1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Washington (District of Columbia)
WASHINGTON, a city and the capital of the United States of America, coterminous with the District of Columbia, on the north-east bank of the Potomac river at the head of tide and navigation, 40 m. S.W. of Baltimore, 135 m. S.W. of Philadelphia, and 225 m. S.W. of New York. Area, 60 sq. m. (exclusive of 10 sq. m. of water surface). Pop. (1890) 230,392; (1900) 278,718, of whom 20,119 were foreign-born and 87,186 were negroes; (1910) 331,069. The city proper covers only about 10 sq. m. lying between the Anacostia river and Rock Creek, and rising from the low bank of the Potomac, which is here nearly 1 m. wide; above are encircling hills and a broken plateau, which rise to a maximum height of 420 ft. and contain the former city of Georgetown, the villages of Anacostia, Brightwood, Tennallytown, and other suburban districts.
Streets and Parks. — The original plan of the city, which was prepared by Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant (1755-1825), under the supervision of President Washington and Thomas Jefferson, was a masterpiece in landscape architecture and in the main it has been preserved. Besides streets running east and west, which are named by the letters of the alphabet, and streets running north and south, which are numbered, there are avenues named for various states, which radiate from two foci — the Capitol and the White House — or traverse the city without any fixed plan. North and south of the Capitol they are numbered; east and west from it streets are lettered, but streets are distinguished by annexing to the name or letter the name of the quarter: N.W., S.W., N.E. or S.E. — the city is divided into these four parts by North Capitol, East Capitol and South Capitol streets, which intersect at the Capitol. The width of the avenues is from 120 to 160 ft. and the width of the streets from 80 to 120 ft. More than one-half the area of the city is comprised in its streets, avenues and public parks. Among the principal residence streets are Massachusetts, especially between Dupont and Sheridan circles, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont Avenues and 16th Street, all in the N.W. quarter of the city. The principal business streets are Pennsylvania Avenue (especially between the Capitol and the White House) and 7th, 9th, 14th and F streets. Streets and avenues for the most part are paved with a smooth asphalt pavement, and many of them have two and occasionally four rows of overarching shade trees and private lawns on either side. At nearly every intersection of two avenues is a circle or square in which is the statue of some notable American whose name the square bears. At the intersection of a street with an avenue there is usually the reservation of a small triangular grass plot at least. In L'Enfant's plan a park or mall was to extend from the Capitol to the White House. Instead of this the mall extends from the Capitol to Washington Monument, which stands near the intersection of lines west from the Capitol and south from the White House. In 1901, however, a commission (Daniel Hudson Burnham, C. F. McKim, Augustus St Gaudens and F. L. Olmsted, Jr.) was appointed by authority of the United States Senate to prepare plans for the beautification of the city and this body, seeking in the main to return to L'Enfant's plan, has submitted a design for a park-like treatment of the entire district between Pennsylvania and Maryland avenues from the Capitol to the White House and between lower New York Avenue and the Potomac, with an elm-shaded mall 300 ft. wide bisecting the park from the Capitol to the Monument, with a group of official and scientific buildings fronting the mall on either side, with a group of municipal buildings between the mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, and with a Lincoln memorial on the bank of the Potomac. Potomac Park (740 acres), a portion of which is embraced in this design, has already been reclaimed from the Potomac river. On Rock Creek, above Georgetown, is the National Zoological Park (under the control of the Smithsonian Institution), embracing 170 acres in a picturesque site. North of this and extending to the boundary of the District, and including both banks of Rock Creek, with its wild and picturesque beauty, is a tract of 1600 acres, known as Rock Creek Park.
humidity, long-continued and somewhat oppressive heat in summer, and mild winters. During a period of thirty-three years ending December 1903 the mean winter temperature (December, January and February) was 35° F. and the mean summer temperature (June, July and August) 75°; the mean of the winter minima was 27°, and the mean of the summer maxima 85°. Extremes ranged, however, from an absolute maximum of 104° to an absolute minimum of -15°. There is an average annual precipitation of 43.1 in., which is quite evenly distributed throughout the year. Although snowstorms are infrequent and snow never lies long on the ground, the average fall of snow for the year amounts to 22.5 in.
