French Arms Tavern in Trenton, New Jersey served as a temporary site of the federal government for nearly two months the year after the Revolution ended. The Confederation Congress’s final day in the tavern was Christmas Eve 1784.

Two hundred and thirty five Christmas Eves ago the Congress of the Confederation concluded its affairs in Trenton after its brief–less than two-month–stay in that southern New Jersey town. The Confederation Congress’s time in New Jersey was short but not without its highlights; it was there that the Marquis de Lafayette gave his goodbye oration to the United States legislature on December 11, 1784. Forty years later in 1824 Lafayette would return to the United States for a grand tour in which he was received with great interest and turnout everywhere he went.

The image we see above is the French Arms Tavern, where Congress met from November 1 to December 24, 1784. I had a conversation not long ago with someone in which we discussed how official and semi-official business in the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Early American periods often took place in such venues as coffeehouses and taverns. I suppose the reason is that infrastructure was just not so prevalent in those times. The men of the Confederation Congress had voted the previous day to move the nascent nation’s capital to New York City. Congress would move in to New York’s City Hall, today’s Federal Hall, on January 11, 1785. One can imagine the men wrapping up their affairs on that long ago Christmas Eve and enjoying a holiday meal before preparing in the coming days for the move to New York.

(image/Architect of the U.S. Capitol)