1 / 4123SOUTH
The Daily Render

by

A Digital Scrapbook for the Past, Present, and Future

| FRONT PAGE | GEOSPATIAL ART | DC HISTORY / TIMELINE | NEWS | COLONIST | FOUND MAPS | FRACTALS |
| PHOTOGRAPHY | ANTIQUE | DESIGN | VIDEO | RANDOM | CONTACT |

Calvert Cliffs Quilt
|| 4/10/2011 || 3:37 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

: rendered at 18,000 X 12,000 :
Calvert Cliffs Quilt by Nikolas Schiller

I’m not a fan nuclear power. While it happens to be one of the cheapest fuel that is known to man, its also the most deadly. Years ago I made my first map of a U.S. nuclear reactor, Enrico Fermi Nuclear Reactor Quilt, and then followed it up with “Terra Fermi,” an interactive Google Earth Globe, to highlight this intrinsic danger. Given the ease in which the imagery of nuclear power plants can be obtained, I intend to make more maps of nuclear reactors to highlight their fragile existence.

View the Google Map of Calvert Cliffs, Maryland.


: detail :
Detail of Calvert Cliffs Quilt by Nikolas Schiller

View the rest of the details:

+ MORE



Letter from Hannis Taylor to Honorable Thomas H. Carter, United States Senator, Rendering An Opinion As To The Constitutionality of the Act of Retrocession of 1846 – January 17, 1910
|| 3/15/2011 || 2:43 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Scan from the Internet Archive


Someday, when I have more free time, I will post the full text of Hannis Taylor’s letter to Senator Thomas Carter. In the meantime, you can download the PDF of this document and read that he believes the retrocession of Alexandria in 1846/1847 was not constitutional. I originally discovered this letter in December of 2009 when I posted a newspaper article titled “Does Virginia Own Alexandria County?” which was published in The Washington Herald the following day, January 18, 1910.


Related Retrocession Entries:

+ MORE



Debate in the U.S. Senate Concerning An Act to Retrocede the County of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia – Thursday, July 2, 1846
|| 9/29/2010 || 3:49 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Thus far I have republished R. M. T. Hunter’s speech and the House of Representatives subsequent debate on the proposed retrocession of Alexandria County. Almost two months later, on July 2nd, 1846, the United States Senate took up the debate. Unlike the previous two entries which came from the Congressional Globe, this transcription comes from the Abridgment of the Debates of Congress. I’m curious as to how much debate was shorted for the abridgment.


Print from the Library of Congress


Retrocession of Alexandria.

On motion of Mr. ARCHER, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of the bill for the retrocession of the city and county of Alexandria to the State of Virginia.

Mr. ARCHER observed that he was willing that the vote should be taken upon the bill without discussion, provided the opponents of the bill offered no remarks upon it which would force them into a discussion.

Mr. BENTON said this was a case in which he desired to vote with a majority of the inhabitants of that portion of the District which it was proposed to surrender to the State of Virginia; but he did not at present know what the wishes of that majority were.

Mr. ARCHER observed, that one of the clauses of the bill now before the Senate provided that the bill should not take effect until the wishes of the inhabitants were ascertained by a vote, to be taken in the manner provided for in another clause of the bill, to wit: the vote of the white inhabitants of six months’ residence.

Mr. HAYWOOD said the bill had been referred to the committee of which he had the honor to be chairman, and it was perhaps proper, therefore, though he had no intention of making a speech upon the subject, that he should draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that the bill provides for taking the sense of the people of the county and city of Alexandria before the bill should go into effect. The committee, however, thought it worthy of consideration, whether it was not the desire of change which prompted the introduction of this innovation, rather than the necessity for the innovation. If there was any particular evil to be remedied by diminishing the extent of the ten miles square, the committee had not been apprised of it; if any particular good to be obtained, they were not apprised. When the retrocession was first suggested to the consideration of the Senate, doubts were entertained by many how far it was competent for Congress to recede what the constitution had for a particular purpose authorized them to accept. The States of Maryland and Virginia had ceded this territory to Congress, to be taken under its exclusive jurisdiction for the seat of Government; and Congress, in the execution of that intention, solemnly declared by enactment its acceptance of the grant, and that this District should be perpetually the seat of Government. Individual citizens of the District, a minority, if they chose to assume that they were so, had purchased property and become residents of the county under this pledge; and unless there was some evil to be remedied, or decided advantage to be gained by the change, which would compensate those citizens, where was the propriety of violating that pledge? He had been unable to see any necessity for it. It was equally the duty of the Government to protect minorities and majorities; and a majority could have no absolute right or authority to compel retrocession if additional burdens were to be imposed as a consequence upon the minority. He spoke not in reference to any constitutional objection, but merely in reference to the act of Congress constituting this District the perpetual seat of the Federal Government.

There was another difficulty which the committee found somewhat embarrassing, and, it was, whether the State of Virginia or of Maryland owned the Potomac River at the time of the cession. If the county of Alexandria were ceded to Virginia, it might possibly be the means of reviving the contest, and making it a contest between Virginia and the District. This would be a matter of very considerable importance to the city of Georgetown. If the bill was to be passed, he thought it ought at least to be amended so as to make it more definite, and that the river should be kept within the United States jurisdiction. It might be of importance that the jurisdiction of the United States should not be limited at all. He believed the Senator from Massachusetts had expressed a desire to offer some remarks upon this question. He did not perceive that Senator now in his seat; for his own part, he would be perfectly willing that the vote should be taken without discussion.

Mr. MILLER said he was inclined to think that the subject was of more importance than he had at first view supposed. His first impressions were in favor of the bill, for he supposed that the whole matter depended very much, upon the wishes of the people of Alexandria and Virginia. But, upon an examination of the subject, he found himself in great doubt as to whether Congress had the power to pass such an act; and, even if they had the power, he was perfectly convinced that it would not be good policy to do it.

Mr. M. then went into an argument upon the subject of the power of Congress in this matter, contending that if Congress had the power to cede away any part of the District, they had the power to cede the whole, and thereby entirely defeat the intention of the constitutional provision in regard to the seat of Government. Instead of doing this, he hoped that Congress would, by a wise and liberal policy, make it the interest of the residents of all parts of the District to continue within the same jurisdiction.

Mr. PENNYBACKER replied to the arguments of the Senator from New Jersey, and maintained that Congress possessed the power to cede a portion of the District to the State of Virginia. He contended further that the portion proposed to be ceded did not, in contemplation of the first law that was passed on the subject, constitute a portion of the ten miles square at all.

Mr. JOHNSON, of Maryland, moved that the Senate adjourn; which was disagreed to—ayes 16, noes 18.

On motion of Mr. BENTON, the Senate, not having come to any vote upon the bill, at about half-past three o’clock proceeded to the consideration of Executive business, and, after some time spent therein, the doors were reopened, and the Senate adjourned.


Thursday, July 2.
Retrocession of Alexandria.

Mr. ARCHER moved that the prior orders of the day be postponed, and that the Senate resume the consideration of the bill for the retrocession of the town and county of Alexandria to the State of Virginia; which motion was agreed to.

The bill was then considered as in Committee of the Whole, when

Mr. R. JOHNSON rose and stated that, as a member of the Committee of tho District of Columbia, and as having voted in committee in favor of this bill, he desired to state the grounds on which he had formed his opinion. He went into a review of the constitutional provision relative to the establishment of a seat of Government, and to the proceedings of Congress with regard to its location within this District, and insisted that there was nothing in either to prohibit a retrocession of tho ten miles square to the States from which it was taken, or any portion thereof. He supposed that an absolute necessity might arise for the removal of the seat of Government, from the possession of this District by an enemy. Could not Congress fix on another seat for its deliberations? and, in that case, could it not cede this District back to the States to which it originally belonged? He stated that Alexandria complained of having been neglected by Congress, and he presumed she had good reason for this complaint; for it was only reasonable that Congress should be more favorable to the portion of the District which was more immediately the seat and scene of its labors.

Mr. MILLER briefly replied, maintaining that Congress had no power to receive a cession of the soil and sovereignty, except for a specified object; and that the object of this cession being the establishment of the seat of Government, it could not be retroceded without the abandonment of that object. He thought a great number of the citizens of the county, being out of the city of Alexandria, were opposed to retrocession.

Mr. HANNEGAN made a few remarks in favor of the bill. The citizens desired to be restored to their original rights, and we have no right to refuse them.

