January 2020 Spot of Parchment

On this day (January 15) in 1794, President George Washington sent a message to the United States Senate and House of Representatives and forwarded them correspondence between Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and French minister to the U.S. Edmond Charles Genêt. While Washington’s note was brief and straightforward, the attached correspondence was quite fiery. Nine [...]

November 2019 Spot of Parchment

In early October, I had the opportunity to present on the creation of executive authority for a bunch of lawyers as part of a continuing legal education seminar. One of the things they asked about the most was George Washington’s business practices while he was in office. I wasn’t surprised, this question is actually one [...]

On This Day in Cabinet History – December 31, 1793

On this day in cabinet history, December 31, 1793, Thomas Jefferson resigned as the first Secretary of State. Many people are familiar with Jefferson's resignation because of the political ramifications of his decision. Jefferson's "retirement" coincided with his increased efforts to organize the nascent Democratic-Republican Party and fight the Federalist agenda. But Jefferson's departure from [...]

On this day in cabinet history – August 1, 1793

August 1, 1793 was a red-letter day for cabinet (and presidential) history. On July 31, President George Washington summoned the department secretaries to a cabinet meeting the next morning at 9 AM. Recognizing that the issues facing the cabinet might take a while to resolve, Washington invited the secretaries to join him for a family [...]

1793 Cabinet Walking Tour

In March, I spent a weekend in Philadelphia for a friend's wedding. On Saturday morning, I stole away for a few hours to walk around the historic core of the city. In particular, I wanted to walk the "cabinet neighborhood." In my work, I explore how the Philadelphia neighborhood shaped the development of the executive [...]