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The Founding of the U.S. Capital: Washington, DC

Every year, travelers from all over the world flock to Washington, DC to learn about the history of the U.S. capital. This city is home to countless monuments and museums; however, it can be difficult to gain a full picture of Washington’s history during a short visit.

At DC Trails, we offer in-depth tours of the city where our passengers can learn all about the founding and major historical events that have made Washington, DC what it is today. Below we have provided a brief history of the nation’s capital for you to keep in mind during your next visit!

Why Washington, DC was selected as the U.S. capital

The immense size of the United States of America begs the question: Why was Washington, DC chosen as the nation’s capital? In 1790, founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson favored the interests of the country’s Northern and Southern states respectively. Following the Revolutionary War, the two statesmen had varying priorities which entailed debt repayment and agricultural land. These were two of the primary factors that were considered when George Washington began the construction of the capital city.

Design and execution

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was the individual responsible for designing Washington’s unique grid system, which surrounds the Capitol building in the heart of the city. The city’s original design focused on the development of major political landmarks such as the White House and the Capitol, however, the overall size of the city was never intended to be particularly large. Following the Civil War, the city expanded to accommodate thousands of freed slaves, engulfing neighboring areas like Georgetown.

War and destruction

Washington, DC endured damage as a result of several wars which affected the city. The War of 1812 posed a serious threat to Washington as the British destroyed many newly built monuments such as the Library of Congress and the White House. Additionally, Washington became a hub for protestors and rioters to fight slavery, suppression of women, and other social issues.

The abolition of slavery

Washington, DC’s current cultural significance and celebrated African American population, unfortunately, comes from one of the greatest scars in American history. This city was one of the centers of slavery up until 1865 when it was abolished by President Lincoln.

Tour DC with Us Today

Visit historic sites such as the home of Thomas Jefferson, the National Mall, the White House, and many others on our top-rated bus tours. Contact us today to learn more.