8 Surprising Places That Were Once U.S. Capitals

In 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, declaring Washington, D.C. as the nation’s permanent capital. But because it took 10 years to build up the land near the Potomac River into a functioning capital, Philadelphia served as the temporary capital until 1800. And although Philadelphia is widely known as a former U.S. capital, you might be surprised to learn that eight towns and cities across Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York have also briefly claimed to be the capital of the United States.


During the Revolutionary War, Congress feared that British soldiers would capture Philadelphia, the location of the First and Second Continental Congresses. So from late December 1776 to late February 1777, delegates to the Second Continental Congress met in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.

They rented a large, three-story house from its owner, Henry Fite, to use as their meeting place. At the Henry Fite house, they received news of George Washington crossing the Delaware River and other signs that the war was turning in their favor. Congress’s next meeting, in early March 1777, was back in Philadelphia. The Henry Fite House burned down in 1860, but thanks to the Sons of the American Revolution, visitors can see a memorial plaque near the site where the house once stood.


After the defeat of George Washington at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, the Continental Congress left Philadelphia for a safer meeting spot. They traveled 60 miles west to Lancaster, where they convened in the town’s courthouse on September 27. That day, they elected Benjamin Franklin to negotiate a treaty with France, and then decided that they shouldn’t sit tight. They left Lancaster the following day because it wasn’t safe enough from the threat of British forces, thus giving Lancaster the honor of hosting the country's capital for just one day.


When the Second Continental Congress delegates left Lancaster, they headed 25 miles west to York, Pennsylvania. They used York’s courthouse as their headquarters from late September 1777 to June 1778, and got quite a bit of work done. The delegates drafted the Articles of Confederation and signed a treaty with France. They returned to Philadelphia in June 1778, after the British had left the City of Brotherly Love.


Fearing that unpaid former Revolutionary War soldiers would riot (there was no tax revenue with which to pay them), Continental Congress delegates moved from Philadelphia to Princeton, New Jersey. From June through November 1783, they met in Nassau Hall, a building on the campus of the College of New Jersey (now called Princeton University). At Nassau Hall, the delegates greeted the U.S.’s first foreign minister (who came from the Netherlands), honored Washington for winning the Revolutionary War, and heard that Britain had signed the Treaty of Paris.

Today, visitors can see Nassau Hall, which is located across from the main gate that separates the campus from the town of Princeton. University administrators have their offices in Nassau Hall, and the building also has a Memorial Atrium to honor the alumni who died fighting for the U.S. in wars.


From late November 1783 to early June 1784, delegates to the Continental Congress met in Annapolis at the Maryland State House. Although the state house was still under construction, there was a finished portion of the building, called the Old Senate Chamber that they used for business. During Congress’ time at the Maryland State House, Washington officially resigned as the Continental Army’s commander-in-chief, and Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, preparing to end the Revolutionary War. Now a National Historic Landmark, the Maryland State House is the meeting place for the Maryland General Assembly and is open to visitors.


Because the Articles of Confederation didn’t declare one location as the nation’s capital, Congress met in Trenton, a village that some delegates wanted to become the permanent U.S. capital. At the French Arms Tavern, a large house that had been converted to a tavern, 31 delegates convened in November and December 1784. In 2009, New Jersey residents celebrated the 225th anniversary of the two months that Trenton was the U.S. capital with lectures, luncheons, and a tavern trek.


Federal Hall in 1929. Getty

While in New York City, they inaugurated Washington as the first U.S. president, outlined the rules for public office oaths, and organized departments such as foreign affairs, war, postmaster general, and the treasury. Congress also decided to make Philadelphia the nation’s temporary capital until 1800, when Washington, D.C. would take over as the permanent capital. Federal Hall was sadly demolished in 1812, but 30 years later a new Federal Hall was built on the site—it’s on Wall Street, across from the New York Stock Exchange—and visitors can walk up the steps and admire a hulking statue of Washington.In December 1784, the Continental Congress decided to leave Trenton and head to New York City. From 1785 to 1790, Congress met in downtown Manhattan at Old City Hall (later called Federal Hall).


