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Statehood for the District of Columbia – The Boston Globe, December 2nd, 1992
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Statehood for the District of Columbia

The Boston Globe, December 2nd, 1992

It has a larger population than three states and is nearly as large as three more. Its citizens pay among the highest federal income taxes in all states. It has no power to tax those who work within its borders but take their pay home to states with which it has no reciprocal tax agreements. It is subject to the legislative-decisions of a body on which it has no voting representation.

It is the nation’s capital, and its citizens want and deserve a better break, one possible only through direct participation in federal government. As the most outspoken champion of statehood for Washington, D.C., Rev. Jesse Jackson plans to hold President-elect Clinton to his promise to make it a state, because only with that status can the district end the worst anomalies of its politically segregated condition.

When the Constitution provided for a federal district, it assigned full legislative control to Congress when few envisioned the capital becoming a major city with a population larger than that of any state at the time.

Congress has long kept the city in a degree of thralldom that suited the convenience of representatives and senators, who legislate matters as trivial as taxicab rules. The problem was exacerbated by longtime bigotry against the city’s large black population from a Congress often dominated by members from the Old South.

Congress has partly acknowledged the inequity by granting citizens of the district a nonvoting member of the House and by allowing D.C. residents to vote in presidential elections. The district has three electoral votes–exactly what it would have if it were a full-fledged state with two senators and a member of the House.

The political question of D.C. statehood has been complicated by its predominantly Democratic voter registration, making the matter unpalatable for Republicans when the balance of power could hinge on just a few votes. That is a weak excuse for perpetuating political inequity in a country launched on a cry of `no taxation without representation.’ Make the district a state.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



The State of Misgovernment – The New York Times, July 21st, 1992
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The State of Misgovernment

The New York Times, July 21st, 1992

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton’s speech to the Democratic Convention gave fresh evidence of how the Federal Government treats Washington, D.C.: like a plantation.

The District’s elected officials have only token power. They can’t pass a budget or even reschedule garbage collection without groveling before Congress. The District has 608,000 people, more than Alaska, Wyoming or Vermont. Yet Representative Norton is denied a vote in the Congress that runs her city. As she told the Democrats, `It is too late in the century for Americans to accept colonial rule at the very seat of government.’

The remedy is to admit the District as the 51st state, as called for in the Democratic platform. Congress can do its part by passing the New Columbia Statehood Admission Act, which Ms. Norton introduced more than a year ago.

The hardships the District of Columbia endures are evident in the annual budget process. Congress can prevent the District from spending even locally raised revenues in ways that citizens see fit. During budget hearings, members of Congress grandstand on municipal issues and meddle with the city’s finances on behalf of special interests. Extortionate threats to hold up budget passage are common.

The need for autonomy was highlighted in a recent encounter between Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and Representative Thomas J. Bliley of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the House committee that supervises the District. Mr. Bliley berated Mayor Kelly for what he said was foot-dragging on crime.

He is in no position to criticize. He is currently in court challenging a District law intended to reduce the number of weapons on the streets. The law imposes `strict liability’ for semiautomatic rifles and pistols, allowing victims to recover damages from manufacturers and dealers even though they had nothing to do with gun crimes.

Assault weapons are sold legally in Mr. Bliley’s state. And Virginia is a main source of origin for guns confiscated in the District. Mr. Bliley forced the District’s City Council to repeal the law by threatening to block Federal aid. When voters reinstated the law, Mr. Bliley brought his suit. The suit was dismissed; Mr. Bliley has appealed. In essence, this suit argues that Congress’s control supersedes the right to self-government.

The citizens of Washington, D.C., deserve relief from this kind of imperial arrogance. Statehood is the way to provide it.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Grant D.C. Residents Full Rights – The Oregonian, April 15th, 1992
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Grant D.C. Residents Full Rights

The Oregonian, April 15th, 1992

Congress can right an old and grievous wrong in coming weeks. It should pass the District of Columbia statehood bill to grant district residents the same citizenship rights enjoyed by all other Americans.

The measure to create the state of New Columbia recently passed the House District of Columbia Committee. The bill should reach the House floor by late May or June.

