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)
Bob Crothers said:
A wonderful reminder of the various locations the Continental Congress met in in those tremulous times.
Keith Muchowski said:
Bob, yes, the transitoriness of the capital is a fascinating topic in and of itself. During the war much of that was because the legislature was in danger of getting overrun by the British. I suspect that after the fighting itself ended some of the impermanency stemmed from different states jockeying wither of host the capital permanently, to prevent others from getting it, and/or to promote regional balance in what was still a tenuous political situation.
Again, I’m looking forward to getting together in early 2020. Once the holidays are over and things settle down we’ll figure out a day.