Mr. CALHOUN then rose, and said that he had not been able to discover any valid reason why the retrocession should not be made. The first and great point for consideration was, whether, by this retrocession, the object of the cession would be impaired? He could not see how any evil result could possibly follow. It was a detached portion of the District, lying on the other side of the river, and in no way calculated to facilitate the legislation of the General Government. Nor did he see how any acquired rights could be injured. He did not see how the retrocession could injuriously affect the county of Washington, as he believed it was called, or Georgetown. The next question then was, Was there any serious constitutional objection? According to his judgment there could not be any such, unless there was somewhere in the constitution a prohibitory clause. It was in the power of the Government to remove its seat if it thought proper, unless there was some express provision to the contrary. Now, he saw no such provision in the constitution. It belonged to gentlemen to prove that the retrocession would be unconstitutional. If they had a right— which he held to be incontestable— to remove the seat of Government, the right of parting with any portion of it was apparent. Nor was there, in his opinion, any violation of a pledge on the part of Congress as argued by the Senator from North Carolina, (Mr. HAYWOOD.) The act of Congress, it was true, established this as the permanent seat of Government; but they all knew that an act of Congress possessed no perpetuity of obligation. It was a simple resolution of the body, and could be at any time repealed. Although be thought that Congress had the power to remove the seat of Government, yet he was not to be understood as supposing that it would ever be expedient or wise to remove it. He could not concur in the views presented by Mr. Madison on the subject of the location of the seat of Government, and read yesterday by the Senator from Virginia, (Mr. PENNYBACKER) Mr. Madison made an elaborate argument in favor of the position that the seat of Government ought to be in the centre. As far as the seats of government of the States were concerned, that might be a just argument; but the history of the world would show that the seats of national government never were, or scarcely ever were, situated in the centre, and there was reason for that general arrangement. They were always situated on the frontier the most exposed. Where was London, the seat of the British Government? On the south-east frontier of the kingdom, looking towards the continent of Europe. That of France, Paris, was in the most exposed position. So with regard to the seat of Government in Russia, and so, indeed, with regard to the capitals of all the chief nations of the world. In the nature of things it must be so. Now, if that was true in the general, it was pre-eminently true of this Confederacy; for the Federal Government looked almost exclusively to their foreign relations. And here it had been wisely located; and here, in his opinion, it would continue, so long as the institutions of the Republic endured. If the seat of Government was ever changed, it would be in consequence of some other cause than the retrocession of Alexandria, which could not possibly in any way affect that matter. There might be a change from disruption, or in consequence of some strong local interest prevailing, though under their equal system of Government, that was hardly to be feared. If great inconvenience would arise to members at distances extremely remote, murmurs might originate, and produce such a change. Yet, even on that score, there was not much ground for apprehension, as the equitable arrangement of mileage had placed members on a perfect equality, those farthest removed, and whose home and family associations and affections were most interfered with, receiving appropriate compensation. As it was evident from the temper of the Senate that the bill would pass, he would not longer detain them by any remarks.

Mr. ASHLEY inquired what effect would be produced by the retrocession with regard to the debt of Alexandria?

Mr. CALHOUN said there were abler lawyers than himself in the body; but he supposed that not the slightest effect on the debt would be produced.

Mr. PENNYBACKER expressed the same opinion.

Mr. ALLEN expressed his regret that the discussion had passed beyond the bill, and added, that he rose only for the purpose of dissenting from the views expressed by the Senator from South Carolina (Mr. CALHOUN) in regard to the location of the seat of Government. He (Mr. A.) had no intention to agitate the question of changing the seat of Government. It might not be proper to do so at the present time; but the general reasons urged by the Senator from South Carolina would give it an eternity of location at this point, and it was to that idea that he (Mr. A.) objected. The Senator had alluded to the example of other nations of the world— to those ancient monarchies where the location of the capital was a matter dependent upon the caprice of the court, and not the convenience of the people. Was it to be supposed for a moment that such examples were proper for the imitation of this Confederacy? No. He thought that the United States should on that very ground adopt a different policy. The location of the seat of Government near the seaboard in the vicinity of the commercial cities, gave to those cities a preponderating influence in the counsels of the Congress of the United States, five hundred fold to one over the influence exerted by a corresponding number of people situated in the vast interior. They had no committees from the banks of the Missouri, the Mississippi, or even of the Ohio, “lobbying” in these halls to regulate tariff duties. No. They had no companies of individuals in those western regions, and delegated to the Capitol with the view of obtaining laws to meet tho wishes of individual and sectional interests, instead of tho wants and wishes of the great mass of the nation. The whole tendency of the Government since its foundation had been to place itself exclusively under the control of the commercial interest: and this pernicious tendency had been produced by the location of the seat of Government near the great influential commercial cities on the seaboard. He might present many illustrations of this fact. Before the telegraphic communication was established, when a bill was introduced into Congress, Wall-street had notice of it, if necessary, in fifteen hours, and in fifteen hours more the cars brought a delegation from Wall-street to regulate the details of the bill. Thus had their tariffs been formed— thus had the commercial interests overruled all others from their proximity to the Capitol. The great mass of the people— four-fifths of them— lived on the soil, and obtained from it subsistence. It was in their centre that the seat of Government should be located. These were his opinions, and he stated them not as having any immediate bearing on the bill before the House, but in opposition to the views expressed by the Senator from South Carolina, whose remarks were always entitled to high consideration, and carried with them great weight.

Mr. CALHOUN again rose, and stated that it happened, that at the Memphis Convention— a body composed of six hundred members, possessed of great intelligence, and representing almost exclusively the interests of those who lived upon the soil— a resolution was offered recommending a change of the seat of the General Government. A most extraordinary sensation was produced, and when the resolution was submitted, there was one loud-toned, overwhelming “no” opposed to the solitary voice of the mover.

Mr. ALLEN. Where was that?

Mr. CALHOUN. At the Memphis Convention.

Mr. ALLEN. Ah! that proves nothing. The only difficulty has been the choice of another site, and the contesting claims have been so numerous, that the change has not been, ere this, seriously mooted.

Mr. WESTCOTT was in favor of the bill, because it relieved the people of Alexandria from a galling disfranchisement, of which he knew something by experience.

Mr. ARCHER advocated the bill in a long and able speech.

Mr. HAYWOOD opposed the bill, and in an eloquent manner contended for the sacred immunity of the constitution, and the wise arrangement of the sages of the Revolution. He also argued the constitutional question at considerable length, and with characteristic ability.

Mr. PENNYBACKER replied.

Mr. BREESE regarded the bill as unconstitutional.

The bill was then reported to the Senate; and the yeas and nays being called for on the question of ordering it to be engrossed for a third reading, they were ordered, and, being taken, resulted as follows:

YEAS.— Messrs. Allen, Archer, Ashley, Atchison, Atherton, Barrow, Benton, Calhoun, Cameron, Chalmers, Cilley, Thomas Clayton, John M. Clayton, Corwin, Crittenden, Davis, Dayton, Fairfield, Greene, Hannegan, Jarnagin, Johnson of Maryland, Johnson of Louisiana, Lewis, Morehead, Pennybacker, Rusk, Sevier, Simmons, Turney, Westcott, and Yulee— 32.

NAYS.—Messrs. Brecse, Bright, Dickinson, Dix, Evans, Haywood, Houston, Huntington, Mangum, Miller, Niles, Phelps, Semple, and Sturgeon—14.

So the bill was ordered to a third reading.

Mr. ARCHER asked that the bill be put upon its third reading now.

No objection being offered, the bill was read a third time, and passed.

The title of the hill as passed is as follows, viz.: “An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia.”


This Congressional Debate was transcribed from a scan from Google Books. 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.



THE STATE OF COLUMBIA by Frank Sprigg Perry – Georgetown Law Journal, Vol 9, No. 3, April, 1921, p. 13-27
|| 7/15/2010 || 2:45 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

This article was originally published in the Georgetown Law Journal and outlines the case that the District of Columbia can be made into a state without a constitutional amendment. I find it interesting that nearly 60 years later residents of the District of Columbia chose to add “New” to the name of their future state.

Map originally published in the Washington Herald on 1/18/1910

THE STATE OF COLUMBIA

Can A State Be Erected Out Of The District Of Columbia Without A Constitutional Amendment?

Frank Sprigg Perry
Associate Justice of Constitutional Laws
Georgetown Law Journal, Vol 9, No. 3, April, 1921, p. 13-27

In the great tide of Statehood which has flowed westward over continental United States there has been left on the Atlantic seaboard a small area which may be called a “back water” of American political life. From Canada to Mexico and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, all are sovereign States with the single exception of the District of Columbia. The City of Washington bears the proud title of the Capital of the greatest Democracy on earth. And yet how hollow is the sound of political liberty to the disfranchised inhabitants living in the very shadow of the dome of the Capitol!

This article will discuss the power of Congress without a Constitutional Amendment to erect a State out of the District of Colombia—THE STATE OF COLUMBIA.

The permanent seat of the Federal Government was authorized by Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution;

“Congress shall have power:

17. 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, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings.”

The land for this purpose was ceded by the States of Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia became vested in the United States for this purpose in December, 1800. The land ceded by the State of Virginia comprised the county of Alexandria and was retroceded to that State by an Act of Congress of July 9, 1846. (9 Stats. 35, 1000) The political organization of the District of Columbia embraces the City of Washington and covers at the present time the land ceded by the State of Maryland.

The people of the District of Columbia are totally disfranchised. The government is in the hands of Congress which acts as a national as well as a local legislature. A Board of Commissioners appointed by the President is the executive head. The people have no representative or delegate in the Senate or House of Representatives, nor can they vote for the President or Vice-President of the United States, nor have they a voice or vote in the selection of their Board of Commissioners.

The District of Columbia has a population of 437,571 by the census of 1920, a number in excess of each of the seven States of Vermont, Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming, Arizona, Delaware, and Nevada, and it possesses all of the other qualifications of Statehood. It is conceded that a Constitutional Amendment could give Statehood or any modified form of government to the District. On the other hand, it has been questioned whether Congress can by a legislative act and without such amendment create the State of Columbia, even with the consent of the State of Maryland. An amendment to the Constitution would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and a subsequent ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States. An act of Congress creating a State government would require a majority vote of both Houses of Congress and the signature of the President.

