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1787
British settlers bought land from African tribal leaders in Sierra Leone and used it as a haven for freed African slaves. The settlers intermarried but held themselves aloof, monopolized power and discriminated against the original population. In 2005 Simon Schama authored “Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution.”
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1787
Thomas Jefferson toured Bordeaux while serving as US ambassador to France. He purchased cases Haut-Brion, d’Yquiem, and Margaux for himself and George Washington.
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1787
Peter Markoe (1752?-1792) authored “An Algerine Spy in Pennsylvania.” His satirical provocation helped to push the US Congress authorized a Navy and to dispatch Marines to subdue the pirates of Tripoli.
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1787
Alexander Hamilton sponsored a New York law that recognized adultery as the only ground for divorce. It remained in force until 1967.
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1787
Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith living in the Cherry Hill district of NYC, began minting gold doubloons, valued at $15, as currency for the new United States. In 1947 the film The Brasher Doubloon” was made based on a detective by novel Raymond Chandler. In 2011 a Brasher doubloon was sold for $7.4 million.
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1787
George Washington at this time owned some 30,000 acres in the West.
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1788 Apr 28
Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the US constitution, but on condition that a Bill of Rights be added.
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1789 Mar 4
The Constitution of the United States, framed in 1787, went into effect as the first Federal Congress met in New York City. Lawmakers then adjourned for the lack of a quorum (9 senators, 13 representatives). In 2006 Robert V. Remini, historian of the US House of Representatives, authored “The House.”
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1789 Apr 30
George Washington was inaugurated and took office in New York as the first president of the United States. He took his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street and spoke the words “So help me God,” which all future US presidents have repeated. The oath as prescribed by the Constitution makes no mention of God of the Bible.
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1789 Sep 2
The US Congress created a permanent institution for the management of government finances. The Treasury Department, headed by Alexander Hamilton, was created in New York City and housed in Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl St.
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1789 Nov
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the first tribunal in the United States, convened in New York, a few weeks ahead of the Supreme Court.
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1789 Dec 28
Lydia Darrragh (b.1729), American spy, died in Philadelphia. Her exploits in 1777 did not become public until the publication of an anonymous article in 1827.
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1789
Dentist John Greenwood (1760-1819) carved his first dentures for George Washington out of hippopotamus ivory.
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1789
The US Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) was meant to combat piracy. The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) was intended to be used to prosecute pirates for crimes committed outside the US. It went unused for a long time until rights lawyers dusted it off in the late 1970s.
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1790 Jan 8
President Washington delivered the 1st "State of the Union" address in NYC.
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1790 Mar 1
President Washington signed a measure authorizing the first US Census. The Connecticut Compromise was a proposal for two houses in the legislature-one based on equal representation for each state, the other for population-based representation-that resolved the dispute between large and small states at the Constitutional Convention. Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman's proposal led to the first nationwide census in 1790. The population was determined to be 3,929,625, which included 697,624 slaves and 59,557 free blacks. The most populous state was Virginia, with 747,610 people and the most populous city was Philadelphia with 42,444 inhabitants. The average cost of this year’s census was 1.13 cents per person.
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1790 Mar 21
Thomas Jefferson (46) reported to President Washington in New York as the new US Secretary of state.
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1790 Mar 22
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) became the first US Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, he served on the first Board of Arts, the body that reviewed patent applications and granted patents. Jefferson was one of a triumvirate that served as both America’s first patent commissioner and first patent examiner.
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1790 Apr 10
President George Washington signed into law the first United States Patent Act. The Patent Board was made up of the Secretary of State, Secretary of War and the Attorney General and was responsible for granting patents on "useful and important" inventions. In the first three years, 47 patents were granted. Until 1888 miniature models of the device to be patented were required. [see July 31] The US Patent and Trademark Office’s subject grouping scheme includes a major component called a class and a minor one called a subclass. A class distinguishes one technology from another. Subclasses of the USPTO delineate processes, structural features and functional features of the technology in that particular class. By 2015 there were 474 classes and over 160,000 codes.
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1790 Apr 17
Benjamin Franklin (born 1706), American statesman, died in Philadelphia at age 84. He mechanized the process of making sounds from tuned glass with his glass armonica. In 2000 H.W. Brands authored his Franklin biography: "The First American." In 2003 Walter Isaacson authored "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life." In 2005 Philip Dray authored “Stealing God’s Thunder,” an account of Franklin’s work with lightning rods.
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1790 May
John Tanner (9) was kidnapped from his home in northern Kentucky by Shawnee Indians. He was taken to an area near what later became Saginaw, Michigan, where he learned the Ojibway language. After about 2 years he was sold to a woman named Net-no-kwa, who took him up to northern Michigan and later to Manitoba, Canada.
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1790 Jul 26
US Congress passed Alexander Hamilton’s Assumption plan making it responsible for state debts. Virginia had withdrawn its opposition in return for having the nation’s new capital located on its borders.
