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Why is Washington DC not a state? / Is Washington DC a state?

When writing the Constitution, America's Founding Fathers agreed that the center of government should not be in a state. All of the northern cities, such as Philadelphia and New York, would serve as temporary seats of administration in America's early post-Revolutionary days. The Founding Fathers concluded that the new nation should have a permanent capital while crafting the Constitution in 1787. However, they were hesitant to allow a single state that much power.

[The Congress shall have Power] To exercise exclusive Legislation...over such District (not exceeding 10 Miles square) as may...become the Seat of the Government of the United States, they wrote in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. According to the report, the territory for this 100-mile zone would be donated by the states in order for the new seat of government to be independent of any state.

However, the site heightened tensions among the founders, particularly between northerner Alexander Hamilton and southerner Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton believed that establishing a northern capital would aid the north in repaying its Revolutionary War obligations. Jefferson was apprehensive of bankers and economic masterminds wielding too much power, especially in northern regions. As a result, George Washington chose a place along the Potomac River as a compromise. The two states that would relinquish land for this new capital, which was created in 1790, would be northern Maryland and southern Virginia. In sum, granting D.C. statehood would be a clear violation of the Constitution.

But we've come a long way since the Founding Fathers' time, and the Constitution was designed to be altered. So the debate over statehood continues.


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