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CONSIDERATIONS

ON THE GOVERNMENT

OF THE

TERRITORY

OF COLUMBIA:

As MET SSCElffir APPEASED IN THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCER, UNDER ME


signature of EPAMINQNDAS.

wptim^TON:
METROPOLIS OF TUB UNITED STATES.
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR, BY SAMUEL HARRISON SMITH, NEW-JERSET
AVENUE NEAR THE CAPITOL.
M.P.CCC.I.

CONSIDERATIONS

ON THE GOVERNMENT OF THE

TERRITORY

OF COLUMBIA.

No. I.
ThE report of the committee os the House of Representatives on this subject
must give alarm and distress to every person interested in the fate of the city of Walls
ington ; and the district of territory in which it is situated. This report does not
appear to meet the spirit of the constitution ; nor is it calculated to satisfy the mind of
the general politician, or the expectations of those who are locally affected.
The member of the house who took a lead in this transaction, and who called it
into public notice during the last session j who was then appointed on the committee
to whom it was referred ; whose attention was devoted to it during the recess ; and
who was again appointed on the committee to whom it was referred at this session ;
Blight have been expected to have digested something more consonant to the public
wishes. After all this labor and parade, what has been the result? A plan, by which the Ter
ritory of Columbia i3to be governed by two different systems of legislation and jurispru
dence ; by which the seat of local goyexaraent for pne half of it is to be on the Chesa
peake, and for the other, op jiimeVRiver ; W'^which itt"taxation, productive at present,
and incalculable in'future,"^ tbbe diverted from its own bosom, and placed at the dis
posal of strangers of different interests) ybj'y/tijMithe metropolis of the United States
is to be an obscure v'Jiagei trn^ a; C&rnej-,of Jfynce George's county, in the state of
Maryland ; by which 'the administration of justice for its citizens is transacted at Upper
Marlborough and Annapolis ;!and if* iadi^striftifs and time-saving artizans are compel
led to waste theirtime &c suSsta'n^fi'ir) serving "as Jurors, k attendingas witnesses, at places
remote from their residence* and difficult and expensive to travel to.
If it is expected that any City could thrive in these circumstances, then it is pro
per to abandon in our transactions all calculations of human wisdom and fore
sight; and to trust every thing to supernatural agency. The City of Washington pos
sesses immense advantages ; but its advantages are not great enough to flourish
under so absurd an administration of government.
What is still more singular, the bill reported by the committee contains a provi
sion not only for two different systems of government in the fame territory, but
provides also that those two systems stiall be different in each part of the Territory from
B
-% '-y~ { c-- f

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT

the rest of the state to which it is annexed. The legislatures of Virginia and Maryland
every year make some alterations in their laws ; but these alterations are not to af
fect the parts of the state within the Terrtory of Columbia; for the laws of each
state arc to -continue in force, in their respective parts, as they existed on the first
Monday of December 1800. It must be obvious to every person, acquained with
either state, that in less than three years, the execution of these laws would become
impracticable in either part. To complete the climax the President of the United
States, the most distinguished officer of the nation, is called upon to appoint all the exr
*cutive and judicial officers of each state within the Territory ; and these officers, who
are acting under the laws of Virginia and Maryland, and are responsible to the go
vernment of each state for the execution of their trust, are to look for their appoint
ments to the federal government. It is probable that neither state would permit its
officers to stand in this situation ; and it is certain that all prosecution and punislunent
for improper conduct in such officers would be nugatory, and the protection of the ci
tizens must be confided to the virtue and clemency of the executive.
Arguments need not be multiplied to sliew that these arrangements can be but temr
porary ; and that a radical alteration must take place. If a permanent system cannot
now be deviled, it is futile to make any such law as that reported. T e act of
ceffion of each state provides for the continuance of their laws until Congress direct
otherwise ; and this situation is better than that proposed in the jirst section of the
bill ; because an unreasonable partiality for the laws, as Xhey exist on the first Monday
f December 1 860, is not manifested ; Sc the laws of the state will be uniformly exercis
ed, as long as the inter-regnum continues. The present situation is also preferable to
-the change contemplated in the second section of the Bill. It is a matter of little
importance who appoints the subordinate executive and judicial officers, within the
fractions of the two states. If they are iu the execution of the laws of the respec
tive states, it is certainly most proper that they sliould derive their appointments from
the fame source, with similar officers in the other parts of the state.
The third section of the Bill is but a consequence of the two preceding ; and
stands or falls with them. The mind is -therefore enabled to judge whether any
such law is proper to be passed. If it is intended for permanency, it is the most un
happy system that could have been devised -; and must in factdeteat its own execution :
If it is to be but temporary : is it not plain that the existing situation of affairs is
far preferable to either of*
changes Jeftctc4t*y'"tB& BAHl?.-: : ;
Hiving made these obfervafie^, which ^erc^^tfcmjpje^by^ilj^appearance of this
Bill in the public prints, it would .appgar^irnpr/jger not tego further ; and to suggest
something on a subject, which is {o'iinjpcirtarjtj aid^diioll iijijSeeri so little consider
ed.
" **
-' ' > t ' ; **i
It is indeed much to be lamented,*. that jn^ne'-j-o/Hi|fx)n *and agitation which have
attended the Presidential election, there^haj-iteV&fcts'fxtuncJ in the public councils a
jnind sufficiently calm to elevate itself above the"storm"; and to devote some atten
tion to the interests of the respectable body ot people, comprehended in the
-Territory of Columbia, and in the City of Washington in particular.
It is due to the magnitude of a subject, which asfects the metropolis of so great
an empire ; it is due to the honor of the illustrious man whose name it bears ; it k
<lue to- the happiness of the thousands who will constitute its population ; that a firm,
regular permanent and steady system of gevernment sliould be devised for r ; a system
WgartJjy of the -councils of an enlightened republican people ; who have made the

OF THE TERRITORY OF COLUMBIA.


