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District of Columbia.

The District of Columbia is the seat of government of the United States of America. Its citizens do not vote for President or Vice-President of the United States, nor in the affairs of the District. The centre of the dome of the Capitol is in lat. 38° 53′ 20″ N., and long. 77° 00′ 29″ W. Population, 1890, 230,392; 1900, 278,718.

It is situated on the left, or eastern, bank of the Potomac River, 108 miles from its entrance into Chesapeake Bay, and about 185 miles, via said river and bay, from the Atlantic Ocean. The centre of the District, as originally established, was in long. 77° 2′ 27.745″ W. of Greenwich, and in lat. 38° 53′ 34.915″ N., and in the vicinity of Seventeenth and C streets northwest, in the city of Washington. In consequence of the retrocession to Virginia of the portion of the District derived from that State, that locality is now nearly on the southwestern border of the District, but it is still approximately midway between the eastern and western extremes.

The District consists topographically of an urban section named “the city of Washington” and of a suburban and agricultural section which contains a number of unincorporated villages. It embraces an area of 69.245 square miles, 60.01 square miles of which are land. Its surface is generally irregular and undulating, rising from the level of mean low tide in the contiguous Potomac River to an elevation of 420 feet at the highest point, which is about a half-mile southeastwardly from its northwestern boundary.

The District of Columbia was established as the seat of government of the United States by proceedings taken under authority and direction of acts of Congress approved July 16, 1790, entitled “An act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the government of the United States” (1 Statutes, 130), and the act of March 3, 1791, entitled “An act to amend “An act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the government of the United States”” (1 Statutes, 214), pursuant to the following provision contained in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution of the United States, enumerating the powers of Congress—viz.:

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such district (not exceeding 10 miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased, by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be, [296] for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings.

Georgetown laid out under act of Assembly in eighty lots, comprising sixty acres......June 8, 1751

Constitution of the United States gives Congress power to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such district (not exceeding 10 miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States” ......Sept. 17, 1787

Act of Maryland to cede to Congress 10 miles square in the State for the seat of government of the United States......Dec. 23, 1788

Act of Virginia ceding 10 miles square or less upon the Potomac for the seat of government of the United States......Dec. 3, 1789

Georgetown incorporated......Dec. 25, 1789

Act of Congress locating the district for a seat of government......July 16, 1790, and March 3, 1791

President Washington appoints Thomas Johnson, Daniel Carroll, of Maryland, and David Stuart, of Virginia, commissioners to survey the federal district......Jan. 22, 1791

Nineteen proprietors agree upon terms for sale of lands to the government. Lots for public buildings to be paid for at $125 per acre, streets free; other lots to be the joint property of the owners and the public trustees......March 30, 1791

President Washington proclaims the lines and boundaries of the District. A square comprising 64 square miles in Maryland and 36 in Virginia......March 30, 1791

First stone marking boundary of the District set in Jones's Point, Hunting Creek, Va.......April 15, 1791

Commissioners agree to call the federal district the “Territory of Columbia,” and the federal city the “City of Washington,” and to name the streets of the latter alphabetically one way and numerically the other......Sept. 9, 1791

Corner-stone of President's house in Washington laid......Oct. 13, 1792

Corner-stone of north wing of the Capitol laid......Sept. 18, 1793

First newspaper, the National Intelligencer, published in Washington......1800

Congress first meets in Washington......Nov. 21, 1800

Superintendence of Washington placed in the hands of three commissioners......1800

Congress assumes jurisdiction of the District, and continues in force the existing laws of Maryland and Virginia......Feb. 27, 1801

Washington incorporated by Congress; with a mayor appointed by the President and a council elected by the people......May 3, 1802

Navy-yard at Washington established......March 27, 1804

Public buildings in Washington burned and destroyed by the British after the battle of Bladensburg......Aug. 24, 1814

Georgetown College, founded in 1789, chartered as a university......May 1, 1815

American Colonization Society, for colonizing free people of color in Liberia, founded at Washington......1817

New charter granted Washington, and mayor elected by the people......May 15, 1820

Columbian College, Washington, incorporated......1821

Corner-stone of first lock in Chesapeake and Ohio Canal laid near Georgetown in presence of President Jackson......May 29, 1829

