Thursday, October 25, 2012

President Cyrus Griffin


President Cyrus Griffin
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10th President of the United States

in Congress Assembled

January 22, 1788 to January 21, 1789



Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200.


The Third United American Republic

Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled

March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789



Cyrus Griffin was born in Farnham, Richmond County, Virginia in 1749 and died in Yorktown, Virginia on December 14th, 1810. He was educated in Britain, studying law at the University of Edinburgh and at the Temple in London. In Europe Griffin was admired for his fresh, untrammeled colonial spirit and his bright mind at the University of Edinburgh. It was at the University he became a close friend to Charles Stuart, Lord Linton, first son and heir of the Earl of Traquair. During the Christmas holiday, with Cyrus being so far from home, Charles invited him to his family's Traquair estate.  


Traquair Family Estate


John Stuart, the Earl of Traquair had three daughters, the Lady Christina, the Lady Mary and the Lady Louisa. The Lady Christina was strikingly beautiful and her personality so magnetic that the handsome Cyrus Griffin couldn't resist making a bold, but private, declaration to win the Lady's heart. Cyrus, during the holidays, secretly courted the Lady Christina as any talk of a matrimonial alliance between the two young lovers would not be tolerated by the Earl. Christina also knew that if her brother, Lord Linton, discovered the couple's courtship plans the Griffin Stuart friendship would end abruptly and Cyrus would be asked to leave Traquair. Neither this, nor the fact that the Lady Christina had been properly reserved for a nobleman of fame and fortune dissuaded the young Virginian from falling in love.  



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The Earl of Traquair was a formal man, who was very attentive to the romantic and business customs of its ancestry. His family had a line of nobility stretching long before Columbus even discovered this new land everyone called America. He was determined to wed Lady Christina to man whose family would enhance Traquair's social standing in Great Britain. The idea of a colonial plebian, no matter how dignified his status was in Virginia, courting any of his daughters let alone the stunning Lady Christina was blasphemous in the European world of aristocracy. 

These customs, obviously, didn't deter Cyrus as his ancestors had been aristocrats not only in Virginia but in Europe too! Maternally, Griffin was part noble and part Huguenot as well. His grandfather was John Bertrand, the Huguenot who sought safety in Virginia. His grandmother Bertrand, Charlotte Jolie, was the daughter of a French Nobleman. Mary Bertrand married the Huguenot's son Leroy Griffin, of Rappahannock County. They were the parents of Cyrus and his sister Elizabeth, who married the wealthy Colonel Richard Adams, of Richmond Hill. This Hill was later named Church Hill, after Patrick Henry made his famous speech in Old St. John's culminating in immortal disjunctive enthymeme, "Give me liberty or give me death." 

Cryus' belief in his nobility emboldened a declaration of his intentions to the Stuart Family after he won Christina's heart. Griffin believed that the Stuart Family would accept his noble lineage once they learned how deeply in love the Lady Christina was with a noble blooded Virginian. He couldn't be, however, more wrong as the Earl was furious upon receiving the news. He immediately admonished his son, Lord Linton, for allowing this Virginia plebian to enter Traquair's sacred gates. The Earl reportedly raved and ranted at the rest of his family, for not uncovering this mischief sooner as such a scandal threatened the social standing of his noble house. Cyrus straight away escorted off the estate and never invited to Traquair again. The Earl forbade Christina from ever seeing Cyrus again and did everything in his power to end the love affair.   

The courtship did not end and became real runaway months later through the forests, over hill and dale in a wild flight from Traquair on a spring day in 1770. In the escape, the Lady Christina fell and broke her ankle. Family legend has it that Cyrus, under-determined to let the event spoil their passionate plans, scooped her up and carried his lover through the countryside not to a doctor but to a parson. [2]  The minister, despite their disheveled appearance and her swollen ankle, united them in the bonds of British matrimony on April 29th.

This act initially estranged the couple from Earl and Christina Anstruther Weir Stuart, her mother. News of the courtship and marriage of the Griffins finally reached America through the business contacts of Colonel Richard Adams. Griffin's brother-in-law, upon learning of the noble yet struggling marriage, wrote this letter to his London merchant:

Mr. Cyrus Griffin, who has been several years at Edinburgh studying the law, and we expect at this time is at the Temple, has lately been privately married to the oldest daughter of the Earl of Traquair; and we suppose his lordship may have some struggles to reconcile himself to such a connection with a plebian, we are apprehensive that Mr. Griffin, from this unexpected event, this extraordinary call, may have occasion for more money than he can readily command, especially as he has been so unfortunate as to have some bills remitted him, return protested. I shall, therefore, esteem it a great favor if you will present him the enclosed and give him any assistance in this way in your power. You will find him a solid, sensible young man well worthy of your notice and friendship.

The Griffin marriage blossomed and one year later Lady Christina bore her first child, John on April 20, 1771 at Traquair Castle

In 1774, Cyrus Griffin and Lady Christina bore a second child, Mary. Historians are not sure how long the couple remained in London.   In this 1774 letter to Burgess Ball Griffin writes.  "My wife is now safely delivered of a stout girl and continues at present very hearty and shall be prepared for the first ship."   



Cyrus Griffin, 1774 autograph letter signed, to Burgess Ball concerning the birth of his daughter Mary and the family seeking passage from London to Virginia.  - copyright Klos Yavneh Academy Collection  

it is not known when the family set sail for Virginia.  We do know, thanks to the acquisition of a 1776 London Complaint by Burgess Ball, that the couple had financial difficulties in the year of Independence. According to this legal document, Cyrus Griffin defaulted on his January 6th, 1776 "First Bill of Exchange for one hundred pounds sterling/ for one Hundred and thirty pounds current money here received…" in London, England. The complaint was filed by wealthy Ball's agents on June 14, 1776 after the collector went to number 3 Fig Tree Court in the Temple where 


"Cyrus Griffin, Esq., on whom the same is Drawn, "lodges to which he had removed from Grange Court Cary Street where having knocked several times at the Door and no person appearing to give an answer I exhibited the said Bill to a man belonging to the Chambers a Story Lower and demanded from him if he could inform me where the said Cyrus Griffin was or where I might procure payment of said Bill…"

 
  
June 14th, 1776 default on a Bill of Exchange legal document in favor of Burgess Ball on Cyrus Griffin, Esq. of 3 Fig Tree Court at the Temple in London. copyright Klos Yavneh Academy Collection  
 
The default on the bill of exchange was eventually paid by Cyrus Griffin and the friendship between Burgess Ball flourished in Virginia. 

Griffin, who returned with his family to Virginia, opened a law practice and became a staunch supporter of the cause of colonial independence. In 1777, 1778, 1786, and 1787 Griffin was elected a member of the State House of Delegates. He was also a member of the Virginia legislature.

Cyrus Griffin was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1778 and served until 1780. During the end of his first term as a Delegate, Griffin wrote Governor Thomas Jefferson this taxing letter on October 6, 1778:

You will be good enough, my dear Sir, to excuse this Letter. There are but few Men indeed with whom I could wish to be thus candid. It appears to me that Congress will shortly be dissolved. If the large Emissions of Money and visionary Expeditions do not bring forth our destruction, I greatly fear that Party will complete the matter. Congress exhibit not more than two or three Members actuated by Patriotism. Great questions are carried every day in favor of the Eastward, and to the prejudice of the Southern States. Great questions are now upon the Carpet and if determined in the affirmative will do excessive Damage to Virginia and Maryland particularly. At present we are under secrecyperhaps in a little time I shall think myself obligated to quit Congress; I will not sit in a house whose proceedings I cannot assent to with honor, nor is it in my abilities to oppose them with success. I value most what our great Politicians value least.

Congress is at present a Government of Men. It would astonish you to think how all affairs proceed upon the interested Principle: Members prostituting their votes in expectation of mutual assistance upon favorite Points. I am apprehensive that in getting free from oppression in one quarter, we are likely to establish it in another; by avoiding one set of Plunderers we are certain to fall into the Clutches of a still more dangerous set. I am sorry our good Friend Harvey is about to leave Congress; he is a valuable man in times like the present, a man of great virtue and boldness of Spirit. If the Land office should be established, put him at the head of it; his abilities and honesty will be highly necessary in that Employment.

The motions of the Enemy are very uncertain; there is an expedition going forward on the part of General Clinton, but to what object is merely conjecture, perhaps to Boston New England and the French Fleet are powerful inducements. All Circumstances considered, I believe they are going to guard the remaining parts of their Dominion. In the mean time they will destroy everything they possibly can, and I should not wonder if Philadelphia itself was reduced to ashes before their departure. As yet Spain has taken no part to our advantage, indeed Arthur Lee still remains at Paris. The Court of Berlin have refused William Lee the Commissioner of Congress to that quarter: he is now gone to Vienna, the most accomplished Metropolis in the world. We are plagued to death with quarrels and recriminations relative to our Commissioners abroad; these men will involve the Continent in perdition. It is absolutely necessary that Dean should be sent over to Europe for the most valuable purpose in the world, but some Gentlemen are determined to ruin an innocent Character, notwithstanding he alone has the great merit of concluding that valuable Treaty with the Minister of France. Tell MacLurg and President Madison they are both s____ in not answering my Letters. The next I write you will be in a different stile; this only by way of preface. I must beg to trouble you with my best respects to Mr. Wythe.[3]

The government "dissolved" two weeks later but Griffin returned to Congress, in December, to begin another term despite his bleak assessment of the 1778 governing body. In July of 1779 Delegate Griffin wrote Governor Thomas Jefferson a pointed letter giving us more insights into the future President's thoughts on war and the price of Independence:

It appears to me that Virginia will do her part in placing things upon an adequate foundation; a large Income of Money, and a most judicious taxation. Members of Congress highly applaud your wisdom in demanding Indian Corn, Wheat, Tobacco etc. I wish to heaven such measures had been adopted many months ago by every State in the union. I have no doubt the Enemy are waiting thus long to see the downfall of our paper Credit, but even that calamitous affair would do them no essential Service; America can never be reunited to Britain; and finances with our brave and determined people are only a secondary consideration. The proceedings of Council relative to G. Hamilton etc… were received by Congress with the utmost applause; the whole matter is beautifully stated; the sentence judicious and spirited. That peace is a most desirable object no man in his senses ought to deny, but then it must be a peace honorable to America and grateful to our allies. I hope such a one will take place before Christmas next. By the violence of a giddy Multitude it would be highly disagreeable to patch up even an Independent peace at the expense of public faith and future salvation.

Why are committees upon the establishment throughout all America? They have almost murdered the French Agent at Wilmington. Indeed Fisheries are too much of external nature to be fought for at present; yet in a treaty of peace I would not relinquish them; they should stand upon the common right of Independent nations. But unhappily this will not answer the purpose. The bleeding Continent must bleed still further. When I say my expectations lead to peace I do not mean that England will expressly acknowledge our Independence; the pride of George will not submit; but she may treat with us as an Independent people notwithstanding provided our demands are not unreasonable, which the French Court are in apprehension about, and therefore trust that moderation and a well guaranteed peace ought not to be despised in our low circumstances. The Enemy with a body of five thousand men have plundered and destroyed Newhaven NB in Connecticut; they carried off the wife and children of old Shearman the member of Congress; yesterday he left this City full of anxiety and trouble; I pity the Lady and Children exceedingly, but I have no tender feelings for the old fellow on many accounts.[4]
In September of 1779 Cyrus Griffin discharged financial matters concerning his late father-in-law, John Stuart, through Benjamin Franklin. In the end Stuart, through his will, remembered his daughter in America after many years of estrangement. Griffin also took the time to inform Minister Franklin of his thoughts on Congress recalling the foreign ministers and explain why Mon. Gérard, "a most valuable and most amiable Man indeed" was not provided with a more fanciful welcome in Philadelphia:

I do myself the honor to enclose a packet of letters which being carried by your Servant to the place directed will greatly oblige me. We thank you for the trouble of attaching a Bond executed by the late Earl of Traquair. This Letter will be conveyed by Mon. Gérard, a most valuable and most amiable Man indeed! And who has given all the satisfaction possible in his public and private Character. No doubt you were astonished how any part of Congress should wish that all the Commissioners might be recalled to Philadelphia. It was for the purpose of explaining those unhappy dissentions and animosities which have arisen among them; and tho Yourself would have left Europe at a most critical period, yet returning to France with accumulated honors after receiving the blessings of America and convincing Congress in what path to walk upon this unhappy and most disgraceful business, perhaps the whole matter impartially considered the united States would have found great benefit if such a plan had taken place.