;inost sublime, and the most successful essays in the science of free government ; and
whole unexampled prosperity has been not more the result of natural advantages,
th in of the pre-eminent wisdom of their public deliberations.
Conceiving that such a system is indispensably necessary; that a change of govern,ment is always attended with incosveniencies ; that it is far better to meet thole in
conveniences originally, and in the first instance, than to protract them ; that every
day after a system is put into operation, affords opportunities of ameliorating it; that
everyday of procrastination increases the embarrassment, and that the public judg
ment is as competent now to discuss this subject as it ever can be, I sliall proceed
to submit to the public some considerations on it ; trusting that it will
not be deemed improper, in a private individual, who is deeply interested, to offer
his opinion on a subject which has been neglected by public men ; and that his serbjiments, if they do not meet with approbation, will at least be received with candor.
No. II.
The government of the Territory of Columbia must be considered under two re
lations ; first, as it respects the federal government ; and second, as it regards
its local concerns.
With regard to its connection with the federal government, two enquiries present
themselves ; first, whether if ought to be represented in the legislature of the Unit
ed States, and if so, whether in one house only, or in both ; and second, whether it
ought to have a part in the election of the President an,d Vice-President of the Unit-ed States.
In order to come to a determination on these questions, it wKl be proper to ascer
tain, with precision, how far -it ought to be contemplated as a states and in what
respects it differs from a state.
It must be considered as somewhat analagous to a stale, in being an association
,f men, for civil purposes, under a peculiar and singular authority.
The constitution of the United States has provided that the jurisdiction over this
-territory should be exclusively vested in the United States.
If therefore any part of it is suffered to remain under the jurisdiction of any one
slate in theojHion, i,t is not only infractive of the spirit, but of the very letter of the
constitution, The policy which was in view in the making of this provision ; than
which none, considering the peculiar nature of our government, could have been
more proper ; yill be entirely abandoned, aaid- the provision in the constitution will
become nugatory and useless,
This territory however differs from a state iu this particular, that whereas the
federal government is entitled, by the constitution, to exercise over a state, only the
-authority particularly delegated to it, on certain subjects, and leaves the state in unxliminislied possession of its sovereignty as to thers ; the territory of Columbia is
placed by the constitution under the absolute and uncontrollable sovere ignty of the
United States, and possesses in itself none of the attributes of State sovereignly.
In this situation, the people of the Territory of Columbia do not cease to be a
part of the people of the United States ; k as such they are still entitled to the enjoy
ment of the same rights with the rest of the people of the United States, and to
Jiave some participation in the; administration of their general government.
It is contrary to the genius as our constitutions, it is violating an original priu

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT

ciple in republicanism, to deny that all who arc governed by laws ought to parti
cipate in the formation of them.
The people of this territory therefore ougr>t to be represented in the legislature
os tlie United States ; and to have a voice in- the election of a President and Vice-Pre
sident.
But shall they be represented in the House of Representatives only ; or in the
Senate also ?
The Senate of the United States possesses a part of the legislative power ; and
it if certainly consonant to principle that those over whom that power is to operate
sliould, if it can possibly be done, possess some voice in their transactions.
Would it be proper then to place the territory on an equal footing with a state,
and give it two senators ; or ought a distinction to be made ?
As a distinction exists in fact between the territory and a state, it appears pro
per to recognize this distinction in giving it a representation in the Senate. As it
cannot, if a distinction is made, be on an equality with a state, and possess tivo votes ;
and as it cannot be represented at all with fess than one vote ; it would appear ad
visable to allow it one vote, and to assign it one Senator.
The Territory will then stand in the situation as it were of half a state ; and when
it is considered that its population may be one day equal; to some of the smaller states,
for instance Delaware ; it would by no means appear inequitable to give it half
the weight of such a state.
At pres+nt the population of the former seat of government is little disferent fronr
the population of the State of Delaware f and if the permanent feat of government
had been fixed there, and an equal extent of territory taken from one or two of the
states in the union, the people thus losing their representation in the Senate as a part
of the state, it woultf-be highly unjust that sixty or seventy thousand people in one
place should have two votes in- the Senate, and that sixty or seventy thousand in ito-'
ther should be deprived of any.
With respect to its representation iff the other houses there can exist but one opini
on. It ought to be entitled to a representation in proportion to its population*
While it continues however not to contain a population susficient to entitle it to="
one member, a doubt may exist. In this interval it would be highly proper to place
it on the footing of the Territories North West and South of the river Ohio; giving
it one member who shall be entitled to deliberate, and receive pay, but not to vote
Those who have observed the proceedings in relation to the Territories North
West and South of the river Ohio, must know the advantageous effect which
even this right produces in the regulation of their affairs. The vote of one mem
ber in a large body is of little consequence ; but his knowledge, when added to the ge
neral mass, his presence and abilities, produce the most powerful effects.
An arrangement of this kind cannot however be made by an ordinary act of
Congress. It will require an amendment to the Constitution of the United States :
and as a more correct judgment can be formed on any proposition when it is be
fore the mind in all its detail's, a sketch of an article to that esfect will be submitted
in an appendix to this number.
It may not be improper to observe with respect to this amendment, that if it only
answers the object of legitimately entitling the Territory to representation in the Fe
deral Government, the means of carrying the provision into effect, need not beacon

OF THE TERRITORY OF COLUMBIA.