Buildings. — In a dignified landscape setting on the brow of a hill that is itself nearly 100 ft. above the Potomac stands the Capitol (built 1793-1827; architect, William Thornton (d. 1827), superintendent of the Patent Office, whose designs were modified by B. H. Latrobe and Charles Bulfinch; wings and dome added 1851-1865). It consists of a central building of Virginia sandstone, painted white, and two wings of white Massachusetts marble. Its length is 751 ft., and its breadth ranges in different parts from 121 to 324 ft. The main building is surmounted with an iron dome, designed by Thomas Ustic Walter, which rises to a height of 268½ ft., and on the dome is a statue of Liberty (1863; 19½ ft. high) by Thomas Crawford. The Capitol faces east, and on this side is a richly sculptured portico with Corinthian columns leading to the rotunda under the dome, a sculptured Corinthian portico leading to the Senate Chamber in the north wing, and a plain Corinthian portico leading to the Hall of Representatives in the south wing; there is also a portico at each end and on the west side of each wing. The rotunda, 96 ft. in diameter and 180 ft. high, is decorated with eight historical paintings: “Landing of Columbus” (1492), by John Vanderlyn; “De Soto discovering the Mississippi” (1541), by William Henry Powell; “Baptism of Pocahontas” (1613), by John Gadsby Chapman; “Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Delft-Haven” (1620), by Robert Walter Weir; “Signing the Declaration of Independence” (1776), by John Trumbull; “Surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga” (1777), by Trumbull; “Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown” (1781), by Trumbull; and “Washington resigning his Commission at Annapolis” (1783), by Trumbull. Between the rotunda and the Hall of Representatives is the National Hall of Statuary (formerly the Hall of Representatives), in which each state in the Union may erect statues of two “of her chosen sons”; and between the rotunda and the Senate Chamber is the room of the Supreme Court, which until 1859 was the Senate Chamber.
The Executive Mansion, more commonly called the White House, the official residence of the president, is a two-storey building of Virginia freestone, painted white since 1814 to hide the marks offire — only the walls were left standing after the capture of the city by the British in that year. It is 170 ft. long and 86 ft. deep. It is simple but dignified; the principal exterior ornaments are an Ionic portico and a balustrade. The White House was built in 1792-1799 from designs by James Hoban, who closely followed the plans of the seats of the dukes of Leinster, near Dublin, and in 1902-1903, when new executive offices and a cabinet room were built and were connected with the White House by an esplanade, many of the original features of Hoban's plan were restored. East of the White House and obstructing the view from it to the Capitol stands the oldest of the departmental buildings, the Treasury Building (architect, Robert Mills (1781-1855), then U.S. architect), an imposing edifice mainly of granite, 510 ft. long and 280 ft. wide; on the east front is a colonnade of thirty-eight Ionic columns, and on each of the other three sides is an Ionic portico. On the opposite side of the White House is a massive granite building of the State, War and Navy Departments, 567 ft. long and 342 ft. wide. The Library of Congress (1889-1807; cost, exclusive of site, over $6,000,000), south-east of the Capitol, was designed by Smithmeyer & Pelz, and the designs were modified by Edward Pearce Casey (b. 1864), the architect; it is in the Italian Renaissance style, is 340 by 470 ft., and encloses four courts and a central rotunda surmounted by a flat black copper dome, with gilded panels and a lantern. The exterior walls are of white New Hampshire granite, and the walls of the
