What Were the Two Capital Cities Before Washington, D.C.?

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The first capitals of the United States were Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in the State House, and New York City. Several other cities were used to convene the new government, including Annapolis, Baltimore and Trenton, N.J.

Because Washington, D.C. didn’t even exist until after 1790, temporary capital cities were chosen to house the new American government. For most of the Revolutionary War, the location of the capital changed regularly, starting in Philadelphia, where the First and Second Continental Congresses convened. Once the American Colonies established their independence, soldiers seeking payment descended upon Philadelphia in an event known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783.

Congress was forced to move to several other locations before establishing the first United States Congress in 1789 in New York City. Congress met there until December 1800, when the new capitol in Washington, D.C. was finally ready.