Valley Forge functioned as the third of eight military encampments for the Continental Army's main body, commanded by General George Washington. In September 1777, British forces had captured the American capital of Philadelphia. After failing to retake the city, Washington led his 12,000-man army into winter quarters at Valley Forge, located 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia, they remained there for six months, from December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778. At Valley Forge, the Continentals struggled to manage a disastrous supply crisis while retraining and reorganizing their units. About 1,700 to 2,000 soldiers died due to disease exacerbated by malnutrition. Today, Valley Forge National Historical Park preserves and protects over 3,500 acres of the original encampment site. In 1777, Valley Forge consisted of a small proto-industrial community located at the juncture of the Valley Creek and the Schuylkill River. In 1742, Quaker industrialists established the Mount Joy Iron Forge. Thanks to capital improvements made by John Potts and his family over the following decades, the small community expanded the ironworks, established mills, constructed new dwellings for residents.
Surrounding the valley was a rich farmland, where Welsh-Quaker farmers grew wheat, hay, Indian corn, among other crops, raised livestock including cattle, sheep and barnyard fowl. Settlers of German and Swedish descent lived nearby. In the summer of 1777 the Continental Army's quartermaster general, Thomas Mifflin, decided to station a portion of his army's supplies in outbuildings around the forges, due to its variety of structures and secluded location between two prominent hills. Fearing such a concentration of military supplies would undoubtedly attract the British, the forge-ironmaster, William Dewees Jr. expressed concerns about the army's proposal. Mifflin established a magazine at Valley Forge anyway. After the British landing at Head of Elk, Maryland on August 25, 1777, the British Army maneuvered out of the Chesapeake basin and towards Valley Forge. Following the Battle of Brandywine and the abortive Battle of the Clouds, on September 18 several hundred soldiers under General Wilhelm von Knyphausen raided the supply magazine at Valley Forge.
Despite the best efforts of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton and Captain Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, the two Continental army officers selected to evacuate the supplies from Valley Forge, Crown soldiers captured supplies, destroyed others, burned down the forges and other buildings. Political and environmental factors all influenced the Continental Army's decision to establish their encampment near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in the winter of 1777-1778. Washington conferred with his officers to select the site that would be most advantageous to his army. Washington first asked his generals where to quarter the Continental Army in the winter of 1777–1778 on October 29, 1777. In addition to suggestions from his officers, Washington had to contend with the recommendations of politicians. Pennsylvania state legislators and the Continental Congress expected the Continental Army to select an encampment site that could protect the countryside around Philadelphia; some members of the Continental Congress believed that the army might be able to launch a winter campaign.
Interested parties suggested other sites for an encampment, including Lancaster and Wilmington, Delaware. However, following the inconclusive Battle of Whitemarsh from December 5–8, increasing numbers of officers and politicians began to appreciate the need to defend the greater Philadelphia region from British incursions. Considering these questions, an encampment at Valley Forge had notable advantages. Valley Forge's high terrain meant, its location allowed for soldiers to be detached to protect the countryside. Proximity to the Schuylkill River could facilitate supply movements down the river. Wide, open areas provided space for training. On December 19, Washington conducted his 12,000-man army to Valley Forge to establish the encampment; the encampment was situated along the high, flat ground east of Mount Joy and south of the Schuylkill River. In addition to a concentration of soldiers at Valley Forge, Washington ordered nearly 2,000 soldiers to encamp at Wilmington, Delaware, he posted the army's mounted troops at Trenton, New Jersey, additional outposts at Downingtown and Radnor, among other places.
In the two winter encampments prior to Valley Forge, the Continental army had sheltered themselves in a combination of tents, constructed huts, civilian barns and other buildings. Valley Forge would mark the first time Washington ordered the army concentrated into a more permanent post where they constructed their own shelters; this strategic shift encouraged a whole new host of problems for the American Patriots. The Valley Forge encampment became the Continental Army's first large-scale construction of living quarters. While no accurate account exists for the exact number of log huts built, experts estimate a range between 1,300-1,600 structures. Brigadier General Louis Lebègue de Presle Duportail selected grounds for the brigade encampments and planned the defenses. Afterwards, brigadier generals appointed officers from each regiment to mark out the precise spot for every officer and all enlisted men's huts. Despite commanders' attempts at standardization, the huts varied in terms of size and construction techniques.
