The Residence Act
passed in July 1790 required Congress to move to Philadelphia after its second session.
Residents of New York City were furious and castigated Congress in newspaper articles and
political cartoons which were hawked on the street. This cartoon shows Federal Hall on
the shoulders of Sen. Robert Morris of Pennsylvania as he carries it to Philadelphia.
Morris, a Philadelphian, was the focus of much of the citizenry's anger over their loss
of status as the seat of federal government.
The anonymous poem is one of many that appeared. Several came from
the pen of Philip Freneau, the "Poet of the American Revolution," a freelance poet and
essayist for the New York Daily Advertiser. With greater foresight, "A New York Farmer"
insisted in the January 1791 issue of the New York Magazine that the value of being the
federal capital paled when compared to what lay ahead for New York City once a canal was
opened across the state.
But when I turn my eyes westward, and consider
what amazing tracts of country surround those prodigious inland seas, for many thousand
miles . . . . When I consider what an inexhaustible torrent of trade and of riches will
never cease to teem thro' that channel . . . . all this will operate, and be effected
thro' the medium of this very city--that the present comparatively small city of New-York
will, if we please, be the great emporium of the new world . . . .