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PLEA FOR RESTORATION OF ALEXANDRIA COUNTY – The Washington Times, April 13, 1902
|| 8/1/2010 || 12:35 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Of note, is that this very same article was published verbatim the following week on the same page in the same newspaper with a new title REUNION OF DISTRICT AND ALEXANDRIA.


Screengrab of the headline


Mr. H. Phillips Memorializes the District Committee.


MANY BURDENS IMPOSED


Caused by Proximity to District- Problems of Police Protection and Improvement of Public Highways Cited as Reasons for Re-annexation.


Mr. H. Phillips, a resident of Alexandria county, Va., who believes that the retrocession of that county is unconstitutional and that it still forms a part of the District of Columbia, has communicated to Congress his views on the question of restoration.

Mr. Phillips statement is addressed to the House Committee on the District of Columbia, and is as follows:


“In the year 1784, pursuant to paragraph 17, section 8, article 1, of the Federal Constitution, Virginia ceded to the United States a small area on the Potomac River to form part of the permanent seat of the General Government. In 1846 Congress passed an act ceding this land back to Virginia, thus dismembering the established seat of government of ten miles square. The portion returned to Virginia was organized as a separate county, only one-fourteenth of the average size of the counties of the State.

Burdensome Problems

“The problem of local police protection and improvement of public highways in the little county has become difficult and burdensome on account of the disorder and heavy travel incident to proximity to a large city.

“In 1861, the War Department and military forces again took practical possession of the county, building fortifications on every conspicuous eminence within its borders, and at the close of the war retained the Custis estate of eleven hundred acres, later paying for it and establishing a great national cemetery, a large military post, and a station of the Department of Agriculture, within its borders. The United States makes no contribution to the expenses of the local government, notwithstanding its ownership of one-sixteenth of the area and one-seventh of the property valuation of the county.

“The suburbs of cities are peculiarly subject to the presence of unlawful persons who resort to such points for illicit liquor selling, gambling, and other disorderly conduct near public highways. Especially is this observed on the Sabbath day. The residents of Alexandria county as a class are honorable, intelligent, and public spirited. The attorney for the county is active and successful in prosecuting offenders brought to his attention, and the judiciary resolute in sentencing law breakers. The police force of this small county, limited to a few men, receiving inadequate pay, cannot, however, prevent disorderly person entering the county from the city of Washington, or preserve order along the extensive river front. The history of municipal government shows that public order is thus difficult to preserve near boundary lines of a city. Malefactors constantly seek such border for the commission of unlawful acts, or to escape the strong arm of the law; hence cities are usually extended far beyond the limits of closely-built houses.

Sanitary Protection Needed.

“Sanitary protection, equally important to public welfare, requires that Alexandria county should be restored to the District of Columbia. Disease is carried to the limits of cities in deposits of water material, not only contaminating springs and water courses used by unsuspecting persons, but adding by exhalation to the other impurities of city air. Fire protection in suburbs also makes an extension of municipal limits desirable.

“It is also reasonable that cities control the maintenance of suburban parks and driveways, contributing to the health and pleasure of its residents. The circumscribed limits of walls and fortresses observed in the history of feudal towns should be thus brushed aside by the advance of science and civilization. The principles applicable to the extension of cities generally become more important when the seat of government and capital of a nation are concerned.

“So, disregarding the legal status of Alexandria county, there are important and practical reasons why it should be restored to the District of Columbia. It was urged in behalf of ceding part of the District of Columbia back to Virginia in 1846, that the United States had no property or buildings in Alexandria county. Now, we find the United States owns three bridges across the river, and in addition, a large share of the lands, buildings, and other improvements in the county, is the property of the National Government.

“An instance of the necessity of police protection occurred a few years ago. Coxey’s army came to Washington. They were ordered from the city and came over to Alexandria County and camped, and only moved when, upon application to the Governor, a company of troops bundled the army, bag and baggage, across the river. The executive officers of the Government, the judiciary, and members of Congress pass over this unpoliced area to and from Arlington National Cemetery. If injury comes to any official of the Government on the county highways from some criminal or insane person the Government is responsible for neglecting to maintain a jurisdiction imposed by the Constitution.

The Legal Question.

“It would seem, however, to be a proper subject for judicial inquiry, whether under the Federal Constitution, one or two of the three principal branches of Government have power to alienate a part of the established seat of government. The War Department has built on the county highways water mains, telegraph and telephone lines, and pumping station on land obtained for a bridge approaches in Alexandria county, without authority of Virginia, and without permission of the owners of the fee of the public highways, so if Alexandria county is lawfully part of Virginia, the United States is a trespasser without process of law or just compensation; but if the Supreme Court declares Alexandria county part of the District of Columbia, the Commissioners of the District of Columbia may at once provide for its police protection, and the Government improvements are within the legislative control of Congress.