The French are a gay people and entertain a good deal; I am afraid Mon. Gérard has thought the Delegates in Congress were rather deficient in that respect; but really the expense of every article is so very enormous, and the allowance from the different states so very trifling, that a person of a handsome American fortune could not entertain frequently without absolute ruin in the period of two or three yearsand especially since some of the states think it best for their delegates to live in separate houses. In the course of conversation you would do some of us a singular favor to hint this matter to Mon. Gérard since it has the appearance of not paying proper Civilities to a man of his worth and elevated station.
On September 21st Griffin took the time to reply to Burgess Ball, who first served in cause for Independence as a captain with the 5th Regiment of Virginia and later as lieutenant colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment Infantry of the Continental Army. In 1776, Burgess Ball organized, equipped and clothed an infantry regiment for the Continental Line (which probably why he sought payment so earnestly on Griffin's Bill of Exchange in 1776). Griffin writes his friend and his former Bill of Exchange creditor in 1779:
I have recd. your letter dated on the 4th. No person upon Earth can be more welcome to what little satisfaction I am able to give him in the way of writing now and then. The subscription to Dunlap's paper I think is 80 dollars by the year, I shall not order that matter until you again write me for the purpose. I fancy the Enemy will attempt nothing great notwithstanding the arrival of Arbuthnot. I wish we could know with Certainty to what place the Regiments lately embarked from N. York are intended; perhaps the Count D. Estaing may fall in with them, the Count having quitted his former station. I am almost as sanguine as yourself that the present Campaign will finish the Contest; the opposition to Great Britain is very formidable indeed; and yet when so conspicuous a nation begins to fall, perhaps she may go on to the brink of destruction, and of consequence the war may be lengthened a considerable time to come.

The resolutions of Congress relative to the Army were but so many Acts of Justice; and I hope the different states will provide half pay exactly conformable to the English establishment. Congress have done and are doing all they can to appreciate the money; yet the states and Individuals can alone apply the most effectual remedy by loaning and taxation. Enclosed you will find a handsome address upon this subject; written by our president; it contains to my Judgment a great deal of sterling sense and the most solid reasoning. I do not absolutely condemn your associations: but perhaps in consequence of them you may want many comfortable private supplies. I shall take notice of what you mention about the adjutants, paymasters, and Clothiers, I thank you exceedingly and General M[uhlenberg] for a sight of those papers enclosed to his Brother [Frederick Muhlenberg]. They greatly expanded my Ideas upon the subject; our officers write and fight in the same spirit. Your circumstantial account of that affair has given me pleasure tho I feel exceedingly for your situation and yet w[hen] the public are acquainted with the whole matter as more praise will be given you as the brave and fortunate officer who executed the command. I would take a trip to Camp with the utmost satisfaction; but Smith and Fleming are setting off to Virginia, and there only remains a bare delegation.[5]

Later that month Governor Jefferson wrote President Samuel Huntington requesting Naval Commissions in the form of "blank letters of marque for use in this state" and copied the Virginia Delegation on the matter. Such papers were required for International and Intrastate trade. They were executed by the President and Secretary of the Continental Congress. The burden of issuing these papers to merchant U.S. was lessened by the President signing blank commissions and giving them to the Governors of each state to issue as they deemed necessary. On November 2nd, 1779 Griffin was quick to inform Jefferson that

My Colleague Mr. Mercer has charged himself with the naval Commissions mentioned a post ago in a letter from your Excellency. We have a report from the Eastward that a bloody Engagement has happened in English Channel, and that the admiral of his Britannic Majesty was sunk with sails and Colors flying; but we do not give the utmost credit to the Intelligence.[6]

On November 9th, 1779, Griffin wrote a lengthy letter to the Virginia House of Delegates as their lone representative to the Continental Congress questioning the federal political authority over land and other issues involving Virginia and the Continental Congress:

I beg you will do me the honor to lay this letter before the house. I am at present alone in this important delegation; perhaps abundantly more important than my Constituents suppose. A majority of states in Congress shew a manifest inclination to lessen the weight of Virginia in the general scale of the union; and the Continental

Credit is already upon the very brink of ruin. At such a period the assembly are satisfied that my abilities and Influence are greatly inadequate to represent so vast a Country as Virginia, even upon the supposition I had the power of voting in Congress. I feel exceedingly for the rights of my Country, and the Welfare of America, and I hope to be excused when I express some degree of astonishment that at least three members are not sent forward to Philadelphia, and members too of the first abilities and character.

After a great deal of heat and debate Congress have thought proper to pass a resolution relative to the Land office, which resolution and other proceedings were transmitted by the last post. I am sorry to observe that so important a measure as that should have taken its origin from the Memorial of two private Companies claiming a large extent of Lands within the Bounds of Virginia to their own use and benefit, and offering a recompense to Congress of ten thousand pounds sterling for a confirmation thereof; and however as a member of the Virginia assembly I might be induced to make some compensation to the Indiana Claimants which they are very desirous to accept, and wish to acknowledge the Jurisdiction of Virginia and to defend the state against all opposition whatever, yet I think Congress have no business to interfere with such matters at the expense of our chartered rights, and the rights of an independent Legislature. When Virginia instructed her delegates in Congress to sign the declaration of Independency what did she mean by reserving the sovereignty and internal Government of the state? No deception could be intended of any latent claim to extended Boundary; for Virginia ceded to Pennsylvania and Maryland and the two Carolinas all the Countries within their respective charters which might be supposed a part of her chartered territory and then adds 'the western and northern extent of Virginia shall in all respects stand as fixed by the Charter of King James the first in the year 1709 [1609], and the public Treaty of Peace between Great Britain and France in 1763.'

Yesterday a letter was read in Congress from Colonel Brodhead with a late date at Pittsburg giving Information that some Inhabitants from the Counties of Yoghagania and Ohio had committed Trespasses upon the Lands of the Indians on the farther side of the Ohio River, which produced the enclosed Resolution.[7]

Delegate Griffin would continue serving in the Continental Congress through the harsh winter of 1779-80 and the British Capture of Charleston where, former Continental Congress President Henry Middleton capitulated and swore allegiance to KingGeorge III. Griffin stayed true to the patriot cause. His astute, London trained legal mind was an invaluable asset to Congress during these troubling times. Congress wisely, after finally forming a Court of Appeals, presented Griffin with an appointment as a Judge. President Samuel Huntington wrote to Cyrus Griffin on May 1, 1780:

I have the Pleasure and Satisfaction of presenting you with the enclosed Act of Congress & Commission by which you are appointed and constituted one of the Judges of the Court of Appeals.[8]

Cyrus Griffin wrote to Samuel Huntington on May 4th:

The appointment of Congress to the Court of appeals does me great honor. I thank them exceedingly for the confidence they repose in my Integrity and abilities, but as the nomination was unsolicited and even unknown to me, and being delegated by the state of Virginia to a very different employment I do not think myself justifiable in a peremtory acceptation of the office without the approbation of my constituents. In the meantime, the state of Virginia being so ably and fully represented without my attendance, if Congress shall think proper I will undertake the business of a Judge and endeavor to pay that attention which so important and distinguished a commission may require.

I thank you, Sir, for the very polite manner in which the act of Congress has been communicated to me, and as I always profess the utmost affection for the dignified and extensive body over which you preside so believe me to be with the highest personal esteem.[9]

One month later on June 9th, 1780 Cyrus, still a delegate, wrote Governor Jefferson a most alarming letter:

I have the mortification to inform you that the Enemy are parading the Jerseys in great force, at least with six thousand Infantry and the General says with a large body of horse also. In consequence of this movement the Commander in chief requests that major Lee may be ordered to the main army, and I suppose this morning Congress will prevent his proceeding to the southward. A Committee of Congress who have been many weeks at headquarters with very extensive powers, in concurrence with G. Washington and the marquis de La Fayette, think proper to call upon the different states for a considerable quantity of specific supplies in addition to a former resolution of Congress, and also for 22,000 militia immediately to join the northern army but whether Congress will send forth the requisitions to the state of Virginia I cannot determine as the neighboring states will demand your utmost exertions.

I suppose the great plan of finance is already happily executed; indeed the resolutions of Congress should be complied with, as a General scheme for without unanimity upon these important points our confederation will break to pieces. Whatever may have been the opinions of some states in Congress, a large majority of that body ought to be regarded especially in critical times like the present.

Congress have no objection that I should sit in the Court of appeals, notwithstanding my resignation be not accepted but my attendance must be dispensed with whilst acting in that commission. It is probable I shall not act in that Commission long. There has been skirmishing in the Jerseys. The militia behaved well, as yet no great mischief. The army is moving towards the enemy.[10]

Griffin's last letter to Governor, On June 13th discussed his appointment and additional enemy military maneuvers:

As this will be the last letter I shall have the honor of writing your Excellency in my official capacity, I hope to obtain the governor's approbation that whilst alone and at the head of the Delegation to Congress I have done my part in making those representations and giving that Intelligence from time to time, which the executive ought constantly to be informed of. I do not recollect any one matter of importance that was omitted in my communications to your Excellency and I confess as an Individual that I felt a pride and pleasure in corresponding with a great character, exclusive of that sacred duty which my honorable appointment demanded of me.

The Enemy are still in the Jersey, not far from Elisabeth Town and by a letter from Lord Sterling they are considerably reinforced. They have built a floating bridge to secure a retreat to Staten Island if necessary. Two or three little battles have taken place, in which the militia fought well but have suffered greatly. I fancy the object of the Enemy was to try the force of General Washington's regular Troops. Unluckily by the experiment they find our illustrious commander unable to meet them without the aid of militia and what next? I fear they will remain in the Jersey until Clinton gets back from Charles Town, and then make a bold attempt upon the continental stores and army. I wish the French fleet and Troops were happily arrived. About fifty sail of merchantmen have got to this City within a few days past. By one of them the last night we are told that Barbadoes is taken, and probably by this time Antigua and Saint Kitts, but I cannot credit so hastily as some Gentlemen are disposed to do.[11]

Cyrus Griffin oil on canvas portrait --  copyright Historic.us 

Cyrus Griffin would serve as a Judge on the Court of Appeals until 1786. It was in the previous year that the financially insolvent Confederation government notified the judges that they could no longer pay their salaries. Despite this Congress expected the men to continue with their commissions, like them, without any pay. Griffin served in that payless position for several months before writing a letter to the appropriate committee on January 24, 1786. Griffin's letter contained a protest against Congress' July 1, 1785, decision to discontinue the salaries of the judges of the court of appeals without vacating their commissions. The Secretary of the United States, Charles Thomson responded on February 13, 1786 as follows:

 Your letter of the 6 of January was duly received and communicated to Congress, in consequence of which they passed a resolution a copy of which I have the honor to enclose.[12]

The resolve reasserted that it was "necessary that the salaries of the said judges should cease," but in an appeasing gesture Congress also avowed "That Congress are fully impressed with a sense of the ability, fidelity and attention of the judges of the court of Appeals."

Cyrus Griffin resigned the commission and returned to Virginia and was quickly elected a delegate to the state assembly in 1786 and served until late 1787. By the end of his term it was clear that Virginia needed experienced representation in the United States in Congress Assembled as the new Constitution had emerged and much work needed to be done to insure its ratification and subsequent implementation.

