The Nation’s Capital in 1860…..
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 PresidentGeorge 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 (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2).
Two preexisting settlements were included in the territory: the port of Georgetown, Maryland, founded in 1751, and the city of Alexandria, Virginia, founded in 1749. During 1791–92,Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including a free African American astronomer namedBenjamin Banneker, surveyed the borders of the federal district and placed boundary stonesat every mile point.[ Many of the stones are still standing.
A new "federal city" was then 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, which was a poetic name for the United States commonly in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.