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The 13th Congress returned for its third session on September 19, 1814, four weeks after the burning of Washington and met at the three-story Blodgett's Hotel (home of the Patent and Post Offices) at 8th and E Streets. Congress's full plate of issues—especially the nation's precarious financial situation—included the question of whether or not to move the capital from Washington. To some, the burning of the President's House, Capitol, Navy Yard and public buildings was the opportunity to escape the banks of the Potomac for cooler climes and more sophisticated surroundings in Philadelphia or New York.

Philadelphia's stint as the nation's capital had ended in 1800, but its city officials were eager to have the government back and guaranteed appropriate lodgings and spaces. The names of other possible new locations were bandied about: Baltimore, New York, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati, even Baton Rouge.

Washington supporters centered their argument against relocation on patriotism—to abandon the capital would admit defeat and provide the British with a propaganda coup. A wave of patriotism followed the news of victories at Baltimore and Lake Champlain and would influence the House vote that defeated the effort to move the Capital, 83 to 74.

With the cloud of a relocation lifted, the work of Washington's restoration could begin in earnest.

3-D rendering of Blodgett's Hotel. (Fire destroyed the building in 1836.)

DC Historic Designs LLC

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