“In the fall of 1814 [after the British burning of Washington] Congress crowded into one of the few surviving public buildings, the Patent Office (now the National Museum of American Art), and debated whether the capital should be moved someplace else, perhaps inland, to a location ‘with greater security and less inconvenience.’
“Congressmen who supported remaining in Washington argued on more defiant symbolic grounds. ‘I would rather sit under canvas in the city than remove one mile out of it to a palace,’ declared Samuel Farrow of South Carolina. Or, as Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina warned: ‘If the seat of government is once set on wheels, there is no saying where it will stop.’ ”
Given Macon’s reputation for fiscal tightfistedness, he might also have wanted to avoid the expense of relocation.