There are numerous sculptural adornments without, and there is elaborate interior decoration with paintings, sculpture, coloured marbles and gilding. Two squares north of the Senate office-building is the Union Railway Station (1908; 343 by 760 ft.; cost, $4,000,000), designed by Daniel Hudson Burnham, consisting ol a main building of white granite (from Bethel, Vermont) and two wings, and facing a beautiful plaza. On Pennsylvania Avenue, nearly midway between the Capitol and the White House, is the nine-storey Post Office (1899; with a tower 300 ft. high), housing the United States Post Office Department and the City Post Office. A few squares north-west of it are the General Land Office, the headquarters of the Department of the Interior (commonly called the Patent Office), with Doric portico; the Pension Office, in which the Inauguration Ball is held on the evening of each president's taking office; the Government Printing Office (twelve storeys — one of the few tall office-buildings in the city); the City Hall, or District Court House; and the District Building (1908), another building of the local government. On the heights north of Georgetown is the United States Naval Observatory, one of the best-equipped institutions of the kind; from it Washington time is telegraphed daily to all parts of the United States. Near Rock Creek, west of Georgetown, is the Signal Office and headquarters of the United States Weather Bureau. In the Mall are the building of the Department of Agriculture, the Smithsonian Institution (q.v.), the National Museum (1910), the Army Medical Museum and the Bureau of Fisheries, and here a building for the Department of Justice is to be erected. Facing the Mall on the south is the home of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in which the United States paper money and postage stamps are made. Not far from the White House is the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1894-1897; architect, Ernest Flagg), of white Georgia marble in a Neo-Grecian style, housing a collection of paintings (especially American portraits) and statuary; the gallery was founded and endowed in 1869 by William Wilson Corcoran (1798-1888) “for the perpetual establishment and encouragement of the Fine Arts.” The Public Library, a gift of Andrew Carnegie, is a white marble building in the Mount Vernon Square, at the intersection of Massachusetts and New York avenues. A prominent building, erected with money given mainly by Mr Carnegie, is that of the Pan-American Union (formerly Bureau of American Republics). The old Ford's Theatre, in which President Lincoln was assassinated, is on Tenth Street N.W. between E and F. The house in which Lincoln died is on the opposite side of the street, and contains relics of Lincoln collected by O. H. Oldroyd.
Monuments. — Foremost among the city's many monuments is that erected to the memory of George Washington. It is a plain obelisk of white Maryland marble, 55 ft. square at the base and 555 ft. in height; it was begun in 1848, but the work was abandoned in 1855-1877, but was completed in 1884 at a cost of $1,300,000. Among statues of Washington are the half-nude seated figure (1843) by Greenough in the Smithsonian Institution, and an equestrian statue (1860) of Washington at the Battle of Princeton by Clark Mills in Washington Circle. Among the other prominent statues are: the equestrian statue (1908) of General Philip Sheridan in Sheridan Circle, by Gutzon Borglum; an equestrian statue of General Sherman near the Treasury Building, by Carl Rohl-Smith; a statue of Frederick the Great (by T. Uphues; presented to the United States by Emperor William II. of Germany) in front of the Army War College at the mouth of the Anacostia river; a statue of General Nathanael Greene (by H. K. Brown) in Stanton Square; statues of General Winfield Scott in Scott Square (by H. K. Brown) and in the grounds of the Soldiers' Home (by Launt Thompson); a statue of Rear-Admiral S. F. Du Pont in Dupont Circle (by Launt Thompson); of Rear-Admiral D. G. Farragut (by Vinnie Ream Hoxie); an equestrian statue of General George H. Thomas (by J. Q. A. Ward), erected by the Society of the Army of the Cumberland; one of General George B. McClellan, by Frederick Macmonnies; and statues of Lincoln, by Scott Flannery and (in Lincoln Park) by Thomas Ball, of Joseph Henry (by W. W Story) in the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution, of John Marshall (by Story) on the west terrace of the Capitol, of General Andrew Jackson (by Clark Mills) and, in Lafayette Square, of the Marquis de Lafayette (by Falguière and Mercié), of the Comte de Rochambeau (by F. Hamar) and of Baron von Steuben (1910). In Pennsylvania Avenue, at the foot of Capitol Hill, is a Monument of Peace (by Franklin Simmons) in memory of officers, seamen and marines of the U.S. Navy killed in the Civil War.
