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were enacting the prologue to what was to be in fact an indissoluble Union.
The Mount Vernon convention recommended that representatives be appointed annually to confer on the commercial and trade relations of the States. In considering this report, Maryland passed a resolution inviting Pennsylvania and Delaware to join in these annual conventions; while in the Virginia assembly Madison penned a resolution appointing commissioners to meet such as should be delegated by the other States “to take into consideration the trade of the United States," and "to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations may be necessary to their common interest and permanent harmony." a
The immediate result of the conference on trade and commerce held at Mount Vernon was that in the following year, 1786, commissioners from five of the thirteen States assembled by appointment at Annapolis, “to take into consideration the trade and commerce of the United States.” In this convention, Hamilton drew up an address, which Madison and Randolph signed with him, recommending a general meeting of the States in a future convention, and an extension of the powers of their delegates to other objects than those of commerce, as in the course of their reflections on the subject, they had been “induced to think that the power to regulate Trade is of such comprehensive extent and will enter so far into the General System of the Foederal Government, that to give it efficacy, and to obviate questions and doubts concerning its precise nature and limits, may require, g. correspondent adjustment of other Parts of the Foederal System.” br
In the constitutional convention, August 20, 1787, Mr. Gouverneur Morris, seconded by Mr. Pinckney, submitted a proposal that there should be a council of state to “assist the President in conducting the public affairs,” the third member of this council to be a “Secretary of Commerce and Finance,” whose duties were in part to “recommend such things as may in his judgment promote the commercial interests of the United States.” This plan also provided for a Secretary of Domestic Affairs to have supervision of agriculture, manufactures, roads, and navigation. The Constitution, as adopted, makes no provision for a cabinet or council of state, but President Washington immediately invited the Secretaries of the three Departments first mentioned, and the Attorney-General, appointed under the act of September 24, 1789, to become members of his official family. The Department of Justice was established by the act approved June 22, 1870.
During the period between the close of the Federal convention and the ratification of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, writing on the subject of commerce, says:
“The importance of the Union, in a commercial light, is one of
a Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. b Documentary History of the Constitution.
those points about which there is least room to entertain a difference of opinion, and which has, in fact, commanded the most general assent of men who have any acquaintance with the subject. This applies as well to our intercourse with foreign countries as with each other."a
In 1788, the same year in which the above was written by Hamilton, Commodore John Paul Jones, in a letter to the Marquise de Lafayette concerning the Constitution, stated:
“Had I the power I would create at least seven ministries in the primary organization of government under the Constitution. In addition to the four already agreed upon, I would ordain a Ministry of Marine, a Ministry of Home Affairs, and a General Post Office; and, as commerce must be our great reliance, it would not be amiss to create also as the eighth a Ministry of Commerce.” The remarkable foresight of the great commodore enabled him to name the Cabinet as it is to-day, practically in the order in which it grew, agriculture being included by him in the Interior (Home) Department where it actually was for a time.
When the Constitution had been ratified by eleven States, and the Congress, under its authority to “ regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States," proceeded solemnly to treat the commerce and manufactures of the two remaining States in the same manner as those of any foreign country, it was from a sense of their commercial interests that they hastened to enroll themselves with their sister Commonwealths, although one of these two States had not even rticipated in the convention.
Thus, not only were the commercial and industrial interests of the States an important and controlling influence in bringing them into the Federal convention, but a realization of the commercial advantages of the Union induced the States to ratify the Constitution.
We find in the first annual address to the Congress of an American President, General Washington, the following words: “The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures by all proper means will not, I trust, need recommendation.” The first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, gave special consideration to the commerce and industries of the country, and his special reports on these subjects, in which he recommended that a board be established for promoting arts, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, demonstrate that he considered this function of the Treasury Department one of primary importance.
Hastened by impending war with France, the act of April 30, 1798, was passed, establishing the Navy Department, and its Secretary became the fifth member of the Cabinet. In 1829 the PostmasterGeneral entered the Cabinet for the first time, on the invitation of President Jackson, though this office had been in existence since the
• Original manuscript in archives of Congressional Library.
act of September 22, 1789. The General Post-Office was constituted the Post-Office Department by the act approved June 8, 1872.
The discussions in the early Congresses looking toward the establishment of another Executive Department centered around what was termed a “Home Department," and the then important work of government in connection with land and Indian affairs formed the nucleus from which was established, in 1819, under the act of March 3 of that year, the Department of the Interior, whose Secretary became the seventh Cabinet member. As the business interests of the country entered largely into the provisions of the various measures anticipating the Interior Department, it may be well to notice some of these reports: In a bill to establish a Home Department, introduced by Representative Vining, of Delaware, in the First Congress, July 23, 1789, the duties of the proposed Department were, in part, “to report to the President plans for the protection and improvement of manufactures, agriculture, and commerce.” The outcome of this movement was the change in name of Department of Foreign Affairs to Department of State, above noted, and the giving of duties to the State Department not comportable with the original name.
