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Maclay's Journal

Journal of William Maclay, United States Senator from Pennsylvania, 1789-1791

William Maclay was one of the first two senators from Pennsylvania. He drew a two-year term in the allotment of term lengths for the 1st Congress and was not reelected. A man of strong, not to say acerbic, opinions, Maclay soon felt himself swimming against the stream. Within two months of the opening of the first session, he had begun to keep a diary, which he continued almost daily for the three sessions of the 1st Congress. Because Senate sessions were closed to the public until 1795, his is one of the few accounts of Senate floor activity in the early Congresses.

The edition of the diary offered here is that published in 1891, edited by Edgar S. Maclay, a descendant of the diarist. A scholarly edition, The Diary of William Maclay and Other Notes on Senate Debates, was published in 1988 by the Johns Hopkins University Press as part of the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress.

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