How March 4th Played a Vital Role in America’s Development

George Washington presiding at the Convention of 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, 1787

President Donald Trump has been in office six weeks.  Whether you like him or hate him, you have to admit he has accomplished a lot.  Moreover, America still stands.  Even though the left begged for a miracle to prevent his swearing-in, to their dismay, he still became president.  However, who knows what Obama and the Democrats could and would have done if America still followed its initial Inauguration Day.

While General George Washington and the Continental Army continued to fight England, the Second Continental Congress met.  Their goal was to write a governing document for the 13 newly declared independent colonies.  They approved the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777.  Although, it did not become law until March 1, 1781, after all the states approved it.  And people think today’s Congress moves slow.  There were only 13 states at the time!

After the war, it became apparent the Articles did not satisfy the needs of the states or the new country. Congress called a delegation to form a new charter.  Among the participants at the Constitutional Convention were Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington.  Even though the delegates initially tried to amend the Articles of Confederation, they eventually realized they needed to start over from scratch.

The delegates, spearheaded by Madison, produced the Constitution of the United States of America.  Thirty-nine men signed the document on September 17, 1787.  However, it was not ratified by all the states until June 21, 1788.

At this point, Congress needed to choose a time to transition from the Articles to the Constitution.  They settled on March 4, 1789.

On February 4th, Congress elected George Washington President of the United States and John Adams Vice-President while still acting under the Articles of Confederation.  The new Congress began arriving in New York on March 4th.  However, it took a month before enough members gathered to muster a quorum for a final presidential vote.  Washington’s inauguration occurred on April 30th.  Yet, his term officially began on March 4th, as did all presidents until 1933.

The Constitution required Congress to meet at least once a year, on the first Monday of December, unless another date was chosen.  The 3rd Congress decided on December 1st.  However, the last day for the two-term Representatives remained March 4th.  This meant an extremely long lame duck session for Congress between their first meeting in December and the swearing in of new members in March.

Some lawmakers took full advantage of the lame duck period.  Non-returning Congressmen pushed through legislation they otherwise would have avoided.  Americans still experience this as lawmakers meet during December.

After the 2014 elections, GOP leaders ignored their voters and placated President Obama by pushed through his massive spending bill.  In less than a month, even re-elected Republicans reneged on their campaign promises, stabbing their constituents in the back.  They rammed the bill through the House before the new members could be sworn in to oppose it.  They also got it through the Senate before the newly elected Republicans became the majority.  And they wonder why we have a President Trump today!

With both the 1800 and 1824 presidential elections, no candidate received the needed electoral college votes.  Therefore, the elections went to the House.  However, members who lost their seats in the election still cast a vote for the next president.  This allowed outgoing Congressmen the power to effect the country for the next four years.

Abraham Lincoln also felt the sting of the extended lame duck session.  Lincoln ran on the Republican platform, which included the promise to free the slaves.  After his election, seven southern states left the Union before he took office on March 4th.  They wanted no part of abolition.  President James Buchanan and the divided Congress were helpless to stop the secessions.  By Lincoln’s inauguration, the lines were drawn.  If he wanted to preserve the Union, war was inevitable.

By the early 1930’s, Congress finally decided to move up the swearing-in date for elected officials .  Congress passed the 20th Amendment during Herbert Hoover’s term, but the states did not ratify it until January 23, 1933, which was after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s win in 1932.

The Amendment moved Congress’ swearing-in to January 3rd, and the president’s inauguration to January 20th.  The new dates took effect the following October.  Therefore, Roosevelt was the last president to be inaugurated on March 4th in 1933.  Likewise, he became the first president to be inaugurated on January 20th in 1937.  The House members elected in 1934 became the first Congressmen to take office on January 3rd in 1935.

So, as heated and crazy as these past few months have been, image the chaos if Obama was still in office until March 4th!

Likewise, it is good to remember that these frictions are nothing new.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had a very nasty campaign.  John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson also had a very contentious election resulting in the death of Jackson’s wife.  The Whig party disappeared because of their complete betrayal of their voters and as stated before, politicians used lame duck sessions to push through legislation they know was unpopular.

Nevertheless, of all the systems in the world, our Republic has been the most generous, most prosperous, most charitable and most liberating to all its citizens as well as other nations.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

But that’s just my 2 cents.


Pamela Adams

Pamela J. Adams maintains which includes her blog Liberating Letters. She is a stay-at-home mom who began researching history, science, religion, and current events to prepare for home schooling. She started Liberating Letters as short lessons for her daughter and publishes them for everyone’s benefit. Pamela has a Degree in Mathematics and was in the workforce for 20 years as a teacher, Marketing Director, Manager and Administrative Assistant. She has been researching her personal family history for over 24 years, publishing 3 books on her family’s genealogy. Follow her @PJA1791 & You can find her books Here.

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