While the new state would be–unlike any other–entirely a city, the continued subjugation of district residents to a paternalistic Congress is a travesty of democratic justice.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district’s nonvoting representative, points out that Washingtonians not only have fewer rights than those in the 50 states, but fewer rights than those in the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa, which at least have local self-governance.

Limited home rule has been a hollow promise. All laws passed by the district’s city council must be approved by Congress. An assualt-weapons referendum overwhelmingly approved by city residents is being challenged by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. The district can’t even change garbage-collection days without clearance on the Hill.

D.C. residents pay U.S. taxes without representation and serve in the military with no voice in choosing those who put their lives at risk.

The unique creation of a city-state has led some opponents to suggest joining most of the district to neighboring Maryland. That, however, runs counter to the will of district residents and those of Maryland.

The district meets three traditional statehood tests: Statehood reflects the will of the people; they have agreed to adhere to a representative form of government; and there are enough people and resources to ensure economic viability.

The district’s 608,000 residents outnumber the populations of three states. D.C. households have an average income of $32,106. The district raises 84 percent of its $3.8 billion budget through income, property and sales taxes.

No compelling argument against statehood has been advanced, and no acceptable alternative has been offered. To continue second-class citizenship for D.C. residents is inconsistent with and offensive to democratic principles. It is unworthy of this republic.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



The D.C. Plantation: Freedom Soon? – The New York Times, November 25th, 1991
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The D.C. Plantation: Freedom Soon?

New York Times, Nov. 25, 1991

The effort to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., could well become a campaign issue in 1992.

A bill that would admit the District to the Union as New Columbia, the 51st state, was introduced in the Senate on Thursday. And hearings on the House version of the bill saw a welcome burst of enthusiasm. Three Democratic Presidential candidates testified in favor of statehood and others sent messages of support.

That’s as it should be. The District’s treatment is a scandal, albeit one with a long history. The Federal Government runs the city like a plantation, denying it a voting representative in Congress, forbidding it even rudimentary self-rule and limiting severely its ability to raise revenue.

President Bush favors keeping the District on its knees. But Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, Gov. Douglas Wilder of Virginia and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa testified before Congress that the District deserved to become a full partner in the Union. The three were on the mark.

Washingtonians have long been denied rights that the rest of us take for granted. They weren’t allowed to vote in Presidential elections until 1964. And it was not until the Home Rule Act of 1973 that they could elect a mayor and city council; both had previously been appointed.

The Home Rule Act left the Federal Government’s dictatorial powers intact. Congress can overturn any law the District council passes. A powerful senator can throw some cash to friends by attaching amendments to the city’s budget bill. And one meddlesome Congressman can by himself trigger bearings on any law by simply raising an objection to it.

The Federal Government is not above extortion. Mr. Bush recently vetoed the city budget, forcing the District to ban the use of locally raised tax revenues to furnish abortions for impoverished women. And Congress used similar blackmail to force repeal of a law that made gun dealers and manufacturers liable for injuries from assault weapons. The citizens have reinstated the measure; gun-lobbying senators may yet thwart it. The District’s non-voting representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, spends much of her time fending off odious infringements like these.

Fiscal restrictions abound. The Federal Government’s real estate is exempt from taxation; the city is forbidden to tax the earnings of commuters, most of whom are Federal employees. District officials say these restrictions cause the city to forgo $1.9 billion in revenues per year. Last year the Federal Government paid a paltry $430 million in return. Denied sources of revenue, the city levies some of the highest taxes in the nation.

Those who oppose statehood typically offer weak constitutional arguments against it. It seems fairly clear, however, that Republicans who oppose statehood do so because the District would send two more Democrats to the Senate.

But most Americans understand democracy well. The issue of statehood for the District raises an obvious question: How can we justify championing democracy abroad while inflicting second-class citizenship in the nation’s capital? The answer is obvious, too: We can’t.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Free the Government’s Plantation – The New York Times, October 6th, 1991
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Free the Government’s Plantation

The New York Times, Oct. 6, 1991

Washington, D.C., with a population of 607,000, has more people than Alaska, Wyoming or Vermont. But its elected officials have no real power and the city is denied a voting representative in Congress. The Federal Government treats the District as a colony, controlling local policy on issues ranging from sanitation to abortion and undermining the city’s ability to raise revenues.

