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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/District of Columbia

DISTRICT OF COLOMBIA, a territory of the United States, containing the national capital. It is about 200 m. from the ocean by the Potomac river and Chesapeake bay, and lies between lat. 38° 51' and 39° N., and lon. 76° 58' and 77° 6' W. It was named in honor of Christopher Columbus, and also with some reference to the poetical use of the term Columbia as a designation for the United States. It is bounded on the S. W. by the Potomac, and on all other sides by Maryland, and is 10 m. long from N. W. to S. E., with an area of 64 sq. m. It formerly constituted the county of Washington, that term, however, being popularly confined to the portion outside of the cities of Washington and Georgetown, forming much the larger part of the District. The following table shows the population at the several decennial enumerations:

 CENSUS.   White.   Free colored.   Slave.  Total.





1800 5,672  400  2,072  8,144 
1810 10,345  1,527  3,554  15,471 
1820 16,058  2,758  4,520  23,336 
1830 21,152  4,604  4,505  30,261 
1840 23,926  6,499  3,320  33,745 
1850 37,941  10,059  3,687  51,687 
1860 60,763  11,131   3,185  75,080 
1870  88,278  43,404  ....   131,700 

Included in the total for 1870 are 3 Chinese and 15 Indians. There were 31,622 male citizens of the United States 21 years old and upward; 115,446 were native and 16,254 foreign born; 62,192 were males and 69,508 females. Of the natives, 52,340 were born in the District, 23,596 in Virginia and West Virginia, 21,751 in Maryland, 4,597 in New York, 4,121 in Pennsylvania, 1,254 in Massachusetts, and 1,042 in Ohio. Of the foreigners, 8,218 were born in Ireland, 4,020 in Germany, and 1,422 in England. There were 15,207 persons born in the District living in other parts of the Union. Of the colored, 35,372 were blacks and 8,032 mulattoes. There were 28,719 persons 10 years old and over unable to write, of whom 26,501 were native and 2,218 foreign; 4,876 were white and 23,843 colored; 11,418 were male and 17,301 female; 22,112 were over 21 years of age, and 6,607 between 10 and 21; of those over 21, 1,214 were white males, 2,542 white females, 7,599 colored males, and 10,757 colored females. There were 78 blind, 134 deaf and dumb, 479 insane, and 50 idiotic; 303 paupers received support during the year; and 145 persons were convicted of crimes. There were 25,276 families, averaging 5.21 persons, and 23,308 dwellings, averaging 5.65 persons to each. There were 1,365 persons over 10 years of age engaged in agriculture, 29,845 in professional and personal services, 6,126 in trade and transportation, and 11,705 in manufactures and mining.—The surface is undulating, with hills which command extensive views and afford fine sites for public edifices. Two considerable streams empty into the Potomac within the District, Rock creek and the Anacostia or Eastern branch. There are also several small brooks, to one of which the name of the Tiber was given in the 17th century, because a planter named Pope lived near it. The climate is moist and warm, and there is much local miasma. In the summer and autumn fevers prevail in some parts, especially in the low grounds near the Potomac. The mean temperature of Washington in spring is 54.2°, in summer 73.1, in autumn 53.9°, in winter 33.9; year, 53.8. The average rainfall in spring is 10.45, in summer 10.52, in autumn 10.16, in winter 11.07; year, 41.20 inches. The whole number of deaths in 1870 was 2,015, of which 826 were from general diseases, 280 from diseases of the nervous system, 80 of the circulatory, 237 of the respiratory, 356 of the digestive system, 77 from accident and injuries, and the rest from various causes. Consumption proved fatal in 442 cases, pneumonia in 123, and cholera infantum in 150. The soil is light and moderately fertile. In 1870 there were 8,266 acres of improved land. The productions were 3,782 bushels of wheat, 3,724 of rye, 28,020 of Indian corn, 8,500 of oats, 27,367 of Irish and 5,790 of sweet potatoes, 40 of peas and beans, 2,019 tons of hay, 126,077 gallons of milk sold, 900 of wine, and 4,495 lbs. of butter. There were 533 horses, 124 mules and asses, 657 milch cows, 144 other cattle, 604 sheep, and 577 swine; there were besides 5,496 horses and 1,000 cattle not on farms. The cash value of farms was $3,800,230; of farming implements and machinery, $39,450; wages paid during the year, including value of board, $124,338; estimated value of farm productions, including betterments and additions to stock, $319,517; of orchard products, $6,781; of produce of market gardens, $112,034; of live stock, $114,916. There were 952 manufacturing establishments, with 54 steam engines of 789 horse power, and 15 water wheels of 1,100 horse power, employing 4,685 hands, of whom 4,333 were males above 16, 216 females