“Congress has prohibited fishing at certain times, and in various methods in the waters of the Potomac, along the District. If Alexandria county is part of Virginia, such legislation is wholly unwarranted, and notwithstanding such legislation, Virginians have full riparian rights in the waters of the Potomac opposite Washington, subject only to Virginia laws.

“Jackson City has long been a menace to the moral of Washington, but if the establishment of the boundary of Maryland and Virginia has any reasonable interpretation, Jackson City is wholly in the District, and the Commissioners neglect their duties if they do not police Alexandria Island, and abate a stain on Washington city.

“Considering the restoration of Alexandria county to the District, in respect to the wishes of President Washington, it is most worthy of the attention of Congress. To the efforts of the first and most distinguished President, the location, plan, and success of the Capital may be justly ascribed. It will be a deserved tribute and honor to his memory to restore the original and proper limits surveyed and established under his person direction.

“Regarding the fitness of the proposed resolution, the Supreme Court has decided that the question is cognizable only in a case between the United States and the State of Virginia, and cannot be adjudicated between other parties. If the court decides Congress did not exceed its constitutional powers in ceding part of the seat of government to Virginia the controversy ends. If the court decides, however, Congress exceeded its powers, the jurisdiction of Congress, the courts, and Commissioners of the District will thenceforth extend over the entire ten miles square.

“The people of Alexandria county generally favor a restoration of the original District. Virginia does not wish to lose more territory. The United States paid $20,000,000 to Spain for a lot of foreign islands and proposes to $5,000,000 to Denmark for three little tropical islets, so it may not be unjust to contribute $1,000,000 toward the debt of the mother of States if Alexandria county is restored to the National Government.

“The Capital, the seat of general government, is important, however, not only to the in Washington, and in Virginia, but its preservation, its size, and location and its welfare are rights of and affect the people of the entire nation. The interests of the people, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Canada to the Gulf and the detached territory, should be fully and justly considered in the action on the proposed resolution.

“It may urged, Why disturb a condition of dismemberment of the seat of government established for over fifty years? In reply, it may be justly stated there is no progress of civilization, or improvement of any description, that does not disturb existing conditions within lawful limits. If the object of the resolution is desirable for the Government and for the citizens directly and indirectly interested, if it is entirely within the powers and limitations of the Federal Constitution, and if the resolution is appropriate to the subject matter, it should be adopted.”


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article on Chronicling America. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



EARLY SECESSION DAYS – The Washington Times, August 12, 1900
|| 7/22/2010 || 2:53 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

EARLY SECESSION DAYS - The Washington Times, August 12, 1900


The Sentiment Had No Bearing on the National Union.


Efforts of Alexandria and Georgetown to Be Release From Their Association With the City of Washington- Appeals to the Maryland and Virginia Legislatures.


The exclusive jurisdiction of the United States was extended over the District of Columbia on the 27th of February, 1801, and almost immediately plans were proposed for a change in the District bounds, or for its entire abolition. The act of March 3, 1791, which provided that nothing therein should authorize the erection of public buildings on the Virginia side of the river had created dissatisfaction there before the United States took control, and at the third session which Congress held in Washington Mr. Bacon, of New York [actually Massachusetts], introduced a bill to cede back to Maryland and Virginia the land and jurisdiction which made the District of Columbia. On the 9th of February, 1803, the vote was taken on this proposal, and it was found to have only twenty-two supporters in the House of Representatives. In 1804 the attempt to disestablish the District of Columbia was again made by Mr. Bacon [actually it was made by John Dawson, of Virginia]. This time his proposal to re-cede to Maryland and Virginia all the territory except the city of Washington. These attempts seem, from the records, to have been abandoned after 1806 for many years. On both these occasions Mr. G. W. P. Custis of Arlington was an active opponent of retrocession.

However, talk on the subject did not cease. It was claimed on the one hand that the constitution of Maryland had been violated by the cession without a vote upon the act having been taken at two successive sessions of the Maryland Legislature. In Virginia some talkers alleged that the prohibition on the Virginia side of the river was a violation of the terms of cession, and made it void. Mr. Bacon and those of his opinion asserted that Congress was authorized to be “the seat of government,” and that, inasmuch as Georgetown, Alexandria, and the other territory outside the city of Washington were not the seat of government, the retention of that territory was unconstitutional.

In 1818 another proposal for the disintegration of the District of Columbia came to the front, and a town meeting in Alexandria was called by the mayor. Dr. E. C. Dick presided and Jacob Hoffman was secretary. At this meeting a protest against retrocession was adopted. It was not, however, until 1834 that a general movement outside of Washington was made for retrocession. It had been proposed in Congress to establish a Legislature for the District of Columbia. The two little cities, Georgetown and Alexandria, feared the overwhelming influence of the continually growing city of Washington, which might deprive them of the home rule which existed in their municipalities. Georgetown this time took the lead, and made a strong appeal to the State of Maryland for help, while Alexandria made an appeal to the Congressional delegation from Virginia.