REASON FOR EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY

There were several reasons which induced the framers of the Constitution to provide for the power in Congress to exercise exclusive legislation over the seat of the Federal Government. During the Revolutionary period the Federal authority was feeble and, as there was no standing army, the Continental Congress had been forced to depend for protection upon the militia of certain of the States. On June 21, 1783, some armed and mutinous soldiers appeared before Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and insultingly demanded their overdue pay. The authorities of the state were appealed to but they made no sufficient attempt to afford protection. Congress moved its seat to Princeton, New Jersey, a few days after this incident occurred. In addition to the necessity for protection, the “Federalist,” No. 38, also urged in support of this clause, that the establishment of this federal district would free Congress from any imputation of awe or undue influence on the part of the State authorities. (Fort Leavenworth Railroad v. Lowe, 114 U.S. 529)

Needless to say, neither of these reasons has any force at the present time. The Federal government has grown sufficiently strong to protect its property wherever located. There can be no imputation of awe or undue influence on the part of a State today, as the United States through the concentration of federal powers in Congress and in the Executive branches of the government has reached a position of almost supreme authority. The transfer of jurisdiction to the State of Columbia would not prevent the Federal Government from protecting its property, nor could the State of Columbia of such limited area exercise a predominant influence over the affairs of the Nation by reason of its locality.

In Revolutionary days the danger was that the Federal authority would be too weak to coordinate and control the necessary functions of national life. The danger today is that this Federal authority has become so powerful that it threatens to smother the separate existence of the several States. In Story’s Constitutional Law, Section 1220, reference is made to a criticism urged in 1803 against the exclusive control by Congress over the District of Columbia as tending to foster an oligarchy and diffuse important changes through our democratic government. The growth of the Federal authority may be attributed in no small degree to its separate and independent existence in the District of Columbia. The creation of the State of Columbia would check further Federal growth along these lines and would add another Commonwealth to jealously guard State life.

POWER TO CREATE NEW STATES

The admission of new states into the Union is provided by Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1, of the Constitution:

“l. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

No limitations are placed upon the powers of Congress to admit new States except as provided in this clause. No other clause of the Constitution limits those powers. Nowhere is it stated that Congress can admit a new State only after it has fulfilled certain requirements. Nowhere is it stated that Congress can admit only States to be carved out of the then existing “Northwest Territory.” New States can be carved out of any territory or other property over which the United States exercises jurisdiction or control. An independent nation can be admitted in the Union as a new State by an Act of Congress alone, as was done in the case of Texas. (Acts of March 1, and December 29, 1845, 5 Stats. 797, 9 Stats. 108.)

There is no clause in the Constitution which expressly authorizes Congress to erect a State out of the land upon which the Federal city is located. There is, however, no clause which prohibits Congress from erecting the State of Columbia out of this area.

It may be considered that the grant of jurisdiction over the District is so absolute and unconditional as to empower Congress to erect out of the District any form of government, even a State government. The insertion of qualifying words in this sweeping clause would destroy the power of exclusive legislation.

It has been held by some that Congress is invested with a peculiar and high authority over the District and that this power is inalienable. This argument was unsuccessfully used before Congress in opposition to the retrocession of Alexandria County to the State of Virginia. If this authority is inalienable, no State can be erected out of the District without an amendment to the Constitution. If, however, Congress exercises political powers over the District similar to those which it exercises over the territory or other property of the United States, then a legislative act can create the State of Columbia.

THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PARTIES

The construction which the parties place upon a contract by their acts and deeds at the time that they entered into it, is always considered of vital force in determining the meaning of the contract. The territory of the District was ceded to the United States by the States of Maryland and Virginia in accordance with the terms of the Constitution and contemporaneously with its adoption.

The State of Maryland under date of December 23, 1788, offered to cede territory for the seat of the Federal government. In the act of the general assembly of that State of December 19, 1791, ratifying the cession and fixing the boundaries of the ceded area, it was provided in clause 2:

“That all that part of the said territory called Columbia which lies within the limits of this State shall be, and the same is hereby, acknowledged to be forever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, and full and absolute right and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor and effect of the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution of Government of the United States.”

The State of Virginia on December 3, 1789, in the act of its general assembly ceding this territory to the United States enacted:

“That a tract of country, not exceeding ten miles square, or any lesser quantity, to be located within the limits of this State, and in any part thereof as Congress may by law direct, shall be, and the same is, forever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, in full and absolute right and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor and effect of the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution of the Government of the United States.”

The territory so conveyed was accepted by the United States in the spirit in which it was ceded. (Act of Congress, July 16, 1790, I Stats. 130.) No limitations were attached to the cession, certainly so long as it remained the permanent seat of the Federal Government. These States severally yielded all the political jurisdiction they possessed over this territory to the United States and the United States accepted this unconditional grant of sovereignty without qualification. One of the political powers so yielded and accepted was the right to erect a separate State out of this area.

The representatives of both the States of Maryland and Virginia had been most active in framing the Constitution!and these several grants show the interpretation all parties placed Clause 17, Section 8, Article 1. So far, as the original contemporaneous interpretation of this clause by the parties themselves affords a guide, there is no prohibition upon Congress to erect a State out of this area— particularly if the consent of the State of Maryland be secured.

COMPARISON OF CLAUSES

Comparison has sometimes been made between the clause conferring power on Congress of exclusive legislation over the District, and the clause giving Congress the power to govern the territory and other property of the United States. This latter clause is Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2:

“The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.”

The power of Congress to erect a new State out of such territory is unquestioned. It has been argued that if these two clauses were intended to convey similar powers, they would have been framed in similar terms. This argument loses sight of the conditions under which each clause was inserted in the Constitution.

At the time of the adoption of the Constitution Congress had received by cession from all but two of the original thirteen States the unsettled lands which lay beyond their territorial limits. This was termed the “Northwest Territory” and Congress exercised the absolute right to and the exclusive legislative authority over the territory. Hence there was no need to insert in the Constitution a clause conferring such exclusive authority over the territory, as Congress was at the time actually exercising this exclusive authority. In fact the Ordinance for the Government of the Northwest Territory was passed by the Continental Congress in 1787 prior to the adoption of the Constitution. This celebrated ordinance is regarded, after the Declaration of Independence, as the most important act of the Continental Congress and furnished for a long period the model after which other territories were organized under the Constitution. The clause in the Constitution dealing with the territory of the United States simply confirmed in Congress the power “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations” respecting this and other territory.

In the case of the territory to be occupied as the seat of the Federal Government, just as in the case of the forts, magazines, arsenals and dock yards, it was necessary for the Constitution to go further than in the case of lands actually under the exclusive authority of Congress. The seat of the Federal Government was to be formed out of land limited to 10 miles square to be ceded in the future by the States and which at the time was actually a part of those States and under their exclusive authority. It was necessary to provide that this exclusive authority should be taken out of the States ceding such lands and that it should become vested in the United States. A like necessity existed with reference to the land upon which should be erected forts, magazines, arsenals, and dock yards. The sweeping provisions of Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 17, were adopted for these purposes.

In each of these two clauses apt and appropriate words were used to carry into effect the intention of the framers of the Constitution. In the one case it was deemed proper to confirm in Congress the right to make needful rules and regulations over territory and other property owned by Congress. In the case of the district for the seat of the Federal Government, it was necessary to provide for exclusive legislative authority over land which would be ceded by certain States and which had, up to that time, been exclusively under State jurisdiction. In each case the effect is the same and Congress exercises exclusive jurisdiction over all such areas.

NO DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY

The case of Stoutenburgh v. Hennick; (1888) 129 U. S. 141, is sometimes cited as an authority which would prevent the delegation of legislative authority over the District by Congress. The erection of the State of Columbia would involve a surrender of jurisdiction and would not be a delegation of legislative authority. Moreover an examination of the opinion shows that the court went no further than to hold that Congress could not delegate the power to regulate interstate commerce of the Legislative Assembly of the District (10 Fed. Stats. Ann. 2d. ed. 469.)

Even if this transfer of jurisdiction to the State of Columbia could be considered a delegation of authority, the United States Supreme Court in 1878, in Welch v. Cook, 97 U. S., 542, decided that Congress could invest the District Legislature with that power. This case was decided only ten years before the case of Stoutenberg v. Hennick and was not overruled in this later case. The court said:

“It is not open to reasonable doubt that Congress had power to invest and did invest, the District (of Columbia) government with legislative authority, or that the act of the legislative assembly of June 26, 1873, was within that authority.”

JURISDICTION OVER FORTS

The clause empowering Congress to exercise exclusive legislative authority over the seat of the Federal Government, also confers a like authority over forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards and other needful buildings. The jurisdiction which the United States must exercise over its military and naval reservations is of necessity an exclusive one. The fact that the same clause confers a like authority in Congress over the District is strong evidence that no limitation upon this power was intended.

Where a State cedes certain land to the United States and reserves a reversionary interest in the property in case it is not used as a fort, the exclusive authority of the United States ceases when the property is leased for other purposes. The cession of such territory has been held to be of necessity temporary and to be exercised only so long as the place continues to be used for public purposes. When it ceases to be used the jurisdiction reverts to the State. The right reserved by a State to tax certain property in the reservation or to serve civil or criminal process has not been considered in violation of the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress.

These illustrations make it clear that this power of “exclusive legislation” is not of such a peculiar character nor of such high authority as to create separate and independent political areas forever under the jurisdiction of the Federal government. Territory or other property acquired by the United States, whether by conquest, purchase, or by cession of the legislature of a State, is subject to the exclusive legislative authority of Congress. This exclusive legislative authority can be surrendered and the property returned to the state which ceded it, or a new State can be erected out of such territory. The creation of a new State is subject to this limitation, that if erected out of land within the jurisdiction of any other State, it must be with the consent of the legislature of that State.

Story Constitution Law, Sec. 1127; Palmer v. Barrett, 162 U. S. 399; Fort Leavenworth Railroad Company, v. Lowe, 114 U. S. 525; 10 Federal Statutes, Ann. (ad. ed.) 841 – 845.

TERRITORIAL AUTHORITY

The power granted Congress to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District, does not confer any greater political authority than Congress can exercise over “the territory or other property belonging to the United States” or over places purchased with the consent of the State legislatures for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals and dock-yards. In each case there exists under the Constitution that jurisdiction, absolute, exclusive, unqualified, which is the sovereign authority to make, decide on and execute laws. (*1) Wedding v. Meyler, (192 U. S. 573).

