Unofficial Records of the Congress

Among the numerous unofficial records of activity by the First Federal Congress, or among the newspaper accounts, 'circular letters' (from representatives and senators to constituents), and word-of-mouth, one unofficial source stands out. It is the diary of Senator William Maclay of Pennsylvania, the only surviving diary from the first Senate.

Maclay puts us inside the high-ceilinged room where noise from passing carriages on cobbled streets outside obscures George Washington's low speaking voice. In a first-person account, Maclay shows us the first Senate's practices of deliberation from his own, distinctive viewpoint.