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A Bill for the temporary removal of the seat of government from Washington, October 13, 1814

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives in mid-October 1814 proposed that all federal government offices move from Washington to another location within twenty days, but did not specify a place for the temporary seat of government. The House rejected the bill, 83–74. Congress passed a separate bill, which provided for the rebuilding of Washington.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

A Bill for the temporary removal of the seat of government from Washington, October 13, 1814

Moving the Seat of Government

Washington, D.C., was founded in 1790 to be the nation’s capital. The federal government, which had previously met in New York and Philadelphia, relocated there in 1800. After the British burned Washington’s public buildings—including the U.S. Capitol—in August 1814, northern congressmen proposed moving the government, at least temporarily, back to Philadelphia. A House committee considered the matter, but the full House defeated the bill when put to a vote. District citizens built a temporary brick Capitol for Congress, and Washington, D.C., remained the seat of government.

Resolved, that it is inexpedient expedient to remove the seat of government at this time, from the city of Washington.

Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the expediency of removing the Seat of Government, October 3, 1814