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Judiciary Act of 1789: Primary Documents in American History

Digital Collections

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of primary source materials associated with the Judiciary Act of 1789, including manuscripts, journals, newspaper articles, and government documents. Provided below is a link to the home page for each relevant digital collection along with selected highlights.

Congressional Publications

Judiciary Act of 1789 Debate References:

Selected references to debate on the Judiciary Act can be found in the Annals of Congress, 1st Congress, 1st Session, on the following dates:

Note: The Senate met in secret at the time. The Senate did not open its doors to the public until 1795.

Maclay's Journal

Maclay's Journal is one of the few accounts of Senate floor activity in the early Congresses. Senate sessions were closed to the public until 1795. Senator William Maclay from Pennsylvania kept a diary of his experiences in the First Congress. Although an opponent of the bill, Maclay wrote extensively on the Judiciary Act.

References in Maclay's Journal include:

George Washington Papers

Selected highlights from this collection:

Historic Newspapers

James Madison Papers

Selected highlight from this collection: