First Capital of the United States


A person standing in front of a cloudy blue sky

What is Capital?

A large body of water with a city in the background

A capital city is a city that is a major population center and the seat of government of any country. A capital is typically a city where the seat of government is located.

First Capital:

A bridge over a body of water with a city in the background

The city of Washington, D.C. was not the first Capital of America. In 1783, the United States formally left Great Britain and became its sovereign nation with a new capital, Philadelphia. The U.S Constitution was signed there on September 17th, 1787 (11 years after the Declaration of Independence). Philadelphia served as the capital until December 12th, 1790. Philadelphia served as the capital city for only ten years but was destined to become the birthplace of many American ideals and traditions that are still in practice today.

What was Philadelphia’s role in America’s history?

Philadelphia became a center for trade and commerce because of its central location; it was at the intersection of important north-south and east-west trade routes. It also had an excellent harbor that could accommodate large ships. Philadelphia grew into America’s first major industrial city, with industries that included shipbuilding, insurance, publishing (newspapers), pharmaceuticals (medicine), and clothing manufacturing; this all contributed to making it one of America’s wealthiest cities during the 18th century. Philadelphia was the site of many important events in America’s founding, including the drafting of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and it served as temporary U.S. capital while Washington, D.C., was under construction.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania became America’s first national capital on December 7th, 1790 after New York City relinquished its claim to be the seat of the United States government at a meeting held in Philadelphia with all thirteen members present except New York City Mayor John Jay who was ill.

The city officially became known as “the seat of the federal government for the United States” during this time even though President George Washington would not formally take up his residence there until April 1791. Benjamin Franklin played a major role in the city’s early history and also served as its first postmaster.

Philadelphia was originally settled by Swedish colonists, but soon welcomed other European immigrants from countries who were not traditionally Christian such as Jews. Philadelphia was a magnet for immigration because of its strong economy that made it a hub for trade and business. From about 1726 until 1751, over 10,000 Irish Protestants came to America after being promised land in exchange for working on Delaware River shipbuilding farms owned by prominent American colonist John Dickinson. John Dickinson built his home near Philadelphia in 1732.

Present Capital of the United States:

Washington D.C. is the Capital of the United States. It is located in the District of Columbia, USA. The city was established by George Washington on December 16, 1790, as the national capital after serving as a temporary capital building up to that time with New York City and Philadelphia. Today, it is one of the most visited cities in America because of its monuments, museums, famous buildings, shopping destinations, and entertainment opportunities along with being home to major government organizations such as Congress-including both Senate and House Chambers-White House Office Buildings including its East Wing offices for First Lady Hillary Clinton’s staff offices), Presidential Libraries (Theodore Roosevelt), Supreme Court BuildingJohn Marshall), Federal Reserve System, United States Department of State ), World Bank Headquarters, Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Justice.

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