The war with Britain was over, for now, and it was time for the United States to build its insitutions, of democracy, of the frontier, of its military. And it was time to prove to the world that this form of government could succeed, and prove its line of succession was possible. When Washington gave way to Adams in 1797, that act secured first proof that its concept had merit, and the world was watching.
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January 8, 1790 - The first State of the Union address is given by first president George Washington.
February 1, 1790 - The Supreme Court of the United States
convenes for the initial session.
March 1, 1790 - Congress commissions the first U.S. census.
When completed, it shows that 3,929,214 lived in the nascent
democracy in 1790. The most populated state, Virginia, has
691,737. The center of population was 23 miles west of
July 16, 1790 - George Washington, as President, approves the
Residence Bill, legislation that authorizes the buying of land
along the Potomac River for federal buildings and parks, creating the District of Columbia.
July 31, 1790 - The first patent in the United States is issued to inventor Samuel Hopkins for improved method of making potash.
March 14, 1791 - Vermont is added as the 14th State. Carved
from portions of New York and New Hampshire, and first known
as New Connecticut, Vermont spent fourteen years as an
independent republic before joining the Union.
April 27, 1791 - Samuel Morse, United State inventor, is born. He would later develop the Morse code for use in the first electric telegraph in the United States.
August 26, 1791 - The steamboat is patented in the United
States by John Fitch. First launched on the Delaware River in
1787, and operated passenger service from Philadelphia to
Burlington, New Jersey, which proved unprofitable.
December 15, 1791 - In Philadelphia's Congress Hall, the Bill of
Rights, which constitutes the first ten amendments to the
Constitution, takes effect. Two of the original twelve amendments do not pass.
February 20, 1792 - The United States Post Office Department is established, signed into law by President George Washington.
April 5, 1792 - The presidential veto is used for the first time
when President Washington turns down a bill to apportion
representation amongst the states.
May 17, 1792 - The beginnings of the New York Stock Exchange
is established with the signing of the Buttonwood agreement.
October 13, 1792 - The cornerstone for the U.S. Executive
Mansion (called the White House since 1818) in the new District of Columbia is laid by freemasons and the commissioners of the district during the construction of the home of the president. It would take eight more years before President John Adams would move into the home.
December 3, 1792 - George Washington, a Federalist, is
reelected president of the United States with no opposition, with
John Adams elected Vice President. The Federalists, who
believed in a strong central government, outnumbered the other
political party at the time, the Democrat-Republicans, who
decided against a political fight due to Washington's popularity. Washington had considered not seeking a second term, but decided to serve again, in some part due to trying to stem the tide of political parties.
February 12, 1793 - The United States Congress passes a
federal law requiring the return of slaves that escaped from slave states into free territory or states.
April 22, 1793 - George Washington signs the Proclamation of
Neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars, where France has
already declared war on England, the Netherlands, Austria,
Prussia, and Sardinia.
August 17, 1793 - Dr. Benjamin Rush confers with two
Philadelphia doctors about an epidemic of disease along the
docks of Philadelphia over the preceding two weeks. By
November, over 10% of the population of the city had
succumbed, nearly 5,000 people. The disease had been brought
to the city by refugees from Haiti, then coupled with a wet spring and swamps that became an incubator for mosquitos.
September 18, 1793 - George Washington lays the cornerstone
in the Capitol building, beginning the construction on the design by Dr. William Thornton.
December 9, 1793 - The American Minerva, established by Noah
Webster, becomes New York City's first daily newspaper.
March 14, 1794 - Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin, which could do the work of fifty men when cleaning cotton by hand.
March 27, 1794 - The U.S. Government establishes a permanent
navy and commissions six vessels to be built. They would be put
into service three years later.
August 20, 1794 - General Anthony Wayne, commander of the
Ohio-Indiana area, routs a confederacy of Indian tribes, including Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware, Wyandot, Miami, Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi, at Fallen Timbers on the Maumee River,
causing a retreat in disarray.
September 1, 1794 - The Whiskey Rebellion occurs when
western Pennsylvania farmers in the Monongahela Valley, upset
over the liquor tax passed in 1791, are suppressed by 15,000
militia sent by Alexander Hamilton to establish the authority of the federal government to uphold its laws.
November 19, 1794 - Jay's Treaty is signed between the United
States of America and the Kingdom of Great Britain. This treaty
tried to settle some of the lingering troubles stemming from the
January 14, 1795 - The University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, becomes the first operating state university in the United States, and the only public university to graduate students in the 18th century.
