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Today in history: A new national capital
In 1800, President John Adams ordered the federal government to be moved to Washington, D.C.
 
President Adams was pleased by his decision to move the seat of government from Philadelphia to Washington.
President Adams was pleased by his decision to move the seat of government from Philadelphia to Washington. National Archives/Newsmakers/Getty Images

May 15, 1800: President John Adams ordered the federal government to leave Philadelphia and move to the new capital city: Washington, D.C., which stood for "District of Columbia." Washington officially became the U.S. capital on June 11, 1800. At the time the entire federal workforce numbered about 125.

What is today known as the White House was still under construction, so when Adams arrived in Washington, he took a room over a Capitol Hill tavern, Tunnicliff's, at the corner of 1st and A NE. Adams enjoyed it. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, on June 13, 1800, he said:

"I like the seat of government very well and shall sleep or lie awake next winter in the president's house.... (Secretary of State John) Mr Marshall and (Secretary of War Samuel) Mr Dexter lodge with me at Tunnicliff's City Hotel very near the capitol. The establishment of the public offices in this place has given it the air of the seat of government and all things seem to go on well."

Quote of the day

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." —John Adams

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