Washingtonians deserve self-government no less than other Americans. A bill pending in Congress, H.R. 2482, would admit Washington to the union as New Columbia, the 51st state. The bill deserves attention and a vote of approval in the House. But that won’t happen until languid Democrats schedule hearings. The legislators need to provide more than lip service they’ve given to statehood in recent years. Even if statehood fails, debate could suggest intermediate solutions. The current arrangement is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy.

Washingtonians have suffered long under second-class citizenship. They were first allowed to vote in Presidential elections in 1964. Permission to elect local officials followed slowly: in 1968, the school board; in 1971, a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives; and in 1973, the mayor and the city council.

The Home Rule Act of 1973, which granted limited self-rule, contained dictatorial restrictions. The city cannot so much as reschedule garbage collection without groveling before Congress, which has 30 days in which to disapprove. Nor can the city determine its own budget or set independent policies. President George Bush recently forced the District to disallow the use of local tax revenues to furnish abortions for impoverished women. His weapon: vetoing the city budget. Impoverished victims of rape and incest will be denied a choice available to American women elsewhere.

The Federal presence harms the city fiscally. The District is forbidden to tax nonresidents, many of them Federal workers, who comprise about 60 percent of the work force. Federal properties are also exempt from real estate taxes. The city calculates that all taxing restrictions combined cost it $1.9 billion a year in revenues.

An ill-informed Mr. Bush said last year that he opposed statehood because the city’s funds `come almost exclusively from the Government.’ That’s wrong. The Federal contribution at that time was about 14 percent of the city budget, the Government gave a paltry $430 million in lieu of lost tax revenues. The cost of municipal services provided to the Government is difficult to calculate but potentially worrisome.

Those who oppose statehood often claim that the Constitution forbids creation of a state in the District. That claim is without merit. The Constitution says only that Congress will exercise exclusive legislative control over a seat of Government that does not exceed 10 miles square. A state could be created that reduce the size of the Federal enclave but not eliminate it.

The real objections to statehood are political. When Mr. Bush opposes statehood, he is opposing the creation of two additional Democratic Senators, one of whom would surely be Jesse Jackson, now an unpaid lobbyist, or `shadow senator,’ who represents Washington in the Senate. The Democrats also have acted spinelessly, giving statehood little more than token support.

How can the United States champion democracy abroad while it disenfranchises District citizens who die in wars and pay taxes the same way other Americans do? There is every reason for Democrats to gather courage, convene hearings and then bring the issue to the floor. Sooner or later, Congress will realize it has more important tasks than overseeing schedules for garbage collection.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Statehood for the District of Columbia – The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, June 27th, 1987
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Statehood for the District of Columbia

The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, June 27, 1987

Walter Fauntroy, nonvoting delegate who represents Washington, D.C., in the House, seeks to transform the District of Columbia into the state of New Columbia. Fauntroy’s quest is a long shot, despite support from such prominent Democrats as House Speaker Jim Wright and Majority Leader Tom Foley. Yet he deserves to succeed because his cause is just.

In the past two decades, district residents have been granted home rule and the right to vote in presidential elections. But they still lack representation in Congress. In 1978, Congress offered for ratification a constitutional amendment that would have provided congressional representation but stopped short of statehood. When the seven-year limit on ratification expired in 1985, only a few states had approved the amendment. Minnesota was one of them. With the failure of the 1978 amendment, Fauntroy offered his statehood proposal, which requires only congressional approval and presidential signature.

Like all other U.S. citizens, district residents honor U.S. laws, pay U.S. taxes and serve in the U.S. military. Unlike other U.S. citizens, they have no direct say in what laws Congress will pass, what taxes Congress will impose and what wars Congress will declare. Fauntroy seeks to redress that fundamental unfairness.

There are also practical reasons for granting statehood. Like many core urban areas, the district has suffered a declining population, loss of commercial and industrial tax base to surrounding suburbs and increased poverty. Costs grow faster than city resources. Most states, recognizing the vital role central cities play in metropolitan economies, respond with urban aid raised by taxing suburbs–or by giving core cities the power to impose a payroll tax on suburban commuters.

But Washington has no state government to help out; its suburbs are in Virginia and Maryland. And the district charter prohibits a payroll tax. Which leaves only Congress to finance the rising cost of district Government. And that means Minnesota taxpayers shoulder as much of the district’s financial burden as those in Virginia and Maryland, who benefit directly from the district’s government-dominated economy.