above 16, and 136 youth; capital invested, $5,021,925; wages paid during the year, $2,007,600; value of materials, $4,754,883; of products, $9,292,173. The commerce, almost entirely domestic, is carried on chiefly through Georgetown. For the year ending June 30, 1872, there were entered in the coastwise trade 231 steam vessels of 109,681 tons, and 96 sailing vessels of 22,245 tons; cleared, 108 steamers of 69,308 tons, and 65 sailing vessels of 13,402 tons; registered, enrolled, and licensed, 419 vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of 26,623, of which 25, of 5,084 tons, were steam vessels; 103, of 2,987 tons, sailing vessels; 275, of 17,778 tons, canal boats; and 16, of 774 tons, barges. There were 31 vessels, of 1,352 tons, built during the year. The Chesapeake and Ohio canal passes through a portion of the District, and crossing the Potomac at Georgetown terminates at Alexandria. Branches of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad from Relay, and from Point of Rocks, Md., terminate in Washington, and a railroad connects Washington with Alexandria. The Baltimore and Potomac railroad connects Baltimore and Washington. There are 5 national banks with $1,531,000 capital, 3 savings banks, 1 safe deposit company, 6 fire insurance companies with a capital of $1,725,000, and 2 life insurance companies.—By the act of congress of Feb. 21, 1871, all the territory included within the limits of the District was erected into a government, by the name of the District of Columbia, which is constituted a body corporate, with the usual powers, for municipal purposes. The executive power is vested in a governor and secretary, appointed by the president, with the advice and consent of the senate, for four years; and in a comptroller, collector, auditor, treasurer, attorney, register, superintendent of assessments and taxes, water registrar, and surveyor, appointed by local authority. The board of health consists of five members, and the board of public works of four, besides the governor ex officio. There is a metropolitan police force for the District, under the charge of five commissioners, together with the governor ex officio. The commissioners and members of the boards are appointed in the same manner as the governor. A fire department has been organized by the territorial government. The legislative power is vested in an assembly, consisting of a council of 11 members, appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate, for a term of two years, and a house of delegates of 22 members, elected annually by the people. Two of the councilmen must be residents of and appointed from Georgetown, and two from that portion of the District outside of Georgetown and Washington. The territory is divided into districts for the appointment and election of councilmen and delegates. All male citizens 21 years of age, except convicts and those of unsound mind, who have resided one year in the District and 30 days in the precinct where they offer to vote, have the right of suffrage. The assembly has power to divide the territory not included in Georgetown and Washington into not more than three townships, and is required to maintain a system of free puhlic schools. The governor has a veto upon all legislative acts, which may be overcome by a two-thirds vote of each house. The supreme court of the District consists of a chief justice and four associate justices appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate, who hold office during good behavior, and has general original jurisdiction in law and equity, and appellate jurisdiction of judgments of justices of the peace. It is divided into a circuit court (having also the powers and jurisdiction of a circuit court of the United States) for the trial of civil causes by jury; a criminal court; a district court, with the powers and jurisdiction of a district court of the United States; and a special term for equity and probate matters; each of which is held by a single justice. The general term, held by all the justices or a majority of them, hears appeals and writs of error from determinations of a single justice. From final judgments and decrees of the supreme court a writ of error or appeal lies to the supreme court of the United States. Justices of the peace are appointed by the assembly, and have jurisdiction of minor cases. The salaries of all officers appointed by the president are paid by the United States; the other officers are paid from the local treasury. The property of a married woman, not received by gift or conveyance from her husband, is not subject to his control nor liable for his debts, and she may dispose of it in every respect as if single. The valuation of property, according to the federal censuses, has been as follows:

 YEARS.  ASSESSED VALUE.  TRUE VALUE. 


Total.  Real estate.   Personal estate.  Real and
 personal estate. 





