1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alexandria (Virginia)
ALEXANDRIA, a city and a port of entry of Alexandria county, Virginia, U.S.A., on the W. bank of the Potomac river, 6 m. below Washington, D.C., with which it is connected by a ferry. Pop. (1890) 14,339; (1900) 14,528, of whom 4533 were negroes; (1910, census), 15,329. Alexandria is served by the Baltimore & Ohio, the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Southern and the Washington Southern railways; by the Washington, Alexandria & Mount Vernon electric railway; and by several lines of river and coasting steamboats. It is a quaint, old-fashioned city, with quiet, shady streets, and a number of buildings dating back to the 18th century; of these the most interesting is the old Christ Church in which George Washington and Robert E. Lee worshipped. The city has a public library. About 2½ m. W. of Alexandria is the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia, opened here in 1823 and chartered in 1854; in 1906-1907 the Seminary had a faculty of 7 and 46 students. Alexandria is a distributing and jobbing centre for the north-east counties of Virginia. Among its manufactures are fertilizers, bottles, carbonated beverages, flour, beer, shoes, silk thread, aprons, brooms, leather, bricks, and tiling and structural iron. The total value of its factory product in 1905 was $2,186,658. The municipality owns and operates its gas-lighting plant. Alexandria, first known as Belhaven, was named in honour of John Alexander, who in the last quarter of the 17th century had bought the land on which the city now stands from Robert Howison; the first settlement here was made in 1695. Alexandria was laid out in 1749 and was incorporated in 1779. From 1790 until 1846 Alexandria county was a part of the District of Columbia; at present the city, although within the limits of Alexandria county, is not administratively a part of it. The city was re-chartered in 1852. For some time Alexandria seemed destined to become an important commercial centre, but the rise of Washington created a rival that soon outstripped it, and since the Civil War the city's growth has been comparatively slight. At Alexandria in 1755 General Edward Braddock organized his fatal expedition against Fort Duquesne, and here, in April of the same year, the governors of Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland met (in a house still standing) to determine upon concerted action against the French in America. In March 1785 commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met here to discuss the commercial relations of the two states, finishing their business at Mount Vernon on the 28th with an agreement for freedom of trade and freedom of navigation of the Potomac. The Maryland legislature in ratifying this agreement on the 22nd of November proposed a conference between representatives from all the states to consider the adoption of definite commercial regulations. This led to the calling of the Annapolis convention of 1786, which in turn led to the calling of the Federal convention of 1787. In 1814 Alexandria was threatened by a British fleet, but bought immunity from attack by paying about $100,000. At the opening of the Civil War the city was occupied by Federal troops, and great excitement throughout the North was caused by the killing (May 24, 1861) of Colonel E. E. Ellsworth (1837-1861) by Captain James W. Jackson, a hotel proprietor, from whose building Ellsworth had removed a Confederate flag. After the erection of the state of West Virginia (1863), and until the close of the war, Alexandria was the seat of what was known as the “Alexandria Government” (see Virginia).