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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 4 March
On this day in 1794, the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was proposed by Congress. Amendment XI states, “The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” The amendment was ratified nearly a year later. 1
In 1789 on this day, the first session of the first congress under the United States Constitution met in New York. Senate members appearing on that day were John Langdon and Paine Wingate of New Hampshire, Caleb Strong of Massachusetts, William S. Johnson and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, William Maclay and Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, and William Few of Georgia. The members in attendance were not sufficient to make a quorum so they adjourned. The Senate continued to meet and adjourn daily as there was no quorum which was needed to conduct their congressional duties. Several circulars were written requesting the attendance of the absent members, with William Patterson of New Jersey, Richard Bassett of Delaware and Jonathan Elmer of New Jersey, respectively, arriving over the next few weeks. A quorum was not met until 6 April when Richard Henry Lee of Virginia arrived. 2
Inauguration day was on 4 March beginning with Washington’s second term and ending with FDR’s second term. When the 4th fell on a Sunday, the inauguration was held the following day. The Twentieth Amendment, ratified in January 1933, changed the presidential inauguration date to the 20th of January at noon. 3
1 “Amendment XI,” press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/tocs/amendXI.html
2 “History Or The Proceedings And Debates The Senate Of The United States, At The First Session Of The First Congress…,” www.constitution.org/ac/01-1s.htm
3 “The Constitution and the Inauguration of the President,” Exploring Constitutional Law, law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/inaugurationconstit.html; “Presidential Inaugurations,” Library of Congress, memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pimenu.html; “Facts, Firsts and Precedents,” Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, www.inaugural.senate.gov/about/facts-and-firsts