Federal support will always be appropriate, given the government’s enormous tax-exempt holdings in the district. But statehood would allow Washington to tax commuters or work out other arrangements requiring Virginia and Maryland to bear a larger share of the district’s burdens.

Fauntroy’s bill is likely to come to the House floor this fall. Because the district is Democratic, urban and black, it faces opposition from Republicans, rural legislators and bigots. None relish adding district representatives to Congress. Such crass partisanship and bigotry should not be allowed to subvert the drive for statehood. To ease the district’s financial burden and to erase an embarrassing political injustice, Congress should pass the statehood bill and welcome New Columbia to the Union.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Why Not Statehood for D.C. Citizens? – Seattle Times, May 11th, 1987
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Why Not Statehood for D.C. Citizens?

Seattle Times, May 11th, 1987

The path is strewn with all sorts of political and legal obstacles, but the District of Columbia is pressing ahead on a campaign that could give it full statehood–a 51st state to be called New Columbia.

And why not? Despite its place as the seat of national power, the district long has been a governmental orphan whose residents have second-class political status. It elects a mayor and City Council, but local decisions are liable to congressional veto. Residents can vote in presidential elections, but their representation in Congress is limited to a single nonvoting delegate.

In 1978 Congress proposed a constitutional amendment to give D.C. full voting representation–two senators and at least one representative–but only 16 of a required 38 states had approved it before the ratification period ran out three years ago.

Now advocates of full statehood are saying there’s no need to pursue the tortuous constitutional-amendment process. Congress, they say, could establish New Columbia simply by enacting a law, and a bill to do that is working its way through the House.

Citing various legal authorities, opponents disagree and promise a court battle if Congress approves the statehood measure.

The Reagan administration also is resisting the statehood proposal, partly because of expectations that the members of Congress elected from New Columbia would be liberal Democrats.

Still, the case for statehood remains strong, if only as a matter of simple fairness. The district’s population at last count stood at some 637,000–far more than in Alaska, Delaware, Vermont or Wyoming.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



PRESIDENT OPPOSED TO SUFFRAGE IN DISTRICT – The Washington Post, May 9th, 1909
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PRESIDENT OPPOSED TO SUFFRAGE IN DISTRICT


Mr. Taft, in Speech at Dinner,
Favors One-Man Rule.


ANSWERS JUSTICE STAFFORD


Jurist Had Made an Eloquent Plea for Votes for Citizens of Washington– Executive Defends Wisdom of Early Statesmen in Denying Right of Ballot to Capital City– Declares That People Here Are Envied by Those of Other Municipalities.



With great vigor and with that clear insight into the ultimate meaning of the Constitution of the United States which has made him reckoned one of the foremost constitutional lawyers of the country, President Taft defended last night that provision of the Constitution which places the District of Columbia under the Federal government. He declared unequivocally that the whole people of the United States should have in its charge the government of the District, through its representatives in Congress, and that the people of the District must bow to the wisdom of the forefathers who declared in favor of this plan of government for the National Capital. The President stands, therefore, absolutely opposed to granting to the people of the District the right of suffrage.

President Taft made it equally clear that he is inclined to favor a single head for the District government as opposed to the triumvirate form of government which now exists here. He said, indeed, that he has not yet made up his mind just what changes in the form of government for the District he will recommend to Congress next fall. But he declared, in discussing the merits of the single head and the triumvirate, that he was convinced the single head was preferable where the functions of that head were merely executive. If legislative functions were attached to the head of a government, he said, the triumvirate was the better. Inasmuch as the head of the District government is merely executive, without legislative functions, the inference is clear that the President favors “one-man” rule for the District.

The President’s speech was delivered at the banquet tendered him in the New Willard ballroom by the business men of Washington. It was a dramatic finale of what resolved itself into a joint debate between the President of the United States and Justice Stafford, of the Supreme Court of the District. Justice Stafford, in an eloquent speech brought forth round after round of applause and made the blood tingle in the veins of every Washingtonian who heard him, pleaded for a voice in the national government for the people of the District. He pleaded that the 350,000 people of the District be not cut off forever from their birthright of freedom and no taxation without representation.

He asked the people be allowed to elect a senator and two representatives, who should have equal rights with other members of Congress. The people, he declared, are becoming slothful, unmindful of their duties, under the present system, but he predicted that there would come a day when, a million strong, the people of the District would not remain quiescent under the present scheme of government.

When President Taft arose to make the reply to Justice Stafford, who, as spokesman for the people, had voiced his idea of the greatest need of the District, there was the keenest interest evinced in his reply. The several hundred prominent men of affairs of the District were not kept in doubt long. The President, without a moment’s hesitation, launched into a vigorous defense of the Constitution, so far as it relates to the government of the District. He laughed at the argument of Justice Stafford, that the people of Washington were slaves, and declared that they were the envied of the peoples of all other cities of the Union.

Nevertheless, it appears that the President and Justice Stafford did not join issues directly in their debate. For Justice Stafford argued, not for suffrage in municipal government of the country and for a voice in those separate interests which directly concern the people here. The President, on the other hand argued that the framers of the Constitution had precluded all idea of the District of Columbia being governed directly by the people of the District.

List of Guests

Those who sat at the raised table at the west of the room were:

John Joy Edson, chairman of the joint committee; President Taft, Vice President Sherman, J.H. Small, president of the Board of Trade; W.F. Gude, president of the Chamber of Commerce; Speaker Cannon, Postmaster General Hitchcock, Theodore W. Noyes, Charles -J. Bell, Representative J. Van Vechten Olcott, Secretary of Commerce and Labor Nagel, Arthur C. Moses, Scott C. Bone, Representative Samuel W. Smith, Representative Vreeland, James F. Oyster, Allen D. Albert, j.r., Representative Philip Campbell, Commissioner Macfarland, Edward McLean, Representative George A. Pearre, Commissioner West, Charles C. Glover, Representative A. S. Burleson, Commissioner Judson, Clarence F. Norment, D.J. Callahan, Representative Edward L. Taylor, A. Lisner.



…secondary list was not transcribed…



This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post 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.



Prof. Gregory Favors It – The Washington Post, July 10th, 1883
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Prof. Gregory Favors It.

The Washington Post, July 10th, 1883

“Yes, I thoroughly believe in suffrage in the District,” said Professor James G. Gregory, of Howard university, to a Post reporter, in answer to the question if he favored the present agitation for giving the citizens votes. “Yes, I am in favor of it,” he repeated. “I think the people would be much more contented if they had suffrage. You can see how the people are anxious to have some part in their own government by the interest they take in the choice of the school trustees. Why, there are sometimes more than a half dozen candidates in a single district and any number of delegations going to the commissioners in favor of this or that man. This one matter serves as a sort of outlet for their political feelings.”

“What do you think is the reason for opposition to suffrage?”

“I think that one reason why many oppose giving the citizens suffrage is that they are afraid of the colored vote. They think the colored man is top ignorant to have anything to do with the District affairs. Now, this is a great mistake. Within the past seven or eight years a great change has taken place. The colored people have been greatly influenced by those of their race who have received an education. In some families, perhaps, where the parents have no had the opportunities of books, their children have, and the influence of those children on the home is very marked. Many have been admitted to the public schools and the night schools. Then many of the colored people have become educated by business. In many cases they have prospered and have become property owners. Oh, no, it is a mistake to say that there is any danger from their ignorance in giving them the franchise.”

“Do you believe in universal suffrage?”

“No, I do not say that suffrage should be without limit. Perhaps it would be well to have some property and educational qualification. That is a very broad question. I believe suffrage should be granted , because of the value it would prove the citizens as a political school. We send out children to school to be educated to become citizens, but there is another education– a political education– that the citizens should receive. As it is now very few of the citizens have much of an idea about the Government. They do not discuss the actions of the commissioners as they discuss in other cities municipal affairs. We pay our taxes and that is the end of it. We do not think. Everything is done by the commissioners merely making suggestions and asking for appropriations. This is not the way to become citizens. How do they do in other cities? Why, they meet, discuss affairs, and vote upon their intelligent and deliberate opinions. Suffrage would educate the people in government, in the finance ad in the duties of citizenship.”

“Do you think the District affairs would be managed as economically under popular government?” inquired the reporter. “Was not the opposite found to be the case when there was suffrage?”