February 7, 1795 - The United States passes the 11th
amendment to the U.S. Constitution on the subject of each
state's sovereign immunity.
August 3, 1795 - General Wayne signs a peace treaty with the
Indians at Fort Greenville, Ohio, ending the hostilities in what was then known as the Northwest Territories after the Indian
confederation's defeat (the treaty included the above mentioned
tribes, as well as the Eel Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos,
Piankeshaws, and Kaskaskias) at Fallen Timbers the year
October 27, 1795 - The Treaty of Madrid is signed, establishing
the boundaries between the Spanish Colonies and the United
November 28, 1795 - The United States purchases peace with
Tunis and Algiers by supplying a frigate and over $800,000.
June 1, 1796- Tennessee is admitted into the Union as the 16th state.
July 11, 1796 - Possession of the city of Detroit by the United
States is taken by terms of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain.
September 19, 1796 - President George Washington gives his
final address as president, published in the American Daily
Advertiser, urging strong warnings against permanent foreign
alliances, large public debt, and a large military establishment.
November 4 to December 7, 1796 - The U.S. Electoral College
meets to elect Federalist John Adams as president. John Adams
defeated Thomas Jefferson, of the Democrat Republican party,
whose platform included the notion of a weak central
government, in the U.S. presidential election. Political parties
came into prominence with this election after the retirement of
George Washington. Electors who chose the president were
chosen by the states, using various methods, including the
popular vote or by state legislators. Adams received 71 electoral votes to Jefferson's 68.
January 3, 1797 - The Treaty of Tripoli, signifying peace between the United States and Tripoli, is signed at Algiers.
March 4, 1797 - John Adams succeeds George Washington as
president of the United States.
July 10, 1797 - The first of three ships, the U.S. frigate United States, is launched by the United States on this day as it begins to build up its navy. Later in 1797, the other two ships would be launched; the Constellation in Baltimore on September 7; and the Constitution (old Ironsides) in Boston, September 20.
October 21, 1797 - The Constitution, a 44 gun frigate, is sent into service from Boston Harbor against Barbary pirates off the coast of Tripoli.
December 17, 1797 - Joseph Henry, an American scientist is
born. He would serve as the first president of the Smithsonian
Institution and is credited with discoveries in the field of electro magnets.
May 4, 1798 - Thomas Jefferson, then Vice President of the
United States, informs the American Philosophical Society of his
invention of a new mould board for a plow.
April 7, 1798 - The Territory of Mississippi is established from
parts of Georgia and South Carolina, and later expanded to
include disputed territory of the United States and Spain.
German-American Gottlieb Graupner settles in Boston and
becomes the father of orchestral music in the United States. He
would later organize the Philharmonic Society.
July 7, 1798 - Congress voids all treaties with France due to
French raids on U.S. ships and a rejection of its diplomats, and
orders the Navy to capture French armed ships. Eight-four
French ships are captured by the U.S. Navy (with 45 ships) and
private ships (365).
July 14, 1798 - The Alien and Sedition Acts making it a federal
crime to publish malicious statements about the United States
Government go into law.
February 9, 1799 - The French warship L'Insurgente is captured by the U.S.S. Constellation. Napoleon stops the French raids after becoming First Consul.
February 15, 1799 - The first printed ballots in the United States are printed in Pennsylvania.
March 29, 1799 - A law is passed to abolish slavery in the state
of New York, effective twenty-eight years later, in 1827.
The American System of Manufacturing is invented by Eli
Whitney, who uses semi-skilled labor, machine tools, and jigs to
make standardized, interchangeable parts, then an assembly line
of labor. Whitney first used the system to manufacture 10,000
muskets for the U.S. Government.
December 14, 1799 - George Washington, the 1st commander of
the Revolution and President of the United States, passes at his
estate in Virginia.
History Photo Bomb
Message from George Washington sending vote of New Hampshire
on the Bill of Rights. Photo courtesy National Archives.
General Anthony Wayne. Image courtesy National Archives.
When George Washington gave up the presidency after his second term in 1797, it may have been the most remarkable event in U.S. history. It was the first time a leader gave up power
willingly in a democratic shift to another man. Image courtesy National Archives.
America's Best History where we take a look
at the timeline of American History and the historic sites and national parks that hold that history within their lands.
Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Park Service, americasbesthistory.com & its licensors.