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The Original Federal Hall

Alexander Hamilton, George Washington Walking Tour New York City

Alexander Hamilton, George Washington Walking Tour New York City

One of the stops on the Revolutionary Tour is the current Federal Hall, originally a customs house.  The original building on Wall and Broad Streets was built from 1699-1703 as the English colonial city hall.  It was redesigned by Pierre Charles L’Enfant for the American Federal Hall in 1789 and was the site of George Washington’s inauguration April 30, 1789.  It served as the first capital under the Constitution for about 17 months after which the capital moved to Philadelphia until 1800 when it moved to the permanent capital.  This building, torn down in 1811, was the site of the following:

Under British rule in 1735, the trial and imprisonment of publisher John Peter Zenger, who was arrested for publishing libelous articles against the British royal governor.  He was acquitted on the grounds that what he published could not be proven false, thereby establishing a precedent for freedom of the press.

The Stamp Act Congress in 1765 with nine of the colonies’ delegates protesting the tax on paper products, playing cards and dice  They produced a list of colonial rights and grievances to King George III and Parliament.  The Stamp Act was repealed in 1766.

Congress under the Articles of Confederation met here from 1785 to 1789.

The first Congress under the Constitution met here in March 1789.

George Washington was inaugurated April 30, 1789, where the statue stands today.

The First Congress proposed twelve amendments to the Constitution in September 1789.  Ten were ratified in Philadelphia and become known as the Bill of Rights.

In September 1789, the First Congress established the Judiciary Act of 1789, creating the federal court system including the Supreme Court with six justices, one Chief Justice and five Associate Justices.



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