Navigation Bar Grades K-2 Grades 3-5 Grades 6-8Grades 9-12 Parents and Teachers Home

Our Capital, Washington, D.C.

New York City was the first capital of the United States once the Constitution was ratified. This is where Congress (that was formed under the Articles of Confederation) met. It is also where George Washington took the oath of office from the balcony of the old City Hall to become the first President of the United States.

One of the issues the President had to deal with was a permanent location for the country’s seat of government. As part of a compromise, it was decided that the capital would move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1791 for ten years and then to a suitable permanent location on the Potomac River. Washington chose an area that included land from the states of Maryland and Virginia. At this time the area was primarily farm and marsh lands. Nevertheless, Congress was scheduled to meet in the new capital on the first Monday in December 1800.

Map of the United States and Washington, D.C.

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was hired to design the "Federal City" and within three months the plans were completed. Problems had to be overcome, but on June 11, 1800, Philadelphia was no longer the seat of government. The capital of the United States now had a permanent home in Washington, D.C.

To learn more, choose from the following:

Related links

A service of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office.

Last updated: January 5, 2000
HelpHomePage Name: