Why was Washington made the capital of the United States?
After the American Revolution, the United States needed a capital city. The selection of the site resulted from a compromise. Various cities and sections of the country wanted the honor of being the nation's capital.
It was finally decided to create a new city. Congress passed a bill in 1790 giving permission for a site to be chosen. It was to be somewhere near the Potomac River and not over ten miles square (25.9 square kilometers). The land was to be called the District of Columbia, after Christopher Columbus; and the city to be built on it was to be named Washington, in honor of the 'country's first president.
In 1791 George Washington chose the place where the city now stands. He thought it was a good location because the Potomac River was deep enough for ships to come as far as the city.
The land was given to the federal government by the states of Maryland and Virginia. About 165 square kilometers were given by Maryland and about 93 by Virginia. Later, in 1846, the land given by Virginia was returned to the state at her request.
President Washington chose a brilliant French engineer and architect, Major Pierre L'Enfant, to design the new city. The plan called for broad avenues lined with trees, beautiful government buildings, and monuments to honor great men.
By 1800 the president's house was nearly completed. The Capitol was built on a hill, renamed Capitol Hill, for the building in which Congress was to meet. In 1800 President John Adams and other members of the government moved to the new federal city, Washington, D.C.