Griffin was elected in October of 1787 by Virginia to serve as their Delegate in what would become the last session of the United States in Congress Assembled. He arrived in New York in November and as in the past no quorum could be formed in either that month or December to conduct the nation's business. On December 15th he wrote his friend and Constitution Signer Thomas Fitzsimmons on a matter concerning the Treasury Board and his health:

I should have written some days ago, but waited a private conveyance which at last has disappointed me. I had great difficulty in getting your little matter adjusted with the Treasury Board, because the promise of payment was to Harison only, and because not a shilling was in hand for continental purposes; however, as being preferable to nothing, You will receive enclosed a warrant upon Thomas Smith for the sum entrusted to my care. I was obliged to accommodate a little affair of my own in the like mode which has occasioned an unexpected inconveniency. For some days past I have been confined with a violent cold and disagreeable affection of the head; but as nothing very alarming is to be feared I wish my poor little woman to know but little of it. I doubt the family of Mr. Marshall's will give you and your amiable lady a good deal of Trouble; but as they are the last few months they will ever spend to the northward I hope it may be forgiven; for indeed having but little property of my own and scarcely any thing by my wife, I should not be justifiable in spending that little at a distance from my own country even for the purposes of Religion; yet in the meantime I flatter myself they will ask for anything that may be wanting, and when the little stock is expended that you were kind enough to take charge of I will endeavor to procure them more.

I make free to enclose a letter for your friendly messenger to deliver. There are but four states rep[r]esented in Congress and I see no probability of a majority for weeks to come. Our foreign correspondence contain the strongest reasons why a fixed and efficient government should be organized with all expedition. [13]

In early January 1788, the United States in Congress Assembled still was not able to muster a quorum. On January 13th, The New York Daily Advertiser contained a notice that the Connecticut convention had ratified the Constitution by a vote of 127 to 40. The newspaper also included a copy of John Lansing's and Robert Yates' December 21 letter to Gov. George Clinton explaining their objections to the Constitution. Griffin wrote Fitzsimmons of this news on the same day:

… We are also very impatient for European Intelligence; nothing of consequence canas yet be relied upon; the packets are hourly expected. A little period since our Ministers abroad were predicting a speedy war. I do not believe the affairs of Europe exhibit at this time a more pacific appearance. If the contest in Holland has terminated with peace to the provinces, France will accept the challenge from England with spirit and with equal ability. A little while and then we may determine with certainty.

Connecticut has received the Constitution; a great majority. Four states have now adopted. Parties are running very high in Massachusetts: Samuel Adams and his friends have at length come forward: the Delegates from that Government, who understand characters, are doubtful of a happy Issue. If Mass. should be so unwise and dishonest to reject the system, N. York and Virginia will not hesitate one moment to follow the example; and then farewell to a federal Government of the whole; the baneful, the fatal consequences not one of us can foresee in their extent.

I beg leave to trouble you with a small letter to Spruce Street. I intended to Philadelphia for a little; but as my cold is bad, and what is still worse my pay would cease when absent from the Seat of Congress. I believe dear Madam had better spend the long nights without a partner, than the short days without Soup.
 

Do me the kindness to present my best Regards to your lady.
[14]

On January 22, 1788 with the arrival of Jonathan Dayton from New Jersey the last United States in Congress Assembled government finally reached a quorum. Their first order of business was to choose the last President of the Unites States Confederation. The Delegates, wisely, sent an important message to the States still deliberating ratification of the newly proposed Constitution of 1787. They overwhelmingly selected a member who supported the ratification of the new Constitution, Cyrus Griffin. The Massachusetts Delegation wrote their Governor, John Hancock the following day:
Since we last did ourselves the honor to address Your Excellency nothing of importance has taken place until yesterday when the delegates from seven States being assembled, Congress proceeded to the choice of The Honble. Cyrus Griffin Esq. for their President. The States of Georgia, N Carolina, Connecticut & N Hampshire have each a member present, but are unrepresented.

New York will probably make their election this week, And R Island is without a Member in Congress. The arrival of a Minister, Count de Moustiers from the Court of France, is a fresh proof of the attention, which the United States have uniformly received, from an illustrious ally; And we are confident of Your Excellency's concurrence in the sincerest wishes, that whilst our Nation is respectable abroad, Nothing may take place that will diminish our importance at home.

We shall continue to detail to Your Excelly from time to time, such facts as may be that of consequence to be communicated.[15]

Secretary Thomson's letter to the States on the 23rd read:

I have the honor to inform your Excellency that on Monday last Seven states assembled, namely Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, and from New Hampshire Mr. Gilman, from Connecticut, Mr. Wadsworth, from North Carolina, Mr. White and from Georgia Mr. Baldwin. Yesterday Congress proceeded to the election of a President and made choice of His Excellency Cyrus Griffin[16]

The Election of Cyrus Griffin JOURNALS OF THE UNITED STATES IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED containing the proceedings from the 5th day of November, 1787 to the 3rd day of November 1788, Volume XIII, Published by order of the United States in Congress Assembled, [Philadelphia] Printed by John Dunlap, 1788. copyright Klos Yavneh Academy Collection  

James Madison wrote George Washington, “A Congress of seven States was made up on Monday. Mr. C. Griffin has been placed in the chair. This is the only step yet taken.”[17] This election, however, was an important measure for the federalists because President Cyrus Griffin was strong proponent for the constitution’s ratification.   Madison adds joyously in another letter, “the Newspapers will have proclaimed Mr. C. Griffin as President”[18] communicating matters of state, the constitution ratification prospects, and the features of the French Marchioness.[19]
From January 23rd to the 31st, Congress failed to achieve a quorum. On February 1st, with a quorum of representation, the new members were faced with reviewing a backlog of reports and letters that accumulated in the federal capital since early November. To the dismay of a plethora of citizens, diplomats and merchants Congress failed to achieve a quorum on the 6th and didn't reconvene for six consecutive days.  The financial state of the federal government remained dire and despite serving without salary, President Griffin’s only compensation, lodgings, food and staff, were going unpaid.

I need not enlarge upon the weak state of the Federal Government; Many circumstances contribute to debase its dignity. The Treasury of the USA being without supplies, their troops stationed to secure the frontiers, and the Civil list of Congress destitute of provision; And even the small pittance necessary for the subsistence of the Presidents household, even in the most eligible stile, of republican neatness & simplicity, only attainable from other inadequate appropriations; Are facts which evince the most degrading poverty in the federal Government.[20]
On February 11th the New York Daily Advertiser brought the welcome news to the USCA that Massachusetts had ratified the new US Constitution.  Madison wrote Washington:

I have at length the pleasure to inclose you the favorable result of the Convention at Boston. The amendments are a blemish, but are in the least Offensive form. The minority also is very disagreeably large, but the temper of it is some atonement. I am assured by Mr. King that the leaders of it as well as the members of it in general are in good humor; and will countenance no irregular opposition there or elsewhere. The Convention of N Hampshire is now sitting. There seems to be no question that the issue there will add a seventh pillar, as the phrase now is, to the federal Temple.[21]
On the 12th they resumed deliberations and gave the power to issue the backlog of ships papers to John Jay, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The USCA met again on February 14th and agreed that the French “count de Moustier be received as Minister plenipotentiary from his most Christian Majesty and that agreeably to his request he be admitted to a public Audience on Tuesday the 26 of the present Month in the room where Congress assembles.”[22] The Minister was seeking, among other things, repayment of United States’ loans to France that were in default. The Minister was very frustrated over the unpaid debts and the USCA quorum challenges delaying his reception.   This was duly communicated by Moustier to the newspapers. Also of note, the minister had established residence in the home of Thomas Fitzsimmons with Anne Flore Millet, the marquise de Bréhan and her son.   Millet was the sister of the Minister’s dead wife Antoinette-Louise.  Millet was married to Marquis de Bréhan, a man twenty years her senior and known for his philandering.  Millet residence with her brother-in-law eventually caused a scandal in New York.   On the 26th of February a USCA quorum was present and the Minister was received on the floor of Congress.  President Griffin made this response to the Minister’s address:

It will always give us pleasure to acknowledge the friendship and important good offices which we have experienced from his Most Christian Majesty and Your generous Nation; and we flatter ourselves that the same principles of magnanimity and regard to mutual convenience which dictated the connections between us, will continue to operate, and to render them still more extensive in their benefits to the two Countries.  We consider the Alliance as involving engagements highly interesting to both parties, and we are persuaded that they will be observed with entire and mutual good faith.

We are happy in being so explicitly assured of the continuance of his Majesty's friendship and attachment; and in this opportunity of expressing the high sense we entertain of their sincerity and value. It is with real satisfaction Sir, that we receive You as his Minister Plenipotentiary, especially as Your Character gives us reason to expect that the harmony and Interest of both Nations will not be less promoted by Your talents, candor and liberality, than they were by those which distinguished Your Predecessor, and recommended him to our Esteem and regard.[23]
Griffin would later write to James Madison “that the French Minister confines himself at home too much; I am sorry he does not mix more with the Inhabitants.”[24]
Cyrus Griffin Exhibit at 2008 Republican National Convention's CivicFest - copyright Klos Yavneh Academy Collection  

On February the 28th Griffin's Congress received the treasury report on the foreign debt and on the 29th they elected paid Chaplains for the USCA and its governmental departments. On that same day they appointed Richard Winn a Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern Department and deliberated until March 4th on whether or not to allow Kentucky into the Confederation. On March 6th President Griffin and his Congress deliberated the fate of French settlers’ claims in the Northwest Territory in what would become the State of Illinois.  Congress also took up the matter of surveying more of the western lands the following day to fulfill their obligations to obtain already agreed installments on over a million acres of sold land.  They also received a report on which lands should be set aside for military purposes.  

The rest of March was spent debating amendments to the land ordinance of the Northwest Territory.  As winter blossomed into spring a quorum failed to materialize from March 31st until May 2nd.   On March 24 Cyrus Griffin wrote to James Madison:

We are still going forward in the same tract of Seven states, of course not a great deal can be done, and indeed not a great deal to do. A prospect of the new Constitution seems to deaden the activity of the human mind as to all other matters; and yet I greatly fear that constitution may never take place; a melancholy Judgment most certainly; and would to heaven that nothing under the Sun shall be more erroneous!

The adjournment of N. Hampshire, the small majority of Massachusetts, a certainty of rejection in Rhode Island, the formidable opposition in the state of New York, the convulsions and Committee meetings in Pennsylvania, and above all the antipathy of Virginia to the system, operating together, I am apprehensive will prevent the noble fabric from being enacted. The constitution is beautiful in Theory; I wish the experiment to be made; in my opinion it would be found a government of sufficient energy only.[25]

In an April letter, Griffin provides a lengthy account of no new news from oversees and crates that have arrived for Madison from Europe.  Griffin then congratulates Madison on his election to the Virginia Convention adding a succinct opinion of his colleagues that will attend the ratification assembly. 