1850 ..........  ..........  .........  $14,018,874 
1860  $41,084,945   $33,097,542  $7,987,403  41,084,945 
1870 74,271,693  71,437,468  2,834,225  126,873,618 

At the last named date the total taxation was $1,581,569, of which $49,975 was county and $1,531,594 city tax; there was a city debt of $2,596,545, for which bonds to the amount of $1,640,584 had been issued. The assessed value of real estate for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1873, was $87,869,924; the valuation of Washington city was $72,880,380; of Georgetown $6,366,488; of the county of Washington, $8,623,056. The assessed valuation for the year ending June 30, 1874, was $96,433,072. Personal property is not now assessed, but the comptroller, in his report of April 28, 1873, estimates the actual value of all property including that of the federal government at $200,000,000. The receipts and expenses for the 31 months from June 1, 1871, the date of the organization of the territorial government, to Dec. 31, 1873, were as follows:

RECEIPTS.
Loans and bonds $6,427,850 00
Licenses, markets, and miscellaneous 1,083,949 06
Special and personal accounts 446,642 84
Trust funds 897,975 49
General taxes 1,006,206 21
School taxes 688,837 26
Police taxes 255,241 45
Gas taxes 244,500 98
Personal taxes 37,316 52

Total on account of District of Columbia $11,088,519 71
Total on account of the late corporations[1] $3,068,906 07

Total from all sources  $14,157,425 78
 
EXPENDITURES.
Account of loans and bonds $6,398,416 60
Salaries of general officers, and general contingencies 800,959 09
Special and personal accounts 407,359 79
Trust funds 576,835 78
Salaries of local officers, and local contingencies 405,387 46
Public schools[2] 657,195 65
Metropolitan police[3] 244,558 99
Gas for street lamps 187,646 49
Miscellaneous 1,002,760 85

Total on account of District of Columbia $10,681,120 70
Total on account of the late corporations 2,682,074 41

Total on all accounts $13,363,195 11
  1. Washington, Georgetown, and the levy court.
  2. Salaries of officers, teachers, and contingent expenses.
  3. Salaries of officers and members, and contingent expenses.

