House History Timeline, 1789–1799


March 4

The House met for the first time in Federal Hall in New York City. It attained its first quorum on April 1 and promptly elected Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania as Speaker.

June 8

Representative James Madison of Virginia introduced a series of amendments to the Constitution providing a first draft of what would eventually become the Bill of Rights.

July 24

The House formed the Committee on Ways and Means as a select committee. It became a permanent standing committee in the 4th Congress (1795–1797) and remains the oldest such committee.


March 4

The House began meeting in Congress Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


March 27

The House authorized a select committee to investigate the rout of a military force under the command of Major General Arthur St. Clair by various Indian tribes in the Northwest Territory. The subsequent hearings and reports constituted the first congressional investigation.


September 18

President George Washington laid the cornerstone for the U.S. Capitol. After numerous renovations and additions to the building, the cornerstone’s exact location remains a present-day mystery.


July 7

The House first exercised its power to remove federal officials by impeaching Senator William Blount of Tennessee on the grounds that he had conspired to incite Native-American tribes to help the British conquer Spanish territory in then-West Florida. The Senate dismissed the impeachment charges against Blount after it expelled him on July 8, 1797.

November 23

William C.C. Claiborne of Tennessee became the youngest individual ever to serve in the House. Claiborne took his seat despite being just 22 years old, three years younger than the minimum age requirement set by the Constitution.


February 15

The first major altercation in the House occurred when a fight broke out between Matthew Lyon of Vermont and Roger Griswold of Connecticut. The event highlighted the development of political factions in Congress.

July 10

In one of the first tests of freedom of speech, the House passed the Sedition Act in the summer of 1798, permitting the deportation or imprisonment of anyone deemed a threat or publishing “false, scandalous, or malicious writing” against the government of the United States.