ftitutional regulation. Congress having already an exclusive right to superintend


the affairs of the Territory, when this privilege is given to it, the manner of exer
cising it must depend in a great measure on the arrangements concerning its local af
fairs.
The faille article contains a provision for giving the Territory a voice in the election of a President and Vice President, and is liable to the fame observation.
Whatever alteration is made in the existing constitution on this subject, the additional
article may be made to correspond with. Its only object is to place it on a footing in
this particular' with a st;-te ; with this difference only, that it will possess one more
elector, than its mere popidation would entitle it to as a part of a state.
. Under a system like this, the spirit of the Constitution appears to be preserved. The
Territory" stands in its natural and distinct situation. It is not a part of any state;
and is subjected to no extraneous legillation. The Federal Government is in ex
clusive posseflion of it, free from controul, and free from interference. The cotermi
nous states regard it as no part of themselves ; but as the Common child of the
nation ; the proud monument of its glory, and the strong pivot of its union.
In the mean time the Territory itself sustains no disadvantages. It possesses in
the administration of the federal government the full weight which its consequence,
and its talents, may entitle it to; and no more. Its local concerns, concentrated
within its own bosom, are not subjected to an unnatural association with two different
governments ; whose interests vary between themselves, and vary still more from those
of the Territory*
t
It is impossible to point out with full force the evils of any other system. Those who
advocate its remaining a part of the adjoining states, are not aware of the inconveni
ences to which this distracted situation liiust reduce its inhabitants ; they are not aware
of the consequences it may have in the future revolutions of our government. In
the one casej it is to become a source of jealousy and con tention ; in the other, it is
the cement of affection^ the pledge of indissolubility. Every nation prides itself in its
capital. A survey of the nations in Europe, if time admitted, would shew that in eveiy
country where a great and flourishing metropolis has existed, it advances in science,
in arts, in consequence, in stability, with a progress which is in vain imitatedelsewhere.
The metropolis of the United States possesses advantages superior to any one place
that can be selected on the old continent; and after having done lo much towards placing
our country on a basis that will excite the admiration and envy of Europe, why Ihould
we relax our exertions in this most important and decisive measure ?
The inhabitants of this territory have totally changed their situation when it has
become the metropolis of the union. The views of those who come to reside in it are
totally different from what they would have been had it remained in its former situation.
Whilst on the frontier of two counties, in two different states, its parts possessed
a common interest with the people to which they were respectively allied ; and a distinct
interest between themselves. Now they possess a common mterest with oe another;
and a distinct interest from the stocks, from which they have been taken. An entirely new
direction is given to their views, habits, and necessities ; and their mode of government
ought to correspond with this new direction. Instead of diverting its exertions in
to two differ nt channels ; it ought to unite its efforts in a common current, for
the attainment of common purposes. All its affairs ought to be administered in its
own limits. It ought to have the fame laws, the fame justice, the fame punish
ments. The Hamburgh merchant, or the Parisian manufacturer, who comes to residt
C

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT

in it, eught to find himself at home ; and not be taken to the Chesapeake, or to Jame*
River, to be punisl-ed for his offences, or to seek redress for his wrongs.
The preceding reflections will have made sufficiently clear the connection which the
Territory of Columbia has, or ought to have, with the federal government. It re
mains to -consider the subject in its second relation, with regard to its local concerns ;
and this sliall constitute the subject of the succeeding number,
No. III.
The first enquiry which will present itself in considering the government of the Ter
ritory of Columbia in relation to its local concerns, is whether the Federal Govern
ment ought to exercise it by its general depositaries of legislative, executive, and
judicial authorities ; or whether a special, subordinate, legislative, executive, and ju
dicial authority, ought to be created for that purpose.
Two objections occur against the exercise of legislative, executive, and judicial
authority, over the Territory of Columbia, by the ordinary depositaries of those author
yities, in the Federal Government.
It will be attended with great difficulty in the execution, No policy can be worse
than to mingle great and small concerns. The latter become absorbed in the former ;
are neglected and forgotten. The legislative mind, applying its powers to the regula
tion of great national objects, is not in a state to regard with proper -attention the
minute necessities of a Town, a City, or a District. The institution of local legisla
tions for domestic purposes is peculiar to America ; and is the greatest improvement
which has been made in the science of government in modern ages, Liberty cart
never be well lecured in a very small state. Some more powerful nation by force or
fraud subverts it. The liberty and autocracy of America depend on- the preservartion of a great and powerful empire on this Continent ; capable of concentrating its
energies, and directing them by a single impulse. But the great objection to insti
tuting such a government has been that it cannot well be republican, Montesquioj[
has almost obtained for this idea, by the force of his erudition and eloquence, the
authority of a maxim. But the institution of subordinate legislations, such as arc
found in the Federal Government, removes the objection. These are the nurseries of
talent, and of courage ; and kerp alive in the great body of the people the habits of
republicanism. These answer the purpose of Guardians, and of Censors. These keep
off tyranny abroad, and tyranny at home. In the midst of danger and revolution, they
guard against the evils of anarchy ; which has always afforded the first step for the ty
rant to mount in the ladder of ambition. Had France possessed any institutions of
this nature, we should not have seen in that country, four successive constitutions, eachthe bloody victim of the other, in a period that one has answered the United States.
Independent of the difficulty of execution, another objection arises which deserves
attention. It will impair the dignity of the national legislative, executive, and
judicial authorities, to be occupied with all the local concerns of the Territory of Co
lumbia.
The only remedy for these evils is- to erect a subordinate authority for each of
these powers. Let us begin with the legislative,
Pursuing the constitutions of the United States, and of the individual states, m
some measure, as models ; let the legislative power be confided to two houses, one
to be termed the Senate, the other the Assembly, and both together the Legisla
ture,

OF THE TERRITORY OF COLUMBIA.