Military historian John B. B. Trussell Jr. writes that many squads "dug their floors two feet below ground level," to reduce
George Washington was an American political leader, military general and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War of Independence, he presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the new federal government, he has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation. Washington received his initial military training and command with the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses and was named a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he was appointed Commanding General of the nation's Continental Army. Washington allied with France, in the defeat of the British at Yorktown. Once victory for the United States was in hand in 1783, Washington resigned his commission. Washington played a key role in the adoption and ratification of the Constitution and was elected president by the Electoral College in the first two elections.
He implemented a strong, well-financed national government while remaining impartial in a fierce rivalry between cabinet members Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. During the French Revolution, he proclaimed a policy of neutrality while sanctioning the Jay Treaty, he set enduring precedents for the office of president, including the title "President of the United States", his Farewell Address is regarded as a pre-eminent statement on republicanism. Washington utilized slave labor and trading African American slaves, but he became troubled with the institution of slavery and freed them in his 1799 will, he was a member of the Anglican Church and the Freemasons, he urged tolerance for all religions in his roles as general and president. Upon his death, he was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen." He has been memorialized by monuments, geographical locations and currency, many scholars and polls rank him among the top American presidents. Washington's great-grandfather John Washington immigrated in 1656 from Sulgrave, England to the British Colony of Virginia where he accumulated 5,000 acres of land, including Little Hunting Creek on the Potomac River.
George Washington was born February 22, 1732 at Popes Creek in Westmoreland County and was the first of six children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. His father was a justice of the peace and a prominent public figure who had three additional children from his first marriage to Jane Butler; the family moved to Little Hunting Creek to Ferry Farm near Fredericksburg, Virginia. When Augustine died in 1743, Washington inherited ten slaves. Washington did not have the formal education that his older brothers received at Appleby Grammar School in England, but he did learn mathematics and surveying, he was talented in draftsmanship and map-making. By early adulthood, he was writing with "considerable force" and "precision."Washington visited Mount Vernon and Belvoir, the plantation that belonged to Lawrence's father-in-law William Fairfax, which fueled ambition for the lifestyle of the planter aristocracy. Fairfax became Washington's patron and surrogate father, Washington spent a month in 1748 with a team surveying Fairfax's Shenandoah Valley property.
He received a surveyor's license the following year from the College of Mary. He resigned from the job in 1750 and had bought 1,500 acres in the Valley, he owned 2,315 acres by 1752. In 1751, Washington made his only trip abroad when he accompanied Lawrence to Barbados, hoping that the climate would cure his brother's tuberculosis. Washington contracted smallpox during that trip, which immunized him but left his face scarred. Lawrence died in 1752, Washington leased Mount Vernon from his widow. Lawrence's service as adjutant general of the Virginia militia inspired Washington to seek a commission, Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie appointed him as a major in December 1752 and as commander of one of the four militia districts; the British and French were competing for control of the Ohio Valley at the time, the British building forts along the Ohio River and the French doing between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. In October 1753, Dinwiddie appointed Washington as a special envoy to demand that the French vacate territory which the British had claimed.
Dinwiddie appointed him to make peace with the Iroquois Confederacy and to gather intelligence about the French forces. Washington met with Half-King Tanacharison and other Iroquois chiefs at Logstown to secure their promise of support against the French, his party reached the Ohio River in November, they were intercepted by a French patrol and escorted to Fort Le Boeuf where Washington was received in a friendly manner. He delivered the British demand to vacate to French commander Saint-Pierre, but the French refused to leave. Saint-Pierre gave Washington his official answer in a sealed envelope after a few days' delay, he gave Washington's party food and extra winter clothing for the trip back to Virginia. Washington completed the precarious mission in 77 days in difficult winter conditions and achieved a measure of distinction when his report was published in Virginia and London. In February 1754, Dinwiddie promoted Washington to lieutenant colonel and second-in-command of the 300-strong Virginia R
Tobias Lear is best known as the personal secretary to President George Washington. Lear served Washington from 1784 until the former-President's death in 1799. Through Lear's journal, we receive the account of Washington's final moments and his last words:'Tis well. Tobias Lear served as third President Thomas Jefferson's envoy to Saint-Domingue, as peace envoy in the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa during the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War, he was responsible for negotiating a peace treaty with the Bey of Tripoli that ended the first Barbary War. Lear was born on Hunking Street in the seaport town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on September 19, 1762, a fifth-generation American and the fifth generation of his family named Tobias, his parents were Mary Stillson Lear. His parents were married on December 29, 1757; the family home on Hunking Street, which still stands today, had been built in 1742 by the Stillson family. Lear had an older sister named Mary. Before going to college, Lear attended Dummer Charity School where Samuel Moody helped prepare Lear for college.
