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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Trenton in Mercer County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

From Federal City to State Capital

 
 
From Federal City to State Capital Marker image. Click for full size.
By Gary Nigh, December 2007
1. From Federal City to State Capital Marker
Inscription.  Following the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the newly independent United States were faced with establishing a national capital. Up to this point the Continental Congress had met in several places, most often in Philadelphia and New York City. Congress now solicited recommendations from each of the states as to the best location for its government to take up permanent residence. New Jersey offered to partially fund the construction of a capital city if it was located within its boundaries.

New Jersey residents lobbied for consideration of Lamberton in present day South Trenton as a candidate for seat of the national capital. This proposal received support from representatives of both the New England and Middle Atlantic States, since Trenton was well situated roughly mid-way along the nation’s eastern seaboard. The Southern States, however, preferred somewhere further south, and an awkward compromise was eventually reached whereby Congress would meet alternately at Trenton and at Annapolis, Maryland.

Beginning in November of 1783 Congress met in Trenton at the French Arms Tavern, but by February of the following year the city’s hopes
The four subject markers under the 18th Century Arch image. Click for full size.
By Gary Nigh, November 2007
2. The four subject markers under the 18th Century Arch
of becoming the nation’s future capital were dashed by George Washington’s support for a permanent location at a site on the Potomac. Despite several subsequent attempts at reviving Trenton’s candidacy as the nation’s capital, the matter was effectively settled in July of 1790 when, in exchange for the federal government’s assuming their debts, the Northern States agreed to vote for a site on the Potomac as the future seat of the United States government. As consolation Trenton in the same year took on the mantle of state capital.

In the fall of 1799, Trenton briefly housed the federal government when a yellow fever epidemic forced the removal of President Adams and his cabinet from their quarters in Philadelphia. Although this led in 1801 to yet another attempt by the New Jersey Legislature to have the nation’s capital located on the banks of the Delaware, by this time the future site of Washington, D.C. was well established and Trenton’s hopes of national grandeur were finally put to rest.

Links to learn more – New Jersey State House, Trenton; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton
 
Erected 2004 by New Jersey Department of Transportation.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Government & Politics. In addition, it is included
The French Arms Tavern image. Click for full size.
By Gary Nigh, November 2007
3. The French Arms Tavern
in the Former U.S. Presidents: #02 John Adams series list.
 
Location. 40° 11.899′ N, 74° 45.505′ W. Marker is in Trenton, New Jersey, in Mercer County. Marker can be reached from New Jersey Route 29. This marker is part of South River Walk Park which is built over Route 29. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Trenton NJ 08611, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Trenton’s Early Houses of Worship (here, next to this marker); Slavery – An “Odious and Disgraceful” Practice (here, next to this marker); The Battles of Trenton, Turning Point of the Revolution (here, next to this marker); 18th Century Trenton Timeline (a few steps from this marker); 17th Century Trenton Timeline (a few steps from this marker); 19th Century Trenton Timeline (a few steps from this marker); Native Americans Exchange Furs for European Goods (a few steps from this marker); What happened to the Lenape? (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Trenton.
 
More about this marker. This is one of 4 subject markers under the 18th Century Arch.

The marker has a picture of, "The French Arms Tavern, formerly located at the southwest corner of South Warren and West State Street, where Congress met over the winter of 1784-1785 during Trenton's brief period as a leading candidate for the National Capital."
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 3, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 17, 2007, by Gary Nigh of Trenton, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,011 times since then and 6 times this year. Last updated on February 2, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 17, 2007, by Gary Nigh of Trenton, New Jersey. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 2, 2021