On August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces occupied and burned Washington, D.C. To flee the chaos, President James Madison and his staff traveled 18 miles north of D.C. to the rural town of Brookeville, Maryland, arriving on the 26th, and the group stayed in farmer and postmaster Caleb Bentley’s house.

For one day in Brookeville, Madison conducted all government business: he commanded the U.S. military, safeguarded the Senate’s papers, and had meetings with his cabinet. The next day, British forces had moved on from D.C. to Baltimore, so Madison and his staff returned home. Although the accuracy of the statement is up for debate, Brookeville residents proudly refer to their town as “U.S. Capital for a Day,” and visitors can see Bentley’s house at 205 Market Street—now called the Madison house—on Brookeville's walking tour.

This Gorgeous Vintage Edition of Clue Sets the Perfect Mood for a Murder Mystery

WS Game Company
WS Game Company

Everyone should have a few good board games lying around the house for official game nights with family and friends and to kill some time on the occasional rainy day. But if your collection leaves a lot to be desired, you can class-up your selection with this great deal on the Vintage Bookshelf Edition of Clue for $40.

A brief history of Clue

'Clue' Vintage Bookshelf Edition.
WS Game Company.

Originally titled Murder!, Clue was created by a musician named Anthony Pratt in Birmingham, England, in 1943, and he filed a patent for it in 1944. He sold the game to Waddington's in the UK a few years later, and they changed the name to Cluedo in 1949 (that name was a mix between the words clue and Ludo, which was a 19th-century game.) That same year, the game was licensed to Parker Brothers in the United States, where it was published as Clue. Since then, there have been numerous special editions and spinoffs of the original game, not to mention books and a television series based on it. Most notably, though, was the cult classic 1985 film Clue, which featured Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren.

As you probably know, every game of Clue begins with the revelation of a murder. The object of the game is to be the first person to deduce who did it, with what weapon, and where. To achieve that end, each player assumes the role of one of the suspects and moves strategically around the board collecting clues.

With its emphasis on logic and critical thinking—in addition to some old-fashioned luck—Clue is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time and evolved with each decade, with special versions of the game hitting shelves recently based on The Office, Rick and Morty, and Star Wars.

Clue Vintage Bookshelf Edition

'Clue' Vintage Library Edition.
WS Game Company

The Vintage Bookshelf Edition of Clue is the work of the WS Game Company, a licensee of Hasbro, and all the design elements are inspired by the aesthetic of the 1949 original. The game features a vintage-looking game board, cards, wood movers, die-cast weapons, six pencils, an ivory-colored die, an envelope, and a pad of “detective notes.” And, of course, everything folds up and stores inside a beautiful cloth-bound book box that you can store right on the shelf in your living room.

Clue Vintage Bookshelf Edition is a limited-release item, and right now you can get it for $40.

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8 Facts About the Stonewall Riots

Monica Schipper, Getty Images for Airbnb
Monica Schipper, Getty Images for Airbnb

A pivotal moment in civil rights took place the week of June 28, 1969. That day, police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village. The move was a clear condemnation by law enforcement officials of the city's gay population. The volatile riots that followed sparked a new sense of urgency about demanding tolerance for persecuted communities.

1. The Stonewall Inn was operated by an organized crime organization.

In the 1960s, homosexuality was under fire from all directions. Because it was perceived as being amoral, individuals caught engaging in so-called "lewd behavior" were arrested and their names and home addresses were published in their local newspapers. Homosexual activity was considered illegal in most states.

As a result, being part of the LGBTQ community in New York was never without its share of harassment. Several laws were on the books that prohibited same-sex public displays of affection; a criminal statute banned people from wearing less than three “gender appropriate” articles of clothing. Commiserating at gay-friendly bars was also problematic, because officials often withheld liquor licenses from such establishments.