Instead of joining the Continental Army, as many of his contemporaries did, Lear attended Harvard College, beginning in 1779, during the American Revolutionary War. He graduated with 30 classmates in 1783, he began his career by being an apprentice until his uncle, Benjamin Lincoln, recommended him for the job of tutoring Martha Washington's grandchildren and to the post of George Washington's personal secretary, both to which he was hired in 1784. He was integrated into Washington's house and his post evolved beyond clerk to being Washington's right-hand man, doing whatever Washington needed, such as tutoring, filling out expense reports, writing letters, he performed all his duties well. Lear moved with Washington to New York City in 1789, when Washington became president, they dined alone together during his presidency. Lear was responsible for filling out Washington's expense reports as president, which Washington had wisely chosen instead of a $25,000 salary, as they turned out to be much more.
In 1793, at the start of Washington's second term, Lear decided to leave Washington and start out on his own. He started a company, T. Lear & Company, which focused on two things: working with Washington's Potomac Company to promote river traffic to the soon-to-be nation's capitol and participating in land speculation there. Lear was unsuccessful, his engineering work related to the Potomac Company failed to enable navigation around two waterfalls on the Potomac River. He lost money in this failed venture despite his wealthy partners. Lear married Mary Long, his childhood sweetheart, in 1790. Together they had a son, Benjamin Lincoln Lear, but Polly died in the President's House in Philadelphia during the 1793 Yellow fever epidemic that claimed around 5,000 people. In 1795, he married Frances Bassett Washington, recent widow of the President's nephew, George Augustine Washington, but Fanny died in 1796 of tuberculosis. Tobias married again, his new wife was nicknamed Fanny and was the niece of Martha Washington.
In the late 1790s, Lear's finances became more distraught. During this period, he continued to run unpaid errands for Washington. On one of these errands, Lear collected rent from one of Washington's tenants, but pocketed the funds. Washington found out. Washington was furious for at least two days but Lear apologized and was forgiven; the next year, Lear was given the rank of colonel as chief aide to Washington, reappointed by Congress to command the troops during a period when a French attack was feared. He preferred to be addressed as Colonel Lear for the rest of his life despite the fact that the French never attacked by land and he never faced active duty. Lear kept the funds, he feigned illness for several months before meeting the man and apologizing and agreeing to reimburse him. In 1799, Washington unexpectedly died while Lear was visiting him at Mount Vernon, leading to Lear's famous diary entry: About ten o'clk, Saturday December 14, 1799, Washington made several attempts to speak to me before he could effect it, at length he said,—"I am just going.
Have me decently buried. I bowed assent, he looked at me again and said, "Do you understand me?" I replied "Yes." "'Tis well" said he. Lear oversaw the funeral arrangements to the detail of measuring the corpse at 6 feet 3.5 inches long and 1 foot 9 inches from shoulder to shoulder. Lear inherited a lifetime interest in Walnut Tree Farm. Lear's only biographer, Ray Brighton, was convinced that Lear destroyed many of Washington's letters and diary entries, which he had possession of for about a year after Washington's death. Lear was to work on a Washington biography with Bushrod Washington, a Washington nephew, who had contacted Lear about collecting Washington's papers and collaborating on a Washington biography. Swaths of Washington's diary and a few key letters were discovered missing about a year after their transfer to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, who had instead volunteered to write the biography. Lear denied destroying any papers in a long letter to Marshall.
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives. NARA is responsible for maintaining and publishing the authentic and authoritative copies of acts of Congress, presidential directives, federal regulations; the NARA transmits votes of the Electoral College to Congress. The Archivist of the United States is the chief official overseeing the operation of the National Archives and Records Administration; the Archivist not only maintains the official documentation of the passage of amendments to the U. S. Constitution by state legislatures, but has the authority to declare when the constitutional threshold for passage has been reached, therefore when an act has become an amendment; the Office of the Federal Register publishes the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, United States Statutes at Large, among others.
