Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress 1789-1791
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    New York as the Seat of Government
A View of Broad Street, Wall Street, and the City Hall (1797), by John Joseph Holland
(I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs, 
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

"The Congress shall assemble at least once 
in every Year . . . ."

Article I, Section 4

The "old" or Confederation Congress was charged with the task of putting the Constitution "into operation in pursuance of the resolutions of the late Federal Convention." Congress appointed a committee on July 2, 1788, but it took ten weeks to complete the task. When the new government would convene and where the presidential electors would vote was decided easily. Deciding where to meet caused delay because Congress was divided between those who wanted to stay at New York City, the seat of government since 1785, and those who believed the First Federal Congress, like the First Continental Congress, should meet at Philadelphia. Other locations proposed included Annapolis and Baltimore in Maryland, and Lancaster in Pennsylvania. An ordinance finally passed on September 13, 1788. Because of the bitterness of the fight, the ordinance did not name New York. Instead it said "the present Seat of Congress." New York's population of approximately 29,000 welcomed the new Congress with elaborate preparations and celebrations.

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