A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States - Vol. 1

By Melvin I. Urofsky; Paul Finkelman | Go to book overview

7

Launching the Great Experiment

Washington Takes Office • The Bill of Rights • The
Government Takes Shape • Raising a Revenue • Hamilton's
Financial Program • The Bank of the United States • The
Hamilton–Jefferson Debate • The Whiskey Rebellion • The
Slave Trade and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 • Defining
Presidential Power • Presidential Conduct of Foreign
Affairs • The Neutrality Proclamation • Jay's Treaty •
Conclusion: Washington's Achievements • For Further Reading

WHEN GEORGE WASHINGTON took the oath as president of the United States in New York on April 30, 1789, he faced numerous problems. The Confederation, for example, had left him little more than a few clerks, an empty treasury, and millions in foreign debt. His greatest challenge—and his greatest opportunity—lay in creating a viable and effective governmental structure out of the framework sketched by the Constitution. He proceeded, cautiously but firmly, to establish that government. The next eight years saw the nature and powers of the presidency fleshed out, the cabinet system founded, a federal judiciary created, a financial system implemented, American credit secured, and American territory cleared of British and Spanish forces. And although Washington, like many of his contemporaries, failed to understand its importance in a republic, a political party system also began to evolve.


Washington Takes Office

By late 1788, the Confederation had practically ceased to function. Congress lacked a quorum after October, and although John Jay continued to serve as secretary of foreign affairs, he could not conduct any business and even lacked authority to permit Jefferson to return home from his post as ambassador to France. Nonetheless, Washington had high hopes for the future. The postwar recession ended, commerce prospered, and American ships plied the oceans, even to China and the East Indies. A series of poor harvests in Europe created a demand for American agricultural prod-

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A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • For Susan and Byrgen—yet Again v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: From the Old World to the New 1
  • 2: Law in Colonial America 17
  • 3: The Road to Independence 39
  • 4: The Revolutionary Era 61
  • 5: The Crisis of Confederation 80
  • 6: A More Perfect Union 93
  • 7: Launching the Great Experiment 120
  • 8: The Supreme Court: the First Decade 147
  • 9: The Changing Face of the Law 165
  • 10: Adams, Jefferson, and the Courts 181
  • 11: The Marshall Court and National Power 207
  • 12: The Marshall Court and Economic Development 229
  • 13: A Law Made for the Times 248
  • 14: Politics, Nationalism, and Competition 271
  • 15: Jacksonian Democracy 296
  • 16: The Taney Court: Change and Continuity 320
  • 17: The Peculiar Laws of America's Peculiar Institution 337
  • 18: A House Dividing 366
  • 19: The Union Sundered 401
  • 20: The Union Unrestored 429
  • 21: Reconstruction 451
  • 22: The Court and Civil Rights 479
  • Appendixes - The Declaration of Independence 501
  • Articles of Confederation 505
  • Constitution of the United States 511
  • Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court 528
  • Case Index 537
  • Subject Index 542
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