It administers the Electoral College. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission —the agency's grant-making arm—awards funds to state and local governments and private archives and universities, other nonprofit organizations to preserve and publish historical records. Since 1964, the NHPRC has awarded some 4,500 grants; the Office of Government Information Services is a Freedom of Information Act resource for the public and the government. Congress has charged NARA with reviewing FOIA policies and compliance of Federal agencies and to recommend changes to FOIA. NARA's mission includes resolving FOIA disputes between Federal agencies and requesters; each branch and agency of the U. S. government was responsible for maintaining its own documents, which resulted in the loss and destruction of records. Congress established the National Archives Establishment in 1934 to centralize federal record keeping, with the Archivist of the United States as chief administrator; the National Archives was incorporated with GSA in 1949.
The first Archivist, R. D. W. Connor, began serving in 1934; as a result of a first Hoover Commission recommendation, in 1949 the National Archives was placed within the newly formed General Services Administration. The Archivist served as a subordinate official to the GSA Administrator until the National Archives and Records Administration became an independent agency on April 1, 1985. In March 2006, it was revealed by the Archivist of the United States in a public hearing that a memorandum of understanding between NARA and various government agencies existed to "reclassify", i.e. withdraw from public access, certain documents in the name of national security, to do so in a manner such that researchers would not be to discover the process. An audit indicated that more than one third withdrawn since 1999 did not contain sensitive information; the program was scheduled to end in 2007. In 2010, Executive Order 13526 created the National Declassification Center to coordinate declassification practices across agencies, provide secure document services to other agencies, review records in NARA custody for declassification.
NARA's holdings are classed into "record groups" reflecting the governmental department or agency from which they originated. Records include paper documents, still pictures, motion pictures, electronic media. Archival descriptions of the permanent holdings of the federal government in the custody of NARA are stored in the National Archives Catalog; the archival descriptions include information on traditional paper holdings, electronic records, artifacts. As of December 2012, the catalog consisted of about 10 billion logical data records describing 527,000 artifacts and encompassing 81% of NARA's records. There are 922,000 digital copies of digitized materials. Most records at NARA are in the public domain, as works of the federal government are excluded from copyright protection. However, records from other sources may still be protected by donor agreements. Executive Order 13526 directs originating agencies to declassify documents if possible before shipment to NARA for long-term storage, but NARA stores some classified documents until they can be declassified.
Its Information Security Oversight Office monitors and sets policy for the U. S. government's security classification system. Many of NARA's most requested records are used for genealogy research; this includes census records from 1790 to 1940, ships' passenger lists, naturalization records. Archival Recovery Teams investigate the theft of records; the most well known facility of the National Archives and Records Administration is the National Archives Building, located north of the National Mall on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D. C.. A sister facility, known as the National Archives at College Park was opened 1994 near the University of Maryland, College Park; the Washington National Records Center located in the Washington, D. C. metropolitan area, is a large warehouse facility where federal records that are still under the control of the creating agency are stored. Federal government agencies pay a yearly fee for storage at the facility. In accordance with federal records schedules, documents at WNRC are transferred to the legal custody of the National Archives after a certain time.
Temporary records at WNRC are
Mount Vernon was the plantation of George Washington, the first President of the United States, his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. The estate is situated on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, near Alexandria, across from Prince George's County, Maryland; the Washington family had owned land in the area since the time of Washington's great-grandfather in 1674. Around 1734 they embarked on an expansion of the estate that continued under George Washington, who began leasing the estate in 1754, but did not become its sole owner until 1761; the mansion was built of wood in a loose Palladian style. George Washington expanded once in the late 1750s and again in the 1770s, it remained Washington's home for the rest of his life. Following his death in 1799, under the ownership of several successive generations of the family, the estate progressively declined as revenues were insufficient to maintain it adequately. In 1858, the house's historical importance was recognized and it was saved from ruin by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
Escaping the damage suffered by many plantation houses during the American Civil War, Mount Vernon was restored. Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is still owned and maintained in trust by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, is open every day of the year, including Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Allowing the public to see the estate is not an innovation, but part of a 200-year-old tradition started by George Washington himself. In 1794 he wrote: "I have no objection to any sober or orderly person's gratifying their curiosity in viewing the buildings, Gardens, &ca. about Mount Vernon." When George Washington's ancestors acquired the estate, it was known as Little Hunting Creek Plantation, after the nearby Little Hunting Creek. However, when Washington's older half-brother, Lawrence Washington, inherited it, he changed its name to Mount Vernon in honor of Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, famed for the War of Jenkins' Ear and capture of the Portobelo, Colón.
