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been adopted, and elections were in progress for the new Congress, when the last Congress under the old Confederation appointed, August 14, 1788, a committee composed of Messrs. Otis, L'Hommedieu, Reed, Tucker, and Brown to report on the condition in which the Department of Foreign Affairs then was. They found that it occupied two rooms, one being the Secretary's and the other that of his Deputy and clerks. The methods of doing business were set forth:
The daily transactions are entered in a minute Book as they occur, and from thence are mostly copied into a Journal at Seasons of Leisure. This Journal contains a note of the Dates, Receipt and contents of all Letters received and written by him, with References to the Books in which they are recorded—of all matters referred to him, and the Time when, and of his Reports thereupon; and in general of all the Transactions in the Department. It is very minute and at present occupies 2 Folio Vols.
His official Letters to the ministers and servants of congress and others abroad are recorded in a Book entitled Book of foreign Letters, and such parts as require secrecy are in cyphers.
The official Correspondence with foreign ministers here, and with officers of Congress, and others in the United States, including the Letters received
and written by him, are recorded at large in a Book entitled American Letter Book. They already fill 3 folio vols.
His Reports to Congress are recorded in a Book entitled Book of Reports, the 3d Vol. of which is now in Hand. The Papers on which the Reports are made are subjoined to the Report, unless in Cases where according to the ordinary course of the office, they are recorded in other Books.
His Correspondence and the Proceedings with the Encargado de Negocios of Spain are recorded in a Book kept for that Purpose.
The Passports for vessels issued by the Secretary under the Act of Congress of 12th February 1788, together with the evidence accompanying the several Applications, are recorded in a Book kept for that Purpose. The Letters of Credence and Commissions of foreign Ministers, Chargé des Affaires and Consuls to the United States, are recorded in a Book entitled Book of foreign Commissions.
There is also a Book kept and regularly sent to the Secretary of Congress, to receive such Acts of Congress as respect the Department. A Book of Accounts is kept in which are entered the contingent Expenses of the office.
The Business of the office is done by his Deputy and two Clerks and whatever Time can be spared from the ordinary and daily Business is employed in recording the Letters received from the American Ministers abroad. In this Work considerable Progress has been made—We find already recorded one vol. containing the Letters of Mr. Dana during his mission to Russia, commencing 18th February 1780 and ending 17th December 1783 of Mr. H. Laurens commencing 24th January 1780 and ending 30th April 1784, and of Mr. John Laurens during his special mission to Versailles, commencing 3rd January 1781 and ending 6th September following. Five vols containing the letters of Mr. Adams commencing 23rd December 1777 and brought up to 10th April 1787, the 6th vol is now in hand. Two vols containing the Letters from Mr. Jay commencing the 20th December 1779 and ending 25th July, 1784. The Letters from Mr. Deane commencing 17th September 1776 and ending 17th March 1782 are recorded, and those from Mr. Arthur Lee commencing 13th February 1776 and brought up to 13th February 1778 are now in hand.
Those from Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jefferson the first joint Commissioners the joint commissioners for negociating a Treaty of Peace, and those for negociating Treaties of Commerce, Mr. William Lee, Mr. Dumas and others are numerous, and are yet to be recorded.
The Letter Book of the late Committee for foreign Affairs composed of sheets stitched together and much
torn, has been fairly copied in a bound Book and indexed. The Books used for these Records are of demy Paper, and each vol contains from 5 to 6 Quires of Paper, being all of a size, except the two Vols. of the Secretary's Reports which are somewhat less.
There is an index to the Paper Cases, and to the Boxes in each case, and to the Papers in each box. In these cases and boxes are filed the original Letters and Papers belonging to the office. The office is constantly open from 9 in the morning to 6 o'clock in the Evening, and either his Deputy or one of the Clerks remains in the office while the others are absent at Dinner.
The report concludes, “and upon the whole they find neatness, method and perspicacity throughout the Department.
Such was the condition of the Department of Foreign Affairs when the Government took its new form under the Constitution. Livingston and Jay had been the only Secretaries.
* Department of State MS. archives.
FORMATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE.
THE first Congress under the Constitution
obtained a quorum in both branches early in April, 1789. After Washington had been declared elected President and John Adams VicePresident, the question of providing the proper executive machinery for the Government was taken up, and among the first Departments brought under consideration was that of Foreign Affairs. The plan of operating the old Department developed by Livingston and Jay was good, as far as it went. The trouble lay in the insufficient authority vested in the department and the insufficient authority of the old Congress itself. In providing for the new Department the design at first was for a foreign office, completely separated from the conduct of do