We all rejoice greatly at your election; indeed, my dear sir, we consider you as the main pillar of the business on the right side; but from the elections hitherto sent to us there is certainly a majority against the system, but the western members will preponderate the scale. In point of virtues and real abilities the federal members are much superior. Henry is weighty and powerful but too interested; Mason too passionate; the Governor by nature timid and undecided; and Grayson too blustering.[26]


With the USCA still dissembled and the weather improving, President Griffin makes plans for his family to finally join him in New York.  Griffin writes:

I now send a Boy under your friendly direction as one postilion to drive my family to this place; another I must beg to be hired in Philadelphia. The President's Coach was demolished before I came to the house or I would send it.[27]

At the end of April the news of Maryland’s April 28, 1788 ratification of the new U.S. Constitution reached the USCA. Griffin writes Madison:

Maryland has acceded to the proposed Constitution by a great majority. Chase, Paca, Martin, and Mercer oppossed it with their utmost vigor and abilities, but with decency. South Carolina will adopt the system very soon. The opposition in Virginia is much to be lamented and in New York also; however from the present appearance of things I rather incline to believe that in the course of 12 months we shall have the Government in operation; yet I am not so sanguine as Hamilton or Gen. Knox.[28]


During this hiatus, war was raging once again in Europe this time between the Turks and the Austrians along with rebellions in the Netherlands. Catherine the Great of Russia was joining into the struggle against the Turks and President Griffin's office was the clearinghouse for all the diplomatic reports on the conflict and requests for aid. The USCA reconvened on May the 2nd and was swamped with ten communications from Foreign Secretary John Jay and three import reports from the Secretary of War. The business of the USCA remained tenuous as the ratification process was the focus of the nation’s attention. On May 8th, still struggling with representatives that came and went as they pleased, Griffin wrote to the States:

I do myself the honor of transmitting to your Excellency a Resolution of Congress upon the subject of the Delegation. Most ardently do I wish and request that the Gentlemen from your State would attend upon the national business, and particularly at this interesting period.[29]

The USCA on the same date elected Jonathan Burrall and Benjamin Walker commissioners for settling the accounts of the five wartime departments and adjourned until the 20th knowing quorum setting representation would not be forthcoming until the States acted on the President’s letter.  Griffin wrote a letter updating Madison on Foreign correspondence and that the Marchioness

… received your Comments with great pleasure; she & the Count most cordially return them.  the  noting that The lady has procured a negro Girl, and only wants a Boy in order that they may breed to use her own language.[30]

Despite the poor representation, May was a positive month as Griffin received reports that South Carolina was expected to announce ratification and it was number eight of the required nine needed to ratify the new U.S. Constitution. On May 20th Congress enacted regular mail service to Pittsburgh, the gateway to the Northwest Territory with this resolution:

That the postmaster general be and he is hereby directed to employ posts for the regular transportation of the mail between the city of Philadelphia and the town of Pittsburg in the state of Pennsylvania by the rout of Lancaster, York town, Carlisle, Chamberstown and Bedford and that the mail be dispatched once in each fortnight from the post Offices respectively.[31]

Due to quorum considerations, they adjourned until the 26th.  President Griffin, the following day, wrote Madison on his request to acquire the Massachusetts Constitution Convention debates and have it delivered to Richmond:

I will purchase the Massachusetts debates and send them in good time to meet you at Richmond. We have heard lately from Mr. Adams; he is greatly mortified at taking leave without the letters customary upon that occasion; and still more distressed that Mr. Smith is not continued at the Court of London in some capacity or other. He seems to think that the war will be general, but has given no reasons for that opinion. At the parting scene he was told by the King George III that "he wished always to cultivate a good understanding with the United States, and would amply comply with the Treaty whenever America manifested the same disposition." That the Courtiers jest very much upon our debilitated situation, but all seem to think that the new Constitution if adopted will place this Country upon a respectable foundation; and until that period arrives they can have no permanent Intercourse with us.[32]

On the same day Griffin also writes Fitzsimons:

I have the pleasure to write you a few lines to inform the kind family that lady Christina and the children are in good health; to make enquiry about yourself and our amiable friend Mrs. Fitzsimons and also in the name of us all to make our sincere acknowledgements for the many favors received. I hope that Mr. O’Conner was safely landed in the City; we are greatly obliged to him for the care and attention he showed to my helpless family. Being indebted to you also in the money way I beg to know the amount that such balance may be discharged with many thanks. Messrs. Jefferson and Adams have been able to borrow for the United States another million of florins in Holland, upon the prospect of the new Constitution being established, but as Congress have not yet ratified the Contract it may remain with You. Mr. Jefferson seems to think that the War in Europe will be general; but no positive Judgment can be drawn from such a Chaos of politics as that part of the world now exhibits. The British Courtiers are ridiculing our situation very much; and tell Mr. Adams in a sneering manner when America shall assume some kind of Government then England will speak to her.[33]

The USCA awaited news on South Carolina’s ratifying convention and on the 29th Delegate Nicholas Gilman[34] wrote: 

I have the pleasure to inform you that letters were received last evening from a gentleman in the Convention of South Carolina by which it appears there is a very respectable Majority in favor of the new System. An account of the ratification is hourly expected. And there is good reason to believe that the majority will be greater than appeared against the adjournment (vide the enclosed paper) as many of the minority came fettered with instructions, repugnant to their present sentiments.[35]

Delegate John Armstrong, Jr.[36] wrote Horatio Gates about good news, and included an interesting paragraph about the French Minister, the Marquise de Bréhan and France:

We have a French Minister now with us; & if France had wished to destroy the little remembrance that is left of her & her exertions; she would have sent just such a minister; distant, haughty & penurious; & entirely governed by the caprice of a little, singular, whimsical, hysterical old woman whose delight is in playing with a Negro child and caressing a monkey. I wish to God we had paid our debts to our good ally & were well rid of her; for there's some danger in remaining the connection of a power whose character I must just suggest my reason for it. For this so treasonable that I might else again be suspected of being a British Emissary.

On May 30th the USCA took up the matter of allowing Kentucky to separate from Virginia and enter the confederation as an independent state.  The Virginia Assembly passed a second enabling resolution stipulating that the Kentucky convention could vote on separation but once detached, Kentucky must immediately join the Confederation of the United States. The act also suggested that Kentucky assume her share of Virginia's war debt, a pro-vision that westerners opposed.  The Virginia assembly also appointed delegate John Brown to plead Kentucky's case to the USCA Congress. Brown was a former delegate to the Danville convention and Virginia State Senator from the Kentucky region. John Brown had until July 4, 1788, as stated in the Virginia enabling act, to persuade the USCA to admit Kentucky as a state. 

John Brown had arrived in New York in January and managed to get the resolution before the USCA on February 28th. They had taken no action and Brown believed the it was due to northeastern delegate fears "of the growing importance of the western country" and therefore unwilling " to add a vote to the southern interest."[37]  It was now the end of May and the debate on Kentucky statehood resumed consuming the USCA deliberations until June third when a grand committee was appointed:

Congress took into consideration the report made yesterday from the Committee of the whole and on the question.

“That in their opinion it is expedient that the district of Kentucky be erected into an independent state and therefore they submit the following resolution, That the address and resolutions from the district of Kentucky with the acts of the legislature of Virginia therein specified be referred to a committee consisting of a member from each state, to prepare and report an act for acceding to the independence of the said district of Kentucky and for receiving the same into the Union as a member thereof, in a mode conformable to the Articles of Confederation.”[38]

Resolved That Congress agree to the said report. Congress thereupon proceeded to the election and the ballots being taken the following members were elected and appointed to compose the Committee.[39]

The vote on Kentucky Statehood was delayed because the USCA was expecting news later that month on the ninth state ratification of the new constitution.  If approved, the new constitution required the dissolution of the USCA and therefore precluding the possibility of this lame duck entity admitting Kentucky into the Union.

On June 22nd the delegates received word of New Hampshire’s ratification of the new constitution.  A copy of John Langdon’s[40] letter was hurriedly rushed south to USCA Delegate James Madison who was attending the Virginia ratification convention:

By the desire of our mutual friend, Rufus King, Esq, I have the great pleasure and satisfaction of informing you that this State has this day adopted the federal constitution this all important Question was carried by a majority of Eleven - 57 yeas and 46 nays.  Excuse hast and believe me with the greatest respect.[41]

In Virginia, word came back to the USCA that the matter of rights to the Mississippi raised the ratification debate to a boiling point in Virginia because key members maintained the new constitution would empower the northern states to establish a Jay-Gardoqui Treaty with Spain. William Grayson retorted at the Virginia’s ratification proceedings:

I look upon this as a contest for empire. Our country [Virginia] is equally affected with Kentucky. The Southern States are deeply interested in this subject. If the Mississippi be shut up, emigration will be stopped entirely. There will be no new states formed on the western waters. . . . This contest of the Mississippi involves this great national contest; that is, whether one part of the continent shall govern the other. The Northern States have the majority, and will endeavor to retain it.

James Madison, who was a strong proponent to James Monroe’s 1786 opposition of the Jay-Gardoqui Treaty, was able to shelf the measure. Instead Madison, with the help of Convention President Edmund Pendleton and Chair of the Rules Committee George Wythe, focused on drafting a bill of rights that Virginia would recommend to the new Congress thus satisfying just enough members of the opposition to garnish an 89 to 79 ratifying vote.


Cyrus Griffin autograph  invitation "The President of Congress presents his compliments to Mr. Greenleaf and begs the pleasure of his company to a family dinner tomorrow about  o'clock, Saturday."   James Greenleaf, who recently married Dutch Baroness Antonia Scholten van Aschat, was the junior partner in an Import business named Watson and Greenleaf with offices in Philadelphia and New York City.-- copyright Klos Yavneh Academy Collection  

On July 2,[42] 1788 the USCA received official word of New Hampshire’s ratification and passed the following resolution that established a committee to for putting the new “constitution into operation.”

 The State of New Hampshire having ratified the constitution transmitted to them by the Act of the 28 of September last and transmitted to Congress their ratification and the same being read, the president reminded Congress that this was the ninth ratification transmitted and laid before them.  Ordered, that the ratifications of the constitution of the United States transmitted to Congress be referred to a committee to examine the same and report an Act to Congress for putting the said constitution into operation in pursuance of the resolutions of the late federal Convention.[43]

Correspondingly, on July 2nd Governor Randolph’s June 28th letter arrived in President Griffin’s office notifying the USCA that Virginia, the tenth State, had ratified the constitution.  The USCA held no official celebrations for the birth of the new republic because New York was in the midst of their ratifying convention and Governor George Clinton was leading the opposition. USCA Delegate Abraham Yates wrote his Governor this cryptic message on July 2 upon receiving news of the New Hampshire’s ratification:

A description of the reception of the News of New Hampshire you have had in my former which I directed to Mr. D Witt as I supposed that letters between us would be liable to at least observations if not to other abuse. L Hommedieu last Monday mentioned that he had from a Strong federal (Dr. Tillotson) that the antes went upon a supposition that Virginia and NH both would Adopt: and that they were Determined that they would not adopt without Previous Amendments. The federalists notwithstanding had hopes that the News from New Hampshire would have struck a damp on the Spirits if not thrown the majority on the federal side [The NY ratifying convention was meeting in Poughkeepsie]; but Mr. Euger (the Member from South Carolina) informs that he was at Poughkeepsie when the news arrived and that it made no impression on the convention at all; so that they recur to their old hopes to get the members divided or to an adjournment. They seem to be confident that the antes will not agree among themselves. Colonel Lewis told me that he knew of two principal members that were of opinion that they by the Resolution of the Legislator of last February had no other powers but to Adopt or Reject. I tell him the federal Gentlemen had the Most Extraordinary Talents of Swallowing Camels themselves and recommending others to stick at nats.[44]

Cyrus Griffin Military Commission executed as President of the United States in Congress Assembled appointing Asa Hartshorn to the rank of Ensign in the newly formed United States Army on October 11, 1787. The commission is also signed by the nation's first Secretary of War, Henry Knox. This document currently owned by Rick Badwey of Museum Framing.  

