United States and American History: 1790

About the history of the United States in 1790, the first U.S. census, Benjamin Franklin's death, the Hamilton economy, first patent offered.


--U.S. Population--3,929,214. (The 1st U.S. Census, completed August 1, revealed that Virginia was the most populous State at 747,610. Philadelphia was the largest city at 42,444.)

Jan. 14 Alexander Hamilton, the new nation's Secretary of the Treasury, submitted to Congress a national fiscal program recommending that the Federal Government be responsible for the entire national debt, and assume most of the debt incurred by the States during the Revolution. Southern congressmen agreed to vote for the Assumption Bill if northern congressmen would vote for a southern site for the Federal capital. The bill was passed and 10 years later the capital was moved from Philadelphia to the banks of the Potomac.

Apr. 17 Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at 84. Half the population of Philadelphia attended his funeral--an estimated 20,000 people. He was widely known at home and abroad as a distinguished statesman, scientist, and philosopher. Four of the key documents of his time bore Franklin's signature: The Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the U.S., Treaty of Alliance with France, and Treaty of Peace with Great Britain. In 1789 George Washington wrote to Franklin: "If to be venerated for benevolence; if to be admired for talents; if to be esteemed for patriotism; if to be beloved for philanthropy, can gratify the human mind, you must have the pleasing consolation that you have not lived in vain."

May 31 President Washington signed the U.S. copyright act.

July Four Carmelite nuns founded Mount Carmel, at Port Tobacco, Charles County, Md.; the 1st convent of religious women established in what had been the original 13 Colonies. The convent throve until 1891, when the nuns were transferred to Baltimore. The buildings had almost disappeared by 1935, the year a group of interested citizens launched a restoration campaign. Two surviving buildings were restored and a new chapel built. Now public pilgrimages are made year around.

Dec. First U.S. patent went to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for new method of making crude and commercial carbonate of potassium, used in glassmaking.

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