There is no express provision of the Constitution which authorizes Congress to enlarge the national domain or acquire new territory by annexation, cession, conquest, or in any other manner. This power, has, however, always been considered as one of the attributes of sovereignty and as such has been continuously exercised by Congress. As an inevitable consequence of the right to acquire territory, there follows the power to govern the territory. (*2) Rassmussen v. U.S. (197 U.S. 516). The power to pass laws for the government so acquired has sometimes been asserted on the strength of Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2, (supra.) On whatever ground this authority to govern rests, there can be no doubt of its existence and of the fact that under it Congress has the right of exclusive legislation over such territory and can dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting it. This sovereign right of exclusive legislation is similar to that exercised by Congress over the District.

As has been said, if the title to property be absolute, the mode of its acquisition is unimportant. (*3.) Petition to Congress from Committee from town of Alexandria, Va., accompanying House Report 325, 29th Congress, 1st. Session. Whether it be by gift, purchase, conquest, or cession from a State, Congress possesses but a complete title to the area.

It might have been argued that because the Constitution authorized Congress to make “all needful rules and regulations” respecting the territory of the United States, Congress could never divest itself of that power. In other words, that Congress could never carve States out of such territory because by so doing it would surrender the power to make the “needful rules and regulations.” It is a sufficient answer to say that the Constitution has not been so construed. The admission of thirty-four States in the Union from such territory is ample proof of this fact.

The fact that the Constitution expressly confers upon Congress powers of exclusive legislation over the District does not thereby carry with it the implication that all other powers are denied, if there are any such other powers. A striking example of this rule of construction of the Constitution is found in the Legal Tender Cases, 12 Wall. 457. In this case the constitutionality of an act of Congress making paper money legal tender for the payment of debts was attacked because there was no express authority for such law.

It was contended that the clause of the Constitution which conferred upon Congress power “to coin money, regulates the value thereof and of foreign coin,” contained an implication that nothing but that which is the subject of coinage, namely, precious metals, could ever be declared by law to be money or legal tender. This argument was specious and persuasive. The fallacy of the contention, as the court observed, was that the Constitution has never been construed that way. The court held that the enumeration of certain governmental powers, did not thereby exclude the existence of other governmental powers not enumerated. The Court said:,

“XXXX[544]. It is not claimed that any express prohibition exists, but it is insisted that the spirit of the Constitution was violated by the enactment. Here those who assert the unconstitutionality of the acts mainly rest their argument. They claim that the clause which conferred upon Congress power “to coin money; regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin,” contains an implication that nothing but that which is the subject of coinage, nothing but the precious metals can ever be declared by law to be money, or to have the uses of money. If by this is meant that because certain powers over the currency are expressly given to Congress, all other powers relating to the same subject are impliedly forbidden, we need only remark that such is not the manner in which the Constitution has always been construed.”

“XXXX[546]. In most cases, if not in all, when it was intended that governmental powers, commonly acknowledged as such, should cease to exist, both in the States and in the Federal Government, it was expressly denied to both, as well to the United States as to the individual states. And generally when one of such powers was expressly denied to the States only, it was for the purpose of rendering the Federal power more complete and exclusive.”

In like manner, the enumeration in the Constitution of certain powers conferred on Congress with reference to the District of Columbia, does not by implication take away other governmental powers. One of the governmental powers which Congress exercises over all territory or land of the United States is the right to admit such area in the Union as a State. This power not having been expressly or by implication taken away with reference to the District of Columbia still exists in Congress.

In the case of the First National Bank v. Yankton County, 101 U.S. 129, the Court discussed the power of Congress to legislate for the territories. It was said:

“In other words it (i. e. Congress) has full and complete legislative authority over the people of the territories and all the departments of the territorial governments.

In discussing the relationship which Congress bears to the Territory of Alaska and to the District of Columbia, the Court of Appeals of the District in U. S. ex. rel. Humboldt S. S. Co. v. Interstate Commerce Commission 37 App. D. C. 274, held:

“Congress in the government of the territories, has plenary power, except as limited by the Constitution. The particular form of government it shall establish is not prescribed. It has for example, prescribed one form of government for New Mexico, another for the District of Columbia, and still another for Alaska. * * * While Congress in the government of the District of Columbia is limited by the provisions of the Constitution not applicable to other territory of the United States, the same power exists of establishing local government.”

In the case of the Corporation of Latter Day Saints v. U. S. 136 U. S. 32, 42, it was held:

“The power of Congress over the territories of the United States is general and plenary.”

While there may be some fundamental guarantees of life, liberty and property under the Constitution which are applicable to the District of Columbia and not to the territories nevertheless in political matters Congress exercises “plenary” power over both. (Employers, Liability Cases 207; U. S. 500.)

In the case of Callan v. Wilson, 127 U.S. 540, the Court held with reference to a trial by jury:

“We cannot think that the people of this District (of Columbia) have in that regard, less rights than those accorded to the people of the territories of the United States.”

The extent of the authority which Congress exercises of the District and over the Territories was clearly discussed in the case of Binns v. U.S., 194 U. S. 486. The Court held that Congress exercised plenary power, and Mr. Justice Brewer, in writing the opinion of the court, said:

“XXXX[491] It must be remembered that Congress, in the government of the territories as well as of the District of Columbia, has plenary power, save as controlled by the provisions of the Constitution; that the form of government it shall establish is not prescribed and may not necessarily be the same in all the territories. We are accustomed to that generally adopted for the territories, of a quasi state government, with executive, legislative, and judicial officers, and a legislative endowed with the power of local taxation and local expenditures; but Congress is not limited to this form. In the District of Columbia it has adopted a different mode of government, and in Alaska still another. It may legislate directly in respect to the local affairs of a territory, or transfer the power of such legislation to a legislature elected by the citizens of the territory. It has provided in the District of Columbia for a board of three Commissioners, who are the controlling officers of the District. It may entrust to them a large volume of legislative power, or it may, by direct legislation create the whole statutory law applicable thereto. For Alaska, Congress has established a government of a different form. It has provided no legislative body, but only executive and judicial officers.”

In the Insular Tariff Cases after the Spanish War, Mr. Justice Brown, in writing the opinion of the Court in the case of De Lima v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 196, said:

“Under this power (to govern and control the Territories) Congress may deal with territory acquired by treaty; may administer its government as it does that of the District of Columbia; it may organize a local territorial government; it may admit it as a State upon an equality with other States; it may sell its public lands to individual citizens or may donate them as homesteads to actual settlers. In short, when once acquired by treaty, it belongs to the United States, and is subject to the disposition of Congress.”

Compare also Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U. S. 244.

In the great case of Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat, 265, there was involved the validity of a lottery law enacted by Congress with reference to the District. Daniel Webster was one of the counsel and argued, page 435, that the clause of the Constitution relative to the District conveyed powers so peculiar and specific that no other city in the Union could be given such a charter by Congress and if every Federal power granted in the Constitution were destroyed, this power over the District of Columbia would remain. But Chief Justice Marshall held that the power of exclusive legislation over the District was conferred on Congress as the legislature of the Union and that such powers could be exercised in no other way:

“In the enumeration of the powers of Congress which is made in the eighth section of the first article, we find that of exercising exclusive legislation over such district as shall become the seat of government. This power, like all others which are specified, is conferred on Congress as the legislature of the Union; for, strip them of that character, and they would not possess it. In no other character can it be exercised in legislating for the district, they necessarily preserve the character of the legislature of the Union; for it is in that character alone that the constitution confers on them this power of exclusive legislation.”

These decisions of our highest Court plainly show that the political power which Congress exercises over the District is plenary, that it is full and absolute, and is similar to that exercised over the territory or other property of the United States. Congress may in each case create a State out of such area.

RETROCESSION OF ALEXANDRIA COUNTY, VIRGINIA

The land secured from the State of Virginia was retroceded to that State by the Act of Congress of July 9, 1846. If Congress had the right to divest itself of the power of exclusive legislation over a portion of the District by this retrocession, Congress can erect the State of Columbia out of the remaining area. It was argued that this act was unconstitutional and that the exclusive jurisdiction over the seat of the Federal government could not be surrendered. The act was passed in spite of this objection and the retrocession has stood without successful challenge for a period of seventy-five years. As this is essentially a political question, it is very doubtful whether this act of retrocession can ever be considered by the courts. In the case of Phillips v. Payne, (1875) 92 S. U. 130, an attempt to raise this question was refused. (Wilson v. Shaw, 204 U.S. 24; Luther v. Borden, 7 How 1, 42).

In like manner the erection by Congress, with the consent of the State of Maryland, of the State of Columbia, would be a purely political question and the courts would have no jurisdiction to consider it.

From a study of the wording of the Constitution and of the original grants of this territory from the States of Maryland and Virginia; from an examination of the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States; and from the action of the political branch of the Government in retroceding a portion of this area to the State of Virginia; it must be conceded that the weight of precedent and authority is in favor of the proposition that Congress has authority, with the consent of the State of Maryland, and without a Constitutional Amendment to erect out of the District of Columbia a Sovereign State—THE STATE OF COLUMBIA.

FRANK SPRIGGS PERRY
Associate Professor of Constitutional Law



A Shower of Proclamations: Arlington Heights – The New York Times, May 9, 1861
|| 5/10/2010 || 8:14 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

This tirade against the State of Virginia was written one month after the American Civil War began. At the end of the article there is the assertion that for the previous 20 years Virginians had been plotting to overthrow the Union and the Retrocession of Alexandria was one step in the process. By obtaining Arlington Heights, present-day Rosslyn, Virginia, the State of Virginia was able to obtain a militarily important piece of land where cannons could fire upon Washington. As I noted before, later in 1861 Abraham Lincoln mentioned this liability in his first State of Union delivered to Congress.