Until the territory shall have attained a population of thirty thousand, let the
yiumber of members in the first be eight, in the second twenty. After it has attain
ed a population of thirty thousand, let the permanent numbers be sixteen and forty.
From so numerous a legislature, an ample knowledge might be expected, of all
the various interests in the Territory of Columbia ; and a wife, steady, and impar
tial regulation of its local concerns would result.
A legislature so nu r-erous, and probably so able as this would be, would supercede
the necessity of any corporate and inferior institutions within" the Territory.
Let the Senators be elected out of citizens of the United States, bona fide
resident \:\ the Territory of Columbia, by the inhabitants of the Territory at large,
without regard to districts. Let the Senate be d'rvided into four classes ; and the
feats ot one expire annually.
Let the Assembly-men be elected out of citizens of the United States, bona fide
resident within the Territory of Columbia, and bona fide resident within some parti
cular district thereof, by whose inhabitants they are chosen ; and let them hold their
seats for one year.
Let the legislature meet at two stated times in every year in the city of Wasliington. A frequency of meetings will be necessary, as attention must be constantly
alive ; and as the member's will probably be able to spend but little time) from their
private concerns. A few days will be sufficient for a session, if the periods re
cur often.
We come now to the executive authority. Let this be vested in a Governor.
Let the Governor he nominated by the President of the United States, and by
and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States, appointed and
commissioned by him.
Let him be a citizen' of the United States, bona fide resident within the Ter
ritory of Columbia.
Let him have the power of nominating-, and by and with the advice arid consent
of the Senate of the Territory, of appointing and commissioning all executive and
judicial officers of the" Territory of C lumbia.
Let him have the power of removing all such officers at pleasure ; and let him
self be removable at the pleasure of the President of the United States.
Let the- Governor have a qualified veto on the acts of the legislature, as in the
constitution of the United States ; arid let the Congress of she United States re
tain the right to repeal any law passed in the territory, and to prescribe or make
-any regulation respecting the territorv, at their pleasure.
The consequence of this system would be, that in matters purely local, the fede
ral government would seldom interpose ; and in matters of national moment their
authority Would be sovereign and undiininislied.
It remains to consider the judicial authority.
Let there be a court of justice for the territory, to- be termed' the General Court,
to fit in the city of Washington, and to possess original common law and equitable
jurisdiction without limitation, subject to appeals in all cafes, directly to the Supreme
Court of the United States.
Let there be appointed a limited' number of Aldermen' in the city of Washington,
in the town of Alexandria, and in the, corporate limits of George Town. Let
there be appointed a limited number of Justices for the country Fk-rth of the Patowmac ; and a limited number for tlie coimtry South of the Patowmac.

10

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT

Let each Alderman and Justice have authority to render judgments in all contro
versies, where the debt or damage does not exceed one hundred dollars : and for
the finding of facts, and ascertention of damage, let him be attended by a jury of
six freeholders.
Let an appeal lie in all cafes from the judgement of an Alderman or Justice, both
on the law, and on the fact, to the General Court of the Territory directly.
This system brings justice home to the coor of every citizen. It gives uniformity
to the whole Territory. Those who do not personally know the jurisprudence of
both Virginia and Maryland, cannot imagine the wide disference which exists be
tween them. If they are both good, it is a susficient objection to them that they are
different. If one is entitled to a preference over the other, it is still better to de
sert both, than to attempt to introduce the one as a substitute for the other.
The same motive which operated in submitting the form of an instrument in the
second number, will plead my apology for adopting the same course in this. It would
not be rendering justice to the subject, it would not not'e demonstrating so incontrovertibly the facility of carrying into immediate operation a plan of this nature,
unless a detail of some kind is presented. No other mode so well enables the mind to
form a judgment with promptitude and precision.
It will be remembered, however, that various provisions, on subjects totally pretermitted here, will require attention hereafter, when the system is in operation. To
aim at correctness and nicety ; to embrace every point and to leave nothing unsinistied ;
has been as far from the intention, as it is from the talents, of the author of these
considerations. In the practical exemplification of any system, whose outlines are
well defined, affairs generally fall into a natural train, and as it were regulate
themselves. The organization once made, the Territory of Columbia will experience
no further anarchy or confusion: but will advance, in the career of glory, with firm
and steady steps, at the front of that confederacy, whose collected statesmen she re
ceives into her bosom, and returns to convey her science and her arts, her wisdom
and her polish, to the remotest corners of tins wide-spreading empire. Supported by
the firm and solid pillars of the State Governments, she crowns, with a light majestic
dignity,the dome of the edifice. With greater justice may it receive the inssription oil
the Louvre at Paris,
" Non orbis, talem gentem ; nulla gens, parem urbem, habet."*
No. IV.
HAVING in the preceding numbers sketched a plan both for the general and
local government of the Territory, it will remain in this number to add a few consi
derations addressed to the inhabitants of the Territory, to satisfy their minds that
this government either is, or would certainly in the course of its operations become,
adequate to the management of all its concerns.
The mind must be callous to the prosperity of the Territory, that does not at once
and explicitly allow the necessity of a total separation of it from the respective states
from which it was taken. A volume might be written to demonstrate the truth
of this assertion in every point that it embraces : but it is conceived that a single
ray of patriotic ardor for its interest will bring conviction to every heart, and that
those who do not feel its truth are actuated by other considerations than a desire to
* The world has not such a nation, nor any nation such a metropolis.
i

