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 ...
- Section 1, Article 8 of the United States Constitution
Click to listen to clip from Hamilton, the musical:
Congress had still not decided on the permanent location of the national capital. The issue of residence was heavily divided along state lines--there was tremendous wealth and political power at stake. The seat of government would also hold great implications in regards to whether the U.S. would embrace an urban or rural character.
I am extremely sorry that any motion has been made in regard to the sitting of Congress as to place, and fear, that it will issue in that odious distinction between Northern & Southern interest which the present Congress have hitherto had the credit of concealing at least.
- Thomas Dwight to Rep. Theodore Sedgwick of MA, September 3, 1789
Candidates for the federal capital:
The Susquehanna, Potomac, and Delaware in every mouth. - Senator William Maclay of Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789
On the whole we are disposed to presume that the Residence to which we now invite you will ... be found to be as favorable to the present Extingencies, and future Designs of the federal Administration, as perhaps any other within the Bounds of the Empire.
The business of the seat of Government is become a labyrinth
- James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, June 22, 1790