Moments in History

  1. Foundation of the Federal City

    The US Constitution, ratified in 1788, provided for “a District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States…, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.”

  2. Layout and Design

    In 1790 George Washington selected Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French engineer, to lay out the city. The plan was influenced by Versailles and the city of Paris.

  3. War of 1812

    The United States declared war on Britain in 1812, seeking freedom of marine trade and the security of US seamen. In 1814 British troops entered the capital and burned government buildings, including the White House and the Capitol. If it had not rained, the whole city might ...

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