On Christmas Eve a few weeks back I noted that on that date in 1784 the Congress of the Confederation was packing up its temporary home in Trenton, New Jersey and moving to more permanent, or at least semi-permanent, digs in Manhattan. Specifically Congress was moving into New York City Hall on Wall Street, which it did on January 11, 1785. The image above, as the caption notes, is from prior to the Revolution. The image is more representative of the structure as it would have been in 1785, a few years before Pierre L’Enfant renovated the building in preparation for its transformation into Federal Hall.
There is a tendency to think that not much happened at City/Federal Hall during the Confederation Period, presumably due to the weakness of the Articles of Confederation themselves. It was during this time, two years later in 1787, that the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia. Still, many significant things happened during the Confederation Congress’s years in the building we see here. Among other things, congressmen passed the Land Ordinance of 1785, put down Shays’s Rebellion, and passed the consequential Northwest Ordinance of 1787 that made possible the eventual ratification into statehood of numerous territories. After New York became the eleventh state to ratify the Constitution in late July 1788 Congress soon thereafter moved into the Walter Livingston House in order for L’Enfant to begin his work converting the building in time for the Federal Congress to convene on the site in March 1789 and for George Washington’s inaugural that April.