Cemeteries. — On the opposite side of the Potomac, in Virginia, and adjoining Fort Myer, a military post (named in honour of General Albert James Myer (1827-1880), who introduced in 1870 a system of meteorological observations at army posts) with reservation of 186 acres, is Arlington, a National Cemetery (of 408.33 acres), in which lie buried 21,106 soldiers killed in the Civil War and in the war with Spain; among the distinguished officers buried here are General Philip Henry Sheridan, Admiral David Dixon Porter, General Joseph Wheeler and General Henry W. Lawton; there is a Spanish War Monument; the grounds are noted for their natural beauty, and on the brow of a hill commanding a magnificent view of the city is Arlington House (1802), the residence of George Washington Parke Custis (1781-1857), grandson of Martha Washington, and afterwards of General Robert E. Lee, Custis's son-in-law; the estate was seized by Federal troops early in the Civil War, and was bought by the United States in 1864; there was a military hospital here throughout the Civil War. Adjoining the grounds of the Soldiers' Home (3 m. N. of the Capitol) is a National Military Cemetery containing the graves of 7220 soldiers. On the bank of the Anacostia river, east of the Capitol, is the Congressional Cemetery containing the graves of many members of Congress. North of Georgetown is Oak Hill Cemetery, and in the vicinity of the Soldiers' Home are Rock Creek, Glenwood, Harmony, Prospect Hill and St Mary's Cemeteries. A crematorium was completed in 1909, and cremation instead of interment has since been urged by the District commissioners.
Charities, &c. — The National Soldiers' Home (1851), founded by General Winfield Scott, comprises five buildings, with accommodations for 800 retired or disabled soldiers, and 512 acres of beautiful grounds. The charitable and correctional institutions of the District of Columbia are the following government institutions, under the control of the United States or of the District of Columbia: Freedmen's Hospital (1862), United States Naval Hospital (1866), an Insane Asylum on the S. side of the Anacostia river, the District of Columbia Industrial Home School (1872), a Municipal Lodging House (1892), a Soldiers' and Sailors' Temporary Home (1888), Workhouse, Reform School for Boys, Reform School for Girls and Industrial Home School (1872). Among many private institutions are the Washington City Orphan Asylum (1815); Lutheran Eye, Ear and Throat Infirmary (1889); Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital (1897); Providence Hospital (1861; Sisters of Charity); George Washington University Hospital (1898); Georgetown University Hospital (1898); Columbia Hospital for Women (1866); Children's Hospital (1871); Washington Hospital for Foundlings (1887); Children's Temporary Home (1899; for negroes); a German Orphan Asylum (1879); Washington Home for Incurables (1889); Home for the Aged (1871); the National Lutheran Home (1890); the Methodist Home (1890) and Baptist Home (1880). A “non-support law,” which went into effect in 1906, enacts that a man who refuses to provide for his family when able to do so shall be committed to the workhouse for hard labour, and that fifty cents a day shall be paid to his family. A Juvenile Court and a Board of Children's Guardians have extensive jurisdiction over dependent and delinquent children, and a general supervision of all charities and corrections is vested in a Board of Charities, consisting of five members appointed by the president of the United States.Education. — Washington is one of the leading educational centres of the United States. The public school system, under the control of a Board of Education of six men and three women appointed by the supreme court judges of the District of Columbia, embraces kindergartens, primary schools, grammar schools, high schools, a business high school, manual training schools, normal schools and night schools. The schools are open nine months in the year, and all children between eight and fourteen years of age are required to attend some public, private or parochial school during these months unless excused because of some physical or mental disability. George Washington University, in the vicinity of the White House, is a non-sectarian institution (opened in 1821 under the auspices of the Baptist General Convention as “The Columbian College in the District of Columbia”; endowed by W. W. Corcoran in 1872, organized as the Columbian University in 1873, organized under its present name in 1904), and comprises Columbian College of Arts
