American capital cities have moved far more than you would suspect. This has been due to circumstances such as war, natural disasters and politics. Here are 4 American capital cities that have moved their locations.
Montgomery is currently the capital of Alabama but it is the 5th city to have that distinction. Notably, it was also the first capital of the confederacy and the first provisional constitution was written there as well. The capital has been located in Montgomery since 1846 but previous capitals include St. Stephens, Huntsville, Cahaba and Tuscaloosa. Interesting to note that the old St. Stephens is now uninhabited and the new version has only 580 people living there.
Sacramento is the capital of California and for a lot of foreigners that comes as a surprise. But it hasn’t always been so. The first state capital was San Jose , Vallejo and then Benicia. Interestingly the capitals were switched annually between 1851 and 1853. It wasn’t until 1879 that Sacramento became the state capital. In line with the conservative Roman Catholic outlook of the Spanish, the city is named after the Blessed Sacrament which forms part of the holy ceremony called the Eucharist in a Roman Catholic Mass.
Springfield is well known as the capital of Illinois and it was the launching pad for Abraham Lincoln’s career in politics. But the situation with the location of the state capital is far more complex. Kaskaskia was the first state capital in 1818 but it has now disappeared underneath the Mississippi. Vandalia became the capital in 1820 and this was to remain the case until 1839. Another point of interest is that voters chose Alton as the capital but this was rejected by the legislature.
A much better known example of an American capital city moving is the capital of the United States. Philadelphia can be regarded as the first U.S. capital city because in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was written and proclaimed there. But soon the U.S. Congress had to move to Baltimore, Maryland then Lancaster, Pennsylvania after returning to Phildalphia and then York, Pennsylvania, all for brief periods. This was because the British Army was forcing them to move.
With a new constitution taking effect on March 4, 1789 a new capital city was chosen as well. This was New York. For 10 years Philadelphia became the temporary congressional meeting place while Washington D.C. was being prepared. It wasn’t until 1800 that President John Adams moved into the White House and the U.S. Congress moved to Washington D.C. that the U.S. felt it had a permanent capital.
But this situation wouldn’t last for long. In 1814 many important government buildings were destroyed by the British and President James Madison was forced to evacuate the capital. They fled to Brookeville, Maryland for one day and ever since then that town has boasted the moniker ‘’Capital for a Day’’. These events occurred on August 24th, 1814. During the U.S.Civil War gun fire could clearly be heard from the battles near Washington but this time the U.S. government did not desert its intended place.
These are just some examples of U.S. capitals that have moved. The 18th and 19th centuries was a hectic time in the nation’s development and the movement of the capitals at both federal and state levels reflect this. Stability seems to be something we do better these days.