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On May 15, 1800, President John Adams moved the federal government from Philadelphia to the newly established capital of Washington, D.C. The move was completed relatively quickly, with important documents being brought to Washington by ships. Adams had ordered his cabinet to ensure that every office would be operational in Washington within one month. Philadelphia officially ceased to serve as the nation’s capital on June 11, 1800. This swift move was made possible due to the small size of the federal government at that time, with only around 125 federal employees compared to the over two million federal employees today.

The establishment of Washington, D.C., as the capital city was set in motion with President George Washington signing the Residence Act on July 16, 1790. The act designated that the capital would be built along the Potomac River, and until its construction, Philadelphia would serve as a temporary capital for a 10-year period. Washington announced the location of the future capital in a proclamation on January 24, 1791. The District of Columbia, as it would come to be known, would be located along the Potomac River and surrounded by a ten-mile square area. French engineer Pierre-Charles L’Enfant was responsible for designing and planning the new city.

At the time of the government’s move to Washington, many of the city’s famous landmarks were still under construction. President Adams and his wife did not move into what is now the White House until later in 1800, initially staying at Union Tavern in Georgetown. The Capitol building was also unfinished, with only the Senate side completed in 1800. The House of Representatives’ portion of the building would not be finished until 1811. Despite the incomplete state of many landmarks, enough space had been completed by November 17, 1800, to house the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress at the new permanent site of the federal government.

On April 29, 2004, the World War II Memorial opened in Washington, D.C., evoking memories of the nation’s history and sacrifices. The completion of the new city was a gradual process, with various landmarks and buildings being constructed over time. President Adams expressed his hopes for the future of the White House, stating his wish for wise men to rule under its roof. The government’s relocation to Washington marked a significant moment in American history, solidifying the city as the capital of the United States of America. It demonstrated the country’s commitment to establishing a centralized seat of government.

In conclusion, the move of the federal government to Washington, D.C., on May 15, 1800, marked a crucial step in the development of the United States as a nation. The establishment of the new capital city, planned years in advance by President George Washington and realized by President John Adams, set the stage for the country’s future. Despite the unfinished state of many landmarks in the city at the time of the move, enough progress had been made to accommodate the various branches of government. The relocation symbolized a turning point in American history, signaling the growth and expansion of the federal government and its role in the nation’s governance. The completion of Washington, D.C., as the capital foreshadowed its future as a hub of political activity and a symbol of American democracy.

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