The Massachusetts Ratification Convention was deciding whether to approve or deny the U.S. Constitution in January 1788. Dr. John Taylor, a Worcester County delegate, asked a pointed inquiry about the language in the draft which suggested the creation of an independent city to house and administer the federal government.
“Dr. Taylor asked, why it need be ten miles square, and whether one mile square would not be sufficient,” The convention records were read.
Caleb Strong, who was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and would later serve as a U.S senator from Massachusetts, provided Taylor with an explanation.
According to the Massachusetts Ratification Convention records: “Hon. Mr. Strong said, Congress was not to exercise jurisdiction over a district of ten miles, but one not exceeding ten miles square.”
In particular, Article I, Section 8 Clause 17 of Constitution stated that Congress has the 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 Government of the United States.”
This language was adopted by Congress on July 16, 1790.
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,” According to the journal of the first Congress, “That a district of territory, not exceeding ten miles square, to be located as hereafter directed on the river Potomac, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern Branch and Connogochegue, be, and the same is hereby accepted for the permanent seat of the government of the United States.”
The 100-square-miles of territory that formed this federal district were given by Maryland and Virginia to the federal government.
Joseph Story, in his 1833 Commentaries on Constitution, described the creation and celebration of George Washington’s part in it.
“The seat of government has now, for more than thirty years, been permanently fixed on the river Potomac, on a tract of ten miles square, ceded by the states of Virginia and Maryland,” Story written.
“It was selected by that great man, the boast of all America, the first in war, the first in peace, and the first in the hearts of his countrymen,” He said. “It bears his name; it is the monument of his fame and wisdom. May it be for ever consecrated to its present noble purpose, capitoli immobile saxum!” (Capital of immovable rocks.
Congress passed legislation in 1846 giving Virginia its District of Columbia. The Capitol was reduced to the 68 square mile ceded by Maryland.
Democrats now want to make most of those 68 square miles (that used to be a small part of Maryland) into a new state — which like Florida or Texas would be entitled to elect two members to the U.S. Senate.
On April 21, 2021, the then-Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted on party lines to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act.
“This bill,” According to its official summary: “provides for admission into the United States of the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, composed of most of the territory of the District of Columbia.”
“The commonwealth,” The summary reads: “(1) shall consist of all District territory, with specified exclusions for federal buildings and monuments, including the principle federal monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, the U.S. Supreme Court Building, and the federal executive, legislative, and judicial office buildings located adjacent to the Mall and the Capitol Building.”
This bill was introduced in the Senate by Democratic Senator Tom Carper from Delaware.
He did this primarily to allow D.C. residents to vote in federal elections.
“Every day, we work in the shadow of our Capitol, a beacon for democracy around the world, and yet an historic injustice still prevails,” Carper. “There are nearly 700,000 Americans who call the District of Columbia home and they do not have a voting representative in either chamber of the Congress.”
There is a better way to fix this than to remake our Capitol city — which was designed to be independent of any state — into a state of its own.
This is the Taylor solution. The Taylor solution is that Congress can now give Maryland all of the land it gave to Virginia to create its District of Columbia. This is similar to how Congress gave back Virginia’s territory in 1846 to make way for the new state of Virginia. Instead of making the District of Columbia territory that the Democratic-controlled House envisioned into a new State, it can be made into a congressional District in Maryland.
Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota introduced legislation in the last Congress — the District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act — that would essentially do just that. He was supported by 25 others.
A smaller District of Columbia — including all of the federal buildings and monuments that the Democratic House intended to leave it with in their statehood bill — would continue to be our Capitol city.
CNSnews.com’s editor-in-chief is Terence P. Jeffrey. You can learn more about him at the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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