On July 3rd the USCA took up the matter of Kentucky and the Delegates denied its Statehood with this resolution:

Resolved that a copy of the proceedings of Congress relative to the independency of the district of Kentucky be transmitted to the legislature of Virginia and that the said legislature be informed that as the constitution of the United States is now ratified Congress think it unadviseable to adopt any further measures for admitting the district of Kentucky into the federal Union as an independent member thereof under the articles of Confederation and perpetual Union, but that Congress thinking it expedient that the said district be made a separate state and member of the Union as soon after proceedings shall commence under the said constitution as circumstances shall permit recommend it to the said legislature and to the inhabitants of the said district so to alter their Acts and resolutions relative to the premises, as to render them conformable to the provisions made in the said constitution to the end that no impediment may be in the way of the speedy accomplishment of this important business.[45]

On July 14th, the USCA entered Virginia’s ratification into the records.  On July 25th the USCA convened and ordered the deployment of troops to pacify Luzerne County, Pa with this resolution:

That the Secretary at War direct the detachment of troops marching to the westward to rendezvous at Easton in Pennsylvania and from thence march into the county of Luzerne for quelling the disturbances in that county provided the executive council of Pennsylvania shall find the assistance of those troops necessary, provided also that the said troops shall not be delayed in the march to the Ohio more than two weeks.[46]

On July 28th, with the news trickling in of New York ratification the Constitution.  Following Massachusetts and Virginia's leads, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and their Federalist minority were able to obtain affirmation by linking the N.Y. ratification to a bill of rights:

The Convention having met, the bill of rights, and form of the ratification of the Constitution, with the amendments, were read, when the question being put, whether the same should pass, as agreed to and ratified by the Convention, it was carried in the affirmative.[47]

The USCA, with eleven States approving ratification, began its debate on the committee’s report on implementing the new constitution:

That the first Wednesday in January next be the day for appointing electors in the several States which have or shall before the said day have ratified the said constitution; that the first Wednesday in February next be the day for the electors to assemble in their respective states and vote for a president and that the first Wednesday in March next be the time and the place for commencing proceedings under the said constitution.[48]

The matters were tabled with the exception of the USCA rejecting a resolution to establish the federal capital in Philadelphia for the new constitutional government.  James Madison writes Virginia Governor Randolph of these matters and Thomas Jefferson’s correspondence from France on the new constitution.

I find that he [Thomas Jefferson] is becoming more & more a friend to the new Constitution, his objections being gradually dispelled by his own further reflections on the subject. He particularly renounces his opinion concerning the expediency of ratification by nine and a refusal by four States, considering the mode pursued by Massachusetts as the only rational one, but disapproving some of the alterations recommended by that State. He will see still more room for disapprobation in the recommendations of other States. The defects of the Constitution which he continues to criticize are the omission of a bill of rights, and of the principle of rotation at least in the Ex. Department.

Congress have been some days on the question where the first meeting of the New Congress shall be placed. Philadelphia failed by a single voice from Delaware which ultimately aimed at that place, but wished to bring Wilmington into view. In that vote New Hampshire & Connecticut both concurred. New York is now in nomination and if those States accede which I think probable, and Rhode Island which has as yet refused to sit in the Question can be prevailed on to vote which I also think probable, the point will be carried. In this event a great handle I fear will be given to those who have opposed the new Govt. on account of the Eastern preponderancy in the federal system. [P.S.] I enclose a copy of the ratification of N. York. What think you of some of the expository articles?[49]

The news of North Carolina’s ratification convention convening on July 21 and adjourning on August 4th began to trickle into the USCA.  The North Carolina convention had drafted a "Declaration of Rights" and a list of "Amendments to the Constitution," but voted "neither to ratify nor reject the Constitution proposed for the government of the United States."  James Madison still advocated the new federal system writing his father:

We just learn the fate of the Constitution in N. Carolina. Rho. Island is however her only associate in the opposition and it will be hard indeed if those two States should endanger a system which has been ratified by the eleven others. Congress has not yet finally settled the arrangements for putting the new Government in operation. The place for its first meeting creates the difficulty. The Eastern States with N. York contend for this City. Most of the other States insist on a more central position.[50]

All throughout August and into September the USCA debated the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution.  The major roadblock to adopting a plan for the dissolution of the confederation and implementation of the new tripartite government was its capital’s location. 

Congress have not yet decided on the arrangements for inaugurating the new Government. The place of its first meeting continues to divide the Northern & Southern members, though with a few exceptions to this general description of the parties. The departure of Rhode Island, and the refusal of North Carolina in consequence of the late event there to vote in the question, threatens a disagreeable issue to the business, there being now an apparent impossibility of obtaining seven States for any one place. The three Eastern States & New York, reinforced by South Carolina, and as yet by New Jersey, give a plurality of votes in favor of this City [New York]. The advocates for a more central position however though less numerous, seemed very determined not to yield to what they call a shameful partiality to one extremity of the Continent.[51]

On September 8, 1788 the report of a committee consisting of Mr. Nathaniel Dane, Mr. James Madison, Mr. Abraham Clarke, Mr. William Irvine and Mr. Egbert Benson to investigate certain intrusions on the Cherokees’ hunting grounds was brought before the USCA. After much debate, the USCA enacted the following resolutions in the form of a Presidential Proclamation honor the 1785 treaty with the Cherokees. The resolutions afford the Cherokees military protection against trespassers, foreign or domestic.

Resolved that the Secretary at War be, and he is hereby directed to have a sufficient number of the troops in the service of the United States in readiness to march from the Ohio, to the protection of the Cherokees, whenever Congress shall direct the same, and that he take measures for obtaining information of the best routes for troops to march from the Ohio to Chota, and for dispersing among all the white Inhabitants settled upon or in the vicinity of the hunting grounds secured to the Cherokees by the treaty concluded between them and the United States Nov. 28th, 1785 the proclamation of Congress of this date.

Resolved, that copies of the said proclamation and of these resolutions be transmitted to the Executives of Virginia and North Carolina, and that the said States be and they are hereby requested to use their influence that the said proclamation may have its intended effect to restore peace and harmony between the citizens of the United States and the Cherokees, and to prevent any further invasions of their respective rights and possessions and in case Congress shall find it necessary to order troops to the Cherokee towns to enforce a due observance of the said treaty, that the said States be and they are hereby requested to cooperate with the said troops for enforcing such observance of that treaty.

Resolved, that the papers which have been transmitted to Congress concerning certain hostilities alleged to have been committed by John Sevier and others on the Cherokee Indians at Chota, be referred to the Executive of North Carolina, and that the said Executive be and they hereby are earnestly requested to cause enquiry to be made into the said hostilities, and to take measures for having the perpetrators thereof, apprehended and punished.[52]
On September 13th the Delegates “finally passed, without a dissentient voice or the least apparent animosity,” a federal capital location and the USCA enacted this enabling resolution: 

… whereas the constitution so reported by the Convention and by Congress transmitted to the several legislatures has been ratified in the manner therein declared to be sufficient for the establishment of the same and such ratifications duly authenticated have been received by Congress and are filed in the Office of the Secretary therefore Resolved That the first Wednesday in January next be the day for appointing Electors in the several states, which before the said day shall have ratified the said constitution; that the first Wednesday in February next be the day for the electors to assemble in their respective states and vote for a president; and that the first Wednesday in March next be the time and the present seat of Congress the place for commencing proceedings under the said constitution.[53]

Virginia delegate Henry Lee delivered the news on the 13th to George Washington noting that the capital would remain in New York and added this paragraph on the new U.S. Presidency:

It would certainly be unpleasant to you & obnoxious to all who feel for your just fame, to see you at the head of a tumbling system. It is a sacrifice on your part, unjustifiable in any point of view. But on the other hand no alternative seems to be present. Without you the govt. can have but little chance of success, & the people of that happiness, which its prosperity must yield.[54]

The USCA then turned to chronic problem of Algiers pirating U.S. ships then holding sailors and citizens’ for ransom. Foreign Secretary John Jay reported on yet another hostage situation that:

Mr. Jefferson has found it necessary in order to facilitate their Redemption, to let it be reported and believed at Algiers that Congress would not redeem them. That Intelligence has greatly added to their Distress; but it would not be expedient that they should at present be undeceived. Little supplies may however be conveyed in so indirect a Manner as not to be traced either by them or by the Algerines, and would tend greatly to the Comfort of these unhappy People.[55]

The USCA after hearing JohnJay’s report resolved:

That out of the fund appropriated for the redemption of the American captives at Algiers or any other monies belonging to the United States in Europe, the Minister plenipotentiary of the United States at the Court of Versailles be and he is hereby authorized to make such provision for the maintenance and Comfortable subsistence of the American Captives at Algiers and to give such orders touching the same as shall to him appear right and proper.[56]

On September 16th the USCA address a committee’s report on a September 8th North Carolina resolution, whose convention had not ratified the new constitution. 

…Whereas many citizens of the United States who possess lands on the western waters, have expressed much uneasiness from a report that Congress are disposed to treat with Spain for the surrender of their claim to the navigation of the river Mississippi, in order therefore to quiet the minds of our fellow citizens by removing such ill-founded apprehensions resolved that the United States have a clear absolute and unalienable claim to the free navigation of the river Mississippi which claim is not only supported by the express stipulations of treaties but by the great law of nature …

The committee consisting of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison,  Hugh Williamson,  Nathan Dane and Pierpont Edwards after eight days of deliberations proposed the following resolutions:

Resolved that, the said report not being founded in fact, the delegates be at liberty to communicate all such circumstances as may be necessary to contradict the same and to remove misconceptions. Resolved that the free navigation of the river Mississippi is a clear and essential right of the United States and that the same ought to be considered and supported as such. Resolved that no further progress be made in the negotiations with Spain by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, but that the subject to which they relate be referred to the federal government which is to assemble in March next.[57]

Griffin's USCA was then unable to form a quorum until September 30th when it poured over treasury matters.  The following day the USCA convened and reviewed Silas Deane propose settlement of the Pierre Beaumarchais' covert arms accounts.  In 1776 Beaumarchais traveled to the United Colonies of America as a secret agent commissioned by French Foreign Minister Vergennes to ascertain how France could covertly help the revolutionaries. Beaumarchais, most notably, met with Virginia businessman Arthur Lee who recommended the covert military aid could be conducted under the guise of a loan. Despite objections from French Finance Minister Baron Turgot, Spain and France formed Roderique Horalez and Company, a fictitious business, to fund the Continental Army with firearms and munitions. The covert aid of weapons, munitions, clothes and provisions that was delivered in shiploads from Europe, by way of the Dutch West Indies, to the Northern Continental Army was never paid along with personal money that Beaumarchais loaned the Continental Congress.

Early in 1776, Silas Deane was commissioned by the Continental Congress as a secret agent to obtain the covert financial loans. With the help of Beauhemarchis, Deane arranged many shipments of ammunition and arms to support the Northern Continental Army that eventually defeated British General Burgoyne in New York.   Deane also recruited and contracted key allied officers including Marquis de Lafayette, Baron Johann de Kalb, Thomas Conway, Casmir Pulaski, and Baron von Steuben. So successful was Deane’s efforts that he became, along with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, a Continental Congress accredited commissioner to France.  Unfortunately, this great patriot was a careless when it came to bookkeeping of his expenses and receipts.  He also clashed with Arthur Lee, the brother of Richard Henry Lee, on issues regarding Beaumarchais firearms contracts. A major Lee contention was that the arms were a gift from France and not a loan. In turn, this meant that repayment of personal loans made by Beaumarchais and Deane to procure direly need arms for the Continental Army was the responsibility of France and not Congress.  This, along with Lee’s influence in the Continental Congress led to Deane’s recall and replacement with John Adams on November 21, 1777. 

Deane remained in France, however, until just after he signed the Franco-American treaties on February 6, 1778 that he helped to negotiate.   France was so pleased with Deane’s services that he returned to America aboard Admiral Charles Hector D’Estaing’s ship that also carried Conrad-Alexandre Gérard, the first French Ambassador to the United States.

In the United States Deane entered into a bitter and very public dispute with the Continental Congress over his receipts and expenditures.  France, who had the receipts of the covert arms transactions, refused to release the records.  The loans, receipts, and expenditures the Deane required were all issued well before the Franco-American treaties of February 6, 1778 and irrefutable testaments to King Louis XV and Spain’s covert military support the colonists with arms and munitions in1776-77.   French official did not want to risk this evidence leaking from the Continental Congress into the newspapers.

