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Brick Capitol, photograph by Matthew Brady, 1865

Congress met in the brick Capitol—on the site of the present-day Supreme Court—from December 1815 to March 1819, while the original Capitol was rebuilt. The brick building later served as a school and as a Civil War military prison.

Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, National Archives and Records Administration

Brick Capitol, photograph by Matthew Brady, 1865

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