The “Other” Washington
December 12, 2017
It’s been the source of much confusion and for those of us from the ‘state’, a source of consternation. When, on December 12, 1800, Congress created the ‘District of Columbia’ I doubt they knew how it would all play out.
The trouble began in 1853 when, by an act of Congress, the territory of Washington was created.
From the infallible Wikipedia:
“The territory was originally to be named ‘Columbia’, for the Columbia River and the Columbia District, but Kentucky representative Richard H. Stanton found the name too similar to the District of Columbia (the national capital, itself containing the city of Washington) and proposed naming the new territory after President Washington. Washington is the only U.S. state named after a president.
“Confusion over the state of Washington and the city of Washington, D.C. led to renaming proposals during the statehood process for Washington in 1889, including David Dudley Field II’s suggestion to name the new state ‘Tacoma.’ These proposals failed to garner support. Washington, D.C.’s own statehood movement in the 21st century includes a proposal to use the name ‘State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth’, which would conflict with the current state of Washington. To distinguish it from the national capital, Washington may be referred to as ‘Washington State’, or, in more formal contexts, as ‘the State of Washington’. Residents of Washington (known as ‘Washingtonians’) and the Pacific Northwest simply refer to the state as ‘Washington’, and the nation’s capital ‘Washington, D.C.’, ‘the other Washington’, or simply ‘D.C.’.”
Ironically, had they named our state Columbia there would not be any confusion today over which ‘Columbia’ is being discussed since the entire world pretty much calls the nation’s capital ‘Washington.’
As recently as May 2017 a bill was introduced into the US Senate for precisely the purpose of granting statehood to the District of Columbia. I understand the push for that. But, (my opinion) in the category of stupid ideas it’s also been proposed to call the new entity the “State of Washington, DC.”
Also from the infallible Wikipedia:
“On November 8, 2016, the voters of the District of Columbia voted overwhelmingly in favor of statehood, with 86% of voters voting to advise approving the proposal. Although the proposed state name on the ballot sent to voters appeared as ‘State of New Columbia’, the resolution passed by the D.C. City Council passed in October 2016, weeks before the election, changed the name to ‘State of Washington, D.C.’, in which ‘D.C.’ stands for ‘Douglass Commonwealth’, a reference to African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who lived in Washington, D.C. from 1877 to 1895.”
Talk about muddying the waters. To learn more about this whole mess be sure to check out these links:
Sadly, I missed posting on December 5 due to a death in the family. Thank you everyone for your kind words.