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Congress Hall

Congress Hall
Congress Hall

Corner of Chestnut and 6th Sts.

This building was originally the Philadelphia County Courthouse, but it was offered rent-free to the federal government as an enticement to keep the nation's capital in Philadelphia. The Senate and Vice-President met upstairs, while the House of Representatives met in the larger chamber downstairs. This was a time when Congress did lack hot air, and James Madison would always take the seat by the fireplace.

Washington was sworn in for his second term at Congress Hall, in a grand procession featuring six cream colored horses and formal parade marshalls. John Adams, on the other hand, was determined to have a much less elaborate inauguration for his first term, opting for shoes without buckles and a plain gray suit.

There was also the matter of how the new President would be addressed. It was suggested that Washington be refered to as "Your highness, president and protector." George thought that was much too pompous. Washington was very aware of his legacy, and wanted to make sure he didn't set any precedents that would hinder future Presidents. Washington was the first to invoke executive privledge. When Congress demanded to see the treaty that was worked out with England to end the War, Washington said it was none of their business, and did not allow anyone to see the treaty.

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