Included in the expenditures on account of the late corporations is the sum of $215,948 20 for the completion of public school buildings and the proportion due to colored schools, making the whole amount expended for school purposes $873,143 85. The expenditures to Dec. 31, 1872, included $4,833,009 30 on account of the board of public works, $53,199 25 for the board of health, $450,000 for an additional supply of Potomac water, $186,330 57 for interest, and $109,051 58 for the fire department. The tax levy for the year ending June 30, 1874, was $2 in Washington city and Georgetown, and $1 58 in the county of Washington, on each $100 of taxable property, amounting to $1,888,152 22 in all. The debt on Dec. 31, 1873, was $9,878,039 91, of which $5,527,850 belonged to the present District government, $4,096,801 01 to the late corporation of Washington, $251,689 to Georgetown, and $1,699 90 to the levy court. The outstanding bonds issued by the present government amounted to $8,213,850, viz.: permanent improvement bonds, $4,790,000; funding bonds, $2,686,000; water stock bonds, $485,000; market stock bonds, $140,900; Chicago relief bonds, &c., $111,900. From 1797 to 1870 congress appropriated $42,228,963 80 for various objects connected with the District of Columbia. There are 22 important charitable and reformatory institutions. The following are those more or less directly connected with the territorial or national government, with the number of inmates, Dec. 1, 1872. The Washington city asylum is supported by the District government and by the products of the farm attached, which is worked by the prisoners. It receives sick and destitute persons, and vagrants and petty criminals committed by the courts; it has from 50 to 200 inmates. The reform school for boys had 79 inmates, consisting of juvenile delinquents committed by the courts, and of destitute boys admitted on the order of the governor of the District or the trustees of the schools. Congress has recently appropriated $100,000 for the purchase of a farm and the erection of buildings for this institution, and in August, 1872, it was removed from the vicinity of Georgetown to Mount Lincoln, 3 m. N. E. of the capitol, where 150 acres of ground have been purchased, upon which a building capable of accommodating 300 inmates has been erected. The national soldiers' and sailors' orphans' asylum, established in 1866, had 37 male and 31 female inmates; it receives only the orphans of Union soldiers and sailors, and is supported by annual appropriations by congress, and by voluntary contributions. The freedman's hospital, established in 1865, is supported by congress, which in 1872 appropriated $74,000 for its maintenance; its inmates, who are admitted on the recommendation of the governor of the District, numbered 115 males and 110 females, all but 10 colored. The national soldiers' home, about 2 m. N. of Washington, was established in 1851 with the unexpended balance of the contributions levied by Gen. Scott during the Mexican war. It is supported mainly by a levy of 12½ cents on the monthly pay of soldiers of the regular army. Its inmates, superannuated and disabled soldiers, numbered 250. Congress also makes an annual appreciation in aid of the Columbia hospital for women and lying-in asylum, and of Providence hospital (Roman Catholic). The government hospital for the insane, situated S. of the Anacostia river, near Uniontown, was established in 1853 for the “curative treatment of the insane of the army and navy and of the District of Columbia.” It contained 422 male and 139 female patients. The Columbia institution for the deaf and dumb founded by Amos Kendall, and chartered by congress in 1857. It is supported by congressional appropriations, by the tuition fees of a few paying pupils, and by voluntary contributions. The amount appropriated by congress in 1872 was $48,000 for the support of the institution, and $70,000 for the purchase of additional grounds. It is designed especially for residents of the District and the children of soldiers and sailors. A collegiate department, known as the national deaf-mute college (the only such college in the world), was organized in 1864, and is designed to receive students from the deaf and dumb institutions of the various states. In 1873 it had 8 professors and 59 students, of whom 19 were semi-mutes. Including the above, the whole number of instructors in the institution was 11, and the whole number of pupils 108, of whom 16 were females. Columbian college (Baptist) was organized in 1822, and in 1872 had 27 professors and instructors, and 261 students. Howard university (Congregational), organized in 1866, is an outgrowth of the freedmen's bureau, designed especially for colored students, but is not restricted by its charter in respect of race or sex. (See Howard University.) Gonzaga college (Roman Catholic), organized in 1858, had in 1872 9 professors and 107 students in the preparatory department. Wayland seminary (colored Baptist), organized in 1865, had 8 instructors and 85 students. The law school of the national university, organized in 1870 as a branch of a projected university, had 6 professors and 98 students. The national college of pharmacy has been recently organized with 3 professors and 17 students. The institutions mentioned above are in Washington. In Georgetown is Georgetown college (Roman Catholic), organized in 1789, a notice of which will be found in the article Georgetown. Besides Georgetown and Washington, there are four post offices in the District, viz.: Anacostia, Brightwood, Mount Pleasant, and Tenallytown. The public schools are under the charge of four boards of trustees. One board, of 20 members, has control of the white schools of Washington city; the second, of five members, has control of the white schools of Georgetown; the third, of seven members, has charge of the schools both white and colored of the county of Washington. There is a superintendent for these schools, who, as well as the trustees, is appointed by the governor for two years. A board of three trustees, appointed by the secretary of the interior for three years, was constituted by act of congress in 1862. This board appointed a superintendent, and continued to have the management of the colored schools of Georgetown and Washington city until April 1, 1873, when the act of congress of March 3, 1873, went into effect, which created a board of nine trustees, appointed by the governor for three years (three of them retiring annually), for those schools, and provided for the appointment of a superintendent, a secretary, and a treasurer by the same authority. The public schools are entitled to “all moneys accruing from fines, penalties, and forfeitures for violation of the