District of Columbia (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
"To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States" (U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8). The U.S. Constitution, with this proclamation, left the legal formation of a national capital up to the U.S. Congress. To this day, the District of Columbia is neither a state nor a territory and remains under congressional jurisdiction.
The location of the national capital was born out of a political compromise between the northern and southern states after the United States had achieved its independence. The South feared that the North would have too much influence if the capital were placed in a northern city. The North demanded federal assistance in paying its Revolutionary War debt, something the South was strongly against. ALEXANDER HAMILTON initiated a compromise whereby the federal government would pay off the war debt in return for locating the capital between the states of Maryland and Virginia on the Potomac River.
In 1800, Virginia and Maryland ceded portions of land to the federal government. The citizens living in the new capital were required to give up all the political rights they had enjoyed as inhabitants of Maryland and Virginia. In return, Congress,...
(The entire section is 1767 words.)
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