A Shower of Proclamations.; Arlington Heights.

The New York Times, May 9, 1861

Gov. LETCHER has issued a proclamation full of lofty sentences and abounding in big words, calling upon Virginians to “rally in defence of the State,” to “uphold the flag of the Commonwealth,” and “maintain the rights of the South.” All this means a call upon the traitors and disloyal men, of whom he is the chief, in the once patriotic and true old State of Virginia, to arm against the Republic of which her own WASHINGTON was the founder, and against a Constitution which her JEFFERSON, her MADISON and MONROE — names so dear to the American people — aided so largely in framing,

Of all the treason against the Constitution and Union, that of Virginia is the rankest, the most inexcusable and the meanest. The noble and true patriots of her past history are dishonored, and the graves of her wise and true men polluted by it. Of all the States, there is not one so linked to the Union by hallowed memories, by ties which all mankind in all ages have regarded as sacred, as Virginia. Her history bears the names dearest to the American heart — of patriots who labored most, fought most, sacrificed most and suffered most for that Union which her degenerate sons would shiver to-day. Of all the States, she has least cause of complaint. She has enjoyed more of the patronage, more of the offices, and exercised a greater influence in shaping the policy of the Government, than any other State. She has asked nothing that has not been granted — demanded nothing that has not been conceded. And yet hers is the heart that is foulest with treason, the hand that threatens to be reddest with the blood of loyal and true men!

The Governor of South Carolina has issued his proclamation, and though representing the smallest save one of all the seceding States, his tone is the loudest, his boast the largest, and his words the biggest of them all. We can respect Georgia for her real strength, while we execrate her treason. She was among the strong States of the Union, and is strongest among those that have seceded, and might, therefore, speak with something of power; but for little South Carolina, the verriest bantam of the secession brood, to flap its puny wings and crow so defiantly, is one of the jokes of the age. Virginia could put South Carolina in its breeches pocket, and yet South Carolina speaks so patronizingly, so condescendingly, so full of motherly regard for the Old Dominion, that were it not for the census and the map, one would suppose that Virginia was some helpless and oppressed little community, too weak to think even of defending itself. And, then, to see how meekly and humbly Virginia receives her proffers of aid — to see the once proud and haughty Virginia — the mother of Presidents and nursery of heroes — the once chivalrous, self-reliant, noble Virginia, submissively and gratefully receiving nursery pap from a spoon in the hands of South Carolina, is a tableau worth a day’s journey to see.

JEFFERSON DAVIS, too, has issued his proclamation, tendering his aid, and forwarding his starving troops to Virginia. Virginia food is to feed them — Virginia money is to pay them — Virginia soil is to be desecrated, and her social life demoralized by them. The war is transferred to her valleys, and her cities are to be made a camp. And yet Virginia submits. She forgets her former chivalry — her boasted strength. Three months ago she assumed to be the arbiter of the destinies of the nation; to-day she is the protege and follower of South Carolina, and the tool of JEFFERSON DAVIS. She yields a craven deference to the one, and bears submissively the burdens of the other.

And last, though not least. Brig. Gen. COCKE has issued his proclamation. He is in command of the Potomac Border of Virginia. Whether he is a Virginian he does not inform us, and history is silent on the subject. It may be that he is, or it may be that he holds the border as one of the myrmidons of JEFFERSON DAVIS. He, too, like his illustrious compeers, the trio of Governors, uses the language of grandiloquence. Hear him:

“The Capital has never been threatened by us. It is not now threatened. It is beyond and outside the limits of the free and sovereign State of Virginia. The North has not openly, and according to the usage of civilized nations, declared war on us. We make no war on them — but should the soil of Virginia, or the grave of WASHINGTON, be polluted by the tread of a single man in arms from north of the Potomac, it will cause open war.”

According to Brig. Gen. COCKE, we shall have open “war,” then, for, just as sure as that the sun shall rise and set, thousands of men in arms from the north of the Potomac will be in Virginia within a week.

It can hardly have escaped notice, that the Virginia authorities lay very great stress on the inviolability of Virginia soil. Gov. LETCHER and Gen. COCKE both state that Virginia wages no war against the Federal Government, but the moment any United States soldier steps in arms upon the soil of the State, that act will be regarded as a declaration and the actual commencement of war.

This undoubtedly has more than a general meaning. It is intended to prevent the Government from taking possession of Arlington Heights, which command Washington, and which must be held if the Capital is to he saved. These heights are in Alexandria, which used to form part of the District of Columbia, but was ceded back to the State of Virginia by Congress in 1846. Now, these heights are part of the soil of that State, and the occupation of them by the Government will be regarded and resented, as an act of invasion.

It is scarcely necessary to say that it ought to be done, and beyond all question will be done the moment it is necessary, in spite of this menace. The fact that the menace is made proves that Virginia only seeks a pretext for assuming an openly hostile attitude to the Government, — and if she does not get one here, she will find one somewhere else. Loyalty or forbearance that rests on so flimsy a foundation as this, should not have a feather’s weight on the action of the Government. Whenever Gen. SCOTT deems it necessary, as a military precaution, to take possession of those heights, it will undoubtedly be done. The Government has a right to occupy and hold, for military reasons, any part of any State under its jurisdiction.

It is altogether probable that some such contingency as the present was in view, when the leading Virginia politicians urged the secession of that portion of the District of Columbia. They have been plotting the violent overthrow of the Government for twenty years, — and written records remain to show that the leaders of this treasonable plot made provision for every possible contingency. The whole State of Virginia was carefully studied with a view to military operations against the United States Government, more than twenty-five years ago. Nothing is more probable than that reasons of this sort were among the motives for seeking renewed possession by the State of that portion of the District which commands the Capital. The retrocession was granted out of pure good nature, and with that utter blindness to future contingencies which has characterized the action of Northern public men for many years. Not a thought was given to the military importance of the position, because nobody then believed it possible that the State of Virginia would ever be at war with the Federal Government, — while the members of Congress from that State were at that very moment plotting its overthrow, and using the good nature of the North as the means for accomplishing that object.

It was held by many at the time that the retrocession was unconstitutional, and therefore void. Whether this be so or not, we presume the Government will have very little hesitation about making it practically a nullity, whenever the safety of the Capital may render its military possession necessary.


This newspaper article was obtained from the New York Times archives. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Washington, D.C., Approves Medical Use of Marijuana By Ashley Southall – The New York Times, May 5, 2010
|| 5/5/2010 || 8:07 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Screen grab of Washington, D.C., Approves Medical Use of Marijuana By Ashley Southall - The New York Times, May 5, 2010

Today my names appears for the first time in the New York Times:

Nikolas Schiller, the secretary of the D.C. Patients’ Cooperative, a nonprofit group that advocates legal medical marijuana, said the amendments would have clarified ambiguities in the bill. He pointed to an example of a Wal-Mart worker in Michigan, where medical marijuana is legal, who was fired in March after he tested positive for the drug, which he used to cope with sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

“We asked the Council to introduce the protection for that and they refused to,” Mr. Schiller said. “And it was very infuriating to sit and watch the best practices from other states, other jurisdictions be ignored.”

Although Ashley recorded a much longer interview with me after the District Council’s final vote, I am happy (read: not infuriated) with how this article is written. I wish she could have highlighted some of the more important issues I spoke to her about. Regardless, I am still disappointed the Councilmembers voted to create one of the most restrictive medical cannabis programs in the country. The reality is that Congress already approved a more liberal version earlier this year and these amendments are far away from the original intent of District residents. The next Congress can take the program away, so why not legislate to create the very best program in the country modeled off of what works? I am sad to say that without home cultivation and limiting growers to 95 plants, the program is going to have some problems, but I hope, in time, we can fix them.

Anyways, yesterday’s vote was an important start, but there is a long way to go…

Read the entire article:

+ MORE



The Snow-Covered Washington, DC Area Is Today’s MODIS Satellite Image of the Day
|| 12/22/2009 || 7:18 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 12/20/2009
Resolutions: 250m (reduced)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Credit: Jesse Allen, NASA’s Earth Observatory

I was looking for satellite images of last weekend’s blizzard and found that today’s MODIS Satellite Image of the Day just so happens to be of the Washington, DC area. MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) is a key instrument aboard the Terra (EOS AM) and Aqua (EOS PM) satellites that documents changes on the surface of the earth. Terra’s orbit around the Earth is timed so that it passes from north to south across the equator in the morning, while Aqua passes south to north over the equator in the afternoon. Terra MODIS and Aqua MODIS are viewing the entire Earth’s surface every 1 to 2 days, acquiring data in 36 spectral bands, or groups of wavelengths that are used for numerous scientific purposes. You can view these satellite images in real-time and see exactly what has happened on the surface of the earth within the last 48 hours.



Anxious To Come Back – The Washington Post, July 24, 1890
|| 12/17/2009 || 11:36 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Map of Alexandria County from 1878

ANXIOUS TO COME BACK


The District Hath Charms for the People of Alexandria


A MOVEMENT OF THE CITIZENS


Ninety Per Cent of the Population of Alexandria City and County Ready and Willing to Leave the Old State and Become Part of the National Capital.