laws of the United States within the District of Columbia.” The colored schools of Washington and Georgetown receive a proportion of all moneys devoted to school purposes in those cities, determined by the ratio which the colored children bear to the whole number of children of school age. The act of congress of June 25, 1864, requires parents and guardians, under penalty of a fine of $20, to send their children between the ages of 6 and 14 years to some public school at least 12 weeks in each year, unless elsewhere educated. By the census of 1870 there were 31,671 children of school age (6 to 17 years inclusive), of whom 10,494 were colored, 14,971 were males, and 16,700 females. The following statements embody the statistics of the colored schools of Washington city and Georgetown for the year ending June 30, 1872, and of the other schools for the year ending Aug. 31, 1872: the number of school houses owned by the District was 42; value of school property, $816,005; number of schools, 233, including 1 preparatory high school (colored), 16 grammar, 36 intermediate, 51 secondary, 111 primary, and 18 ungraded schools (county of Washington); number of teachers, 264, of whom 27 were males; pupils enrolled, 15,555, of whom 5,435 were colored; average attendance, 10,688, of whom 3,639 were colored. The school tax in Washington city was 60 cents on $100, in Georgetown 25 cents, and in the county of Washington 40 cents. The receipts were $3,398 64 from fines, &c., and $352,241 43 from taxation; total, $355,640 07. The total expenditures were $479,995 94, including $129,654 51 for teachers' wages, $79,409 76 for incidental expenses, and $140,577 51 for sites, buildings, &c. The separate expenditures (included in the total) of the colored schools of Washington and Georgetown were $49,855 59 for teachers' wages, $18,747 04 for incidental expenses, and $60,403 68 for sites, buildings, &c.; total, $129,006 31. The school tax for the year ending June 30, 1873, was 33 cents on $100 in Washington city, 53 cents in Georgetown, and 50 cents in the county of Washington. According to the census of 1870, there were 87 schools not public, viz.: 1 classical academy, 2 commercial, 61 day and boarding, and 23 parochial and charity schools. The number of teachers was 256; pupils, 7,010; annual income, $199,313. The number of private schools in 1872, as appears by the report of the United States commissioner of education, was 123 (including 31 institutions for secondary instruction), having 6,217 pupils. The census returns of 1870 include 696 libraries, containing 793,702 volumes, of which 569, with 383,766 volumes, were private. The others were classified as follows: 1 congressional, 190,000 volumes; 14 departmental (United States government), 115,185; 4 court and law, 32,348; 95 Sabbath school, 39,853; 6 church, 2,850; 7 circulating, 29,700; total libraries not private, 127, with 409,936 volumes. The number of newspapers and periodicals was 22, viz.: 3 daily, 1 tri-weekly, 12 weekly, and 6 monthly. There were 111 church organizations and 112 houses of worship; number of sittings, 63,655; value of property, $3,393,100. The church edifices were: Baptist, 16; Christian, 1; Congregational, 1; Episcopal, 16; Evangelical Association, 1; Friends', 1; Jewish, 1; Lutheran, 10; Methodist, 36; New Jerusalem, 1; Presbyterian, 15; Reformed, 1; Roman Catholic, 11; Unitarian, 1.—After the adoption of the articles of confederation by the United States, the question of fixing upon a seat of government for the Union called forth much sectional rivalry. During the period between the conclusion of the revolutionary war and the adoption of the present constitution, congress met at Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton, and New York. After the organization of the government under the constitution, March 4, 1789, warm discussions took place in congress on the location of the capital, which were finally settled by the passage, June 28, 1790, of an act containing the following clause: “That a district of territory on the river Potomac, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern branch and the Connogacheague, be and the same is hereby accepted for the permanent seat of the government of the United States.” The same act provided that congress should hold its sessions at Philadelphia until the first Monday in November, 1800, when the government should remove to the district selected on the Potomac. The area fixed upon for the district was a square of 10 miles, or 100 square miles. It embraced 64 square miles of Maryland, constituting the county of Washington, which was ceded by that state to the United States in 1788, and 36 square miles of Virginia, constituting the county of Alexandria, ceded in 1789. The portion on the Virginia side of the Potomac was retroceded to that state in 1846. In 1814 Washington was taken by the British, who burned the capitol, presidential mansion, and congressional library. In the early part of the civil war strong fortifications were erected for the protection of the capital, which was several times threatened; but no fighting occurred within the District until July 12, 1864, when Gen. Early with a considerable force attacked Fort Stevens, an isolated work about 6 m. N. of Washington. At this time the garrison had been much weakened by the withdrawal of troops to strengthen the army before Richmond, but reënforcements arrived the same day, and the confederates were repulsed. Slavery was abolished by the act of congress of April 16, 1862, and the right of suffrage was extended to colored citizens by the act of Jan. 8, 1867. The constitution of the United States confers upon congress the exclusive legislative control over the District, but does not allow the inhabitants any vote for presidential electors. Previous to the act of 1871 the legislative power had been exercised directly by congress, in which, however, the people had no representation; but upon the establishment of a territorial form of government by that act the right of electing a delegate to congress, with the same privileges as delegates of other territories, was granted. The act repealed the charters of the cities of Washington (pop. in 1870, 109,199) and Georgetown (pop. 11,384), which had been incorporated May 3, 1802, and Dec. 25, 1789, respectively, on and after June 1, 1871; but provided that the portions of the District included within the then limits of those cities should continue to be known as the city of Washington and the city of Georgetown respectively. At the same time the levy court of the District of Columbia ceased to exist, and the District of Columbia became the successor of the corporations of the cities and of the county of Washington. (See Georgetown, and Washington.)