\
OF THE TERRITORY OF COLUMBIA*

11

promote the wealth, honor and advantage, which ought in the natural course os hu-
man asfairs to attend the metropolis of so great a country as the United States.
Whatman attached to freedom will soy that the people of this Territory ought to
be lost in the general mass ; and to be without any participation in the Federal
Government? What considerate mind will deny that it is bttter for this purpose that
it should be placed constitutionally on the footing that has been proposed; than that
the favor should be dispensed partially, and in such a way as not to be felt, by two in
dividual States ?
Where is the rttah who ean believe that its local interests can better be Confided to
those states ; than to all the states at large, and to its own inhabitants ?
Conceiving that no further representations need to be made on these two heads,
I shall confine myself principally in this number to. one subject which has occurred
to every mind; and respecting which an opinion somewhat erroneous has prevailed.
It has been obvious to every person, on sirst view of the subject, that a police is
necessary in the city of Washington, in Alexandria, and in George Town. All
cities and large towns require such a police ; and without it none ean flourish, or
asford an elegant and commodious residence.
But it has been generally imagined that a separate and corporate body of magistracyis necessary for each of these places. In framing this opinion no regard has been
had to the country out of their limits. Perhaps there has been a desire to abandon
this to the states as of no value; perhaps it was thought of no consequence to leave this
in anarchy*
I trust that 1 have used arguments susficient to produce conviction on every un->
prejudiced mind, that it is contrary to the spirit of the constitution, to the letter of it,
and to the best interests of the Territory, to leave a single inch of it in the possession
of the states ; but that the Federal Government should have the sovereign exclu-*
sive jurisdiction*
The idea of corporations has' occurred from a comparison of these places witti
ethers of a similar kind, as Philadelphia, or Baltimore ; and were the situation of the
towns in she Territory in the least similar to those, the idea would be natural and
proper enough*
But it must be remembered that the towns in the Territory are leagued in a
common interest; which is not the cafe in other places where there is a discontinuity;
and that the country is a partaker of this interest. Hence for the regulation of local
matters in the Territory there is requisite a general superintending authority, such
in some measure, as connects discontinuous towns in the fame state, as Philadel*
phia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania ; Annapolis and Baltimore in Maryland.*
Without this, the resources and exertions of the whole Territory never ean be drawn
forth and applied to any one object ; but its several parts, always in collision, and
drawing two different ways, mivst occasion a sacrifice of all general to particular in-terests.
I trust that experience will demonstrate that a numerous and respectable legislature
for the whole Territory will entirely supercede the necessity of separate deliberative
bodies ; and that it will be found in its application the most equitable, impartial,
and esfective depository of authority, and the least expensive.
If the Territory is divided, in its present situation, into sive precincts, such as are
designated in the appendix to number 3, with a Sheriff and Aldermen or Justices id
each, invested with such executive and judicial powers as the legislature may from
D

12

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT

time to time prescribe, will not every object, under the superintending care of tha
legislature, be attained with ease, effect and economy ?
In order to be perfectly satissied let us descend to particulars.
Befor this can be done it is necessary to draw a line between such disbursements and
expenditures as may properly be expected from the Federal Government ; and such as
ought to be properly chargeable on the inhabitants themselves.
The committee who reported the bill haye not adverted to this subject. They
have cut the Gordian knot of all difficulties by a letbarp ic apathy ; and a refusal to in
vestigate any thing. Is, it that they imagine the affairs of this Metropolis will fall
into order by the mere diurnal and annual revolutions of the earth, without the aid
of human interposition ; or that its inhabitants, like a fiock of fieri, s, can be govern
ed by some Physical instinct, without the precarious aid of reason ? Or do they in
tend that the resources of the Federal Government shall be lavished for the wants of
this favorite child, the doors of its Treasury kept -open, and its every wish gratified on
request ?
If this latter should be intended, wbatever acknowledgements we may owe for
such benevolence, I trust that the inhabitants of the Territory will have good fense
enough to perceive that, it is the most fatal st;-b which can be given to th,- ir inte
rests ; and pride enough to feel that it is both an appeal to their poverty aud insigr
nificance, and the seal of it forever.
This territory is possessed at present of resources as adequate in proportion to its
own exigencies a-s any other part of the United States ; and if it is not oppif sstd
by a distracted inefficient government it will soon be more so. Every inhabitant
ourrht to pride himlelf in this pecuniary independence and to discourage constant
application to Congress for donations and charities, which caiv-iot fail in the end to
lnnke every sta' e in the Union ournemy.
Yet there are certain expenditures properly to be expected from the Federal Gcr
vernment, The erection and keeping in repair of the Prezzidcliad, the Capitol, and
the buildings which will be necessary for the Judiciary of the United States ; the
formation of public dock yards, and a naval hospital ; the Construction of the great ca
nal ; the improvement of the public gardens ; the erection and preservation of
honorary memorials for th"ir distinguished men of science, statesmen, generals, or ad
mirals; the institution of a National University; these and a variety of si'idlar calls,
which may be imagined with more ease than ' they can be enumerated, are un,
-cloubtedly the affairs of the nation, to promote its advantage, or to gratify its taste ;
and this territory alone ought not to be oppressed with the burthen.
But as many other objects again are for our use, our convenience, to promote our
advantage, or to gratify our pride. The paving and lighting of streets, the regula
tion of buildings and wharves, the institution of hospitals and lazarettces, the regu
lation of hackney coaches, the maintenance of bridges and ferries, the erection of pri
sons and psniteutiads, these and a great variety of objects, which cannot now in
the infancy of our metropolis, and, indeed of our nation, be foreseen or imagined, but
which will come with pr-sting urgency long before it shall have attained the age
of London or Paris, will constitute a series of calls requiring unremitted attention,
management, and economy. Some of them in fact are the wants of posterity; and
not of the present age- But we must consider, and that consideration must be atterdd with pain as well as pleasure, that we are legislating1 for posterity as well as for
aurselves j and that the interest of millions unborn is confided to our hands. It is al}

OF THE TERRITORY OF COLUMBIA.