Building of the government post-office, designed by Robert Mills, commenced......1839

United States Treasury building, designed by Robert Mills, completed......1841

United States Naval Observatory founded......1842

Congress retrocedes the 36 square miles received from Virginia......July 9, 1846

Corner-stone of the Smithsonian Institution laid......May 1, 1847

Corner-stone of the Washington Monument laid......July 4, 1848

National Soldiers' Home, 2 miles north of Washington, established by act of Congress......March 3, 1851

Corner-stone of south extension of the Capitol laid......July 4, 1851

Principal room of the library of Congress burned, 35,000 volumes destroyed......Dec. 24, 1851

Louis Kossuth visits Washington......Dec. 31, 1851 [297]

First national agricultural convention, 151 members from twenty-two States, Marshall P. Wilder, of Massachusetts, president, meets at Washington......June 24, 1852

Congress appropriates $50,000 for an equestrian statue of Washington on public grounds near the Capitol......Jan. 25, 1853

Government hospital for the insane of the army and navy established near Uniontown, 1853; opened......1855

Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, founded by Amos Kendall, chartered by Congress......1857

Peace conference of five commissioners from each State assembles at Washington......Feb. 4, 1861

Balloon ascension for military purposes made at Washington, and first telegraph message from a balloon sent by Mr. Lowe to President Lincoln......June 18, 1861

Congress emancipates all slaves, to be valued by commissioners and paid for at a maximum of $300......April 16, 1862

Collegiate department of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, known as the National Deaf-Mute College, the only one in the world, publicly opened......June 28, 1864

Gen. Jubal Early, Confederate, attacks Fort Stevens, 6 miles north of Washington, and is repulsed......July 12, 1864

President Lincoln assassinated in Ford's Theatre, Washington......April 14, 1865

Suffrage granted to colored citizens in the District......Jan. 8, 1867

The extensions of the Capitol finished......November, 1867

Howard University chartered......1867

Corcoran Art Gallery deeded to trustees by W. W. Corcoran, the founder......May 10, 1869

Congress repeals the charters of Washington and Georgetown, and forms a territorial government for the District, with a governor and council of eleven members appointed by the President of United States for four years, and a House of Delegates elected by the people......Feb. 21, 1871

Henry D. Cooke, first governor......March 16, 1871

Alexander R. Shepherd appointed governor......Sept. 13, 1873

Congress abolishes the territorial government, substituting a temporary board of three commissioners appointed by the President......June 20, 1874

Permanent government of District constituted by Congress, in a board of three commissioners with no local legislative body......June 11, 1878

President Garfield assassinated in the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station at Washington......July 2, 1881

Remains of John Howard Payne, who died in Tunis, Africa, in 1852, interred in Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington......June 9, 1883

Capstone of the Washington Monument placed (monument 555 feet high)......Dec. 6, 1884

American College of the Roman Catholic Church opened at Washington......Nov. 13, 1889

The Ford Opera-house collapsed during business hours; twenty-one clerks killed and many wounded......June 9, 1893

President Cleveland opens the Pan-American medical congress in Washington......Sept. 5, 1893

Coxey's army invades Washington......April 29, 1894

The new Corcoran Art Gallery opened......Feb. 22, 1897

General convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church held at Washington......Oct. 5, 1898

Gas explosion in the Capitol wrecks the Supreme Court room......Nov. 7, 1898

General Garcia, the Cuban leader, dies at Washington......Dec. 11, 1898

Congress appropriates $10,000 for the celebration of the establishment of the seat of government at Washington......Feb. 28, 1899

President of the board of commissioners of the District of Columbia are as follows:

Seth Ledyard Phelps, president......July 1, 1878, to Nov. 29, 1879

Josiah Dent, president......Nov. 29, 1879, to July 17, 1882

Josiah Rodman West, president......July 17, 1882, to March 29, 1883

James Barker Edmonds, president......March 29, 1883, to April 1, 1886

William Benning Webb, president......April 1, 1886, to May 21, 1889 [298]

John Watkinson Douglass, president......May 21, 1889, to March 1, 1893

John Wesley Ross, president......March 1, 1893, to June 1, 1898

John Brewer Wight, president......June 1, 1898, to May 9, 1900

Henry Brown Floyd Macfarland, president......May 9, 1900


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