Vernon had been Lawrence's commanding officer in the British Royal Navy. When George Washington inherited the property, he retained the name; the current property consists of 500 acres. The property was 8,000 acres; the present mansion was built in phases from 1734, by an unknown architect, under the supervision of Augustine Washington. This staggered and unplanned evolution is indicated by the off-center main door; as completed and seen today, the house is in a loose Palladian style. The principal block, dating from about 1734, was a one story house with a garret. In the 1750s, the roof was raised to a third floor garret. There were one-story extension added to the north and south ends of the house, these would be torn down during the next building phase; the present day mansion is 11,028 sq ft. A two-storied wing was added to the south side. Two years a large two-story room was added to the north side. Two single-story secondary wings were built in 1775; these secondary wings, which house the servants hall on the northern side and the kitchen on the southern side, are connected to the corps de logis by symmetrical, quadrant colonnades, built in 1778.
The completion of the colonnades cemented the classical Palladian arrangement of the complex and formed a distinct cour d'honneur, known at Mount Vernon as Mansion Circle, giving the house its imposing perspective. The corps de logis and secondary wings have hipped roofs with dormers. In addition to its second story, the importance of the corps de logis is further emphasized by two large chimneys piercing the roof, by a cupola surmounting the center of the house; this placement of the cupola is more in the earlier Carolean style than Palladian, was incorporated to improve ventilation of the enlarged attic and enhance the overall symmetry of the structure and the two wings. The rooms at Mount Vernon have been restored to their appearance at the time of George and Martha Washington's occupancy; these rooms include Washington's study, two dining rooms, the West Parlour, the Front Parlour, the kitchen and some bedrooms. The interior design follows the classical concept of the exterior, but owing to the mansion's piecemeal evolution, the internal architectural features – the doorcases and plasterwork – are not faithful to one specific period of the 18th-century revival of classical architecture.
Instead they range from severe Palladianism to a finer and neoclassicism in the style of Robert Adam. This varying of the classical style is best exemplified in the doorcases and surrounds of the principal rooms. In the West Parlour and Small Dining rooms there are doorcases complete with ionic columns and full pediments, whereas in the hall and passageways the doors are given broken pediments supported only by an architrave. Many of the rooms are lined with painted panelling and have ceilings ornamented by plasterwork in a Neoclassical style.
George Washington in the American Revolution
George Washington commanded the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. After serving as President of the United States, he was in charge of a new army in 1798. Washington, despite his youth, played a major role in the frontier wars against the French and Indians in the 1750s and 1760s, he played the leading military role in the American Revolution. When the war broke out with the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, Congress appointed him the first commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army on June 14; the task he took on was enormous, balancing regional demands, competition among his subordinates, morale among the rank and file, attempts by Congress to manage the army's affairs too requests by state governors for support, an endless need for resources with which to feed, equip and move the troops. He was not in command of the many state militia units. In the early years of the war Washington was in the middle of the action, first directing the Siege of Boston to its successful conclusion, but losing New York City and losing New Jersey before winning surprising and decisive victories at Trenton and Princeton at the end of the 1776 campaign season.
At the end of the year in both 1775 and 1776, he had to deal with expiring enlistments, since the Congress had only authorized the army's existence for single years. With the 1777 establishment of a more permanent army structure and the introduction of three-year enlistments, Washington built a reliable stable of experienced troops, although hard currency and supplies of all types were difficult to come by. In 1777 Washington was again defeated in the defense of Philadelphia, but sent critical support to Horatio Gates that made the defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga possible. Following a difficult winter at Valley Forge and the entry of France into the war in 1778, Washington followed the British army as it withdrew from Philadelphia back to New York, fought an inconclusive battle at Monmouth Court House in New Jersey. Washington's activities from late 1778 to 1780 were more diplomatic and organizational, as his army remained outside New York, watching Sir Henry Clinton's army that occupied the city.
Washington strategized with the French on how best to cooperate in actions against the British, leading to unsuccessful attempts to dislodge the British from Newport, Rhode Island and Savannah, Georgia. His attention was drawn to the frontier war, which prompted the 1779 Continental Army expedition of John Sullivan into upstate New York; when General Clinton sent the turncoat General Benedict Arnold to raid in Virginia, Washington began to detach elements of his army to face the growing threat there. The arrival of Lord Cornwallis in Virginia after campaigning in the south presented Washington with an opportunity to strike a decisive blow. Washington's army and the French army moved south to face Cornwallis, a cooperative French navy under Admiral de Grasse disrupted British attempts to control of the Chesapeake Bay, completing the entrapment of Cornwallis, who surrendered after the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781. Although Yorktown marked the end of significant hostilities in North America, the British still occupied New York and other cities, so Washington had to maintain the army in the face of a bankrupt Congress and troops that were at times mutinous over conditions and pay.