important in all affairs to begin right ; to take a comprehensive circumspective view ;
%o build the mvund, to lay out the channel, before the great tide rolls in, unexpected
and unmanageable.
For the attainment of any such object, let us examine die course it must pursue
under th arrangement which has been proposed.
An object of expense is either for t}ie benefit of the whole territory, and therefore prot
perly chargeable on the whole inhabitants ; or it is for the particular benefitof a/Mrf,and
therefore properly chargeable on such part. What tribunal is more proper to draw the
line between these distinctions than the legislature of the whole? What authority
is more competent to apply the burden where it ought to be felt, with justice, equity, impartiality and effect, than the legislature of the whole ? How easy is i$
for it in the collection of its taxatiot for the wants of the whole territory, to add a
special assessment for the wants of some particular part ! If some object is to be
carried into immediate execu'ion, how easy it is to appoint a commissioner with ex
ecutive powers only, retaining all the deliberative in the legislature? If a general
and permanent aid to the powers of the Sheriff and Aldermen should be found necessary,
Jiow easy is it to add a Mayor, with executive powers only ? In sliort every step we
advance renders the subject so plain, and so dear, that further arguments may ob
scure, but cannot illustrate,
Before Icondude-, I shall add one word on two smaller concerns; which it may
jiot be superfluous to advert to.
The one is the interests of certain political, pecuniary, & literary, institutions,within th?
territory, which have been erected by the states ; and which may fear a fall in the
transition from one government to another.
These institutions are principally the corporate bodies of Alexandria and George
Town : the Banks of Alexandria and Columbia : the University cf St. Mary's ;
the Library Company of Alexandria.
With respect to the two first it may be observed that all their judicial powers will
of crurse be absorbed in the judicial system of the territory. Their executive pow
ers will probably be revived, under a modification improved, and not deteriorated.
With respect to the Banks of Alexandria and Columbia, a confidence may be
entertained, without a slvidow of apprehension, that their charters will not be dis,
turbed. They may both expect to gain by the change. The federal government,
and a legislature of their own, may be expected to aSurd a more liberal and solid
patronage than the state governments.
Tie Library Company of Alexandria, so far from being affected, will probably
have the pleasure of seeing their example followed, and the same attention paid to lie
terature in the other parts of the Territory.
All these institutions ought to exhibit a manly considence ; to betray no selfishness,
no jealousy. They ouc;htto embark with the same courage in the common cause.
There cannot be a doubt that time, whose steps are steady, even when they are slow,
will reconcile all interests, and establisli harmony and reciprocity.
With respeel to the University of St. Mary's, it may be proper to fay little. An
institution of this kind will be fostered in every republican government. It would
be insanity in it to dread annihilation, rohbery, or spoliation. If any alteration
takes dare respecting it ; it cannot fail to be for the better, and not f( r the worse.
The other point to which I alluded is the expense os the government proposed.

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT

In all undertakings it is proper to begin with moderation and parsimony. The


salary of the Governor is properly chargeable to the United States. All ( sneers cre
ated by the laws ofthe territory ouglitto be paid from their proper resources.The expense
of the executive and judicial establishment would be so small, so liule different from
what in one way or other is now actually attached to it, that whtn every thing is
considered it would not be difficult to sliew that the quantum of real expenditure is
in fact diminished.
The principal expense will attend the legislature* Here we must be minute. This
Dody is not intended for a school of eloquence ; for the popular and riorid ha
rangue. It is an association of men of business, whose time is precious to them, and
that of their constituents* Presuming that in a body, whose members would be so
near each other ; who would have so frequent opportunities to discuss and consult
with their constituents, and with one another, oh public concerns ; ten or fifteen
days twice in the year* would be amply sufficient for their sessions, the expense
could not be oppressive* They ought to receive for their services as much as will
'defray the expenses of their absence from their families ; but no more.
It is probable that if necessity required it, the first legislature would serve without
pay. Admit that it should average one thousand dollars in the year, this is the price
of acquittal from all the taxation as Virginia and Maryland. Those who have felt
that taxation can best judge how cheap the purchase is made.' It should be remember
ed too that every burden becomes lighter, as the population advances ; and that taxati
on would diminish-, as to each individual, while the expenses of the government were
encreasing.
I sliall now conclude these considerations. I have been led to a length which
the subject did not promise at first ; but which I conceive is not greater than the
cafa will justify. If my sentiments are not adopted, the presentation of thtm can
be attended with no disadvantage to the inhabitants of that territory, for whose be
nefit they were intended. If a temporising, unstable, and incomplete system is preferred*
I shall only have to lament the essential prejudice which in my best judgment its in-*
terefs will sustain ; but my mind willnot feel a diminution of one impulse to one exerti
on, which an humble and unaspiring citizen can contribute towards its welfare.

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APPENDIX* No. I.
A Copy of the Bill reported by the committee.
" A bill concerning the District of Columbia.
" Section i. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled That the laws of the
state of Virginia as they existed on the first Monday of December in the year
1800 shall be and continue in force in that part of the District of Columbia
which was ceded by the said state to the United States, & by them accepted for the permanent feat of government ; and that the laws of the state
of Maryland , as they existed on the said first Monday in December, sliall
be and continue in force in that part os the said district which was ceded by
that state to the United States, and by them accepted as aforesaid.
" Section 2. And be it further enactedThat all executive and judicial officers, appointed by the respective states of Virginia and Maryland, and who
had jurisdiction in or over the said district, or any part thereof, on the said
first Monday in December, according to the tenor of the constitution and laws

APPENDIX.
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is

of the said state, stiall continue to hold and exercise such jurisdiction until removed by the President of the United States ; and that the appointment of
all such officers hereafter shall be made in the manner designated by the second
section of the second article of the constitution of the United States.
" Section 3. And be it further enacted, That nothing in this act contained shall
in any wise alter* impeach or Impair the rights glinted by or derived from
the acts of incorporation of Alexandria and George-Town, or any other body
corporate or politic within the said districti"
Extract from ike Act of Congress of'July \6th 1790."
Provided that the operation of the laws of the State within such District
(hall not be affected by this acceptance," until the time fixed for the removal of
the government thereto, aiict until Cingress shall otherwise Sj lav) provide?'

