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Congressional Cemetery
1801 E Street SE
Washington, DC  20003
Congressional Cemetery is an historic, active cemetery dating back to the early years of Washington, DC
What is Congressional Cemetery?

Founded in 1807, Congressional Cemetery became the first burial ground used for national purposes and is still active today. When Washington, DC became the seat of the federal government in 1800, this cemetery, located near Capitol Hill, became the de facto burial ground for members of Congress who died in office. With no railroad and little embalming, transporting deceased Congressmen to their home states was impractical.

In 1833, Congress appropriated funds to build a Public Vault to temporarily inter the deceased who were destined for other burial grounds. That included Presidents John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor and William Henry Harrison; and First Ladies Louisa Catherine Adams and Dolley Madison.

Notable burials include:

  • John Philip Sousa, famous conductor of the U.S. Marine Band
  • Mathew Brady, famous Civil War photographer
  • Dr. William Thornton, first architect of the U.S. Capitol, and his wife Anna Thornton.
  • Robert Mills, designer of the Washington Monument
  • J. Edgar Hoover, first director of the FBI

Over time, the cemetery became less significant and suffered neglect. However, in recent years, volunteer groups have worked to restore the grounds, including K9 Corps, whose members pay a yearly fee to walk their dogs unleashed in the cemetery. Their dues help pay for maintenance and administrative costs.

Self-guided and guided tours are available. Check the website for newsletters, tours and events, including marching band performances at Sousa’s grave.