In 1781, Congress finally permitted Deane to return to France and attempt to find copies of the receipts and the disputed records.  The French officials still denied his access.  Moreover, Deane’s private letters written to his brother of disgust with Congress, the revolution, and a suggested rapprochement with Great Britain were intercepted and published in the Royal Gazette in New York.  The letters publication was a great blow to Deane as summed up in this Benjamin Franklin letter to Foreign Secretary Robert R. Livingston:

There is no doubt of their being all genuine. His conversation since his return from America has, as I have been informed, gone gradually more and more into that style, and at length come to an open vindication of Arnold’s conduct; and within these few days he has sent me a letter of twenty full pages, recapitulating those letters, and threatening to write and publish an account of the treatment he has received from Congress, &c. He resides at Ghent, is distressed both in mind and circumstances, raves and writes abundance, and I imagine it will end in his going over to join his friend Arnold in England. I had an exceeding good opinion of him when he acted with me, and I believe he was then sincere and hearty in our cause; but he is changed, and his character ruined in his own country and in this, so that I see no other but England to which he can now retire. He says that we owe him about £12,000 sterling, and his great complaint is that we do not settle his accounts and pay him. Mr. Johnson having declined the service, I proposed engaging Mr. Searle to undertake it, but Mr. Deane objected to him as being his enemy. In my opinion, he was for that reason even fitter for the service of Mr. Deane, since accounts are of a mathematical nature, and cannot be changed by an enemy, while that enemy’s testimony that he had found them well supported by authentic vouchers would have weighed more than the same testimony from a friend.[58]

Deane was barred entry back into the United States but continued to maintain his innocence and patriotism. In late 1788, six years later, Deane made plans to return to the United States to clear his name, recoup his lost fortune by presenting his evidence the new Congress.  Beaumarchais, however, decided to present the 1781 Deane settlement before the old confederation congress for payment.  In one of the last acts before its dissolution, the USCA resolved:

Resolved That the settlement of the accounts of Mr. Caron de Beaumarchais said to have been made by Mr. Silas Deane at Paris in the month of April 1781 cannot be deemed binding on the United States the said Mr. Deane not being vested with any authority to make such settlement.[59]

On October 2nd Congress debated on where to relocate Secretary Thomson’s office and the nation’s records.  The USCA, in an arrangement to keep the capitol in NYC, exacted an agreement from Mayor James Duane and city council to completely renovate the building they were currently occupying for the new tripartite government.  The extensive work that was planned required the USCA to find other quarters for Thomson, federal staff, member meetings, and the nation’s records.  The War Office and Department of Foreign Affairs had occupied six rooms at Fraunces Tavern since 1785. The initial two year lease had expired in May 1787 but the USCA had renewed the space for another year along with adding some Treasury Offices. 

The building known as “Fraunces Tavern” was erected as a residence in 1719 by Stephen de Lancey, a French Huguenot.  He had amassed great wealth as a merchant and built this 55’ x 42’ brick house on the corner of Broad and Pearl Streets in lower Manhattan Island.  The house remained in Lanсey's possession as a residence until the firm, Lancey, Robinson & Company, purchased it in 1759 for office and warehouse uses.  Three years later the house was sold to Samuel Fraunces for £2,000.

Fraunces completely renovated the building and reopened it as a public tavern.  The Queens Head Tavern became an important hostelry that he either managed or leased to others until 1776 when New York was occupied by the British and Fraunces was imprisoned.  

According to his own account, he "submitted to serve for some Time in the Menial Office of Cook in the Family of General Robertson [General James Robertson, British Governor of New York City, 1780-1783] without any Pay, or Perquisite whatsoever, Except the Privilege of disposing of the Remnants of the Tables which he appropriated towards the Comfort of the American Prisoners within the City."  Exactly when Fraunces resumed operation of the tavern is not known, but his offer of sale on March 17, 1781, was unsuccessful.[60]

Fraunces advertisement in the New York Royal Gazette read:

"AN elegant Three Story and a Half Brick Dwelling House, situated in Great Dock Street, at the corner of Broad Street, the property of Mr. Samuel Fraunces, and for many Years distinguished as the Queen's Head Tavern; in which are nine spacious Rooms, besides five Bed-chambers, with thirteen Fire places, an excellent Garret in which are three Bed rooms well finished, an exceeding good Kitchen, and a Spring of remarkable fine Water therein; a most excellent Cellar under the whole, divided into three commodious apartments; a convenient Yard with a good Cistern and Pump, and many other conveniences too tedious to mention; the whole in extraordinary good repair,... "[61]

New York City records indicate that Fraunces was running the tavern again in 1783 and 1784.  In 1785, after leasing the building to the USCA he sold the property for £1,950 to George Powers, a Brooklyn butcher.   Now in 1788 the USCA whose Continental Congress first caucused in a Philadelphia Tavern was now considering leasing this New York Tavern as the final federal capital building of the United States under the Articles of Confederation.  On October 2, 1788 the USCA resolved:

The committee consisting of Mr [Thomas Tudor] Tucker, Mr [John] Parker, and Mr [Abraham] Clark to whom was referred a letter from the Mayor of the city of New York to the Delegates having reported, That it appears from the letter referred to them, that the repairs and alterations intended to be made in the buildings in which Congress at present Assemble, will render it highly inconvenient for them to continue business therein, that it will therefore be necessary to provide some other place for their accommodation, the committee having made enquiry find no place more proper for this purpose than the two Apartments now appropriated for the Office of Foreign Affairs. They therefore recommend that the said Apartments be immediately prepared for the reception of Congress and the papers of the Secretary. Resolved, that Congress agree to the said report. [62]

Born in a Tavern and now ending in a Tavern, the United Colonies and States governments had occupied eleven different capitol buildings in eight different cites Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton and New York.  The federal government would return once again to Philadelphia before being permanently relocated to Washington D.C. in 1800.
On October 6, 1788 renovations began on the building that would be called thereafter, Federal Hall. The USCA moved their offices to Fraunces Tavern and convened on October 8th and on motion by Henry Lee that was seconded by John Armstrong Congress resolved:

That considering the peculiar circumstances attending the case of Muscoe Livingston, late a Lieutenant in the navy of the United States, in the settlement of his accounts, Resolved, that the Commissioner for the marine department adjust the said account, any resolution of Congress to the contrary notwithstanding.[63] 

The rest of the session was spent reviewing Governor Arthur St. Clair’s letter and five enclosures from the Northwest Territory. On the 9th they assembled as before and passed a resolution  permitting the Board of treasury to satisfy a lottery claim providing that the beneficiaries “do give security that no further Claim on account of said Prize Ticket shall be made upon the United States by the Heirs, Executors or Administrators of the said deceased, Gail, or either of them.”[64]

On October 10, 1788 Massachusetts, Connecticut New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina assembled as the USCA along with only one delegate under representation from New Hampshire, from Rhode Island Delaware and Maryland.   Only Georgia, as in the first Continental Congress, failed to send delegates.   The USCA in their last official act suspended the work of the commissioners that were appointed to settle the states' Continental accounts.   The USCA last motion, made by Abraham Clark and seconded by Hugh Williamson,

That the Secretary at War be and he hereby is directed to forbear issuing warrants for bounties of land to such of the officers of the late army who have neglected to account for monies by them received as pay masters of Regiments, or for recruiting or other public service, until such officers respectively shall have settled their accounts with the commissioner of army accounts, or others legally authorized to settle the same, and have paid the balances that may be found due from them, into the treasury of the United States, anything in the land ordinance passed the 9th . day of July 1788 to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Delegates tabled the measure and “the question was lost” and Eighth USCA adjourned. 

Although Article V of the Articles of Confederation called for a new congress each year on the first Monday of each November -- "V. For the most convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power reserved to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year." -- the Ninth USCA was unable to form a quorum  and elect a new USCA President. 

Cyrus Griffin, John Brown, John Dawson, James Madison, and Mann Page were elected on October 31, 1788 as Delegates to the Ninth USCA from Virginia. Griffin wrote in November:

Be so obliging to inform the House of Delegates that I shall continue in New York to execute the important Trust with which the general Assembly is pleased to honor me. I receive this further Mark of their Confidence with gratitude and pleasure & will endeavor to answer the expectations of my Country.[65]  

Cyrus Griffin, therefore, held the office as USCA President until his one year term limit under the Articles of Confederation expired on January 21, 1789 because he never resigned the office.  

The USCA continued to try and form a quorum after Griffin's Presidential term expired as evidenced by Tench Coxe letter to James Madison on January 27th, 1789:


"I have been here about a Fortnight during which time we have not made a Congress. So. Carolina, Virga, Pennsa, N. Jersey, & Massachussets are represented. There is one Member from each of the States of Rhode Island, N. Carolina & Georgia, but none from New Hampshire, Connecticut, N. York, Delaware or Maryland. I very much wish we may make a house in a week or ten days, as I think the Appearance in Europe, & perhaps even here, of the old Congress being in full operation and tranquilly yielding the seats to the new would have a good effect. The misrepresentations in Europe have been extremely gross, and must have an unfavorable effect upon Emigration in the poorer ranks of life. Col. Wadsworth has been mentiond as President. I respect him much, but I wish to give appearance to the old System by a Character of rather more celebrity. Mr. Adams would meet my Judgment better than any member of the present house. The principal Objection is his Absence, which I fear will deprive him of his chance." 
A quorum never formed and the USCA Presidency ended with Griffin on January 21, 1789. From January 22, 1789 until George Washington took office under the Constitution of 1787 on April 30th, 1789, there was no one serving as "President" in the United States of America Republic.  



Cyrus Griffin Medallion - copyright Klos Yavneh Academy Collection  


The USCA Chronology of President Griffin is as follows :

January 21 Convenes seven states represented. January 22 Elects Cyrus Griffin president. January 23-31 Fails to achieve quorum




February 1 Reviews backlog of reports and letters. February 5 Receives report on Massachusetts-New York boundary survey. February 6-9 Fails to achieve quorum. February 12 Authorizes secretary for foreign affairs to issue sea letters. February 14 Sets date for reception of new French minister, comte de Moustier. February 19 Elects John Cleves Symmes judge of the Northwest territory. February 25 Debates appointment job superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern department. February 26 Holds audience for comte de Moustier. February 28 Receives treasury report on foreign debt. February 29 Appoints Samuel Provost and John Rodgers chaplains of Congress, and Richard Winn superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern department; debates Kentucky statehood motion.

March 4 Debates Kentucky statehood in committee of the whole. March 6 Receives reports on the claims of French settlers in the Illinois country and on the survey of western lands. March 10-11 Fails to achieve quorum. March 12 Receives report on military bounty lands. March 18 Receives communications on Indian affairs. March 19 Debates western land ordinance amendment. March 24-27 Debates western land ordinance amendment. March 31 Fails to achieve quorum.

April 1-30 Fails to achieve quorum.

May 1 Fails to achieve quorum. May 2 Receives treasury report on proposed new Dutch loan, three war office reports on Indian affairs, and ten communications from the secretary for foreign affairs. May 5 Receives reports on western land issues. May 8 Elects Jonathan Burrall and Benjamin Walker commissioners for settling the accounts of the five wartime departments. May 20 Authorizes fortnightly posts between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. May 21 Receives treasury report on coinage. May 22 Orders institution of suits to collect outstanding Continental accounts. May 26 Receives treasury report on western land contracts and war department report on settler violations of Cherokee treaty rights. May 27-29 Debates western land ordinance amendment. May 30 Debates Kentucky statehood in committee of the whole.

June 2 Receives committee of the whole report recommending Kentucky statehood. June 3 Elects grand committee on Kentucky statehood. June 5 Fails to achieve quorum. June 6 Authorizes survey of New York; Pennsylvania boundary preparatory to granting Pennsylvania greater access to Lake Erie. June 9 Directs treasury to submit 1788-89 fiscal estimates. June 12 Receives report on land reserve for French settlers in the Illinois country. June 13 Responds to French protest against Virginia's harboring a French pirate. June 17 Receives war office report on manpower and recruitment. June 18 Receives report opposing state inspection of the mails. June 19 Debates western land ordinance amendment. June 20 Elects Joseph Martin Continental agent to the Cherokees; authorizes negotiation of western land contract with George Morgan associates. June 24 Authorizes three-month extension of Continental claims. June 25 Abolishes office of inspector of Continental troops. June 27 Debates report on Georgia;Creek Indian affairs.