The army was formally disbanded after peace in 1783, Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief on December 23, 1783. Born into a well-to-do Virginia family near Fredericksburg in 1732, Washington was schooled locally until the age of 15; the early death of his father when he was 11 eliminated the possibility of schooling in England, his mother rejected attempts to place him in the Royal Navy. Thanks to the connection by marriage of his half-brother Lawrence to the wealthy Fairfax family, Washington was appointed surveyor of Culpeper County in 1749. Washington's brother had purchased an interest in the Ohio Company, a land acquisition and settlement company whose objective was the settlement of Virginia's frontier areas, including the Ohio Country, territory north and west of the Ohio River, its investors included Virginia's Royal Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, who appointed Washington a major in the provincial militia in February 1753. Washington played a key role in the outbreak of the French and Indian War, led the defense of Virginia between 1755 and 1758 as colonel of the Virginia Regiment.
Although Washington never received a commission in the British Army, he gained valuable military and leadership skills, received significant public exposure in the colonies and abroad. He observed British military tactics, gaining a keen insight into their strengths and weaknesses that proved invaluable during the Revolution, he demonstrated his toughness and courage in the most difficult situations, including disasters and retreats. He developed a command presence—given his size, strength and bravery in battle, he appeared to soldiers to be a natural leader and they followed him without question. Washington learned to organize and drill, discipline his companies and regiments. From his observations and conversations with professional officers, he learned the basics of battlefield tactics, as well as a good understanding of problems of organization and logistics, he gained an understanding of overall strategy in locating strategic geographical points. He developed a negative idea of the value of militia, who seemed too unreliable, too undisciplined, too short-term compared to regulars.
On the other hand, his ex
Washington, D. C. formally the District of Columbia and referred to as Washington or D. C. is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father; as the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually; the signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U. S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U. S. Congress, the District is therefore not a part of any state; the states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria.
The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land ceded by Virginia. Washington had an estimated population of 702,455 as of July 2018, making it the 20th most populous city in the United States. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth largest, had a 2017 estimated population of 6.2 million residents. All three branches of the U. S. federal government are centered in the District: Congress and the U. S. Supreme Court. Washington is home to many national monuments, museums situated on or around the National Mall; the city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit, lobbying groups, professional associations, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, AARP, the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, the International Finance Corporation, the American Red Cross.
A locally elected mayor and a 13‑member council have governed the District since 1973. However, Congress may overturn local laws. D. C. residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives, but the District has no representation in the Senate. The District receives three electoral votes in presidential elections as permitted by the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961. Various tribes of the Algonquian-speaking Piscataway people inhabited the lands around the Potomac River when Europeans first visited the area in the early 17th century. One group known as the Nacotchtank maintained settlements around the Anacostia River within the present-day District of Columbia. Conflicts with European colonists and neighboring tribes forced the relocation of the Piscataway people, some of whom established a new settlement in 1699 near Point of Rocks, Maryland. In his Federalist No. 43, published January 23, 1788, James Madison argued that the new federal government would need authority over a national capital to provide for its own maintenance and safety.
Five years earlier, a band of unpaid soldiers besieged Congress while its members were meeting in Philadelphia. Known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, the event emphasized the need for the national government not to rely on any state for its own security. Article One, Section Eight, of the Constitution permits the establishment of a "District as may, by cession of particular states, the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States". However, the Constitution does not specify a location for the capital. In what is now known as the Compromise of 1790, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson came to an agreement that the federal government would pay each state's remaining Revolutionary War debts in exchange for establishing the new national capital in the southern United States. On July 9, 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, which approved the creation of a national capital on the Potomac River; the exact location was to be selected by President George Washington, who signed the bill into law on July 16.
Formed from land donated by the states of Maryland and Virginia, the initial shape of the federal district was a square measuring 10 miles on each side, totaling 100 square miles. Two pre-existing settlements were included in the territory: the port of Georgetown, founded in 1751, the city of Alexandria, founded in 1749. During 1791–92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including a free African American astronomer named Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the borders of the federal district and placed boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing. A new federal city was constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the three commissioners overseeing the capital's construction named the city in honor of President Washington; the federal district was named Columbia, a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800. Congress passed the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 that organized the District and placed the entire territory under the exclusive control of the federal