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An Act to provide for the Government of the Territory, North-West of the River Ohio, July 21, 1789, printed by Thomas Greenleaf

Congress printed documents for both internal use and external distribution. For example, in 1789 Congress adapted provisions of the Northwest Ordinance—originally passed by the Continental Congress—to fit the new Constitution. The House passed this bill first, and New York publisher Thomas Greenleaf printed a clean version of the bill for the Senate’s deliberations.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

An Act to provide for the Government of the Territory, North-West of the River Ohio, July 21, 1789, printed by Thomas Greenleaf

Printers for the Public Record

The Constitution requires both the House and Senate to record and publish journals of their proceedings. The First Congress (1789-1791) added the requirement that all laws, orders, resolutions, and votes be printed and distributed to all senators and representatives and to officials in every state. Through the efforts of the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, Congress informed citizens nationwide about its proceedings. Congress still follows this precedent by publishing much of its work both in print and online.