President Madison's message of December 3, 1816, recommended the establishment of “an additional Department in the executive branch of the Government ;” and the Senate committee to which this recommendation was referred reported a bill to establish a Home Department to have charge of such subjects as the President might direct. In 1825, the subject was again revived and Representative Newton offered a resolution that a Department to be denominated “The Home Department should be established for the purpose of superintending whatever may relate to the interests of agriculture and manufactures, the promotion of the progress of science and the arts, the intercourse and trade between the several States by roads and canals.” This resolution was not agreed to.
In his message of December 6, 1825, President John Quincy Adams recommended a reorganization of the Executive Departments, and the committee of the House of Representatives to which this matter was referred, by its chairman, Daniel Webster, reported a bill to establish a new Department. The report stated that “at the organization of the Government, it appears to have been the original design in regard to the Executive Departments, that there should be a distinct and separate Department for such internal or domestic affairs as appertain to the General Government."
On December 15, 1836, the resolution of Mr. Benton, of Missouri, that “the annual statement of the commerce and navigation of the United States be hereafter printed under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, and be communicated in printed form as soon as possible after the commencing of each stated session of Congress," was adopted by the Senate.
Notwithstanding the discussions leading up to the establishment of the Department of the Interior, very few of the commercial and industrial agencies of Government were put under the control of that Department, most of them remaining under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Treasury.
The movement for the creation of an additional Executive Department, following the establishment of the Interior Department, took many and varied phases. The names proposed in the different bills to establish a new Department indicate their provisions. These names included the following titles, grouped together in various ways: Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Industries, Manufactures, Patents, Mining, Navigation, Transportation, and Mechanics. (See end of chapter for proposed legislation.)
The first industries of the country to be accorded an Executive Department by the Congress were those of agriculture, when the Department of Agriculture, established by act of May 15, 1862, was constituted an Executive Department, with a Secretary of Agriculture (eighth member of the Cabinet), by the act of February 9, 1889. The labor interests received recognition in the establishment of the Bureau of Labor under the act of Congress approved June 27, 1884; this Bureau was constituted the Department of Labor and the Commissioner of Labor was continued in charge, by act of Congress approved June 13, 1888. The commercial and manufacturing interests of the country, as far as Governmental supervision and cooperation were concerned, were left to offices distributed among the several Departments. The business of Government increased in volume as the country grew in age, and during the last half of the nineteenth century the work of the fiscal branch of the Treasury so absorbed the attention of the head of that Department that his supervision of commercial matters had lost the importance it had enjoyed under the first Secretary of the Treasury.
Commercial conventions at Detroit in 1865, and at Boston in 1868, and the National Board of Trade in 1874, memorialized the Congress for the establishment of a Department of Commerce, in order that the rapidly increasing volume of capital invested in commerce and manufactures might be the subject of Governmental aid and supervision; many similar petitions have been presented to the Congress, and the subject has been referred to in the more recent political platforms and annual messages of the President. These petitions, and the representatives of commercial organizations before the committees of Congress, stated that the United States was a distinctly commercial and industrial nation; that the Twelfth Census showed the aggregate value of the products of the manufacturing establishments of the United States, during the census year ending June 1, 1900, to exceed thirteen billion dollars, which is probably nearly four times the aggregate value of all the products of agriculture during the same year; that the same arguments advanced for the creation of the Department of Agriculture were applicable to one for the commercial and industrial life of the country; that the manufacturing interests in the United States exceeded in volume and importance the industrial interests of any nation in the world, and yet there was no Government office specially charged with any duties relating directly to them, and that in this respect the United States was almost alone among the nations of the world; that agriculture, labor, transportation, mining, fisheries, and forestry all had distinct recognition in one form or another, but not so with the manufacturing interests.
The country's need for a Department of Commerce and Labor, which had become national in scope in 1874, was forced to give way temporarily in order that all the energy of the commerce committees of Congress might be centered upon the eradication of the transportation evil of rebates. This resulted in the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887.
The movement for the establishment of the new department gathered headway until, during the first session of the Fifty-seventh Congress, Senate bill No. 569 was introduced to establish a Department of Commerce [and Labor]. This measure, after earnest discussion, passed the Senate with little or no opposition, and passed the House early in the second session. It was approved by the President February 14, 1903. (The legislative history of this bill is given in Chapter XVI.)
The Secretary of Commerce and Labor became the ninth member of the President's Cabinet.
It may appear strange that one hundred and fourteen years elapsed before the Department became a reality, when its need was felt and its value recognized at the very beginning. The answer is ready. Conservative action on the important subject of increasing the number of executive departments has been the rule of the Congress. The name “Department of Foreign Affairs” was changed to “Department of State” in order that the field of that department might be enlarged and the creation of a home department avoided; the naval affairs were consolidated with those of the Army to make unnecessary a separate Department of the Navy. In this grouping in one department of matters that would logically form two, it was but natural that commerce and finance should at first abide together. The tendency of the national legislature to follow and not lead in enlarging the executive side of government compelled the Department of Commerce and Labor to wait, as each of the older departments in its turn bad waited, until the demand for the legislation became paramount and unanimous, and until the field of its activity was already so large and the urgent appeal so loud that none but an affirmative answer could be given.