Safeguarding the Declaration of Independence Court House, York, Pennsylvania

Courthouse, York, Pennsylvania
Wood engraving in W.C. Carter and
A.J. Glossbrenner, History of York County
from Its Erection to the Present Time
1834 Library of Congress

Court House, York, Pennsylvania

(September 1777 - June 1778)

“To the town of York, seat of our American government in our most gloomy time.” This toast, proposed by the Marquis de Lafayette during a visit to the town in 1825, recalled the bleak months of the winter of 1777-1778 when the Continental Congress met at the courthouse in York, Pennsylvania. Congress had fled from Philadelphia in the early fall of 1777 before a rapidly approaching British Army, and the Declaration of Independence most likely accompanied them. Officials decided to move the assembly to the courthouse in York, after considering Lancaster and keeping the Susquehanna River between them and the enemy. Built in 1756, the neat brick building housed Congress for the nine months that the British Army occupied Philadelphia.

Return to the Safeguarding the Declaration timeline