July 2 Debates western land ordinance amendment; receives notification of the ratification of the Constitution by the ninth state (New Hampshire); appoints committee "for putting the said constitution into operation." July 3 Postpones action on Kentucky statehood until proceedings shall commence under the new Constitution. July 7-8 Debates western land ordinance amendment. July 9 Refers fiscal estimates to committee; adopts "supplement" to western land ordinance. July 14 Debates report on implementing the Constitution. July 15 Rejects terms of Georgia's western land cession, but accepts responsibility for southwestern frontier defense. July 17 Directs resumption of western land surveys; rejects proposed Virginia western land reserve for military bounties. July 21 Receives report on Continental Army manpower needs. July 25 Orders deployment of Continental troops to pacify Luzerne County, Pa. July 28 Debates report on implementing the Constitution; rejects motion to establish capital at Philadelphia. July 30 Rejects motion to establish capital at New York.

August 1 Extends term of northern superintendent of Indian affairs. August 4 Extends term of southern superintendent of Indian affairs. August 5-6 Debates motions on the location of the capital. August 7 Debates status of delegates from states that have not ratified the Constitution. August 12 Plans mobilization of frontier militia against western Indians. August 13 Debates report on implementing the Constitution. August 20 Adopts 1788 requisition. August 26 Debates report on implementing the Constitution; seeks Spanish cooperation for apprehending fugitive slaves fleeing to Florida. August 28 Revises George Morgan associates western land contract. August 29 Confirms land titles of French settlers in the Illinois country. 

September 1 Condemns settler encroachments on Cherokee lands. September 2 Debates report on implementing the Constitution. September 3 Reserves Ohio lands of Christian Delaware Indians; rejects motion to establish capital at Annapolis. September 4 Debates report on implementing the Constitution; confirms land contract giving Pennsylvania large tract bordering Lake Erie. September 8 Receives John Jay report on negotiations with Spain concerning the Mississippi question. September 13 Adopts plan for implementing the Constitution. September 16 Recommends that states ban importation of felons; directs suspension of negotiations concerning the Mississippi question. September 18-24 Fails to achieve quorum. September 26-29 Fails to achieve quorum. September 30 Receives report on treasury department inquiry. 

October 1 Rejects Silas Deane settlement of Beaumarchais' accounts.
October 2 Receives report on war department inquiry. October 6-7 Fails to achieve quorum. October 8 Receives communications on Indian relations in the western territory. October 10 Suspends the work of the commissioners appointed to settle the states' Continental accounts; adjourns what proves to be its final session under the Articles of Confederation. October 13-16 Fails to achieve quorum. October 21

November 1 Fails to achieve quorum. November 3 Assembles for the new federal year; only two delegates attending. November 15- 1789 March 2 Secretary Charles Thomson records occasional attendance of 17 additional delegates.

July 25, 1789 Secretary Thomson delivers papers and records of the Confederation to new federal government.

The Constitution was finally implemented and President Griffin helped ease the nation into this new form of government as evidenced by this March 9th, 1789 letter to Beverley Randolph:

I am honored by your Excellency's letter of the 13th of February only this morning. I did not understand that any person was appointed to come forward with the accounts of the State against the United States, or most certainly myself would not have been mentioned. Colonel Davies is a man very proper to answer the purpose, and I think will be found extremely useful. The Board of Commissioners met on the 17th of January, and are now ready to act upon the business of their destination.

I am favored also with the Returns of nine of the Representatives of Virginia enclosed by your Excellency, which I shall deliver to Colonel White, the only member at present from that State. There are only eight Senators and 18 Representatives assembled; a very unfortunate thing.  Be so kind to accept the enclosed papers and to believe me with sincere respect and attachment.[66]  

In 1788-1789 President Griffin and Secretary Charles Thomson were relegated to conclude the Constitution of 1777’s business in a New York tavern as City Hall was being renovated for the new federal government forming under the Constitution of 1787. The Presidency began under the Articles of Association along with the Continental Congress in a Philadelphia tavern  in 1774, evolved and moved to eight different capital cities until its finally fading away in Fraunces Tavern in New York City where the Commander-in-Chief, George Washington also bade farewell to his troops just before his resignation in 1783.  Under the new Constitution of 1787 the United States government would never again convene in a tavern. In 1789 the era of the confederation of the founding ended where it began, in an 18th Century city tavern.

During this transition, President's Griffin’s social status as President of the United States in New York was second to none under the Articles of Confederation. His office, English education, and marriage to nobility solidified his standing as the pinnacle in confederation society among the nation's leaders. Lady Christina and Sarah Jay's, wife of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, state events held for both foreign and domestic dignitaries set the new republic's political hospital standard for future first ladies.   His last Presidential duty was acted out at the inauguration of President George Washington in the newly renovated Federal Hall. 
A project to remodel and enlarge the city hall began in October 1788. Reflecting the city's optimism that the government would decide to remain there permanently, officials renamed the greatly expanded structure "Federal Hall." As members of the First Congress arrived for the appointed convening date, March 4, 1789, workmen hastened to complete the job.
Most observers admired the remodeled structure, an early example of a new federal architectural style. One who did not was the Speaker of the House--Pennsylvania's Frederick Muhlenberg, who had begun quietly to lay plans for a move southward to Philadelphia.
Because the building was demolished in 1812, we must rely on sketchy contemporary accounts for a sense of how space was assigned. We know that the sixty-five-member House of Representatives met in the larger ground floor chamber, while the twenty-six-member Senate convened in smaller second-floor quarters. From its earliest days, the Senate thus came to be referred to as the "upper chamber."
The Senate chamber occupied a richly carpeted space, forty feet long and thirty feet wide. The chamber's most striking features were its high arched ceiling, tall windows curtained in crimson damask, fireplace mantels in handsomely polished marble, and a presiding officer's chair elevated three feet from the floor and placed under a crimson canopy. The ceiling was adorned with a sun surrounded by thirteen stars.
The chamber's elegance may have prompted the planners of George Washington's first inauguration to select it for his swearing-in ceremony. Washington took his oath on the chamber's outdoor balcony, with Secretary of the Senate Samuel Otis holding the Bible, and then returned inside to deliver a brief address to assembled members of Congress.  -- Meeting Places and Quarters from the US Senate Historian's office
The following Presidential installation Broadside published by the new federal government marks the beginning of the current US Presidency under the Constitution of 1787 and the demise of the Confederation government:

Broadside Announcing Ceremonial for Washington's Inauguration, 29 April 1789

THE Committees of both Houses of Congress, appointed to take order for conducting the ceremonial of the formal reception, &c. of the President of the United Stares, on Thursday next, have agreed to the following order thereon, viz.

That General Webb, Colonel Smith, Lieutenant-Colonel Fish, Lieut. Col. Franks, Major L'Enfant, Major Bleecker, and Mr. John R. Livingston, be requested to serve as Assistants on the occasion.

That a chair he placed in the Senate-Chamber for the President of the United States. That a chair be placed in the Senate-Chamber for the Vice-President, to the right of the President’s chair; and that the Senators take their seats on that side of the chamber on which the Vice-President’s chair shall be placed. That a chair be placed in the Senate-Chamber for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the left of the President’s chair—and that the Representatives take their seats on that side of the chamber on which the Speaker’s chair shall be placed.

That seats be provided in the Senate-Chamber sufficient to accommodate the late President of the United States in Congress Assembled [Cyrus Griffin of Virginia], the Governor of the Western territory [Arthur St Clair], the five persons being the heads of the three great departments [Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, Secretary of War Henry Knox, Commissioners of the Treasury Arthur Lee, Walter Livingston, and Samuel Osgood], the Minister Plenipotentiary of France [Eleanor Francois Elie, Cpmte de Moustier], the Encargado de negocios of Spain [Don Diego de Gardoqui], the Chaplains of Congress [Bishop Samuel Provoost. Dr. William Liin], the persons in the suite of the President:42 and also to accommodate the following Public Officers of the State, viz. The Governor [George Clinton], the Lieutenant-Governor [Pierre Van Cortlandt], the Chancellor [Robert R. Livingston], the Chief Justice [Richard Morris], and other Judges of the Supreme Court [Robert Yates, Jon Sloss Hobart], and the Mayor of the city [James Duane]. That one of the Assistants wait on these gentlemen, and inform them that seats are provided for their accommodation, and also to signify to them that no precedence of seats is intended, and that no salutation is expected from them on their entrance into, or their departure from the Senate-Chamber.

That the members of both Houses assemble in their respective Chambers precisely at twelve o’clock, and that the Representatives preceded by the Speaker, and attended by their Clerk, and other Officers proceed to the Senate-Chamber, there to be received by the Vice-President and Senators rising.

That the Committees attend the President from his residence to the Senate-Chamber, and that he be there received by the Vice-President, the Senators and Representatives rising, and be by the Vice-President conducted to his chair.

That after the President shall be seated in his Chair and the Vice-President, Senators and Representatives shall be again seated, the Vice-President shall announce to the President that the members of both Houses will attend him to be present at his taking the Oath of Office required by the Constitution. To the end that the Oath of Office may be administered to the President in the most public manner, and that the greatest number of the people of the United States and without distinction, may be witnesses to the solemnity, that therefore the Oath be administered in the outer Gallery adjoining to the Senate Chamber.

That when the President shall proceed to the gallery to take the Oath, he be attended by the Vice-President, and be followed by the Chancellor of the State, and pass through the door on the right, and the Representatives, preceded by the Speaker, pass through the door on the left, and such of the persons who shall have been admitted into the Senate-Chamber, and may be desirous to go into the gallery, are then also to pass through the door on the right. That when the President shall have taken the Oath, and returned into the Senate-Chamber, attended by the Vice-President, and shall be seated in his chair, that the Senators and the Representatives also return into the Senate-Chamber, and that the Vice-President and they resume their respective seats.

Both Houses having resolved to accompany the President after he shall have taken the Oath, to St. Paul’s Chapel, to hear divine service, to be performed by the Chaplain of Congress, that the following order of procession be observed, viz. The door-keeper [Gifford Dalley] and messenger [‘Ihomas Claxton] of the House of Representatives. The Clerk of the House [John Beckley]. The Representatives. The Speaker. The President, with the Vice-President at his left hand. The Senators. The Secretary of the Senate [Samuel A. Otis]. The door-keeper [James Mathews] and messenger [Cornelius Maxwell] of the Senate.

That a Pew be reserved for the President—Vice-President—Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Committees; and that pews be also reserved sufficient for the reception of the Senators and Representatives.

That after divine service shall be performed, the President be received at the door of the Church, by the Committees, and by them attended in carriages to his residence.

That it be intrusted to the Assistants to take proper precautions for keeping the avenues to the Hall open, and that for that purpose, they wait on his Excellency the Governor of this State, and in the name of the Committees request his aid, by an order or recommendation to the Civil Officers, or militia of the city, to attend and serve on the occasion, as he shall judge most proper.

After the presidency, Cyrus Griffin was appointed president of the Supreme Court of Admiralty from its creation until its abolition.  He was also appointed a commissioner to the Creek Nation in 1789. Griffin would be acknowledged for his service by George Washington with an appointment to United States Court, District of Virginia on November 28, 1789. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 10, 1790, and received a commission on February 10, 1790. Griffin's most notable case was Aaron Burr versus the United States of America.  He served as a federal judge until his death on December 14, 1810. President Griffin is interred with his wife, Lady Christina, in Bruton Churchyard, Williamsburg, Virginia.




