September 18, 2014 15:43 UTC

Home

#4 - What Do the Letters D and C Mean in Washington, D.C? - 2004-10-13

To answer the question, we must go back about two-hundred years, to the beginning of the United States. The states approved a Constitution for the country in seventeen-eighty-eight. But they could not decide where to build the permanent capital. Northern states did not want the capital in the south because of slavery. The southern states did not want it in the north. Several places were proposed, but Congress could not agree on one.

Then Thomas Jefferson of Virginia invited Alexander Hamilton of New York to dinner to discuss the dispute. Two congressmen from Virginia were also there. The four men talked politics.

Southern votes had defeated a bill in Congress that Mister Hamilton wanted very much to be approved. It would have required the federal government to pay the money owed by the states for fighting the war to gain independence from Britain.

The two Virginia congressmen agreed to change their votes against the bill. And, Mister Hamilton agreed to find northern votes to support a proposal to build the capital along the Potomac River between the states of Virginia and Maryland. That is how Congress agreed to build the capital in a federal area on land provided by the two states.

A year later, officials announced that the city would be called Washington, in honor of the country’s first president, George Washington. The larger federal area would be named the District of Columbia. Columbia had become another name for the United States, one that was used by poets and other writers. The name came from Christopher Columbus, the explorer who sailed from Europe across the Atlantic Ocean to the Western Hemisphere.

Today, Washington, D.C. is known to those who live in the area as the District. But if you want to write to us, our address is Washington, D.C.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Botanist Steve Perlman collects seeds from of the few remaining Platanthera holochila, a native orchid species which is on the Plant Extinction Prevention program’s target list. (Photo by ©Hank Oppenheimer)

    Audio Botanist Works to Save Hawaii's Rare Plants

    Hawaii is home to many native plants. They include 1,200 species, 90 percent of which are not found anywhere else in the world. But Hawaii also has become the endangered species capital of the United States. Nearly 40 percent of the plants on that endangered list grow in Hawaii. More

  • Audio Sea Dispute Tests Philippines’ Ties with China

    This week a huge trade show in China aims to publicize good relations between Southeast Asian countries and China. But the Philippine president is not attending, after a tense year in the South China Sea. More

  • Maryland, where a technology workshop for seniors is taught by teens and even younger instructors, who've grown up in the digital

    Video Teens Help Seniors Bridge Technology Gap

    A center in the American city of Columbia, Maryland offers free technology classes for adults ages 50 and older. The teachers are often teenagers and even younger children. More

  • Obama

    Audio Obama: No Ground War in Iraq

    The US leader spoke a day after top general said combat force deployment possible. President says airstrikes would be the base of US efforts. U.S. proposed talk with North Korean on three detained American. India and China signed trade agreements. Scotland to vote on independence. | In the News More

  • د ازبکستان د ولسمشر لور گلناره کریموا

    Audio Is the Party over for Uzbekistan's 'Party Girl?'

    Gulnara Karimova is the most famous party girl in Central Asia. She has organized fashion shows, designed jewelry, and bought some of the most famous nightclubs in the capital city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent. More

Featured Stories

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs