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THOMSON, Charles (1729-1824), Secretary of Congress. Document signed ("Charles Thomson, Secy,"), a fair copy of an act of Congress ("By the United States in Congress Assembled..."), n.p. [Trenton, New Jersey], 23 December 1784. 1¼ pages, folio, text in a bold clerical hand..
THOMSON, Charles (1729-1824), Secretary of Congress. Document signed ("Charles Thomson, Secy,"), a fair copy of an act of Congress ("By the United States in Congress Assembled..."), n.p. [Trenton, New Jersey], 23 December 1784. 1¼ pages, folio, text in a bold clerical hand..

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THOMSON, Charles (1729-1824), Secretary of Congress. Document signed ("Charles Thomson, Secy,"), a fair copy of an act of Congress ("By the United States in Congress Assembled..."), n.p. [Trenton, New Jersey], 23 December 1784. 1¼ pages, folio, text in a bold clerical hand..

CONGRESS AUTHORIZES A NEW FEDERAL CITY IN TRENTON, NEW JERSEY

A document memorializing a little-known effort to locate the nation's new capital in Trenton, where Congress met briefly, from 1 November to 24 December 1784. Congres had met from 1778 to 1783 in Philadelphia, then in Princeton, Annapolis and Trenton. During these perambulations, there was a growing consensus that Congress should have a permanent home, but unfortunately, "the question more and more became a tangle of geographical and political complexities" (E.C. Burnett, Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, 7:xxix). The question increasingly became a point of contention between southern and northern states.

"Be it ordained...that the resolutions of the 20th Instant respecting the erecting buildings for the use of Congress be carried into effect without delay." Three commissioners are to be named "with full powers to lay out a district of not less than two nor exceeding three miles square on the banks of either side the Delaware not more than eight miles above or below the lower falls thereof for a federal town." They are empowered to purchase the land, and "to enter into contracts for erecting and completing in an elegant manner, a federal house for the accommodation of Congress, and for the Executive Office thereof; a house for the use of the President of Congress, and suitable buildings for the residence of the Secretary of Foreign affairs, Secretary at war, Secretary of Congress, Secretary of the marine and Officers of the Treasury." The commissioners are authorized to draw funds from the Treasury up to $100,000 for this purpose. The act also notes that on 24 December, Congress adjourned to reconvene in New York on 11 January 1785, where they are to meet "until the Buildings aforesaid shall be ready for their reception...."

The Trenton capital proved a mirage. Congress found New York city a more congenial meeeting place and continued to meet there from January 1785 to March 1789. Provenance: James Lowe -- John F. Fleming.
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