The question of the repeal of the law retroceding Alexandria county to Virginia is the uppermost topic in the ancient city now. The advocates and opponents of repeal are having it back and forth good naturedly. “When are you going into the District?” one asks banteringly of the other. The latest step that has been taken toward securing a crystallization into action of all the discussion on the subject for the past twenty-five years was the presentation in the Senate, as stated in The Post yesterday, of a petition by Mr. Edmunds, signed by about 400 citizens of Alexandria county, praying for the repeal of the act of 1846, giving back to Virginia that portion of the ten miles square which Virginia had ceded for the seat of government. A Post reporter circulated among the business men of Alexandria yesterday with a view of learning the public sentiment in the matter. He found an almost unanimous sentiment in favor of it, at least those whom he met favored it and claimed that there was little opposition to the movement.

Mr. Amos Slaymaker, the King-street drygoods merchant, carried the petition among the business men. He said that he found very few who were opposed to it. There were some who thought that it was a slap at old Virginia, and they thought that it was not right to “go back” on the old State. The opposition was based entirely on sentiment. Those who favored repeal were animated by practical movements.

“We do not regard it as a slap at old Virginia,” Mr. Slaymaker said to the Post reporter. “We believe that it would benefit Virginia as well as Alexandria. See how Maryland has benefited by the proximity of the District. This would put a slice of the District right into Virginia, and could not but benefit all the surrounding country. I was a Confederate soldier myself, and I would not do anything that would be a blow to Virginia. Alexandria should be the port of entry for Washington. The navy yard and the ordnance foundery should be located here, where there is plenty of deep water instead of government spending thousands of dollars every year dredging out the Eastern Branch.”

“What started this movement?”

“It was started out in the county, and the paper was sent to me by Mr. Lacey, the patent attorney of Washington, who own considerable property in Alexandria county. The people in the county are all strongly in favor of it.”

“How is it proposed to proceed?”

“We hope to get Congress to repeal the law of retrocession. The Virginia legislature will bring the case before the Supreme Court, where we hope to get a decision. It is said, I believe, that Daniel Webster claimed when the law of retrocession was passed that it was unconstitutional, but a test has never been made of the law. Why, at the present time when you want to run any lines in the District you have to start from our corner of the ten miles square. It would be quite as constitutional for Maryland to take back that portion which she ceded to the Government. Then where would your District be?”

Mr. Joseph Broders, the grocer, on King street, near Union, heads the list of those who signed the petition. “I have thought for years that the act of retrocession was unconstitutional,” he said, “and when the paper was brought to me I said that I would willingly sign it– I would put my name at the top if they wanted. Daniel Webster said when it was proposed to let Virginia take back what it had given the Government, ‘Why, gentlemen, you can’t do that.’ But the South was in a majority in Congress, and it was rushed through. It was put through largely through railroad influence. Alexandria wanted to subscribe for the Orange and Alexandria Railway, and as part of the District it couldn’t do it. So it was decided to have the city go back into the State, and then it could be authorized to subscribe, and it was done. But it was wholly unconstitutional. Why, suppose a bill were to be brought up into Congress retroceding to Maryland that part which that State gave to the Government? The thing wouldn’t be heard of. It would be declared unconstitutional at the start. But if it was constitutional to let go of the part of the District on this side of the river it certainly is to retrocede that part of the District on the other side. That is plain enough.”

Mr. D.W. Whiting, the publisher of the Daily Progress, said that he had long favored repeal and had written for it for years. “Here we are paying out between $80,000 and $100,000 a year to the State,” said he, “and are getting nothing in return for it. All our license fees, the fines in State cases, and 40 cents on the $1 goes into the State, and we get nothing in return for it. Look at our streets; cobblestones overgrown by grass. If we had this $100,000 to spend on home improvements we could pave our streets better. As it is we spend about $10,000 a year on our streets. The benefit to Alexandria by coming into the District would be immense. There is an overwhelming sentiment here in favor of it. I believe that 90 out of 100 favor it. The laboring people favor it almost to a man, and the business men of Alexandria are largely in favor of it.”

Mr. Whiting yesterday published in his paper the following editorial on the subject:

RETROCESSION — A petition was presented to the United States Senate yesterday signed by a number of leading citizens of this city, asking Congress to pass an enabling act so that the constitutionality of the act annexing that portion of the District of Columbia, south of the Potomac, to Virginia. There are many very strong reasons why the people of Alexandria should desire to get back into the District. One of the reasons is that Alexandria is paying annually into the State treasury nearly, if not quite $100,000, which if spent in the city would give us good streets instead of miserable cobblestone wagon-destroyers that we have. The only reason for desiring to remain with the State is a sentimental one. The reasons for going back to the District are practical ones and appeal to common sense and business interest. If a vote was taken on the subject, nine-tenths of the people would vote to go back.

George Fisher, of Fisher Bros., on Royal street, said that he favored repeal because he believed that it would be a great benefit to the city to be in the District. It would rid the city of an undesirable political element. They could get city councils that would improve the streets. The city debt was being rapidly paid off without any increase in taxation, instead of improvements being made to the city. The politicians were, of course, opposed to repeal. It would take away the franchise.

Mr. John Harlow, of Harlow Bros., Royal and Cameron streets, said that he believed 95 persons out of 100 favored it. His brother, George Harlow, is strongly in favor of it.

Mr. M. B. Harlow, the city treasurer, said that one great reason for complaint was that so much money was paid into the State and nothing received in return. The circuit judge, the city sergeant, and other State officials were paid by the city. He, however, was not convinced of the wisdom of taking the step of separation.

Mr. Peter Aitchison, of Aitchison Bros., lumber dealers, on Union street, near Prince, is strongly in favor of repeal. He is a member of the city council, and has given considerable thought to the subject. He was not in his office when the reporter called, but his brother George was. He agreed with the other speakers that Virginia got a good deal more out of Alexandria than Alexandria did out of Virginia. He believed that a large majority of the people favored the repeal.

N. Lindsey, an extensive wholesale grocer at King and Union streets, also member of the city council, strongly favors the movement and signed the petition.

Mr. William F. Creighton, proprietor of the extensive drugstore on King and Royal streets, said that the subject had been considerably discussed in his store by members of the council and others. He had heard it stated that the city had paid in 1889 $88,00 toward the State, for which nothing had been received. His store is quite an assembling place for members of the council before and after meetings, and he had heard a good deal of discussion. He had signed the petition on it being represented to him that in the District the taxes would be lower and the local improvements would be greater.

French Smoot, the lumber dealer, on Union street, near King, a member of the city council, had also signed the petition. Other who believe in repeal are:
Helmuth Bros., butchers, corner King and Columbus streets; Summers & Bros., Pitt, near King; Thomas Leadbeater, North Fairfax, near King; R. C. Acton, the King street jeweler; William H. May, agricultural implements; Thomas Lannon, grocer; B. F. Peake, carpenter and builder; George Wise, insurance; L. E. Corbett, customs collector; C. A. Yohe, Old Dominion cigar factory; R. Bell, L. Bendhelm, C. W. Howell, Isaac M. Bell, R. M. Latham, Issac Eichberg, drygoods; J. H. D. Lunt, Worth Hulfish, V. M. Power, Perry & Son, T. A. Robinson, E. S. Fawcett, D. A. Windsor, whose son assisted in circulating the petition; Frederick Paff, G. E. French, W. N. Berkley, R. T. Lucas, A. W. Armstrong, J. C. Creighton, Thomas Hoy, C. T. Helmuth, H. Kirk, A. A. Warfield, C. B. Marshall, Henry Strauss, J. A. Marshall, R. W. French, G. P. Hill, L. Stabler & Co., R. F. Lee, B. Wheatley, R. J. Thomas, J. R. Edelin, Louis Brill, William Demaine, George Wise, A. H. Smythe.


Anxious To Come Back – The Washington Post, July 24, 1890


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.



Does Virginia Own Alexandria County? – The Washington Herald, January 18, 1910
|| 12/11/2009 || 11:56 am || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

I found this article absolutely fascinating. I’ve blogged about the two acts of Congress that are referenced throughout this article [H.R. 259 – An act to retrocede the county of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia & An Act for establishing the Temporary and Permanent seat of the Government of the United States], but until today I had not thoroughly read a legal opinion on the topic of Virginia’s retrocession of Alexandria County (now present-day Arlington County). My original contention was that the Act of 1846 was illegal because the text of the Act specified that retrocession was possible only with the approval of both the city *and* the county of Alexandria, and only the city voted in favor retrocession. The argument presented in this article below speaks to the larger issue of how the “permanent” seat of government was created out of a legal covenant that involved four parties: the Federal Government, Virginia, Maryland, and the original 19 property owners of the District. A very compelling case is made that through the passage of the Act of 1846 the original covenant was unconstitutionally broken. 99 years later, I thoroughly agree with the logic outlined in the article below and would like to have the District of Columbia return to its original size. While I don’t see it happening any time soon, history shows that change is constant.

Map of the portion of the District of Columbia ceded back to Virginia

The Washington Herald, January 18th, 1910

DOES VIRGINIA OWN ALEXANDRIA COUNTY?


Hon. Harris Taylor, in Elaborate Opinion, Holds the Retrocession Was Clearly Illegal and Unconstitutional.


Was the act of July 9, 1846, under which the County of Alexandria, then in the District of Columbia, was re-ceded to the State of Virginia unconstitutional?

Hon. Hannis Taylor, former Minister to Spain, and a constitutional lawyer of distinction, has prepared an elaborae opinon on this subject, which was presented to the Senate yesterday, in which he holds that the retrocession was clearly illegal and unconstitutional.

“If retrocession to Virginia is to stand,” he says, “then the land underlying the Capitol, the White House, and the Treasury belongs either to Maryland or the local proprietors whom it was granted. The nation can only be protected against that result by a judgement of the Supreme Court of the United States declaring the act of retrocession of 1846 to be null and void.”

