Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the District is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and is therefore not a part of any U.S. state.

The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the preexisting settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia and created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District in 1871.


  • I'm hopeful. I know there is a lot of ambition in Washington, obviously. But I hope the ambitious realize that they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure.
    • George W. BushInterview with the Associated Press, January 18, 2001.
  • We have built no national temples but the Capitol; we consult no common oracle but the Constitution.
    • Rufus Choate, "The Importance of Illustrating New-England History by a Series of Romances like the Waverley Novels", a lecture delivered at Salem, Massachusetts (1833).
  • After much menutial search for an elligible situation, prompted I may say from a fear of being prejudiced in favour of a first opinion I could discover no one so advantageously to greet the congressional building as is that on the west end of Jenkins heights which stand as a pedestal waiting for a monument, and I am confident, were all the wood cleared from the ground no situation could stand in competition with this. some might perhaps require less labour to be rendered agreeable but after all assistance of arts none ever would be made so grand and all other would appear but of secondary nature.
    • Pierre L'Enfant, letter to George Washington (June 22, 1791); Records of the Columbia Historical Society (1899), vol. 2, p. 35. This letter contained a description of Capitol Hill, then called Jenkins Hill.
  • If people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on.
    • Abraham Lincoln, remark to John Eaton of Toledo, Ohio (1863), reported in Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln (1939), vol. 2, p. 535 (1939). Sandburg notes that Eaton had spoken to Lincoln of "hoisting the statue of Liberty over the Capitol dome, new marble pillars to be installed on the Senate wing, a massive and richly embellished bronze door being made for the main central portal. People were saying it was an extravagance during wartime".
  • [George] Washington intended this to be a Federal city, and it is a Federal city, and it tingles down to the feet of every man, whether he comes from Washington State, or Los Angeles, or Texas, when he comes and walks these city streets and begins to feel that this is my city; I own a part of this Capital, and I envy for the time being those who are able to spend their time here. I quite admit that there are defects in the system of government by which Congress is bound to look after the government of the District of Columbia. It could not be otherwise under such a system, but I submit to the judgment of history that the result vindicates the foresight of the fathers.
    • William Howard Taft, address at a banquet given in his honor by the Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce of Washington, D.C. (May 8, 1909); Presidential Addresses and State Papers of William Howard Taft (1910), vol. 1, chapter 7, p. 82-83.
  • Now, I am opposed to the franchise in the District [of Columbia]; I am opposed, and not because I yield to any one in my support and belief in the principles of self-government; but principles are applicable generally, and then, unless you make exceptions to the application of these principles, you will find that they will carry you to very illogical and absurd results. This was taken out of the application of the principle of self-government in the very Constitution that was intended to put that in force in every other part of the country, and it was done because it was intended to have the representatives of all the people in the country control this one city, and to prevent its being controlled by the parochial spirit that would necessarily govern men who did not look beyond the city to the grandeur of the nation, and this as the representative of that nation.
    • William Howard Taft, address at a banquet given in his honor by the Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce of Washington, D.C. (May 8, 1909); Presidential Addresses and State Papers of William Howard Taft (1910), vol. 1, chapter 7, p. 83.
  • I spent most of my childhood playing video games. Mom said, "You're wasting your time with those video games." I work in Washington, DC. I use my Frogger skills every time I cross the street.

Respectfully Quoted[edit]

  • Too small to be a state but too large to be an asylum for the mentally deranged.
    • Anne M. Burford, characterizing the District of Columbia, remarks to a Colorado state convention of wool growers, Vail, Colorado, July 27, 1984, as reported by The Washington Post, July 29, 1984, p. 1. Burford was a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Her remark is reminiscent of one reportedly made by James L. Petigru during Christmas week, 1860, in Charleston, South Carolina, when he was asked by Robert Barnwell Rhett, a leader of the secessionists, if he were with them: "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum".—Earl Schenck Miers, The Great Rebellion, p. 50 (1958).
  • If I wanted to go crazy I would do it in Washington because it would not be noticed.
    • Irwin S. Cobb. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • Washington is full of famous men and the women they married when they were young.
    • Fanny Dixwell Holmes, remark to President Theodore Roosevelt at the reception preceding a dinner at the White House in honor of her husband, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, January 8, 1903.—Catherine Drinker Bowen, Yankee from Olympus, p. 362 (1944).
  • Somebody once said that Washington was a city of Northern charm and Southern efficiency.
    • John F. Kennedy, remarks to the trustees and advisory committee of the national cultural center, November 14, 1961. The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, p. 719.
  • So I came to Washington, where I knew I would be farther away from America than I could be on some foreign shore; not that I do not respect this as a good part of America but in its general routine the heart of America is felt less here than at any place I have ever been.
    • Huey Long, remarks in the Senate, May 17, 1932, Congressional Record, vol. 75, p. 10393.

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