The First United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents 
Sept. 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776


September 5, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 26, 1774
May 20, 1775
May 24, 1775
May 25, 1775
July 1, 1776


The Second United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents 
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781

July 2, 1776
October 29, 1777
November 1, 1777
December 9, 1778
December 10, 1778
September 28, 1779
September 29, 1779
February 28, 1781


Commander-in-Chief United Colonies & States of America

George Washington: June 15, 1775 - December 23, 1783


The Third United American Republic
Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789

March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789




Articles of Confederation Congress
United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) Sessions

USCA
Session Dates
USCA Convene Date
President(s)
First
11-05-1780 to 11-04-1781*
03-02-1781
Second
11-05-1781 to 11-03-1782
11-05-1781
Third
11-04-1782 to 11-02-1783
11-04-1782
Fourth
11-03-1783 to 10-31-1784
11-03-1783
Fifth
11-01-1784 to 11-06-1785
11-29-1784
Sixth
11-07-1785 to 11-05-1786
11-23-1785
Seventh
11-06-1786 to 11-04-1787
02-02-1787
Eighth
11-05-1787 to 11-02-1788
01-21-1788
Ninth
11-03-1788 to 03-03-1789**
None
None

* The Articles of Confederation was ratified by the mandated 13th State on February 2, 1781, and the dated adopted by the Continental Congress to commence the new  United States in Congress Assembled government was March 1, 1781.  The USCA convened under the Articles of Confederation Constitution on March 2, 1781.  

** On September 14, 1788, the Eighth United States in Congress Assembled resolved that March 4th, 1789, would be commencement date of the Constitution of 1787's federal government thus dissolving the USCA on March 3rd, 1789.



The Fourth United American Republic
Presidents of the United States of America




Capitals of the United States and Colonies of America

Philadelphia
Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
Philadelphia
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Baltimore
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
Philadelphia
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
Lancaster
September 27, 1777
York
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
Philadelphia
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
Princeton
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Annapolis
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Trenton
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
Jan. 11, 1785 to Nov. 13, 1788
New York City
Nov. 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
Philadelphia
December 6,1790 to May 14, 1800
Washington DC
November 17,1800 to Present



Chart Comparing Presidential Powers 
of  America's Four United Republics - Click Here


United Colonies and States First Ladies


1774-1788



United Colonies Continental Congress
President
18th Century Term
Age
09/05/74 – 10/22/74
29
Mary Williams Middleton  (1741- 1761) Deceased
Henry Middleton
10/22–26/74
n/a
05/20/ 75 - 05/24/75
30
05/25/75 – 07/01/76
28
United States Continental Congress
President
Term
Age
07/02/76 – 10/29/77
29
Eleanor Ball Laurens  (1731- 1770) Deceased
Henry Laurens
11/01/77 – 12/09/78
n/a
Sarah Livingston Jay  (1756-1802)
12/ 10/78 – 09/28/78
21
Martha Huntington  (1738/39–1794)
09/29/79 – 02/28/81
41
United States in Congress Assembled
President
Term
Age
Martha Huntington  (1738/39–1794)
03/01/81 – 07/06/81
42
Sarah Armitage McKean   (1756-1820)
07/10/81 – 11/04/81
25
Jane Contee Hanson  (1726-1812)
11/05/81 - 11/03/82
55
Hannah Stockton Boudinot  (1736-1808)
11/03/82 - 11/02/83
46
Sarah Morris Mifflin  (1747-1790)
11/03/83 - 11/02/84
36
Anne Gaskins Pinkard Lee  (1738-1796)
11/20/84 - 11/19/85
46
11/23/85 – 06/06/86
38
Rebecca Call Gorham  (1744-1812)
06/06/86 - 02/01/87
42
Phoebe Bayard St. Clair  (1743-1818)
02/02/87 - 01/21/88
43
Christina Stuart Griffin  (1751-1807)
01/22/88 - 01/29/89
36



Constitution of 1787
First Ladies
President
Term
Age
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
57
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
52
Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
September 6, 1782  (Aged 33)
n/a
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
40
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
48
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
50
December 22, 1828 (aged 61)
n/a
February 5, 1819 (aged 35)
n/a
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
65
April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842
50
June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
23
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
41
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
60
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
52
March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
46
n/a
n/a
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
42
February 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
54
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
43
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
45
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
48
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
n/a
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
21
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
56
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
28
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
49
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
40
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
47
March 4, 1913 – August 6, 1914
52
December 18, 1915 – March 4, 1921
43
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
60
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
44
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
54
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
48
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
60
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
56
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
31
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
50
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
56
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
56
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
49
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
59
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
63
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
45
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
54
January 20, 2009 to date
45



[1] Image courtesy of the Traquair House Charitable Trust, Traquair House, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire EH44 6PW, Scotland.
[2] Robins, Sally Nelson Love Stories of Famous Virginians, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia Published in 1923 by the Dietz Printing Company, pages 133-135
[3] Letters of the Delegates,  Cyrus Griffin to Governor Thomas Jefferson,  October 6, 1778
[4] Letters of the Delegates,  Cyrus Griffin to Governor Thomas Jefferson,  July , 1779
[5] Letters of the Delegates,  Cyrus Griffin to Burgess Ball,  September 21, 1779
[6] Letters of the Delegates,  Cyrus Griffin to Governor Thomas Jefferson,  November 2, 1779
[7] Letters of the Delegates,   Cyrus Griffin to Virginia House of Delegates ,  November 9, 1779
[8] Letters of the Delegates,   Samuel Huntington to Cyrus Griffin,  May 1, 1780
[9] Letters of the Delegates,   Cyrus Griffin to Samuel Huntington ,  May 4, 1780

[10] Letters of the Delegates,   Cyrus Griffin to Governor Jefferson,  June 9, 1780

[11] Letters of the Delegates,   Cyrus Griffin to Governor Jefferson,  June 13, 1780
[12] Letters of the Delegates, Charles Thomson to Cyrus Griffin, February 13, 1786
[13] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to Thomas Fitzsimons, December 15th, 1787
[14] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to Thomas Fitzsimons, January 13, 1788
[15] Letters of the Delegates, Massachusetts Delegation to Governor John Hancock, January 23, 1788
[16] Letters of the Delegates, Charles Thomason to the States, January 23, 1788
[17] Letters of the Delegates, Madison to George Washington, January 25, 1788
[18] Letters of  the Delegates, Madison to Eliza House Trist, January 27, 1788
[19] Anne Flore Millet, the marquise de Bréhan, was lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette. She wed the Marquis de Bréhan, a man twenty years her senior, and it proved unhappy. After the death of her sister Antoinette-Louise in 1783, Bréhan formed a life-long attachment with her widowed brother-in-law, French US Ambassador Elénor-François-Elie, Comte de Moustier (1751-1817). She and her son traveled with Moustier to America, where rumors about them strained relations between the two nations.
[20] Letters of the Delegates, Samuel A. Otis to James Warren, February 6, 1788
[21] Letters of the Delegates, Madison to George Washington , February 15, 1788
[22] Journals of the USCA, February 14, 1788
[23] Journals of the USCA, February 26, 1788
[24] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to James Madison, March 17, 1788
[25] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to James Madison, March 24, 1788
[26] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to James Madison, April 14, 1788
[27] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to Thomas Fitzsimons, April 27, 1788
[28] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to James Madison, May 5, 1788
[29] Journals of the USCA, May 8, 1788
[30] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to James Madison, May 20, 1788
[31] Ibid, Nay 20, 1788
[32] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to James Madison, May 20, 1788
[33] Letters of the Delegates, Cyrus Griffin to Thomas Fitzsimons, May 26, 1788
[34] Nicholas Gilman, Jr. (August 3, 1755 – May 2, 1814) was a Revolutionary War Officer, USCA delegate 1787-1789, and signer of the U.S. Constitution, representing New Hampshire. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives during the first four Congresses, and served in the U.S. Senate from 1804 until his death in 1814.
[35] Letters of the Delegates, Nicholas Gilman to John Langdon, May 29, 1788
[36] John Armstrong, Jr. (November 25, 1758 – April 1, 1843) was an American soldier and statesman who was a Pennsylvania delegate to the USCA 1787-1788, U.S. Senator from New York, and Secretary of War.
[37] Caruso, John Anthony The Appalachian Frontier: America's First Surge Westward,  Newfound Press, Knoxville, 2003,  page 320
[38] Journals of the USCA, June 2, 1788
[39] Journals of the USCA, June 3, 1788
[40] John Langdon (June 26, 1741 - Sept 18, 1819) was a Revolutionary War officer, Delegate to Continental Congress 1775-1776, USCA 1787, and 1787 Philadelphia Convention.  He was elected to the United States Senate (1789-18010),  first US Senate President pro tempore, and Governor of New Hampshire 1805-1811.
[41] The James Madison Papers, John Langdon to Alexander Hamilton,  June 21, 1788 
[42] On this same day, July 2, the United Colonies in 1776 declared Independence from Great Britain.  
[43] Ibid, July 2, 1788
[44] Smith, Paul H., et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789  25 volumes, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976-2000), Abraham Yates to Governor Clinton, July 2, 1788.
[45] Journals of the USCA, July 3, 1788
[46] Journals of the USCA, July 25, 1788
[47] New York Ratification Convention Journals, Saturday, July 26, 1788.
[48] Journals of the USCA, July 28, 1788
[49] James Madison Papers, James Madison to Edmund Randolph, August 2, 1788.
[50] Letters of the Delegates, James Madison, Jr. to James Madison, August 18, 1788
[51] Letters of the Delegates, James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, August 23, 1788.
[52] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, September 8, 1788
[53] Journals of the USCA, September 13, 1788.
[54] Letters of the Delegates, Henry Lee to George Washington, September 13, 1788
[55] Reports of Secretary of Congress, Papers of the USCA, No. 180, p. 80.
[56] Journals of the USCA, September 13, 1788
[57] Journals of the USCA, September 16, 1788
[58] Letters of the Delegates, Benjamin Franklin to Robert Livingston Mar. 4, 1782
[59] Journals of the USCA, October 1, 1788
[60] Office of the Historian, Department of State, Buildings of the Department of State, http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/section11
[61] New York Royal Gazette, March 17, 1781.
[62] Journals of the USCA, October 2, 1788
[63] Journals of USCA, October 8, 1788
[64] Journals of USCA, October 9, 1788
[65] Smith, Paul H., et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789. 25 volumes, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976-2000), Cyrus Griffin to Thomas Matthews, November 22, 1788
[66] Ibid, March 9th, 1789 Cyrus Griffin to Beverley Randolph






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Presidential Alert: After 102 years, the Federal Government finally agrees that Samuel Huntington and not John Hanson was the first USCA President to serve under the Articles of Confederation.  -- Click Here

Copyright © Stan Klos, President Who? Forgotten Founders 2004 & 2008 

By: Stanley Yavneh Klos

  • First United American Republic: United Colonies of North America: 13 British Colonies United in Congress was founded by 12 colonies on September 5th, 1774 (Georgia joined in 1775)  and governed through a British Colonial Continental Congress.  Peyton Randolph and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief;
  • Second United American Republic: The United States of America: 13 Independent States United in Congress was founded by 12 states on July 2nd, 1776 (New York abstained until July 8th), and governed through the United States Continental CongressJohn Hancock and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Third United American Republic: The United States of America: A Perpetual Union was founded by 13 States on March 1st, 1781, with the enactment of the first U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and governed through the United States in Congress Assembled.  Samuel Huntington and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Fourth United American Republic: The United States of America: We the People  was formed by 11 states on March 4th, 1789 (North Carolina and Rhode Island joined in November 1789 and May 1790, respectively), with the enactment of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. The fourth and current United States Republic governs through  the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in Congress Assembled, the U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  George Washington served as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief.

U.S. Dollar Presidential Coin Mr. Klos vs Secretary Paulson - Click Here