What do Annapolis, Princeton, Philadelphia, and Lancaster all have in common?
Believe it or not, all of these cities were once the capital of the United States.
Of all the places listed above, Lancaster was the capital for the shortest amount of time – one day to be exact!
So how did Lancaster become the third capital location of the country?
During the Revolutionary War, British Troops were on a mission to take Philadelphia, the capital prior to Lancaster. They were successful in capturing the city after defeating George Washington’s men at the Battle of Brandywine. This led the Second Continental Congress to search for a new, more secure capital.
The day after the British invaded Philadelphia, the Continental Congress met in Lancaster at the Courthouse that once stood in the town square – making it the Capital for the Day.
After September 27, the Continental Congress moved once again to distance themselves further from the British Troops. They chose to move to York, across the Susquehanna River from Lancaster, increasing the distance from Philadelphia and adding a physical barrier. They stayed in York until June 1778, before making their way back to Philadelphia.
When visiting Lancaster today, you unfortunately won’t be able to see the courthouse where this meeting took place. The original courthouse, constructed in 1737, was destroyed by a fire in 1786.
Happy Capital Day, Lancaster!