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Where did George Washington conduct the affairs for the Presidency? There was no White House, so did he work in some hotel, use his home, or other location?

Mary V. Thompson

Mary V. Thompson

Research Historian

When George Washington was president (1789-1797), the capital was in New York (1789-1790) and then in Philadelphia (1790-1797). The government rented a home for the president in each of those cities. The government would not move to Washington, DC, until 1800, during the final year of John Adams' administration (when he and Mrs. Adams moved into the not-quite-finished White House).

As president, George Washington actually lived in two houses in New York City (the first was too small, so they had to move to a larger home). He worked out of an office in those houses, where he met regularly with his cabinet, and kept up with his voluminous correspondence. In addition to the family, a number of secretaries and other staff members lived and worked in the presidential residence, as well. The President's House in Philadelphia was used by both President Washington and President Adams.

The houses were also used for official entertaining, including several regular weekly events: a Tuesday reception for gentlemen only; a Thursday afternoon dinner for members of Congress and local dignitaries; and Mrs. Washington's Friday evening receptions for both gentlemen and ladies. In addition, the Washingtons entertained visiting delegations of Native Americans, who came to negotiate treaties, and foreign diplomatic officials. The president and first lady hosted open houses on New Years Day and the Fourth of July.

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