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Attorneys General of the United States

The Department of Justice traces its beginning to the First Congress meeting in New York in 1789, at which time the Congress devoted itself to creating the infrastructure for operating the Federal Government. After meeting for several months the legislators passed a bill known as the Judiciary Act that provided for the organization and administration of the judicial branch of the new government, and included in that Act was a provision for appointment of “…a meet person, learned in the law, to act as attorney-general for the United States…” 

Although it would be nearly another century before Congress would create the Department of Justice, the establishment of the Attorney General position marks the true beginning of the Department. The Judiciary Act was passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington on September 24, 1789, making the Attorney General position the fourth in the order of creation by Congress of those positions that have come to be defined as Cabinet level positions.

Learn more about the distinguished Americans who have served as Attorney General below.