United States Congress

Thanksgiving Day. November 26, 1789.

Setting aside time to give thanks for one’s blessings, along with holding feasts to celebrate a harvest, are both practices that long predate the European settlement of North America. The first documented thanksgiving services in territory currently belonging to the United States were conducted by Spaniards and the French in the 16th century. Thanksgiving services were routine in what became the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607, with the first permanent settlement of Jamestown, Virginia holding a thanksgiving in 1610. In 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia. The group’s London Company charter specifically required “that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned… in the land of Virginia shall be year...

The Coinage Act. April, 2 1792.

The Coinage Act, passed by the United States Congress on April 2, 1792, created the United States dollar as the country’s standard unit of money, established the United States Mint, and regulated the coinage of the United States. The long title of the legislation is An act establishing a mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States. This act established the silver dollar as the unit of money in the United States, declared it to be lawful tender, and created a decimal system for U.S. currency. By the Act, the Mint was to be situated at the seat of government of the United States. The five original officers of the U.S. Mint were a Director, an Assayer, a Chief Coiner, an Engraver, and a Treasurer. The Act also allowed that one person could perform the functions of Chief Coiner a...

The Bureau of Indian Affairs. March 11, 1824.

Agencies to handle relationships with Native Americans had existed in the U.S. government since 1775, when the Second Continental Congress created a trio of Indian-related agencies. Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry were appointed among the early commissioners to negotiate treaties with Native Americans in order to obtain their neutrality during the American Revolutionary War. In 1789, the U.S. Congress placed Native American relations within the newly formed War Department. By 1806 the Congress had created a Superintendent of Indian Trade, or “Office of Indian Trade” within the War Department, who was charged with maintaining the factory trading network of the fur trade. The government licensed traders to have some control in Indian territories and gain a share of the lucrat...

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