Complete Answer Found.

What is the remedy?
“The complete answer,” he says, “is to be found in the opinion of the Supreme Court in the case of The United States vs. Texas (143 U.S.,621-649), in which it was held that the Supreme Court can, under the Constitution, take cognizance of an original suit brought by the United States against a State to determine the boundary between one of the Territories and such State; that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to determine a disputed question of boundary between the United States and a State; that a suit in equity begun in the Supreme Court is appropriate for determining a boundary between the United States and one of the States.”

He quotes the opinion rendered in this case, and says it solves every problem that can possibly arise in an original suit between the United States and Virginia as to the boundaries of the District of Columbia.

Act of 1846.

His opinion as to the unconstitutionality of the retrocession is based upon the contention that the act of 1846 broke a quadrilateral contract entered into on the one hand by the United States and on the other by Virginia, Maryland, and the nineteen local property-owners in Washington.

The United States, through the act of Congress of July 10, 1790, passed under the constitutional mandate, agreed that “the District so defined, limited, and located, shall be deemed the District accepted by this act, for the permanent seat of the government of the United States.”

Each of the three grantors, in consideration of that stipulation, made for the benefit of each, through which alone title to the whole could be made perfect, entered into the quadrilateral contract in question.

“It is elementary in the law of contracts,” he says, “that when two or more instruments are recorded at the same time or at different times which relate to the same subject matter, and one refers to the other, either tacitly or expressly, they will be taken together and construed as one instrument.

Maryland’s Right.

“Maryland,” he says, “has a perfect right to claim of the United States, by reason of the recision of the original quadrilateral agreement, the return of every foot of land ceded by her and now embraced within the present limits of the District.

“That right Maryland can enforce in an original suit against the United States in the Supreme Court under the authority laid down in the case of the United States vs. Texas.

“That great case,” he says, “refuted most emphatically the contention made by Senator Hoar in the Senate on April 11, 1902, that retrocession was a political and not a judicial question, and was settled by the political authorities, alone competent to decide it.

“The Supreme Court in the case in question decided that ‘it cannot with propriety be said that a question of boundary between a Territory of the United States and one of the States of the Union is of a political nature and non susceptible of judicial determination by a court having jurisdiction of such a controversy.

Constitutional Mandate.

“The constitutional mandate that requires the President to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed’ compels him to ascertain and determine the limits of territory over which they are to be enforced.”

And in conclusion he says:
In determining all question all questions of boundary, whether foreign or domestic, the initiative in this country is vested in the Executive acting alone. While he may advise with Congress as to the steps he may take in ascertaining boundaries, while executing the laws within the same, the President cannot surrender his exclusive power to ascertain what they are.

As a practical illustration, if in this matter the President believes that Virginia is in lawful possession of that portion of the District described in the act of 1846, it is his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” in that area, regardless of any contrary opinion the legislative department of the government might entertain on the subject. He could hold no other view without abdicating the independence of the executive power in the execution of the laws. It is, however, in my humble judgment, a case in which there should be friendly consultation between the executive and legislative departments, because in the event of a recovery in the Supreme Court Congress would no doubt be called upon to pass such a bill of indemnity as would relieve Virginia of any accountability for revenues derived from the area in question during her de facto occupation.

Goes in the Record.

Senator Carter, in presenting the elaborate brief written at his request by Mr. Taylor, asked and was granted unanimous consent to have it printed in the Record, and also as a Senate document. He said:

The subject is of absorbing interest to the people of the District and will surely challenge the attention of the country with constantly increasing force as the growth of the Federal city and the expanding needs of the government demonstrate more fully the wisdom of President Washington and his co-laborers in fixing the District lines as originally marked.

To the United States government the subject is of
Continued on Page 3, Column 4


DOES VIRGINIA OWN ALEXANDRIA COUNTY


Continued from Page One.

grave concern, for it involves in a technical sense title to the ground upon which this Capitol, the White House, and many other important public buildings stand. If the recession to Virginia stands in law it would seem possible that the Federal government retains jurisdiction over the portion north of the Potomac in derogation of the rights and at the sufferance of the State of Maryland.

Fever-breeding Marsh.

When artistic taste and solicitude for sanitary conditions combined to inspire the movement to reclaim the Potomac Flats, the progress of the work soon revealed the fact that proper treatment of the narrow river and adjacent marshes would always be limited and unsatisfactory while confined to the northern bank alone. A fever-breeding marsh within 7,000 or 8,000 feet of the White House cannot be regarded with indifference, nor can any one fail to observe that the improvement on the north sets forth the unsightliness of the south bank of the river in bold relief. In short, each year more amply justifies the wisdom of Washington and his commission in embracing both sides of the river within the limits of the Federal District.

The Capitol, the White House, and all the public buildings were located near the center in the beginning, but the act of retrocession moved the southern line of the District to within a short distance of the White House grounds. This was not intended by Washington, under whose masterful direction the constitutional design regarding a seat for the Federal government was executed.

Defeat of Intention.

“The act receding two-fifths of the District to Virginia so obviously defeats the intention of the framers of the Constitution in this behalf and so ruthlessly disregards the rights of other parties that I have for years regarded it as null and void on general principles; not withstanding the interesting and important nature of the question, I have not found time to investigate the law and the historical facts bearing upon it. Last year, however, I had the good fortune to mention the matter to Mr. Harris Taylor, known to the bar of the country as one of our leading constitutional lawyers, and the gentleman volunteered to examine the question and to write me his view upon it.

Mr. Taylor’s letter sets forth the constitutional provision in question and all legislation, State and national, in relation to the subject, together with a review of all executive action and contract obligations in pursuance thereof. In fact, the letter is a brief of such rare clearness and ability that I believe it should be made permanently available for reference, and so believing, I renew my request and ask that when printed the commincation be referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia for consideration.

An Exhaustive Opinion.

Mr. Taylor’s opinion, buttressed by historical references and legal citations, is exhaustive and comprehensive. He says, in beginning:

The contemporaneous evidence puts the fact beyond all question that the final definition of a district ten miles square as the seat of our Federal government was in a special sense the personal work of President Washington, whose task involved the acquisition of the title to the tract from three sources- the State of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the nineteen local proprietors who owned that part at the heart of the present city which underlies the Capitol, the White House, and the Treasury. Washington’s task was to induce the three parties who held the title to cede to the Federal government, without any direct pecuniary consideration, the entire area under a quadrilateral contract in which that government was the grantee and beneficiary, and Virginia, Maryland, and nineteen local proprietors the grantors. The real consideration moving to such grantors was the incidental benefits to accrue to them from their joint cession, which, in the language of the act of July 16, 1790, “is hereby accepted for the permanent seat of the government of The United States.” That covenant represented the only consideration moving directly from the Federal government, while the three grantors were bound to each other by the mutual considerations moving from the one to the other under interdependent grants.

Maryland, the last to grant, expressed the idea of mutual benefits to be derived from a common enterprise when her legislature declared that “it appears to this general assembly highly just and expedient that all the lands within the said city should contribute, in due proportion, in the mean which have already greatly enhanced the value of the whole.” Under that quadrilateral contract, supported by the foregoing considerations, the Federal government entered into possession with a perfect title, after the final cession made by Maryland December 19, 1791.

Government in Control.

No one, perhaps, will deny that after the title to the entire area had thus passed from the three grantors into the corporate person of the nation neither the State of Virginia nor the State of Maryland could have, either in law or in equity, any claim to the common heritage superior to that of any other State. Under such considerations the Federal government remained in peaceful possession of the entire area ten miles square, and governed the same under the Constitution for a period of fifty-five years. During that time the original boundaries as designed by Washington were marked by massive stone monuments, while still abide unimpaired.

By the act of retrocession of July 9, 1846, the District was dismembered by a conveyance to Virginia of nearly one-half of the entire area for no pecuniary or property consideration whatever. What was the real motive of the retrocession it is at this time difficult to ascertain.

From a legal standpoint, the fact that the portion reconveyed to Virginia had originally been contributed by her is of no significance whatever. Therefore, before argument begins, the mind wonders upon what constitutional principle such retrocession could have been made. Two distinct parts of the Constitution are involved. First, that part of section 8, Article 1, which provides that Congress shall have power “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of government of the United States;” second, that part of section 10, article 1, which provides that “no State shall pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law or law impairing the obligation of contracts.”

During the memorable Senate debate led by Senator Haywood, of North Carolina, who, as chairmen of the District Committee, bitterly assailed the constitutionality of the act of retrocession, the meaning and effect of section 8, Article 1, was fully explored.

I cannot doubt the soundness of the conclusion then reached by many leading statesmen of that day to the effect that, considered in reference to that part of the Constitution alone, the act of retrocession is null and void. What I cannot understand is the fact that any debate, however hastily conducted, the deeper and more obvious argument based on the contract clause of the Constitution (Article 1, section 10), should have been entirely overlooked. And yet the record shows that such was the fact.

It never occurred to any one in 1846, or since that time, to look to the sources of the title in the quadrilateral contract upon which the ownership of the area ten miles square really depends. What is said herein as to that branch of the subject is my personal contribution to the controversy.

Acquirement of Site.

He goes into history to show how the site of the National Capital was discussed and finally acquired, and says:

After prolonged discussion the act of July 16, 1790, was passed, and the site of the District finally located, partly in Prince George and Montgomery counties, in the State of Maryland, and partly in Fairfax County, in the State of Virginia, by proclamation of President George Washington, March 30, 1971, within the following bounds:

“Beginning at Jones Point, being the upper cape of Hunting Creek, in Virginia, and at an angle in the outset of 45 degrees west of the north, and running in a direct line ten miles for the first line; then beginning again at the same Jones Point and running another direct line at a right angle with the ffirst across the Potomac ten miles.”

