Congressional Desk from Federal Hall

c. 1789

This desk is one of only 24 known to still exist today. It was used by the delegates of Federal Hall in New York City circa 1789. Used at George Washington’s inauguration. That Federal Hall building had originally been constructed between 1699 and 1702 as the third location of New York City’s City hall. After ratification of the Constitution, City Hall became Federal Hall, the first capitol building of the United States under the Constitution. The building was renovated and enlarged by Pierre Charles L’Enfant to serve this purpose. The first Congress convened here on March 4, 1789, and elected George Washington as president. On April 30, 1789, Washington stepped on to the balcony where he was inaugurated.

The desk was a gift from J.W. Francis to William H. Seward during his governorship of New York and came with a note that “no statesman was worthier of such a desk than Mr. Seward.”