Washington D.C.




My mood is better when I heard the French talking about the city of Washington D.C. and Paris. Between the capital of the United States and the French version.  I don’t like this parallel too much I must admit, although too simple for my taste, it does not take into account the different histories of the two peoples, I prefer mostly think of Washington DC, and the creation of this city, like the birth of the European Union today.

Having said that, I can already hear some person shocked “For goodness sake, these Americans still believe they are the center of the world! ".

But to explain the concept of Washington, the city that does not belong to any state, the center of American power and yet so different from other American cities, we must go back to the birth of the American nation.

And yes as usual I find that you learn a lot about our country back to its origin. A first observation stands out; it took over 25 years to decide the place of the future capital of the new federal government. For if in 1776, the 13 colonies had declared their independence, everything had to be invented, and it was not an easy task, far from it. Imagine, the first Americans were living in territories with the names of Georgia and Delaware, referring to the king and the English nobles, few were the settlers who had lived in different colonies and now they have to imagine a strong administration, a place where their unity were represented. At the time, 13 colonies had their own laws, customs, religions and even their own currencies and now they had to create a government structure and institutions. So remember some states were more than a century old, Virginia had more than 100 years since the birth of Georgia and now there is a need for a common power. What intrusions in the freedoms of states, not at the time, and then came the terror: imagine, should the colonists pay taxes? Oh sacrilege! From the beginning the founders were divided as to whether the union would require a federal city. And the term is noteworthy because it is no mention of capital, indeed even in the constitutional convention of 1787 which led to the construction of a federal city, it didn’t mention the term of capital and well if we imagined its size, it does not say where it would be located. One problem at a time -you’ll tell me ...


Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 :

The Congress has the power "to exercise exclusive legislation in all matters, over such District (an area not exceeding 10,000 square miles), which by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, will become the headquarters of the US government. “


Since 1774 and the first meeting of the US Congress, the American power moved from town to town like a circus as some might get noticed. In June 21, 1783, The US Congres experienced first-hand if I can say the need to find a place for itself, seat of the federal government, in order to gain credibility, power. That day the soldiers of the Continental Army, having learned the soon dissolution of the army, had come armed ask the payment of their salaries in Philadelphia, where sat the Congress at the time. But then if at first, the power was afraid for its life, it soon realized that the soldiers didn’t care about the Congress but sought to force local rich to pay their salaries. What an affront to the US Congress, their own soldiers doubted its abilities ???

It was too much, one thing is sure, Philadelphia would pay dearly this affront, it will not be the seat of government, Princeton perhaps? Washington D.C. was born, if you will, from a dinner with Thomas Jefferson, the latter exceeds by the never ending civil strife and conflict within the founding fathers came to a pact between northern and southern clans and yes it works! The clan of Virginia pledging not to criticize the nationalization of the war damage liabilities of the American war of independence, but wanted the capital in a place further south at the time, in the land of the Potomac, the current Washington. The northerner clan, promised to abandon the idea of ​​New York as a federal city but came to designate Philadelphia as a temporary federal city of the United States from 1790 through 1800, pending the construction of the new and future federal city of Washington, D.C. It is important to note that we talk about a permanent seat for the United States Government and not about a capital, the nuance is significant. And yes after years of conflict the agreement was concluded, the North would have the financial power, capitalist and the South would have its federal city.

But the Washington, DC hazards didn’t stop there and yes in March 1801 with some delay, the city actually took function of "federal city", the latter simply wasn’t ready much to the chagrin of the founding fathers. A note appeared in the newspaper, the Philadelphia Aurora, stating:

"From that day, the offices of the department are leaving Philadelphia. All correspondence should be addressed now in Washington. »

Note the delicacy to not have specified any address simply because there was none. The Capitol was not finished, the White House was still under construction and the first lady Abigail Adams, was forced to dry her laundry in the East Room while cursing the congress and the new city. Only the Treasury building was finished, located next to the White House, it was the only public building completed much to the irritation of the President John Adams who was convinced that his true opponent Alexander Hamilton had personally supervised the construction.

Ah Washington D.C., museum city, a city with one of the best metro in the world, that's how this city is awesome! Washington District of Columbia, but what does this name really mean? So I would not insult you to tell you that Washington comes from the founding father of the United States of America, George Washington, first president and also a hero of the American war of independence, I am sure you already knew it all, but why district of Columbia ??? It's a little more complicated, right? Since the city does not belong to a state nor to any territory, the city was called District of Columbia, this gives the District of Columbia and yes at that time the name was fairly common, we just have narrowly escaped an United States of Columbia, but let’s say for more relevance that Columbia at the time represented America, she was represented as a woman with brown long hair, to oppose the Britannia, emblematic of the English Empire and the French Marianne, the French, For goodness sake, not again! ...

I hope this answers some of the questions you might have about this rather beautiful city, but special that is Washington D.C., a fairly large city, very horizontal with little building, at the same time in the land of Uncle Sam and at the heart of its power, it’s forbidden to rise above the Capitol!


(PS: one last thing, please do not forget the D.C. to the capital, you see confuse Washington D.C. with Washington that is a State, is like confusing the metropolitan France with the France Overseas …)