This month, we wanted to hi-light two March “firsts” from American history that center on presidential appointments.
it-happened-in-march-1

On March 22, 1790, Thomas Jefferson began serving as America’s first Secretary of State under the Constitution. This appointment had been made by President George Washington and approved by the U. S. Senate in September of 1789. [1] As the Secretary of State, Jefferson’s primary job to be “the president’s chief foreign affairs adviser.” [2] He also took on other major responsibilities as well — such as laying out the grounds for the brand new federal capital that was to be build in Washington, D. C.
it-happened-in-march-2On March 18, 1877, Frederick Douglass became the first African American confirmed by the U. S. Senate to serve in a presidential appointment. [3] He had been selected by President Rutherford B. Hayes to be the Marshal of Washington, D.C  — a position established to “support the federal courts.” [4] His responsibilities included serving “the subpoenas, summonses, writs, warrants and other process issued by the courts, [making] all the arrests and [handling] all the prisoners.” [5] Prior to this appointment, Douglass had held various positions under previous presidents, but none had required Senate confirmation. In all, Douglass served under four Republican presidents. [6]

 


[1] Thomas Jefferson Papers, “The Early Republic, 1784-1789,” Library of Congress (accessed on March 18, 2015); “Former Secretaries of State,” U.S. Department of State (accessed on March 18, 2015); Office of the Historian, “A Short History of the Department of State,” U.S. Department of State (accessed on March 18, 2015).

 

[2]Duties of the Secretary of State,” U.S. Department of State, January 20, 2009.

 

[3]Frederick Douglass,” White House Historical Association (accessed on March 18, 2015).

 

[4]History – Broad Range of Authority,” U.S. Marshals Service (accessed on March 18, 2015).

 

[5]History – Broad Range of Authority,” U.S. Marshals Service (accessed on March 18, 2015).

 

[6]People: Frederick Douglass,” National Park Service (accessed on March 18, 2015).

 

print