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5th United States Congress

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

5th United States Congress
4th ←
→ 6th

March 4, 1797 – March 3, 1799
Members32 senators
106 representatives
Senate majorityFederalist
Senate PresidentThomas Jefferson (DR)
House majorityFederalist
House SpeakerJonathan Dayton (F)
Special: March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1797
1st: May 15, 1797 – July 10, 1797
2nd: November 13, 1797 – July 16, 1798
Special: July 17, 1798 – July 19, 1798
3rd: December 3, 1798 – March 3, 1799

The 5th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from March 4, 1797, to March 4, 1799, during the first two years of John Adams' presidency. In the context of the Quasi-War with France, the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed by Congress. The Acts were overwhelmingly supported by the Federalists and mostly opposed by the Democratic-Republicans. Some Democratic-Republicans, such as Timothy Bloodworth, said they would support formally going to war against France but they opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts which Bloodworth and others believed were unconstitutional.[1]

The apportionment of seats in this House of Representatives was based on the 1790 United States census. Both chambers had a Federalist majority.

One of the Alien and Sedition Acts

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Constitutional Compromises: Crash Course Government and Politics #5
  • The First Continental Congress | Road to the Revolution
  • The Constitution, the Articles, and Federalism: Crash Course US History #8
  • AP US Government - Chapter 11 - Congress - 4 (of 5)
  • 3 Branches of Government | Kids Educational Video | Kids Academy