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APPENDIX, No. n.
Form of a resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution.
" Resolved that the following be recommended to the Legislatures of the several states as an Article in addition to, and amendment of the Constitution of
the United States.
ARTICLE;
" The Territory ot Colombia shall be entitled to one Senator in the Senate
of the United States ; and to a number of members in the House of Represeutatives proportionate to its population. Before it stiall have attained a popula*
tion - sufficient to entitle it to one representative it shall be entitled to a
member, Vht)- Ihall Have the right to deliberate and receive pay, but not to
vote. It stiall also be entitled to one elector for a President and Vice President of the United States', until it shall have attained a sufficient population to
entitle it to one representative ; arid then it lhall be entitled to an additional elector for every representative;"

- - APPENDIX, No. lit;


[Form of cm act, which if it should, in the outline, meet the approbation of any
Senator, or Representative, is recomirfended to be adopted by him, its faults correct*
ed, and an attempt made to substitute it for the bill reported by the committee.]
An Act to establish a government for the Territory of Columbidi
Sec. I. Be it enacted, &c. That there shall be within the Territory of Columbia
a Legislature, which shall be composed of a Senate and Assembly. The Senate shafl
consist of sixteen, and the assembly of forty, members, as soon as the Territory sliaH
contain thirty thousand inhabitants; and previous to such peritid of one half of thole
numbers respectively. The senate shall be divided at its first meeting into four classes,
the feats of one of which stiall expire annually, and the assembly shall be chosen an
nually. Tie legislature shall hold two stated sessions in every year, on the first
Monday in June, and the first Monday in December. No person shall be a senator
or asseniblyman who (hall not be at the time of his election twenty-one years of
ape, a citizen of the United States of America, and in good faith a resident within
the Territory of Columbia if a senator, and within that precinct thereof for which he
lhall be elected if a member of assembly. No person stiall be a senator or assemblyman who shall hold any office, legislative, executive, or judicial, diplomatic of con
sular, nder the United States; or any office, legislative, executive, or |udici(rt

13

APPENDIX.

under any state ; or any office, executive, or judicial under the Territory. Rich
house shall elect its own speaker, and be the judge of the returns and qualisications
of its own members.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That there shall be a Governor of the Territory
of Columbia, who shill be nominated by the President of the United States, a::d by
and with the advise and consent of the Senate of the United S -ates appointed and
commissioned by him. The Governor {hall hold his office during the pleasure of the
President of the Unit:d States for the tiine t)einrr. No person shall be Governor, whs
shall not be at the time of his appointment twenty-one years of age, a citizen of the
United S:ates of America, and in good faith a resident within the Territory of CcT
lambia. The Governor shall be incapable during his continuance in office of holding
any other office or appointment under the United States, any individual State, or the
Territory of Columbia. He ffiall nominate, and by and with the advice and con
sent of the Senate of the Territory shall appoint and commission, all executive and
judicial officers under the Territory ; and slnll be commander in chief of the militia
thereof; and he shall receive from the treasury of the United States, aj a comr
penfation for h- s services, an annual salary of
hundred dollars, p*yable
quarter yearly.
Six. 3. z\-n'4 be it further enacted, That every bill passed by the Senate and Assem,
bly before it become a law, and every order, resolution ov vote to which the con
currence of both houses shall be necessary before it take effect, shall be presented to
the Governor. If he approve he shall sign it; but if not he shall return it with his
objections in writing within ten days to the Assembly} and if he (hall k?ep the fame
ten days without his returning it, or if after such teturtv it shall be re-passed by two,
thirds of both houses, it shall be a law and take effect*
Sec. 4, And be it fur:her enacted, That the Leg'dnure shall have power to lay and
collect taxes within the said Territory, not being excises, imposts on goods, wares and
merchandizes, or duties on the tonnage of ships er Vessels; and generally to pass ail
laws which shall be needsti) for the government and posice of the said Territory, or
any part thereof, hot contravening the constkuti mi of the United States, any
treaty male or t;> be made with any forei n n- tion, or any law passed or to" be passed by
the Congress of flic United States : but all Kws made and passed jri the said Territory
shall be repealablc by the Congress of the United States, and the Congress of the
United States may at any time make or prescribe any law qr regulation within the
said Territory, any law or regulation made in the same notwithstanding.
Sec. 5. And be it farther enacted, That theje sijall be a court of justice for the said
territory, which shall b* termed the General Courl;, and which shall' possess original
common law and equity jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever, subject to appeal from the
judgments thereof in all cases, both on tli: la?, aul on the fact, to the Supreme Court
of the United State:;, under such regulation* as may be provided ; and that tnere
shall be a limited number of aldermen or justices in such parts of the said territory
as the legislature thereof shall preser,ib-a, who (hall have power to render judgments
in all controversies where the debt or damage shall not exceed rn: hundred dollars,
and to be attended by a jury of six freeholders for the trial of fact and ascertention
of damaga ; provided that appeals fitall lie from such judgments, in all cases whatso
ever, both on the law, add or} the fact, to the General Court of the Territory, under,
such regulations as may be provided.
Sec. 6, And be it further enacted, That all the public ground lying and being io
the city of Washington, and bounded as follows, to wit, beginning at the interiec

