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Should the District of Columbia be a state?

April 13, 1992



Regarding the People page article "Statehood Simmers for District of Columbia," March 31: To characterize the issue of statehood for the District of Columbia as only being a matter of equal representation and saying that, "Congress never got around to addressing the matter," lacks historical perspective.

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Congress has pondered this issue a great deal and has revisited the issue over the years. When our nation's capital resided in Philadelphia there was much civil strife and many states became distrustful of the relationship. The founders feared that to give the capital representation in Congress would amount to giving the federal government representation in Congress. The founders did not want the capital in a state.

Maryland and Virginia each ceded some land so the capital would not have to be in a state. For this reason, in 1803, when Congress took another look at the issue, they determined that they were not at liberty to give this new city, established on land ceded from two member states, equal representation in the Senate.

In 1871 an experiment was made to convert the District into a territory, but great political corruption sprang up and in 1874 the plan was abandoned.

In 1978 Congress passed a constitutional amendment that would have given the District representation in Congress, but to this date only 12 states have ratified the amendment. There is obviously more to this than partisan politics, or more than 12 states would be in support of the idea. James R. Medley, Seattle

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