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1790 Jul 31
The first US patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for an improvement "in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process". This patent was signed by then President George Washington. The first 10,280 patents, issued between 1790 and 1836, were destroyed by a fire. The legal basis for the United States patent system (USPTO) is Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution wherein the powers of Congress are defined.
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1790
1799
In 2009 Marcus Daniel authored “Scandal & Civility: Journalism and the Birth of American Democracy,” a study of the American press during this period.
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1790
In South Carolina a 900-square-foot octagonal house was built about this time by Scottish immigrant William McKimmy. Ruins of the structure were found in 2009 on the banks of the May River in Blufton. The design took off in 1848 following the publication of “A Home for All” by Orson Fowler, a self-taught architect and phrenologist.
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1791 Mar 29
Pres. George Washington and French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant examined the site along the Potomac River that would become the US capital. Maryland and Virginia had ceded land to the federal government to form the District of Columbia. Chosen as the permanent site for the capital of the United States by Congress in 1790, President Washington was given the power by Congress to select the exact site—an area ten-miles square, made up of land given by Virginia and Maryland. Washington became the official federal capital in 1800. In 2008 Fergus Bordewich authored “Washington: The Making of the American Capital.”
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1791 Jul 14
In France the home and laboratory of Joseph Priestley, English chemist and clergyman, was vandalized and burned to the ground by a monarchist mob. Priestly moved back to London and in 1794 moved to the United States.
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1791 Dec 22
Alexander Hamilton paid a $600 installment of $1,000 in blackmail to James Reynolds, who threatened to expose Hamilton’s relationship with Reynolds’ wife. Hamilton had begun a relationship with Maria Reynolds during the summer. A 2nd payment was made Jan 3.
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1791 Dec
The 1st Bank of the US opened under Alexander Hamilton. It did the work of a central bank even though private investors held most of its shares. James Madison opposed the plans of Alexander Hamilton for a National Bank. [see 1780-1792, Banning book on Madison] It was dissolved in 1811.
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1791
Aaron Burr (1756-1836), later US vice president (1801-1805), was elected as US Senator from New York (1791-1797).
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1791
Alexander Hamilton authored his “Report on the Subject of Manufactures.” His plan to get the country’s economy going included tariffs to protect the young industries.
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1791
A New Hampshire law called for convicted adulterers to be paraded on the gallows for an hour and then be publicly whipped no exceeding 39 stripes before being sent to prison and fined £100. By 2014 the penalty had been reduced to a fine of $1,200 as legislators proposed a repeal of the law.
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1792 Apr 14
Pres. George Washington appointed David Rittenhouse, the foremost scientist of America, the first director of the US Mint at a salary of $2000 per annum. Rittenhouse was then in feeble health and lived at the northwest corner of Seventh and Arch Streets, then one of the high places of Old Philadelphia, where he had an observatory and where he later died and was first buried.
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1792 May 17
Stock traders signed the Buttonwood Agreement in New York City at the Tontine Coffee House Company near a Buttonwood tree, where business had been transacted in the past. 24 merchants formed their exchange at Wall and Water Streets where they fixed rates on commissions on stocks and bonds. This later developed into the New York Stock Exchange. A market crash and almost total halt in credit, trading and liquidity prompted the Buttonwood Agreement under the influence of Alexander Hamilton. The organization drafted its constitution on March 8th, 1817, and named itself the "New York Stock & Exchange Board."
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1792 Jul 31
The foundation-stone was laid for the US Mint by David Rittenhouse, Esq. The property was paid for and deeded to the United States of America for a consideration of $4266.67 on July 18, 1792. The money for the Mint was the first money appropriated by Congress for a building to be used for a public purpose.
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1792 Oct 7
James Mason (b.1725), American Revolutionary statesman, died at Gunston Hall Plantation, situated on the Potomac River some 20 miles south of Washington D.C. Mason framed the Bill of Rights for the Virginia Convention in June 1776. This was the model for the first part of fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence and the basis of the first 10 Amendments to the federal Constitution. In 2006 Jeff Broadwater authored “George Mason.”
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1792 Dec 15
Alexander Hamilton, US Sec. of the Treasury, was accused of teaming with Mr. James Reynolds to speculate illegally in government securities. Hamilton then acknowledged to three lawmakers, including James Monroe, that he had paid hush money to Mr. Reynolds to cover an affair with Reynolds’ wife.
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1792
US veterans hired William Hull to petition congress for more compensation.
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1792
Construction began on the Royal Chapel at Carmel, Ca. It was dedicated in 1795.
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1792
George Washington signed a law giving shipowners “allowances” (i.e. subsidies) to offset tariffs they had to pay on their inputs. This was part of an effort to rebuild new England’s cod industry.