This kind of persecution led to members of the mafia purchasing and operating gay-friendly clubs. It was not an altruistic endeavor: The mob believed that catering to an underserved clientele by bribing city officials would be profitable, and it was. The Genovese crime family owned the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, which became known for welcoming drag queens and giving homeless teenagers and young adults a place to gather. Often, these places got tipped off before a raid took place so they could hide any liquor. But the June 28 raid at the Stonewall Inn was different: No one was tipped off.

2. Police had to lock themselves inside the Stonewall Inn to barricade themselves from the crowd.

During the June 28 raid, police (who were alleged to have targeted Stonewall for its lack of a liquor license and the owners' possible blackmail attempts on gay attendees) confiscated alcohol and arrested 13 people in total, some for violating the statute on inappropriate gender apparel. After some patrons and local residents witnessed an officer striking a prisoner on the head, they began lashing out with anything within arm’s reach—including bottles, stones, and loose change. A number of people even pulled a parking meter from the ground and tried to use it as a battering ram.

The police, fearing for their safety, locked themselves inside the Stonewall Inn as the angry mob outside grew into the thousands. Some were attempting to set the property on fire. Reinforcements were eventually able to get the crowd under control—for one night, at least.

3. The situation got worse on the second night of the Stonewall riots.

After getting the crowd to disperse, police likely thought the worst of their problems was over. But on the second night, the Stonewall Inn reopened and another mob formed to meet the police response. Both sides were more aggressive on the second night of the Stonewall Uprising, with residents and customers forming a mob of protestors and police using violent force to try and subdue them.

“There was more anger and more fight the second night,” eyewitness and participant Danny Garvin told PBS’s American Experience. “There was no going back now, there was no going back … we had discovered a power that we weren’t even aware that we had.”

4. Protestors set their sights on The Village Voice.

Tempers flared again days later when The Village Voice published two articles using homophobic slurs to describe the scene at the Stonewall Inn. Angry about the demeaning coverage, protestors once again took to the streets, with some descending on the offices of the Voice, which were located just down the street from the Stonewall.

5. Not all of the protests were violent.

During the demonstrations—which some observers later referred to as an “uprising”—some protestors opted for a nonviolent approach in order to be heard. Eyewitnesses reported residents forming Rockettes-style kick lines that performed in front of stern-faced policemen. Others sang or participated in chants like “Liberate the bar!”

6. The Stonewall Riots led to New York’s first gay rights march.

Once the riots had subsided, protestors were filled with motivation to organize for their rights. A year after the riots, residents began marching on Christopher Street and Sixth Avenue. The date, June 28, was dubbed Christopher Street Liberation Day. Thousands of people marched the streets while thousands of other people lined up alongside them to protest the treatment of the LGBTQ community at the hands of law enforcement officials and society at large.

Some members of a New York Police Department who had confronted protestors during the Stonewall Riots one year before were now being ordered to protect those same protestors during the walk. Other marches took place in other cities, marking the country's first widespread demonstration for gay rights.

7. The Stonewall Inn is now a national monument.

Since the events of 1969, the Stonewall Inn has been considered an important and historic venue for the new era of gay rights. On June 24, 2016, President Barack Obama made that official when he designated the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding area a National Historic Landmark under the care of the National Park Service. Many credit the Stonewall Uprising with the subsequent surge in gay rights groups. One participant, Marsha P. Johnson, started Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) the following year, an organization devoted to helping homeless LGBTQ youth.

8. The Stonewall Inn is still standing.

Following the riots, the Stonewall’s patrons were still faced with police harassment and were growing uncomfortable with the mob affiliation. Months after the event, the Stonewall became a juice bar before subsequent owners tried operating it as a bagel shop, a Chinese restaurant, and a shoe store in the 1970s and 1980s. New owners renovated the building in 2007.

Today, the Stonewall is once again operating as a bar and club at 53 Christopher Street in Manhattan. Naturally, everyone is welcome.

Note: An earlier version of this article misidentified Marsha P. Johnson's organization as Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries. The correct name is Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.