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Which Capital of the United States Had the Shortest Tenure?

The United States declared independence in 1776, but Washington, D.C., did not officially become the nation's capital until 1800. In fact, the US went through eight other capital cities before settling on Washington, D.C. The original capital of the US was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 5 September through 26 October 1774, during the meeting of the first Continental Congress. Another Pennsylvania city is known for being the US capital with the shortest tenure – Lancaster, which served as capital for just one day on 27 September 1777, when the Congress had to leave Philadelphia to flee from British troops.

More about former US capitals:

  • Philadelphia was used as the US capital on six different occasions, the most of any city.

  • The Articles of Confederation, which served as the first agreement between the original 13 colonies, were drafted in York, Pennsylvania, when it was serving as capital from 30 September 1777 to 27 June 1778.

  • Princeton, New Jersey, served as the nation's capital in late 1783. Congress met at Princeton University and Princeton became the first US city to receive a formal visit from a foreign minister, Peter John Van Berkel from the Netherlands.

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