and Sciences with a graduate department (1893), a College of the Political Sciences (1907), Washington College of Engineering, divisions of architecture and education (1907), a Department of Law (first organized in 1826; closed in 1827; reorganized in 1865), a Department of Medicine (1821; since 1866 in a building given by W. W. Corcoran), with several affiliated hospitals, a Department of Dentistry (1887), the National College of Pharmacy (united with the university in 1906), and a College of Veterinary Medicine (1908). In 1909 this University had 185 instructors and 1520 students. Georgetown University is in Georgetown (q.v.). The Catholic University of America (incorporated 1887; opened 1889), with buildings near the Soldiers' Home, stands at the head of Roman Catholic schools in America. Although designed especially for advanced theological studies, it comprises a School of the Sacred Sciences, a School of Philosophy, a School of Letters, a School of Physical Sciences, a School of Biological Sciences, a School of Social Sciences, a School of Jurisprudence, a School of Law and a School of Technological Sciences. In 1909 its faculty numbered 42 and its students 225. A Franciscan convent, Dominican, Paulist and Marist houses, and Trinity College for girls are affiliated with the Catholic University. The American University (chartered 1893), under Methodist Episcopal control, designed to bear a relation to the Protestant churches similar to that of the Catholic University to the Catholic Church, with a campus of 94 acres at the north-west end of the city, in 1910 had not been opened to students. Howard University (1867), for the higher education of negroes, is situated south-west of the Soldiers' Home; it was named in honour of General Oliver Otis Howard, one of its founders and (in 1869-1873) its president; it has a small endowment, and is supported by Congressional appropriations which are administered by the Secretary of the Interior; it comprises an academy, a college of arts and sciences, a teachers' college, a school of theology, a school of law, a school of medicine, a pharmaceutic college, a dental college, a school of manual arts and applied sciences, and a commercial college; in 1909 it had 121 instructors and 1253 students.
The Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb (see Deaf and Dumb), on Kendall Green, in the north-eastern part of the city, is composed of Kendall school (a secondary school) and of Gallaudet College (called in 1864-1893 the National Deaf Mute College; the present name is in honour of Dr T. H. Gallaudet); it was the first institution to give collegiate courses to the deaf, and it has received Congressional appropriations, though it is a private foundation. Washington has also several academies, seminaries and small colleges; among the latter are St John's College (Roman Catholic, 1870) and Washington Christian College (non-sectarian, 1902). The Washington College of Law (1896) is an evening school especially for women. A School of Art is maintained in the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
The Carnegie Institution of Washington, founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1902 and endowed by him with $22,000,000 ($10,000,000 in 1902; $12,000,000 later), is designed “to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner, investigation, research and discovery, and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind; and in particular to conduct, endow and assist investigation in any department of science, literature or art, and to this end to co-operate with governments, universities, colleges, technical schools, learned societies and individuals; to appoint committees of experts to direct special lines of research; to publish and distribute documents; and to conduct lectures, hold meetings and acquire and maintain a library.” It is under the control of a board of twenty-four trustees, vacancies in which are filled by the remaining members. In 1908 ten departments had been organized: Botanical Research, with a “desert laboratory” (1903) at Tucson, Arizona; Economics and Sociology (1904); Experimental Evolution, with a station (1904) at Cold Spring Harbor, New York (see Huntington, N.Y.); Geophysical Research, with a laboratory (1906-1907) at Washington—investigations have been carried on by the U.S. Geological Survey and at McGill University, Toronto; Historical Research (1903); Marine Biology, with a laboratory (1904) at Tortugas, Florida; Meridian Astrometry (1906; work is carried on especially at Dudley Observatory, Albany, New York); Research in Nutrition, with a laboratory (1906) at Boston, Massachusetts—investigations (since 1904) had been carried on at Yale and Wesleyan universities; Solar Physics, with observatory (1905) on Mount Wilson, California, and workshops at Pasadena, California, and Terrestrial Magnetism (1903; headquarters in Washington); the institution had assisted Luther Burbank in his horticultural experiments since 1905, and had published the Index Medicus since 1903; and it makes occasional grants for minor research and tentative investigations.
