Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791  | Next Page
Creation of the Executive

Foreign Affairs Bill [HR-8]
Foreign Affairs Bill [HR-8], June 2, 1789
(Courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library)

DHFFC Transcription, DHFFC v. 4, p.689

This bill was the first of the three acts establishing the executive departments to be considered in the House. Some support existed for a fourth, the home or domestic department. Its advocates argued unsuccessfully that the federal government should encourage geography, science, technology, and internal improvements, and that responsibilities for those and other functions such as the census, Indian relations, federal records, copyrights, and patents belonged in a separate department. But the majority rejected the home department and later decided to change the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of State and expand its authority to include most of these domestic functions.

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