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George Washington was inaugurated here for his second term and four years later he declined to seek a third term. In 1797, John Adams, who had defeated Thomas Jefferson in the first two-party election, was sworn into office here, cementing one of the foundations of our democracy: the peaceful transition of power.
Our ranger first took us into the large courtroom on the first floor which was used by the House of Representatives. The furniture here is not original as the desks were auctioned off once the capital moved to DC. The NPS reacquired some of the originals, but they are in the upstairs rooms. So we were able to sit at these authentic looking desks with ink wells while the ranger talked.
Next we went upstairs to see the room used by the Senate as well as some other smaller committee rooms where large paintings of France’s King Louis 16th and Marie Antoinette adorn the walls. These were gifts from France after the American Revolution ended.
In 1800, Washington, DC became the US capital and Congress Hall reverted to serving as the Philadelphia courthouse.
Location: 6th & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Designation: National Historical Park
Date NPS designation declared: 1951
Date of my visit: August 2017