The learned societies of Washington are to a large degree more national than local in their character; among them are: the Washington Academy of Sciences (1898), a “federal head” of most of the societies mentioned below; the Anthropological Society (founded 1879; incorporated 1887), which has published Transactions (1879 sqq., with the co-operation of the Smithsonian Institution) and The American Anthropologist (1888-1898; since 1898 published by the American Anthropological Association); the National Geographic Society (1888), which since 1903 has occupied the Hubbard Memorial Building, which sent scientific expeditions to Alaska, Mont Pelée and La Souffrière, and which publishes the National Geographic Magazine (1888 sqq.), National Geographic Monographs (1895) and various special maps; the Philosophical Society of Washington (1871; incorporated 1901), devoted especially to mathematical and physical sciences; the Biological Society (1880), which publishes Proceedings (1880 sqq.); the Botanical Society of Washington (1901); the Geological Society of Washington (1893); the Entomological Society of Washington (1884), which publishes Proceedings (1884 sqq.); the Chemical Society (1884); the Records of the Past Exploration Society (1901), which publishes Records of the Past (1902 sqq.); the Southern History Association (1896), which issues Publications (1897 sqq.); the Society for Philosophical Inquiry (1893), which publishes Memoirs (1893 sqq.); the Society of American Foresters (1900;, which publishes Proceedings (1905 sqq.); and the Cosmos Club. The libraries and scientific collections of the Federal government and its various bureaus and institutions afford exceptional opportunities for students and investigators (seeLibraries: § United States). The Library of Congress contains more than 1,800,000 volumes and 100,000 manuscripts, and large collections of maps and pieces of music. In the library of the State Department are 70,000 volumes of documents. The library of the Surgeon-General's Office contains 200,000 volumes, and is the largest medical library in the world. Besides these there is a vast amount of material in the collections of the Bureau of Education, the Bureau of Ethnology, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum, the House of Representatives, the Patent Office, the Department of Agriculture, the Botanic Gardens, the Bureau of Fisheries, the Naval Observatory, the Geological Survey and the Coast and Geodetic Survey. The Public Library, containing about 110,000 volumes, is a circulating library.
Communications.—Seven railways enter the city: the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington division of the Pennsylvania System, the Baltimore & Ohio, the Southern, the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis, the Washington Southern and the Washington, Alexandria & Mt Vernon. Steamboats ply daily from the foot of Seventh Street to Alexandria, Mt Vernon, Old Point Comfort and Norfolk, and at Old Point Comfort there is connexion with boats for New York. There is also an hourly ferry service to Alexandria, and at irregular intervals there are boats direct to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The street railways, underground trolley in the urban district and overhead trolley in the suburbs, connect at several points with interurban railways in Maryland and Virginia.
Industries.—The city's manufactures and commerce are of little importance in proportion to its population. Only government manufactures and manufactures for local consumption are at all large. In 1905 the government's printing and publishing cost $5,999,996; its ordnance and ordnance stores (in the Navy Yard on the bank of the Anacostia river), $5,331,459; and its engraving and plate printing, $3,499,517. The total value of the products of all the factories in the District which were operated under private ownership amounted to $18,359,159, and $9,575,971, or 52% of this was the value of printing and publishing; bread and other bakery products, gas and malt liquors.
