Annapolis The Capital

An ingenious Baltimore politician by the name of George Lux was the first to argue in print that Congress deserved a separate administrative district of its own. Under the pen name Aratus, Lux argued that Annapolis should be given to Congress and Baltimore should become the capital of Maryland. In a private letter enclosing copies of his pamphlet, Lux explained that Maryland was safer than Pennsylvania where Congress was "in danger of being mobbed." The Maryland General Assembly liked the idea of Annapolis as the capital of the United States, but was decidedly opposed to moving itself to Baltimore.

  • BROADSIDE OF GEORGE LUX ("ARATUS") PROMOTING ANNAPOLIS AS THE CAPITAL OF THE UNITED STATES
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library of the City of Baltimore Photograph, Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1556-3

The General Assembly's offer to Congress of Annapolis as a permanent capital, made in May 1783, was not published in the Baltimore papers until August. By then, Annapolis city officials were diligently gathering information about their town to bolster

  • MARYLAND JOURNAL, August 8, 1783
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library of the City of Baltimore Photograph, Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1556-16

Baltimore continued its campaign to encourage Congress to come to Annapolis with a favorable front page article in the Maryland Journal[?] of September 30, 1783. The anonymous author had nothing but good to say about Annapolis calling it urbane, unrivaled in luxury, a home of poets and painters, the "nursury of the Long Robe," and claiming it had among the best taverns he had "anywhere met with." In short "It is, perhaps, in such places, only, that we are to look for great virtues."

  • MARYLAND JOURNAL, September 30, 1783
  • Enoch Pratt Free Library of the City of Baltimore Photograph, Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1556-4

As recorded in these minutes of the Corporation of Annapolis, Maryland's efforts to make Annapolis the permanent capital of the United States failed. On October 23, 1783, Maryland Congressman James McHenry and Daniel Carroll wrote Governor Paca that "It would be a very tedious business were we to copy all the proceedings on the subject of the residence of Congress (for we believe they make above 40 pages) and we are not sure that your Excellency would take much pleasure in their perusal." The same day McHenry and Carroll wrote Jeremiah Townley Chase, the Mayor of Annapolis, enclosing the resolution of Congress designating Annapolis one of two temporary residence[s?] (the other was Trenton, New Jersey). Congress took its time coming to Annapolis. The first session was scheduled for November 26, but there were too few states represented to conduct business until December 13.

  • MINUTES OF THE CORPORATION OF ANNAPOLIS, November 1, 1783
  • Maryland State Archives, MdHR 5100, Photograph, MSA SC 1566-58