From the diagram it appears that the “Portion derived from and receded to Virginia” constitutes nearly one-half of the territory of the District as originally defined in the proclamation of March 30, 1791. If the act of July 9, 1846 (9 Stats. 35), entitled “An act to retrocede the County of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, to the State of Virginia,” is unconstitutional and void, the laws of the United States should now be executed by the President thourghout the “Portion derived from and receded to Virginia.”

Continuing, he says:
After the power to elect the seat of government had been once exercised by Congress, after the cession had been made for that purpose by “particular States,” after the area so ceded had been accepted by Congress under the act of July 16, 1790, declaring “the same is hereby accepted for the permanent seat of government of the United States,” the power of Congress over the subject matter was exhausted. Or, if it was not exhausted, could not again be exercised, because no power remained to transfer the District, as originally created and accepted, of any portion of it to any State. In other words, after a district of ten miles square had once been established and accepted as a permanent seat of government, Congress possessed no power to acquire another territory for another seat of government, without violating the constitutional limitation which confined it to the ten miles square. The Congress, an agent of limited authority, was expressly authorized to receive cessions from States of a limited amount of territory to be held as a permanent seat of government; but it was not authorized, expressly or implicitly, to give any part of such cessions away to any one. Such was the constitutional difficulty which the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter attempted to overcome when the bill in question was up for debate in the House of Representatives May 8, 1846.

Section 8 of Article 1 of the Constitution when taken as a whole, provides that “the Congress shall have power * * * 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; and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful things.” The delegation of power thus made Congress to acquire a seat of government for the United States, through formal acceptance of cessions to the be made by particular States is a distinct subject matter, entirely separate and apart from the succeeding delegation of power to govern “all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be.” Did the grant of an express power formally to accept cessions from particular States, which were to constitute and “become the seat of government of the United States,” carry with it, as a necessary implication, the right to use the means necessary for the execution of the power? In other words, did the implied power to use such necessary means flow from the express to accomplish the end? In construing that clause which provides that Congress shall have power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof,” it was held at an early day that the clause in question “confers on Congress the choice of means and does not confine it to what is indispensably necessary.”

Constitutional Mandate.

The express mandate was given by the Constitution to Congress to acquire a seat of government by cessions from particular States, and in no other manner. Congress was powerless to force any State to make a cession; it could not go beyond the limits of the States. It could only persuade; it could not command. Congress did not offer to the ceding States any money consideration whatever for their cessions. The means, and the only means, Congress saw fit to employ to accomplish a vitally important end was the promise, made in the of July 16th, 1790, that the seat of government to be located on the cessions should be “permanent.”

The act expressly declared that “the district so defined, limited, and located shall be deemed the district accepted by this act for the permanent seat of government of the United States.” When Mr. Madison moved in the House of Representatives to strike out the word “permanent” from the act he was voted down, and thus we have a legislative interpretation, practically contemporaneous, to the effect that the Constitution intended to confer upon Congress the power make the seat of government permanent. Contemporary interpretation of the Constitution, practiced and acquiesced in for years, conclusively fixes its construction.

Some years go, when a movement was on foot to remove the Capital to the Valley of the Mississippi, the effect of the action of Congress under section 8, Article 1, was fully discussed. I am informed that it was then universally admitted that by the selection of the present seat of government the power of Congress, under the section in question, had been exhausted.

Virginia made her grant, which was the first grant, December 3 1789. The nineteen local proprietors perfected their grants on or about the 29th of June, 1791. Maryland did not make grant until December 19, 1791. In that grant, embodied in a very elaborate act of thirteen sections, Maryland put the fact beyond all question that the prior grants made by Virginia and the nineteen proprietors were conditions precedent to her grant.

Quotes from Opinions.

He quotes from many opinions rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States to show that a grant is a contract, and this quadrilateral contract entered into by the United States on the one hand and Virginia, Maryland, and the nineteen local proprietors on the other, was binding in its operation and effect, and could not be modified without abrogating the contract as a whole.



Related Legislation Entries:





The Daily Render By
A Digital Scrapbook for the Past, Present, and Future.

©2004-2019 Nikolas R. Schiller - Colonist of the District of Columbia - Privacy Policy - Fair Use - RSS - Contact



1 / 4123SOUTH

::LAST 51 POSTS::

Fair Use


25 queries. 1.092 seconds.
Powered by WordPress

Photo by Charlie McCormick
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:

If you would like to use content found here, please consult my Fair Use page.

::THE QUILT PROJECTION::

Square
Square

Diamond
diamond

Hexagon
hexagon

Octagon
octagon

Dodecagon
Dodecagon

Beyond
beyond

::OTHER PROJECTIONS::

The Lenz Project
Lenz

Mandala Project
Mandala

The Star Series


Abstract Series
abstract

Memory Series
Memory

Mother Earth Series
Mother Earth

Misc Renderings
Misc

::POPULAR MAPS::

- The Los Angeles Interchanges Series
- The Lost Series
- Terra Fermi
- Antique Map Mashups
- Google StreetView I.E.D.
- LOLmaps
- The Inaugural Map
- The Shanghai Map
- Ball of Destruction
- The Lenz Project - Maps at the Library of Congress
- Winner of the Everywhere Man Award

::MONTHLY ARCHIVES::

:: LAST VISITORS ::



::LOCATIONS & CATEGORIES::

  • 2004 Elections (2)
  • 2008 Elections (35)
  • 2014 Elections (4)
  • 2016 Elections (2)
  • ACLU (3)
  • Activism (287)
  • Adbusters (13)
  • Advertisements (33)
  • aerial photography (19)
  • Analysis (31)
  • Animals (30)
  • animated gif (7)
  • Animation (25)
  • Antique (104)
  • Apple (1)
  • Arabic (17)
  • Architectural Archeology (9)
  • Artomatic (25)
  • Astronomy (15)
  • Astrophotography (9)
  • Audio (2)
  • Awards (3)
  • Backpacking (2)
  • banner graphics (5)
  • Beat Google to the Map (56)
  • bicycle (23)
  • Birds-Eye View (5)
  • Blaeu (10)
  • Book Covers (7)
  • Bridge (10)
  • Building (15)
  • calendar (28)
  • calligraphy (6)
  • Capital (61)
  • Cars (18)
  • Cartography (74)
  • Cartoon (9)
  • Celestial (31)
  • Censorship (32)
  • Chinese (7)
  • Chronicling America (34)
  • Classroom (5)
  • Clothing (12)
  • Commentary (76)
  • Commissioned (27)
  • Credit Cards (3)
  • Crime (12)
  • Cyrillic Alphabet (1)
  • DAILY LINKS (30)
  • Dance (2)
  • DC History (93)
  • Design (102)
  • Digital Scrap (5)
  • Election (11)
  • ESA (3)
  • Facebook (19)
  • Fantasy (3)
  • Fashion (23)
  • Fast Food (2)
  • FBI (7)
  • Flag (15)
  • flickr (4)
  • Found Map (56)
  • French (9)
  • Gallery (54)
  • Gardening (25)
  • General (256)
  • George Bush (12)
  • GIS (69)
  • GMO Labeling (4)
  • Google (31)
  • Google AdSense (4)
  • Google AdWords (3)
  • Google Earth (28)
  • Google Maps (47)
  • Google Reader (4)
  • Google Streetview (8)
  • GPS (7)
  • Graffiti (5)
  • Greek (4)
  • Green (72)
  • Green Party (18)
  • Healthcare (15)
  • Highway (35)
  • Hiking (2)
  • Hipster (2)
  • history (151)
  • Holidays (10)
  • House Party (2)
  • Hubble Telescope (2)
  • Humor (88)
  • In The News (88)
  • Insects (2)
  • Interactive (74)
  • Interiors (4)
  • IP Trace (28)
  • Latin (22)
  • Law (15)
  • Lecture (11)
  • Legislation (19)
  • Library (21)
  • Library of Congress (66)
  • Location (1,018)
  • LOLMaps (3)
  • Mass Transit (6)
  • Memorandum (2)
  • meta-data (32)
  • Mobile Phone Applications (1)
  • Movie (3)
  • MrSID (4)
  • MSN (5)
  • Museum (5)
  • Music (48)
  • MySpace (6)
  • NASA (10)
  • National Archives (3)
  • News (182)
  • Obituary (2)
  • Oil (4)
  • Ornithology (4)
  • orthophotography (4)
  • OSCE (16)
  • Photography (134)
  • Poetry (18)
  • Portuguese (1)
  • postmodern (8)
  • QR code (9)
  • QTVR (4)
  • Radio (3)
  • Renderings (675)
  • RSS (3)
  • Seasons (12)
  • Sold (40)
  • Spanish (7)
  • Speech (5)
  • Sports (1)
  • Stadium (40)
  • statehood (94)
  • Statistics (2)
  • Stellarium (4)
  • Stereogram (1)
  • Street (21)
  • Street Art (10)
  • Submissions (5)
  • Tattoo (2)
  • Testimony (2)
  • time-lapse (19)
  • Torture (3)
  • Transportation (6)
  • TV (23)
  • Twitter (5)
  • University (41)
  • Update (24)
  • Vegetarianism (2)
  • Video (49)
  • Vimeo (18)
  • visualization (36)
  • Washington Critic (2)
  • Weather (19)
  • Web Crawler (9)
  • Wikipedia (14)
  • Wordpress (4)
  • Wordpress Upgrade (2)
  • World Wind (3)
  • Yahoo (6)
  • YouTube (113)
  • Zodiac (23)




  • thank you,
    come again!