Hi, I'm Craig, and this is Crash Course Government and Politics, and today we're going to talk about the single most important document in America, one that we'll be talking about a lot over next few months. No, I'm not talking about O Magazine - it's the United States Constitution, and what we're really gonna focus on is how it got made and how it became the foundation of our government. Those of you who watched the U.S. History series with John Green probably remember that the government set up by the Constitution is actually the second attempt at an American government. Also, as pointed out in the comments, you probably noticed that I am not John Green. The first American government, which was in place during the Revolutionary War and for almost 10 years afterwards, was the Articles of Confederation. Like many first attempts, the Articles government had some good ideas and it meant well, but it was poorly executed. Give it a break, it never did this before! So when delegates gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles, they ended up scrapping the whole thing and creating a new Constitution. It's probably not because they didn't know what revise meant. So, the delegates from the various states each had their own agendas at the Constitutional Convention, and that made it difficult for them to agree on what the new government should look like. In order to hammer out a Constitution, they had to do something you don't see very much of in government these days - compromise. Oh, let's compromise, I'm sorry, eagle, I didn't mean... Before we get into what those compromises were, it's kinda necessary to look at what was so bad about the Articles government in the first place. The main thing was it really couldn't govern. There was no executive branch or president and no judiciary to settle disputes. It was basically just a congress where each state was equally represented and they all pretty much had veto power and could sink legislation they didn't like. All decisions were collective, which meant that very few decisions were actually made, because it's really hard to get 13 people to agree on something that will be in the interest of all 13. I can barely agree with Stan on anything. Right, Stan? He said wrong. Most important, the Articles government had no power to levy taxes, which meant that if it needed any money to do, well, anything, it had to ask for the money from the states, which were free to say, "No, I don't think we'll be giving you any money today. ...or tomorrow. Or ever." As I remember from my college years - and I don't remember much - living without money is awful. Without money, it's pretty much impossible for a government to do anything, except buy ramen noodles. The Articles government was able to accomplish one notable thing, though. One of the big issues it had to deal with was Americans moving out West, which in the 1770's and 80's meant to places like Ohio and Indiana that weren't states yet. The government managed to set up rules for these settlements in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which set up a system for eventual statehood. But most importantly, it forbade slavery in these territories, which, as students of American history know, was kind of a big deal. You wouldn't know that, you're not a student of American history. You're a symbol of America, bird! I'm not gonna punch you. Other than that, though, the Articles government was a flop. And the very thing that made it so ineffective threatened to screw up any attempts at new government, too. This was the issue of competing interests between different states, more specifically the states with large populations and the smaller states. Basically, a state with a large population like, say, Virginia, had different needs than a state with a small population, like Delaware. More importantly, large states might stand to benefit more from any government spending. When the delegates decided to make a new congress, these large population states wanted the number of representatives to that congress to be proportional to the states' populations, which would mean that the larger states would have more representatives than the smaller ones. This idea, a large congress made up of many delegates, was called The Virginia Plan. Because it was put forward by the delegates from Wisconsin. Just kidding...Virginia. The delegates from small New Jersey put forward a plan that would have a congress where each state would send an equal number of representatives. In other words, something that looked a lot like the Articles government. This New Jersey Plan would prevent smaller states from being dominated by the larger states, and also ensure that the large states wouldn't be able to vote themselves a bigger share of government spending. These two opposing interests threatened to scuttle the whole new government thing until Roger Sherman from Connecticut proposed The Great Compromise, that gave us bicameral legislature that we talked about in episode two, and we've all come to know and love, sometimes. So The Great Compromise meant that we would have a two-house legislature, but this wasn't the only issue related to how the seats in Congress would be apportioned. The membership in the House would be based on the state's population, but at the time there was an issue about how to count that population. The issue was slavery. More specifically, how to count slaves as part of a state's population. Let's go to the Thought Bubble. The states with large slave populations, like South Carolina and Virginia, had a pretty big interest in counting these slaves for the purposes of determining representation. And the states with few slaves didn't want them counted at all. Because this would mean that the white non-slave people in those states with lots of slaves would effectively be better represented than the white non-slave people in the states with few slaves. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention solved this problem with another compromise that was decidedly less great. Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution includes the following clause: "Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons." If you're looking for the word "slave," you won't find it. They're the ones described by the phrase, "three-fifths of all other persons." This is the notorious Three-Fifths Compromise. What it means is that in order to determine how many representatives a state has, you count the number of free people in the state, including indentured servants, and add to that number three-fifths of the number of non-free persons, otherwise known as slaves. So in terms of counting, each slave was worth three-fifths of each free person. Thanks, Thought Bubble. Anyway, this meant that states with large populations of slaves would be disproportionately represented in Congress, but not quite so badly that most northern states with small numbers of slaves wouldn't vote for the Constitution. What this also did was enshrine the idea that slaves, who were mostly black, were worth less than free people, who were mostly white. And it embedded slavery into the Constitution. So before this constitution of compromise could go into effect, it had to be ratified by at least 9 of the 13 states. So each state had a special convention where delegates could vote on whether or not to adopt the new constitution. These conventions were more open to the public than the Constitutional Convention itself, and the ratification process is the reason why some people say the Constitution is based on the will of the people. But not everybody wanted the Constitution, and they needed convincing. This is where things get a little confusing. Did you want the Constitution? Did ya? In 1787, public opinion about the Constitution was pretty evenly divided. Those who wanted the Constitution were called Federalists, largely because of the Federalist Papers, a series of articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. They wrote the Federalist Papers to convince voters in New York to ratify the Constitution. And since New York did eventually ratify the document, I guess they worked. But we should listen to both sides of the the Clone Zone. So joining us in the Clone Zone today will be Federalist Clone and Anti-Federalist Clone. Let's hear from Federalist Clone first. Feddy? Can I call you Feddy? No. The Federalists were the incredibly intelligent Americans who thought that a strong central government would benefit the country as a whole. They tended to come from cities, and often they represented commercial classes, especially wealthy people, who had lent money to the government during the Revolution. They liked the new Constitution because they felt that a strong national government would pay its debts, and this was good for business. They also tended to want stronger ties with England, again because England was a good trading partner. Given the raging success of the Articles government, it's pretty clear that the Federalists were right. Okay, now let's hear from Anti-Federalist Clone. How do you respond, Anti? I'm not your aunt! Sure, Federalists were right to believe in tyranny. Anti-Federalists were right to be skeptical of a large government that would trample on our individual liberties. They didn't want a big government that would tax them to death, and possibly take away their slaves. In general, Anti-Federalists felt that states would be the best protectors of people's rights and liberties, because being smaller, they would be more responsive to people's needs. Okay? The Anti-Federalists published pamphlets and articles, too. But we weren't quite as organized, so we didn't have a coherent set of Anti-Federalist Papers to push on government students. Okay, okay, you seem really mad about this. I am. But you eventually lost the debate. I did. Huzzah! How come he got to shoot fireworks-- --I didn't know he was gonna-- --I wanna shoot fireworks-- Okay? I'm sorry, I'm sorry--next time. You can have fireworks. So the Federalist position won out and the Constitution was ratified. And that's the government that Americans have been living under ever since. Hooray! Because the Constitution was passed, we tend to think that everyone loved it. But it wasn't nearly as clear-cut as hindsight makes it appear. Eventually, the Federalists had to offer another compromise, promising a Bill of Rights in the first ten amendments. This isn't called one of the constitutional compromises because it happened outside of the Convention, but it was yet another example of how different interests had to give a little in order to get a Constitution passed. It's very important to remember that compromise, the idea of balancing interests and giving a little to get a lot, is embedded in the Constitution. While today it seems like a political dirty word, compromise is the basis of the American government itself. Thanks for watching. I'll seeya next week. Well, I'll compromise. Seeya in a week and a half. Let's face it; Stan's probably not going to get this done in time anyway. Crash Course Government and Politics is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course U.S. Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports non-profits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives at Crash Course was made by all of these nice people at the Chad and Stacy Emigholz Studio, in tropical Indianapolis. Thanks for watching. I'm going to the beach.

