Establishing Congress: The Removal to Washington, D.C., and the Election of 1800 focuses on the end of the 1790s, when, in rapid succession, George Washington died, the federal government moved to Washington, D.C., and the election of 1800 put Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party in charge of the federal government.
Establishing Congress dispels the myths and misinformation that surround the federal government’s move to Washington and demonstrates that the election of 1800 changed American party politics forever, establishing the success of the American experiment in government and completing the founding of the Republic. It also contends that the lame-duck session of Congress had far-reaching implications for the governance of the District of Columbia. Later chapters examine aspects of the political iconography of the Capitol—one illuminating Jefferson’s role in turning the building into a temple for the legislature and an instrument for nation-building, another analyzing the fascinating decades-long debate over whether to bury George Washington in the Capitol.
The book considers as well the political implications of social life in early Washington, examining the political lobbying by Washington women within a social context and detailing the social and political life in the city’s homes, hotels, boardinghouses, and eating messes. Establishing Congress is an invaluable reference work for anyone interested in these pivotal moments in American history.
The institutional development of American legislatures, beginning with the first colonial assembly of 1619, has been marked by continuity as well as change. Peverill Squire draws upon a wealth of primary sources to document this institutional history. Beginning with the ways in which colonial assemblies followed the precedents of British institutions, Squire traces the fundamental ways they evolved to become distinct. He next charts the formation of the first state legislatures and the Constitutional Congress, describes the creation of territorial and new state legislatures, and examines the institutionalization of state legislatures in the nineteenth century and their professionalization since 1900.
With his conclusion, Squire discusses the historical trajectory of American legislatures and suggests how they might further develop over the coming decades. While Squire's approach will appeal to historians, his focus on the evolution of rules, procedures, and standing committee systems, as well as member salaries, legislative sessions, staff, and facilities, will be valuable to political scientists and legislative scholars.
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