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Residence Act: Primary Documents in American History

Passed on July 16, 1790, the Residence Act selected a site on the Potomac River as the permanent U.S. capital (Washington, D.C.). This guide compiles Library of Congress digital materials, external websites, and a print bibliography related to the act.

Introduction

The Residence Act, officially titled "An Act for Establishing the Temporary and Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States," was passed on July 16, 1790, and selected a site on the Potomac River as the permanent capital (Washington, D.C.), in ten years times. Also, this act designated Philadelphia as the temporary capital for a period of ten years. The Residence Act was the result of a compromise reached between Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison concerning the permanent location of the Federal capital. In exchange for locating the new capital on the Potomac River, Madison agreed not to block legislation mandating the assumption of the states' debts by the Federal government.