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Watercolor View of the Capitol, by William Birch, ca. 1800

The Capitol was still under construction when Congress first met here in 1800.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Watercolor View of the Capitol

Images of the Era: 1789-1815

During its first quarter century, the new United States government had to find its way in the world while attending to the nation’s business. Leaders met with Indian nations and faced often-hostile relations with European powers while coping with conflicts between emerging political parties and working out relationships among the three new branches of government.