In the House of Representatives, on the 19th of February [1838], Mr. Wise of Virginia introduced a resolution that the committee on the District of Columbia be instructed to inquire into the expediency of receding, under proper restrictions and reservations, and with the consent of the people this District and the States of Maryland and Virginia, the said District to the said States.

In Georgetown a series of popular movements in favor of a return to Maryland were initiated, and, after some preliminary proceedings, a mass meeting of the voters of Georgetown was called. The meeting was held on the 12th of February at the North Lancasterian school room, and the “Potomac Advocate” states that it was “one of the largest and most respectable ever held within our town.” Mr. John Kuntz occupied the chair and Thomas Turner was the secretary. Mr. S. McKenney introduced a resolution that “without reference to the political advantages to accrue to that portion of the county of Washington which lies west of Rock Creek, including Georgetown, from a retrocession thereof to Maryland, provided that it can be effected on such terms as shall secure from Congress the reimbursement from Congress of the debt created in the improvement of the harbor and the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, will, in the opinion of the his meeting, promote the pecuniary interests and general prosperity of the citizens.” The meeting requested the mayor to order a vote of the citizens of the territory affected on the 14th of February, and if such vote was favorable to retrocession to unite with the common council of Georgetown in bringing the subject before the Maryland Legislature.

The Georgetown committee went to Annapolis to seek help from the Legislature of Maryland, and action on the subject was begun in April, just before the time fixed for adjournment. A committee reported a series of resolutions on the subject, the most important being this one:

“Resolved, That the General Assembly of Maryland do assent to the recession of Georgetown and that portion of the county of Washington, in the District of Columbia, lying west of Rock Creek formerly included within the limits of Montgomery County; provided the Congress of the United States do agree to yield its exclusive jurisdiction over the same; and in such event the said territory shall thereupon be held and deemed a portion of the domain of Maryland, and that the citizens thereof be entitled to all the immunities and privileges of citizens of the State, and the corporate powers which may have been granted by the Congress of the United States.”

On that occasion Mr. Cottman, of Somerset, submitted an additional resolution, as follows:

“And whereas the Constitution of the United States has provided that Congress shall have power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases over such district as may by the cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress become the seat of the United States; and

“Whereas the territory north of the Potomac, a portion of the domain of Maryland, has been apparently and ostensibly ceded to the United States by an act of the Legislature of Maryland which was not ratified and confirmed by a succeeding Legislature, and this ostensible cession of the domain being such a modification of the Constitution as requires the action of two successive Legislatures in the mode provided by the constitution of Maryland; therefore

“Resolved, That the territory aforesaid was not ceded in conformity with the constitution of this State, and now is, and of right ought to be, part of the territory of Maryland.”

The Legislature of Maryland, however, adjourned too soon for final action on the subject, and the recession of Georgetown never again assumed formidable proportions.

The assistance given by Congress in securing the release of the Holland loan when it was said that the District cities “were sold to the Dutch” quieted for a while the popular unrest at the “want of a vote” that long galled the young men of the District; but the entente cordiale between the District cities was at an end forever when the corporation of Georgetown passed resolutions protesting against Congress giving aid in the construction of the Aqueduct and the Alexandria Canal, which continued to Alexandria the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. And although Congress gave Alexandria $300,000 for that work, yet the desire to be with Virginia was not allayed, and when a Democratic Congress refused to re-charter the Alexandria banks the moneyed interests fell in with and even led the people, and then began an agitation which finally severed the District which Washington had made. Then, too, the Van Buren Administration was Democratic, or “loco-foco,” as was the Alexandrian term, and the town of Alexandria was intensely Whig. The Harrison banner of 1840 bore on its reverse the picture of the “Sic semper” woman bending over a shackled maiden in tears, and the legend read: “Our Revolutionary fathers intended us to be free. Sons of Virginia, will you see us slaves?”

At first as the retrocession was so vehemently championed by the Whigs, the “loco-focos” opposed it. The partisans of Van Buren were few in town, but very numerous in the county, and during Tyler’s Administration the Democratic leaders began to see that if Alexandria was turned over to Democratic Virginia it would give the Democrats a more extensive influence; and so, when Polk came in, the Congress which completed the annexation of Texas divided the District of Columbia, and Congress passed a law, which President Polk approved, declaring that “all that portion of the District of Columbia ceded to the United States by Virginia, and all right and jurisdiction, be hereby ceded and forever relinquished to the State of Virginia, in full and absolute right and jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside therein.” So by this act of July 9, 1846, the District of Columbia, which came into being February 27, 1801, ceased to exist south of the river Potomac.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article on Chronicling America. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.





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