Government.—Washington is the seat of the Federal government of the United States and as such is not self-ruled, but governed by the Federal Congress. The city was chartered in 1802, with a mayor appointed annually by the president of the United States and an elective council of two chambers. The mayor was elected by the council from 1812 to 1820, and by the people (biennially) from 1820 to 1871. In 1871 the Federal Congress repealed the charters of Washington and Georgetown and established a new government for the entire District, consisting of a governor, a secretary, a board of public works, a board of health and a council appointed by the president with the concurrence of the Senate, and a House of Delegates and a delegate to the National House of Representatives elected by the people. In 1874 Congress substituted a government by three commissioners appointed by the president with the concurrence of the Senate, and in 1878 the government by commissioners was made permanent. Two of the commissioners must be residents of the District, and the third commissioner must be an officer of the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army. The people of the District have no voice in its government, have no representation in Congress and do not vote for the president of the United States. The District commissioners are the chief executive officers. Congress and the commissioners legislate for the District; the president, the commissioners and the supreme court of the District appoint the administrative officers and boards; and the president appoints the judges of the District courts, viz. a court of appeals, a supreme court, a municipal court, a police court, a probate court and a juvenile court. One-half the expenses of the government of Washington is paid by the District of Columbia and one-half by the United States. The revenue of the District, which is derived from a property tax and from various licences, is paid into the United States Treasury; appropriations, always specific and based on estimates prepared by the commissioners, are made only by Congress; and all accounts are audited by the Treasury Department. The government owns the waterworks, by which an abundant supply of water is taken from the Potomac at the Great Falls, conducted for 12 m. through an aqueduct 9 ft. in diameter and filtered through a sand filtration plant.
History. — During the War of Independence Philadelphia was the principal seat of the Continental Congress, but it was driven thence in 1783 by mutinous soldiers, and for the succeeding seven years the discussion of a permanent site for the national capital was characterized by sectional jealousy, and there was a strong sentiment against choosing a state capital or a large city lest it should interfere with the Federal government. The Constitution, drafted in 1787, authorized Congress “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding 10 sq. m.) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States.” Virginia and Maryland promised such a cession; President Washington was known to be in favour of a site on the Potomac, and in July 1790 Alexander Hamilton, in return for Thomas Jefferson's assistance in passing the bill for the assumption of the state war debts by the Federal government, helped Jefferson to pass a bill for establishing the capital on the Potomac, by which the president was authorized to select a site anywhere along the Potomac between the Eastern Branch (Anacostia) and the Conococheague river, a distance of about 80 m., and to appoint three commissioners who under his direction should make the necessary surveys and provide accommodations for the receptipn of Congress in 1800. The commissioners — Thomas Johnson (1732-1819) and Daniel Carroll (1756-1829) of Maryland and Dr David Stuart of Virginia — gave the city its name; Major L'Enfant drew its plan, and Andrew Ellicott laid it out. When, in 1800, the government was removed to Washington it was “a backwoods settlement in the wilderness”; as a city it existed principally on paper, and the magnificence of the design only served to emphasize the poverty of the execution. One wing of the Capitol and the President's House were nearly completed, but much of the land surrounding the Capitol was a marsh; there were no streets worthy of the name, the roads were very bad, and the members of Congress were obliged to lodge in Georgetown. For many years such characterizations as “Wilderness City,” “Capital of Miserable Huts,” “City of Streets without Houses,” “City of Magnificent Distances” and “A Mudhole almost Equal to the Great Serbonian Bog” were common. Resolutions were frequently offered by some disgusted member of Congress for the removal of the capital. In 1814, during the second war with Great Britain, the British, after defeating on the 24th of August an American force at Bladensburg, Prince George county, Maryland, about 6 m. N.E. of Washington, occupied the city and burned the Capitol, the President's House, some of the public offices, and the Navy Yard. In the following year when a bill appropriating $300,000 for rebuilding was before Congress it met with formidable opposition from the “capital movers.” The question of removal was again to the front when, in 1846, the Virginia portion of the District was retroceded to that state in response to the appeal of Alexandria, which had suffered from the neglect of Congress. The lethargy of the nation toward its capital suddenly vanished at the outbreak of the Civil War. At the close of the first day's bombardment of Fort Sumter (April 12th, 1861) Leroy P. Walker (1817-1884), the Confederate Secretary of War, boasted that before the 1st of May the Confederate flag would float over the Capitol. The North, alarmed at the threat, speedily transformed Washington into a great military post and protected it on all sides with strong earthworks. Throughout the war it was the centre of the military operations of the North: here the armies were officered and marshalled, from here they marched on their campaigns against the South, here was the largest depot of military supplies, and here were great hospitals for the care of the wounded. Although several times threatened by the South, Washington was never really in danger except in July 1864 when General Jubal A. Early advanced against it with 12,000 veterans, defeated General Lew Wallace with about 3500 men at Monocacy Bridge on the 6th, and on the 11th appeared before the fortifications, which were at the time defended by only a few thousand raw troops; the city was saved by the timely arrival of some of Grant's veterans. In the city, on the 23rd and 24th of May 1865, President Andrew Johnson reviewed the returning soldiers of the Union Army.
