Home of the U.S. Congress from 1790-1800
Like the democratic ideals it once served, Congress Hall is simple, but powerful. The nation’s fledgling legislature occupied the former County Court House, a two-story brick Georgian structure that characterized Congress’ roles. The House of Representatives on the first floor (Lower House) looks as it did for John Adams’ inauguration in 1797-spare and unadorned, with desks for 106 representatives from 16 states.
On the second floor, the recently restored U.S. Senate (Upper House) is more elaborate, with deep green walls and fabric. Carpeting with the American eagle encircled by the seals of the 13 original states dominates the room. Larger-than-life portraits of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, gifts of the French government, hang in the adjacent committee rooms.
The nation’s earliest political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans, arose out of voters feelings about international alliances and the interpretation of the Constitution. As those issues became less relevant, so did the parties, and voters looked for new political representation. That process continues today with increased voter interest in the Green, Independent and other third parties.