5 capital runners up – these cities were briefly our nation’s capital

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We take it for granted that our nation’s capital is Washington, the District of Columbia. Or Washington D.C., or The District, or just D.C., if you’re extra cool. Before the year 1791, however, it was anything but certain that the capital of our newly minted republic would be planted on the banks of the mighty Potomac River. Plural regions vied for the honor of hosting the American capital city, and yearned for the economic boon that would accompany it. These five spots came up short, but for a time each had a shot at being at the epicenter of American rage every time our government squanders tax money, stumbles into foolish wars or engages in gut-wrenchingly awful legislation.

5 Run For It!

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During the War of 1812, Leesburg, Virginia, about 30 miles west of D.C., took on the role of acting national capital. That’s because after the Brits marched into Washington, the capital was largely engulfed in flames. Along with many agents of government, copies of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and various other irreplaceable documents were removed from the National Archives and housed there.

4 Big Apple Capital

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From 1785 to 1790, NYC was the capital of the USA. And honestly, it might have made sense to leave it there. New York is our answer to Paris, London, and so on, and those cities match stature with size and grandeur. But enough editorializing: by 1791 the site had been chosen for our permanent capital. New York continued to act as the seat of government until the turn of the century, though, as Washington D.C. was built up.

3 Probably Better Off Not

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There ““ We’re sorry, Trenton, New Jersey, we just think the nation’s capital and you aren’t a match. For just under two months, though, in the year 1784, Trenton, NJ served as the capital of our country. From November 1 to Christmas Eve of that same year, the city was filled with many of the key figures of the Revolutionary War and of the new American nation. At that time, no permanent capital had been designated, however, so just as quickly as Trenton took on the mantle as acting capital, it handed it off to New York City.

2 The Baltimore Days

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From late December of 1776 to late February, 1777, Baltimore, Maryland, served as the nation’s capital. The specific location at which governance took place during the Baltimore days was at the Henry Fite House, a local tavern. So you can bet this was a fun time to serve in the Continental Congress, eh? Aside from the whole war thing that was going on, of course.

1 Once Upon a Time

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For the better part of the first two decades of American history, Philadelphia was the nation’s capital. It was in Philly that the Continental Congress, forerunner to the American government, met to discuss independence from Britain, and it was in Philly that they met again to hash out a constitution to codify the laws of the new nation once that independence was won.

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