Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remember When . . . D.C. Wasn't the Capital?

It's a little-realized fact that Washington D.C. has not always been our nation's capital. For a while right after the Revolution, Annapolis, Maryland held that distinction--something I didn't know until I went down to visit my college for the first time and saw all the plaques.

I'm considering a new historical novel, though, and thought that would be a great setting. I did some basic research and now know that Annapolis was the capital from 1783 to 1784. Long time, I know--but oh, the things that happened! It's where George Washington resigned his commission in the Continental Army. It's where the delegates of the Congress of the Confederation ratified the Treaty of Paris. And the State House was so admired by the founding fathers that Thomas Jefferson often referred to it as "The only decent piece of architecture in Annapolis" (okay, so that's not such an awesome endorsement of the city, lol) and George Washington had the nation's capital building modeled after it. Pretty cool, huh?

Annapolis was such a hub of society at the time that it was called "The Athens of America." It boasted a glittering social season, gracious hospitality, intellectual stimulation (ahem, says the graduate of its oldest institute of higher learning . . .) and cultural activities in spades. The oldest theater in the New World was built in Annapolis, and more 18th-century architecture survives there than anywhere else in the country.

Is it any wonder this history-loving romantic enjoys that little city so much? You can feel the past walking along with you as you take a stroll along its many circles, and see it in every building you pass (not the mention all the reenactors;-) If I buckle down to writing this story, I'm going to have a lot of fun with the research! Day trip, anyone?


  1. Why was it hte capital for just a year?

  2. Well, the land for D.C. had been donated, and they wanted something that wasn't in a state, so that there wouldn't be such preference. So Annapolis was just a temporary location until other stuff was built.

  3. And when I say "hte capital," I mean THE capital. Sheesh.

  4. Interesting. Can't wait to read it in fiction form so that I actually absorb it :)