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Benchmarks: Journal of the New York State Unified Court System

Did You Know?

Where did the U.S. Supreme Court hold its first session?

The Merchants Exchange Building at the intersection of Broad and Water Streets in New York City. Many people know that New York City was the first temporary capital of the United States, but few know that it was also the site of the first temporary home of the U.S. Supreme Court. The first Chief Justice was John Jay, who had previously been New York’s first Chief Judge. The court met on the second floor of the gambrel-roofed hall on Feb. 1, 1790. However, only three of the six justices were present, so the court adjourned until the following day. The justices’ first order of business was to appoint a court crier and clerk and to admit lawyers to the bar. The court heard no cases during its first term, and its stay in New York was short-lived. In 1791, the U.S. Supreme Court followed a newly-located Congress and President to Philadelphia.

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Web page updated: September 1, 2006 - www.NYCOURTS.gov