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1792
A US penny was struck to test a design. It came to be called the Birch cent after engraver Robert Birch. In 2015 it sold at auction for $2.6 million.
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1792
A US military campaign led by General Arthur St. Clair against Native Americans in Ohio ended in complete disaster. Of the 1,400 US regulars and militia who set out in pursuit of Native Americans, some 650 were killed and 250 wounded when adversaries caught them unprepared for battle. Lawmakers launched the first congressional investigation of US executive branch actions. President George Washington responded with wary cooperation, aware he was setting precedents for presidents to come.
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1793 Jan 9
The first US manned balloon flight occurred as Frenchman Jean Pierre Blanchard, using a hot-air balloon, flew between Philadelphia and Woodbury, N.J. He stayed airborne for 46 minutes, traveled close to 15 miles and set down at the "old Clement farm" in Deptford, New Jersey. [see Jun 23, 1784, Mar 9, 1793]
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1793 Feb 12
The US federal government passed its first fugitive slave law. This gave slave holders the right to reclaim their human property in free states.
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1793
The 1st US half-cent and one cent coins were minted. For almost 6 decades the obverse side carried an image of Lady Liberty. The first coins were related to the silver dollar. The half-dollar contained half as much silver, the quarter had one-fourth as much. The dime had a 10th and the half dime has a 20th as much silver as the dollar. Only the penny was made of copper. In 1866 the Mint decided to produce a larger five-cent coin. In 2012 a one-cent copper coin minted this year fetched $1 million at a Florida auction.
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1793
There was a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. About 5,000 people were killed. Stephen Girard risked his life and fortune in stopping the epidemic.
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1794 Nov 3
Thomas Paine was released from a Parisian jail with help from the American ambassador James Monroe. He had been arrested in 1893 for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI and thus offending the Robespierre faction. While in prison Paine began writing his "The Age of Reason" (1794-1796).
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1794 Nov 11
The Treaty of Canandaigua was signed at Canandaigua, New York, by fifty sachems and war chiefs representing the Grand Council of the Six Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy (including the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora tribes), and by Timothy Pickering, official agent of President George Washington. The Canandaigua Treaty, a Treaty Between the United States of America and the Tribes of Indians Called the Six Nations, was signed.
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1794 Nov 28
Friedrich WLGA von Steuben (64), Prussian-US inspector-general of Washington’s army, died in Oneida, NY. Baron von Steuben, a former Prussian captain, had arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1777, and despite false credentials, was hired to drill and train Washington’s Continental Army. His manual of arms, known as the “Blue Book,” shaped basic training for American recruits for generations to come. In 2008 Paul Lockhart authored “The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army.”
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1794
Twenty horse soldiers were dispatched from the Presidio of San Francisco to quell an Ohlone rebellion in the Santa Cruz mountains.
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1795 Jan 25
The Royal Chapel at Carmel, Ca., was dedicated with a Mass of Thanksgiving. A major renovation was undertaken in 1856.
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1795
Samuel Adams and Paul Revere laid the cornerstone for the Massachusetts State House in Boston. In 2014 crews removed a time capsule from the cornerstone.
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1796 Jul 11
Captain Moses Porter led a party of American troops into Detroit. At noon, the Union Jack came down, and the flag of the United States was raised over Detroit for the first time. Under provisions of the Jay Treaty of 1794, the British had agreed to give up control of Michigan and other parts of the Northwest Territory they had occupied since the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.
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1796
Andrew Jackson was elected as Tennessee’s 1st congressman.
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1796
An Aleutian island named Bogoslof first appeared after an underwater eruption. Its base lay 5,500 down on the floor of the Bering Sea. By 2017 it measured 169 acres with a peak at 490 feet.
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1797 Feb 15
Henry Steinway (d.1871), German-American piano maker, was born in Germany as Heinrich Steinweg. He move to the US in 1851. The name was anglicized in 1864.
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1797
James T. Callender, journalist, published charges concerning the alleged financial misdeeds of Alexander Hamilton. The information came from letters that Hamilton provided to interrogators around 1792 concerning funds paid to James Reynolds to keep quiet an affair with Reynold’s wife. The letters were passed from James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, who passed them to Callender. Hamilton published a 28,000-word defense, Observations on Certain Documents, that revealed his relationship with Maria Reynolds and his payment of hush money.
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1797
Mrs. Gannett of Mass. (1760-1827), born as Deborah Sampson, authored her memoir. She had fought in the American Revolution as a man under the alias Robert Shurtleff. In 2004 Alfred F. Young authored "Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier.”
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1797
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the third president of the United States (1801-1809), began serving as US Vice President. He was also elected president of the American Philosophical Society this year and continued to 1815. A philosopher-statesman of the Enlightenment, Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, was George Washington’s first Secretary of State and vice-president under John Adams.
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1797
Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, authored the pamphlet Agrarian Justice. Here he discussed the origins of property and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income.
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