“I think that the state of affairs was more the result of circumstances than the system. Before the war nothing had been done for the city. When I came to Washington it was a mudhole. After the war improvements were projected on a large scale, and what it required many years to do in other cities was done here in a short time. Perhaps Governor Shepherd went rather too fast, but you can see what has been accomplished. There are many who object to giving the poor man the ballot because they are afraid property-holders will suffer. Now, the poor man is interested in having property protected. If he has no property, he hope to acquire some, and this will keep him from making any laws injurious to property rights. I lived in Cleveland for some years, where some of the richest men in the country live, and I never saw anything to cause any alarm.”

“Do you think the citizens would take any more interest in the government, or feel any responsibility in its right management if they could vote?”

“Certainly, they would feel that they had something at stake. Then look at the injustice of the thing– to deprive a man of his highest right as a citizen. If we lived in a State of Territory we would have a vote. Why should we be refused it here?”

“Is not Congress given full control over the District?” the reporter asked.

“Certainly; but I do not believe that power implies a right to take away the citizen’s vote. There is not another city in the Union where the same thing is done.”

“What would be your plan for the government of the District?”

“Well, I believe in having three commissioners as now, and if Congress insisted on the right of representation in return for paying half the District expenses, would give to the President the appointment of the engineer commissioner. The other two should be chosen by the people. I believe something of the kind will soon come, too, for the people generally are favoring it.”


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post 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.



Suffrage in the District – The Washington Post, January 24, 1880
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Suffrage in the District

The Washington Post, January 24, 1880

We cannot understand how any man who believes in the fundamental principles of republican government can seriously contend for the continued denial of suffrage to the inhabitants of the District of Columbia.

If it be true that governments derive their just power only from the consent of the governed, what justice is there in ruling this great community– a population equal to that of the State of Nevada– by a system that does not ask consent, and which assumes the right to defy the wishes of the people?

If our fathers of the Revolution were justified in protesting, rebelling, and fighting against taxation without representation, if they were not criminals, rather than heroes, for going to war on such a question, if their memories should be revered and their example held up as worthy of imitation by their descendants, how can taxes be gathered, year after year, from the property-holders of this District, who have no more votes than the negro babies Central Africa, no representation than the mummies in the Smithsonian institution?

We can conceive of no circumstances under which a Democratic Congress can deny the right of suffrage and local self-government to a peaceful, law-abiding community without direct violation of the very essence of the Democratic creed. While it is true that the Constitution devolves on Congress the duty of providing a government for this District, while it is true that the people have no recourse but to accept such provision as Congress makes, it will not be contended by any sane man that Congress has a right to violate the spirit of the Constitution and set up the most detested features of despotic systems of government in the Capital of this Republic.

Here, if anywhere on the continent, we ought to be able to present to all the world a fair illustration of the practicability and advantages of Republican institutions. But we can’t do this in cities that are denied the ballot. And when we say that this great and intelligent community is incapable of self-government and not fit to be trusted with the ballot, we present a strong condemnation of the basis of our whole system; we direct encouragement to the opponents of free institutions.

It is said that suffrage has been abused here. Granted. There isn’t a doubt that it was shamefully abused. There is no question that great wrongs were perpetrated and that numerous evils prevailed under the system that was abolished in 1874. But where is the city, where is the State, in which suffrage has not been abused? Where is the community in which righteousness has always been voted up and iniquity always voted down? Where are the people who have made no mistakes in the selection of officers? Where, on this continent, shall we look for a town, city, county or State in which the ballot has always worked for the greatest good of the greatest number? If suffrage is to be denied to all who fail to use it always with wisdom and justice, let us call in a king and down with the ballot-box.

There is reason to believe that many of the evils of the past will not be repeated here when self-government is re-established. When corruption had its carnival here it was having an equally jolly time in many other places. That era is past. All over the country there has been great improvement in municipal management. Public plunderers have been brought to grief and better men have been put in authority. With the experience of the past as a warning and guide, the people of this District would avoid the reproaches and scandals which caused the last radical change in their government.

But because it is a right; because it is a republican, because it is democratic, because it is in accordance with the great principles on which this Republic stands because no Democrat can consistently deny it, we are compelled to favor the demand that the ballot be restored to this community.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post 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.



District Representation – The Washington Post, January 22, 1879
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District Representation

The Washington Post, January 22, 1879

With the exception of the Indian tribes, the only community within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States unrepresented in Congress is the District of Columbia.

Territories whose few inhabitants are scattered over a broad expanse like the masts of ships on the ocean, and which neither commerce nor manufactures, send their delegates to Congress to represent their interests, and procure for them such legislation as shall tend to develop their resources and afford encouragement and protection to their people the embryo state advances toward maturity.

States with half the population of this District have their representatives in the House, and have an equal voice in the Senate with the oldest, largest, richest, and most populous members of the family states.

It is only here, at the capital of a country whose government is based on suffrage, that suffrage is unknown.

Holding to the theory that governments derive their just powers only from the consent of the governed, and that the ballot is the proper mode of expressing that consent, our Government denies the ballot to the inhabitants of its capital city.

Believing and teaching that is should be no taxation without representation, and that such taxation is tyranny, our Government levies taxes on the property of this people, and if those taxes are not paid it sells the property under the red flag and the hammer of a Government auctioneer. Thousands of homes have thus been sold here during the last few years.

We cannot see how any man, whatever may have been the result of his observation here in times past, can hold to the Democratic creed, to the great underlying principles of free government, and oppose the representation of this District in the law-making department of our governmental mechanism.

And because out faith in true Democracy is a vital reality, and not a sham, we approve the proposition to have the District of Columbia represented in the House. We see no reason why this community should be an exception to the general rule- why all should have a voice in the Capitol and we be mute.

It may be urged that the horde of negroes who swarm here will be used to elect a delegate who will misrepresent our people. We do not believe it. Intelligence and social influence, if rightly employed, will so direct public opinion that the election will be a fair expression of the wishes of our people.

As the delegate will not vote, and as his influence will depend on his being in accord with the dominant party in Congress, there will be no temptation to resort to any of those schemes and tricks that brought reproach upon popular suffrage here some years ago.

But whatever may be the fears of the timid and doubtful, we see no way in which an honest believer in Democracy can deny representation to this community. The taxpayer has a right to be heard. A delegate can speak for him. Consistency demands that this proposition should not fail for want of the support of Democrats in Congress.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post 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.



Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton & Senator Joe Lieberman introduce a D.C. Statehood Bill
|| 4/1/2009 || 11:10 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Upon hearing that the Justice Department has found the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 to be unconstitutional, this morning Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced a D.C. Statehood bill to Congress.

This bill will make the nearly 600,000 citizens of America’s capital city equal to those in every other state in America. The legislation will allow District residents to elect two senators & at least one member of the House of Representatives. It will also grant the residents complete budget autonomy, control over the penal system, and allow residents to vote for their own district attorney. The bill also shrinks what is considered the “Seat of Government” to the area around the United States Capitol and National Mall to allow Congress to retain some control over the District of Columbia.

“I’m tired of being treated like a second-class congresswoman,” said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton this morning at the press conference, “and D.C. Statehood is the only route to full equality.” She went on to say that she was pressured by the high-profile advocacy group DC Vote to push for partial representation because they wanted to make sure D.C. only has one vote in Congress. She concluded, “they didn’t want to have to change their name to DC Votes.”

Former vice-presidential candidate Senator Lieberman introduced the Senate’s version of the bill that contains a unique compromise. Unlike previous D.C. Statehood legislation, it contains a provision that prevents D.C. residents from electing two senators from the same political party.

“As an independent, I understand the importance of partisanship and the current view of Washington, DC is that the residents only vote for candidates in the Democratic Party.” By including this controversial provision, Lieberman hopes to win over Republican leadership who fear that the senators will always come from the Democratic party. The DC Home Rule Charter already contains a similar provision for a portion of the At-Large City Councilmembers to be from minor political parties and this practice will be continued in the DC Statehood bill.

In order to help District residents understand the importance of what D.C. statehood will provide, this evening ACLU and many other human rights groups are hosting a teach-in & free concert on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Their goal is to educate District residents on the benefits of D.C. statehood.

Below are two different flyers for tonight’s event at the U.S. Capitol:

statehood teachin1 Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton & Senator Joe Lieberman introduce a D.C. Statehood Bill
statehood teachin2 Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton & Senator Joe Lieberman introduce a D.C. Statehood Bill


statehood teachin final Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton & Senator Joe Lieberman introduce a D.C. Statehood Bill



UPDATE: In case you didn’t figure it out, this entry was my April Fool’s Day joke. While the event at the U.S. Capitol was real, the introduction of the D.C. Statehood Bill was a farce. I do, however, contend that Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton should stop wasting her time on the DC Voting Rights Act.




An Act for establishing the Temporary and Permanent seat of the Government of the United States
|| 2/24/2009 || 12:35 pm || Comments Off || ||

For last month or so I’ve been adding historic pieces of legislation here on my blog. The aim here, and the general aim of this blog, is to keep an ongoing, on-line journal that features things that I’m either interested in or things that I have created. Historic pieces of legislation related to the District of Columbia fall into the former category, and today’s entry is the text & scans of the act that established the Temporary (Philadelphia) and Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States in a “district of territory” that would eventually become named the District of Columbia.


temporary home of government1790 An Act for establishing the Temporary and Permanent seat of the Government of the United States

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Text of H.R. 259 – An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia
|| 2/19/2009 || 7:12 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

map of alexandria county Text of H.R. 259   An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia

From 1840 to 1846, residents of Alexandria petitioned Congress and the Virginia legislature to approve retrocession. On February 3, 1846 the Virginia General Assembly agreed to accept the retrocession of Alexandria if Congress approved. Following additional lobbying by Alexandrians, Congress passed legislation (below) on July 9, 1846 to return all the District’s territory south of the Potomac River back to the Commonwealth of Virginia, pursuant to a referendum that would be held later in the year, and President Polk signed this first piece of legislation the next day.

A referendum on retrocession was then held on September 1–2, 1846 and the residents of the City of Alexandria voted in favor of the retrocession, 734 to 116, however, the residents of Alexandria County voted against retrocession 106 to 29. Despite the objections of those living in Alexandria County, President Polk certified the referendum and issued a proclamation of transfer on September 7, 1846. However, the Virginia legislature did not immediately accept the retrocession offer. Virginia legislators were concerned that the people of Alexandria County had not been properly included in the retrocession proceedings. After months of debate, the Virginia General Assembly voted to formally accept the retrocession legislation on March 13, 1847.

In Abraham Lincoln’s first State of the Union, delivered on December 3, 1861, he suggested restoring the District of Columbia to George Washington’s original boundaries:

The present insurrection [Civil War] shows, I think, that the extension of this District across the Potomac at the time of establishing the capital here was eminently wise, and consequently that the relinquishment of that portion of it which lies within the state of Virginia was unwise and dangerous. I submit for your consideration the expediency of regarding that part of the District and the restoration of the original boundaries thereof through negotiations with the State of Virginia.

I also question the legitimacy of the retrocession because in the bill below you can see that it states that both the county AND the town of Alexandria were to pass the referendum. The county of Alexandria never voted in favor of retrocession, only the town voted for it. Imagine if the land was returned back to the District of Columbia?

hr259 virginia retrocession senate1 Text of H.R. 259   An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia

Continue:

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The 23rd Amendment – Time Magazine – March 31, 1961
|| 2/14/2009 || 6:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

I found this article when I was looking up more information about the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Thanks to a succession of oversights by the Founding Fathers and early Congresses, the residents of the District of Columbia have never enjoyed one particular constitutional right cherished by all other Americans: the privilege of voting. There was no reasoning attending the oversights; it was just plain neglect.† Last week Rhode Island cast the 36th affirmative vote for the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution, giving 746,000 Washingtonians the right to vote in presidential elections — and three electoral votes. Ohio and Kansas are expected to ratify the amendment this week, making the necessary two-thirds majority for official adoption (only one legislature—Arkansas—rejected the amendment outright, on the ground that 54% of the District’s citizens are Negroes).

But after 161 years, Washingtonians will be limited to voting for the President and Vice President. They will continue to have no representative in Congress, no voice in their municipal government.

†One segment of the capital gained the right to vote in 1846, when one-third of the District’s land area, now Arlington County, was ceded back to Virginia.

What this article shows to me is how racist America used to be….
In some ways, even with an African American president, it still is.
sigh



Related 23rd Amendment Entries:





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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