APPENDIX,

If

jiorf of South E street and South Capitol street, and running thchce along South B
street ' to its intersection -with East First-street, thence down E: it Fiist-sheet till itis
diar;ori:t}ly opposite to the south-west corner of square seven hundred and thirty-six,
thence at tight angles with East First street eastwardly to the intersection cf
Eist Second-street and the South-Carolina Avenue, thence along the South-Carolina
Avenue to its intersection with East Trn'rd-street; thence down East Third-street so
its intersection with the Virginia Avenue, thence along the Virginia Avenue to its
intersection with East Second-street, and South H street, thence along South H
sheet to its intersection with West One Hall" street, thence along West One Halfflre-t to its intersection with the Virginia Avenue, thence along the Virginia Avenue to its intersection with South Capitol-street, and thence along South Capitol
street to the beginning, shull be vested in the legislature of the Territory of Cclfmbia, and shall be and remain forever to the use of the said Territory, for the erection
of public buildings, and shall be the permanent seat of the government of the saii
Territory*
Snc. 7. And be it further enacted that for the purpose of giving immediate effect
to this government a governor shall be appointed as scon as may be after the palling
of this act ; and the governor as soon as maybe after his appointment shall appd'mt
and commission a proper person to be sheriff, for a precinct which lhall be termed Wastijngton Precinct, and shall be composed of the City of Washington, another for aprteinct which shall be termed Alexandria Precinct, and shall be composed of the town of
Alexandria, another for a precinct which lhall be termed George-Town Precinct, and
shall be composed of the corporate limits of George-Town, another for a precinct which
flnll be termed North Precinct, and lhall be composed of so much of the Territoiv
of Columbia, lying North arid East of the Patowmac, as shall not be included in Wash
ington and George--Town Precincts, and another for a precinct which stiall be termed
South Precinct, and shall be composed of so much of the Territory of -Columbia', ly
ing South and West of the Patowmac, as sHall not be included in Alexandria Prepinct. On the fourth Monday in April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and
>ne, each of the said sheriffs shall hold an election within h's precinct for senators ana
aSembly-uvm. The election for Washington" Precinct shall be held at the house cf
William Ttfnnicliff in the city of Washington, for Alexandria Precinct at the
jiouse of Peter Heiskill in the town of Alexandria, for George-Town Precinct a't the
house of George Semmes in George-Town, for North Precinct at the House of Abra
ham }k yd, and for South Precinct at the house of Clement Sewal. Tie olh fh; 11 Le
opened at iroon on the said day, and slid! be closed at sun-set on the sucecedin r d;-yEvery male person, of the age of twenty one yeairy being a citizen os the Unite ,i
States os America, and in good faith a resident within the precinct in which he of
fers to poll, shall he entitled to vote. If the sheriff dees not knov pr believe any
person offering to poll to he fo'qnahfie'd, he is hereby iffipowered to administer to sum
perfrtn an oath or affirmation in the following words:" you do swear," of affirm, "that you
ar* twenty one years' of age, a citizen of the United States of America, ar-d in good
fiith a resident within this precinct." Every voter slrall deliver to the slier! If a ticket
cn paper Written' or printed, which shall contain the names of eight persons rf th>
.age of twenty-one years, being citizens of the United States of America, and in good,
faith resident whhin the Territory of Columbia, tp be Senators for the said Territ<?
ry, arid such titket shall be endorsed With the nane of the voter. Every voter sh;-Il
also deliver to the sheriff a like ticker ft) indorsed containing the naas in W-shii g-

53

Appendix.

ton Precinct of four, in Alexandria Precinct of five, in George-Town Pre-s


tinct of four, in North Precinct of three, and in South Precinct of four,
persons, being of the age cf twenty-one years, citizens of the United States
ot Americi, and in good fiith resident within the said precincts respectrvelv,to be assembly-men for such Precincts* The sherisf shall as soon as may be
after the closing of the polls count the votes, and sh ill certify to the Governor the
number of votes for each person, and shall return with the said certisicates all the ori
ginal tickets, and the persons having the greater number of votes shall be Senators
and Assembly men for the said territory until the thirtieth day of December which
shall be irt the year one thousand eight hundred and one, and thence to the gene
ral annual election which shall Ire provided in and for the said territory. The Govern
or shall convene the legislature on the first Monday in June in the year one thousand
eight hundred and one, and shall deliver to each house the certificates and tickets of
its own members.- Such session shalt be held in the Gapitcl ia the City of Washing
ton, and the Governor is hereby empowered to take such measures for the preserva
tion of the chambers and furniture thereof while in the occupation of the legislature,
as he shall deem expedient. The legislature shall afterwards, and until conveni
ent buildings are provided on the ground appropriated to the territory, meet at such
psace or places- within the City of Washington as they stiall deem expedient.
Sect. 8. And be it furtherenacted that no tax imposed by the state of Virginia,
or the state of Maryland, on persons or property within the Territory of Columbia',
and becoming due after the first Monday in December one thousand eight hun
dred, sliall be collected or take effect within the said territory ; provided nevertheless,
that the' proper officers of ekher state shall have fall power to collect all taxes and
public' dues which shall have beconre due previous to the first Monday in December
one thousand eight hundred, in the fame manner as they might have done previous
to the passing of this act.
Skct. 9. And be it further enacted that the powers and duties of the commis
sioners appointed underthe act of Congress, entitled "An Act for cstablisliing the tempo
rary and permanent feat of the government of the United States", passed on the sixteenth
day of July in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety, sliall cease and
determine on the sirst Monday in April in the year one thousand eight hundred and
one ; and the said commissioners and every other person or persons, on or before the
said day sliall deliver to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States for the
time being all records, books, documents and public papers, or property of any
kind whatever in their possession, relative to the City of Wassiington or the Territory
of Columbia* The said Secretary shall retain in his possession all the said records,
documents or papers which evidence the right of the United States to any ground
or public buildings within the City of Washington or the Territory of Columbia,
the property whereof is vested in the United States ; and all accompts and vouchers
relative to the fame i and shall deliver all other records, books, documents and papers
to the Governor of the Territory of Columbia on or before the sirst Monday in
June in the year one thousand eight hundred and one, and the said Governor shall
on that day, or as soon as may be thereafter deliver the fame to the Assembly of
the territory. The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States for the time be
ing shall be custos and curator of all the property of the United States in the City
of Washington and the Territory of Columbia ; and shall manage and transact all
pecuniary concerns relative to the said property tinder the direction of the President
olr the United States for the time being.