Does the New York Times issue corrections after 137 years? Because this article has two errors. First, William Winter Payne, of Fauquier, was then a member of Congress from Alabama, not South Carolina. I decided to look in the Congressional Globe myself and find their error. Second, the article uses both Judge Underhill and Judge Underwood, when it should have been only using Judge John Curtiss Underwood (sadly, he died less than 4 months after this article was published.)
I decided to repost this article here because it provides the setting for the Supreme Court case of Phillips vs. Payne. I was not expecting to find an article that essentially provides a road map for how the unconstitutionality of Alexandria’s retrocession was to be legally challenged.
RETROCESSION OF ALEXANDRIA
The New York Times, August 17, 1873
At a recent meeting of the Common Council of Alexandria, Va., a proposition to establish a new hospital being under consideration, Judge Underhill spoke of the renewed effort by citizens of Washington to procure retrocession of Alexandria to the District of Columbia. He then related an interview he had with Gov. Cooke and Chief Justice Cartter, from which he had learned that they had determined on the move. Judge Cartter had pronounced the act of retrocession of 1846 unconstitutional and void, and they would make a test case by getting some citizen of Alexandria to refuse to pay his taxes, and file a bill for an injunction against their collection by the State of Virginia. They preferred that mode to proceeding criminal case by habeas corpus. The Board of Public Works thought it necessary to have both sides of the river, as the Board of Health had concluded the swamps on the Virginia side were the cause of much of the malarious sickness in Washington. The effort will probably be made in the Fall. Judge Underwood also remarked that the change, if made, would very seriously affect him, and necessitate his resignation of the judgeship or removal, and he said he had looked at the Globe of the date of the act of retrocession, and found that Col. Winter Payne, of Fauquier, then a member of Congress from
South Carolina Alabama, had opposed it as unconstitutional, and many Democratic statesmen, but no Whigs.
This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the New York Times archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.