Major events

Major legislation

Treaties ratified

Party summary

Details on changes are shown below in the "Changes in membership" section.


(shading shows control)
Total Vacant

End of previous congress 11 21 32 0
Begin 9 22 31 1
Final voting share 29.0% 71.0%
Beginning of next congress 9 22 31 1

House of Representatives

(shading shows control)
Total Vacant

End of previous congress 59 47 106 0
Begin 49 56 105 1
End 50 1060
Final voting share 47.2% 52.8%
Beginning of next congress 46 60 106 0
President of the Senate Thomas Jefferson



House of Representatives


This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed in order of seniority, and representatives are listed by district.


Senators were elected by the state legislatures every two years, with one-third beginning new six-year terms with each Congress. Preceding the names in the list below are Senate class numbers, which indicate the cycle of their election. In this Congress, Class 1 meant their term began in this Congress, requiring reelection in 1802; Class 2 meant their term ended with this Congress, requiring reelection in 1798; and Class 3 meant their term began in the last Congress, requiring reelection in 1800.

House of Representatives

Changes in membership

The count below reflects changes from the beginning of this Congress


There were 9 resignations, 2 deaths, 1 expulsion, 1 late selection, and 2 elections to replace appointees. Neither party had a net gain of seats.

Senate changes
Vacated by Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation[a]
Vacant Tennessee failed to elect a Senator on time William Cocke (DR) Appointed May 15, 1797
William Blount (DR) Expelled July 8, 1797 Joseph Anderson (DR) Elected September 26, 1797
William Cocke (DR) Interim appointment until September 26, 1797 Andrew Jackson (DR) Elected September 26, 1797
Rhode Island
William Bradford (F) Resigned sometime in October, 1797 Ray Greene (F) Elected November 13, 1797
Isaac Tichenor (F) Resigned October 17, 1797 Nathaniel Chipman (F) Elected October 17, 1797
John Henry (F) Resigned December 10, 1797 James Lloyd (F) Elected December 11, 1797
New York
Philip John Schuyler (F) Resigned January 3, 1798 John Sloss Hobart (F) Elected January 11, 1798
John Vining (F) Resigned January 19, 1798 Joshua Clayton (F) Elected January 19, 1798
Andrew Jackson (DR) Resigned sometime in April, 1798 Daniel Smith (DR) Appointed October 6, 1798
New York
John Sloss Hobart (F) Resigned April 16, 1798 William North (F) Appointed May 5, 1798
Joshua Clayton (F) Died August 11, 1798 William H. Wells (F) Elected January 17, 1799
New York
William North (F) Interim appointment until August 17, 1798 James Watson (F) Elected August 17, 1798
New Jersey
John Rutherfurd (F) Resigned November 26, 1798 Franklin Davenport (F) Appointed December 5, 1798
South Carolina
John Hunter (DR) Resigned November 26, 1798 Charles Pinckney (DR) Elected December 6, 1798
Henry Tazewell (DR) Died January 24, 1799 Vacant Not filled in this Congress