The population of Washington increased from 61,122 to 109,199 or 78.6% in the decade from 1860 to 1870, and the stirring effects of the Civil War were far-reaching. The city had been founded on too elaborate and extensive a plan to be left to the initiative and unaided resources of its citizens. But under the new form of government which was instituted in 1871 a wonderful transformation was begun under the direction of Alexander R. Shepherd (1835-1902), the governor of the District and president of the board of public works. Temporary financial embarrassment followed, but when the Federal government had taken upon itself half the burden and established the economic administration of the commissioners, the problem of beautifying the nation's capital was solved.
- The actual surveying and laying out of the city was done by Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820), a civil engineer, who had been employed in many boundary disputes, who became surveyor-general of the United States in 1792, and from 1812 until his death was professor of mathematics at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
- See Glenn Brown, The History of the United States Capitol (2 vols., 1900-1903).
- The allegorical decorations here are by Persico and Horatio Greenough; those on the Senate portico are by Thomas Crawford, who designed the bronze doors at the entrances to the Senate and House wings. At the east door of the rotunda is the bronze door (1858; modelled by Randolph Rogers). At the west entrance are elaborate bronze doors (1910) by Louis Amateis (b. 1855).
- Connected with the Capitol by subways, immediately S.E. and N.E. of the- Capitol respectively, are the marble office buildings (1908) of the House of Representatives and of the Senate. The Capitol is connected by subways with the Library of Congress also.
- A bronze fountain, “The Court of Neptune,” in front of the Library, is by Hinton Perry. Granite portrait busts of great authors occupy niches in windows near the entrance; these are by J. S. Hartley, Herbert Adams and F. W. Ruckstuhl. The allegorical figures over the entrance are by Bela L. Pratt. There are fine bronze doors by Olin Warner and Frederick Macmonnies. Among the mural paintings are series by John W. Alexander, Kenyon Cox, E. H. Blashfield, Henry Oliver Walker (b. 1843), Walter McEwen, Elihu Vedder, Charles Sprague Pearce (b. 1851), Edward Simmons (b. 1852), George Willoughby Maynard (b. 1843), Robert Reid (b. 1862), George R. Barse, Jr. (b. 1861), W. A. Mackay, F. W. Benson (b. 1862), Walter Shirlaw (b. 1838), Gari Melchers (b. 1860), W. De L. Dodge (b. 1867) and others.
- The site is said to have been chosen by Washington himself — Congress had planned a marble monument in 1783. In 1833 the Washington National Monument Society was formed and a popular subscription was taken. The obelisk was designed by Robert Mills, whose original plan included a “Pantheon” 100 ft. high with a colonnade and a colossal statue of Washington. After 1877 the work was carried on by an appropriation made by Congress. See Frederick L. Harvey, History of the Washington Monument and the National Monument Society (Washington, 1903).
- A Lincoln memorial is to be erected on the Mall W. of the Washington monument.
- The name was changed when the offer of the George Washington Memorial Association to build a $500,000 memorial building was accepted.