In 1802 the US federal government employed 3,905 people. By 1826 it grew to 10,415 federal employees.
They were geographically distributed but administratively decentralized. For example, as late as 1824 the State Department extended across the United States and around the world, but employed only thirteen men in its central office in Washington. The headquarters of the War and Navy Departments employed 32 and 21 people, respectively. The Treasury Department, which always employed the largest central office, had 152 personnel.
On July 31, 1789, the Fifth Act of the First Congress created a field organization of collectors "to regulate the Collection of the Duties imposed by law on the tonnage of ships or vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States." Fifty-nine customs districts were established in eleven states, each with a collector appointed by the president. Custom houses were usually the earliest federal buildings constructed in cities outside of the nation’s capital.
The Judiciary Act of 1789 created thirteen district courts, each with one judge, in major cities, and three regional circuit courts. The Supreme Court, with one chief justice and five associate justices, sat above the inferior courts as the only court of appeals. The act also created the office of Attorney General.
The Residence Act of 1790 designated a site on the Potomac River as the permanent capital of the United States. Philadelphia was named the temporary capital, and assumed this role until the federal government relocated to the District of Columbia in 1800.
Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader