly partisan. On the whole, however, Currie argues that both Congress and the presidents during this period did their best to determine what the Constitution meant and displayed a commendable sensitivity to the demands of federalism and the separation of powers. Like its predecessors in Currie's ongoing study of the Constitution's evolution, this book will prove indispensable for scholars in constitutional law, history, and government.
  

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Contents

THE NEW GOVERNMENT
3
A Rules
5
C Officers
7
D Oaths
9
E Instructions
11
F Qualifications
12
G Elections
13
H Enumeration
15
V The Courts
150
VI The Militia
153
B Employment
156
VII The Army
159
VIII The Militia
160
IX Codfish
164
X Fugitives
166
XI Summary
167

I Investigation
16
II The Special Role of the Senate
17
A The French Consular Convention
18
B The Fishboum Affair
19
C The Southern Indians
20
D The Fort Harmar Treaties
22
III The Executive Branch
24
A The Presidents Role in Legislation
25
B Emoluments and Titles
28
C The Department of Foreign Affairs
32
D Other Officers
37
IV The Courts
43
B The Supreme Court
48
SUBSTANTIVE LEGISLATION
51
B Whiskey
56
C Ship Licensing
58
D Inspection Laws
59
E Seamen
61
F The Slave Trade
62
II Spending
64
B Lighthouses
65
C Other Spending Proposals
67
III The Public Credit
69
A Paper Money
70
C The Assumption of State Debts
72
IV The Bank of the United States
74
V Military Indian and Foreign Affairs
77
B Indians
81
C Pirates
83
VI Miscellany
84
B Patents and Copyrights
86
C Crimes
89
D States
93
E Territories
99
F The Seat of Government
103
VII The Bill of Rights
106
CONCLUSION TO PART ONE
112
INTRODUCTION TO PART TWO
121
II The President
132
B Succession
135
C Special Elections
140
III The Post Office
142
B Federalism and Other Problems
146
IV The Mint
148
THE THIRD CONGRESS 17931795
168
I Neutrality
170
B The Aftermath
176
II Defense
179
B The President and Congress
182
III St Domingo
184
IV Insurrection
185
V Citizenship
188
VI The Eleventh Amendment
191
VII The District of New Hampshire
194
VIII The Southwest Delegate
196
IX The Flag
200
THE FOURTH CONGRESS 17951797
202
I The Jay Treaty
205
B The Role of the House
207
II Tennessee
213
III Congressional Powers
218
B Direct Taxes
221
C Perils of the Deep
223
D Kidnapping and the Right to Petition
225
IV Randall and Whitney
228
THE FIFTH AND SIXTH CONGRESSES 17971801
235
A Declaring the Peace
237
B The Provisional Army
240
C Volunteers
244
D The French Treaties
246
II The Enemy Within
249
A Aliens
250
B Sedition
256
C The Expulsion of Matthew Lyon
259
D The Cases of Duane and Randolph
262
E Alls Well That Ends Well
265
III Odds and Ends
270
A The Impeachment of Senator Blount
271
B Mr Pinckneys Gifts
277
C The Mississippi Territory
280
D The District of Columbia
282
IV The Election of 1800
284
B Mr Bayards Conscience
288
CONCLUSION
292
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
295
INDEX
311
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

David P. Currie (1936-2007) was the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. He is the author of four volumes in the Constitution in Congress series and the award-winning two-volume history The Constitution in the Supreme Court.

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