COVID-19 (coronavirus) Update

The Capitol Visitor Center is closed for tours. All tours are cancelled. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Capitol Visitor Center at a future date.

Creating a Department of War

When the First Congress met in 1789, one of the primary orders of business was the creation of new executive departments to aid the president. Congress promptly established three such departments: the Department of Foreign Affairs (now the Department of State), the Department of Treasury, and the Department of War (now the Department of Defense), which was charged with administering the Army. To strengthen national defense, the First Congress augmented state and volunteer militias with a standing national army.