House of Representatives

There were 9 resignations and 3 deaths. The Federalists had a 1-seat net loss and the Democratic-Republicans had a 1-seat net gain.

House changes
District Vacated by Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation[a]
Vermont 2 Vacant Daniel Buck (F) had been re-elected, but declined to serve.
Successor elected May 23, 1797.[4]
Lewis R. Morris (F) May 24, 1797
Rhode Island at-large Elisha Potter (F) Resigned sometime in 1797.
Successor elected August 29, 1797.[4]
Thomas Tillinghast (F) Seated November 13, 1797
South Carolina 1 William L. Smith (F) Resigned July 10, 1797.
Successor elected September 4–5, 1797.[4]
Thomas Pinckney (F) Seated November 23, 1797
Massachusetts 11 Theophilus Bradbury (F) Resigned July 24, 1797.
Successor elected August 4, 1797.[4]
Bailey Bartlett (F) Seated November 27, 1797
New Hampshire at-large Jeremiah Smith (F) Resigned July 26, 1797.
Successor elected August 28, 1797.[4]
Peleg Sprague (F) Seated December 15, 1797
Connecticut at-large James Davenport (F) Died August 3, 1797.
Successor elected September 18, 1797.[4]
William Edmond (F) Seated November 13, 1797
Tennessee at-large Andrew Jackson (DR) Resigned sometime in September 1797 to become U.S. Senator.
Successor elected September 26, 1797.[5]
William C.C. Claiborne (DR) Seated November 23, 1797
Pennsylvania 5 George Ege (F) Resigned sometime in October 1797.
Successor elected October 10, 1797.[4]
Joseph Hiester (DR) Seated December 1, 1797
Pennsylvania 4 Samuel Sitgreaves (F) Resigned sometime in 1798.
Successor elected October 9, 1798.[4]
Robert Brown (DR) Seated December 4, 1798
North Carolina 10 Nathan Bryan (DR) Died June 4, 1798.
Successor elected August 2, 1798.[4]
Richard Dobbs Spaight (DR) Seated December 10, 1798
Pennsylvania 1 John Swanwick (DR) Died July 31, 1798.
Successor elected October 9, 1798.[4]
Robert Waln (F) Seated December 3, 1798
Connecticut at-large Joshua Coit (F) Died September 5, 1798.
Successor elected October 22, 1798.[4]
Jonathan Brace (F) Seated December 3, 1798
Virginia 9 William Giles (DR) Resigned October 2, 1798.
Successor elected November 1, 1798.[4]
Joseph Eggleston (DR) Seated December 3, 1798


Lists of committees and their party leaders.


House of Representatives

Joint committees



House of Representatives

See also


  1. ^ a b When seated or oath administered, not necessarily when service began.


  1. ^ The Presidency of John Adams by Ralph A. Brown, University Press of Kansas, 1975
  2. ^ The Reign of Witches: The Struggle Against the Alien and Sedition Laws, 1789-1800 by Elizabeth Lawson
  3. ^ "Executive Journal (Fourteenth session)". Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America. Library of Congress. June 7, 1797. p. 244.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Date cited is the election date, but the winner in some cases "took" his seat on a later date. See Dubin, Michael J. (1998). United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997: The Official Results of the Elections of the 1st Through 105th Congresses. McFarland and Company. ISBN 0786402830.
  5. ^ Election date, but winner was seated later. See Archived March 11, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1989). The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1982). The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

External links

This page was last edited on 25 May 2023, at 15:50
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