District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871

District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871

The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, formally An Act to provide a Government for the District of Columbia, is an Act of Congress, which created a territorial government for the District of Columbia. The act was the first to create a single government for the entire federal district and effectively formed Washington, D.C. as it exists today.[1]

Contents

History

From the District's foundation until the passage of the Organic Act of 1871, the City of Washington, the City of Georgetown, and the County of Washington each maintained their own governing structure and authority. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 led to notable growth in the District's population due to the expansion of the federal government and a large influx of freed slaves.[2] By 1870, the District's population had grown 75% to nearly 132,000 residents.[3]

Members of Congress maintained that the piecemeal governmental structure within the District was insufficient to handle the population growth and deteriorating conditions in the capital, which still had dirt roads and lacked basic sanitation. The situation was so bad that some lawmakers even proposed moving the capital elsewhere, but their efforts were unsuccessful.[4] Instead, Congress passed the Organic Act of 1871, which created a new government for the entire District of Columbia, including an appointed governor and 11-member council, a locally elected 22-member assembly, and a board of public works charged with modernizing the city.[5] This act revoked the individual charters of the cities of Washington and Georgetown and combined them with Washington County under a new government for the entire District of Columbia, which effectively formed present-day Washington, D.C., as a single municipality.[6]

In 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed an influential member of the board of public works, Alexander Robey Shepherd, to the post of governor. Shepherd authorized large-scale municipal projects, which greatly modernized Washington. In doing so, however, the governor spent three times the money that had been budgeted for capital improvements, bankrupting the city.[7] In 1874, Congress abolished the District's local government and instituted direct rule that would continue for nearly a century until the passage of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act.[8]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Tindall, William (1909). Origin and government of the District of Columbia. J. Byrne & co.. pp. 9. http://books.google.com/books?id=iAPvyfPGmFsC. 
  2. ^ McQuirter, Marya Annette. "African Americans in Washington, DC: 1800-1975". A Brief History of African Americans in Washington, D.C.. http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/things-do-see/trails-tours/african-american-heritage-trails/brief-history-african-americans-washingt. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. September 13, 2002. http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0056/tab23.pdf. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  4. ^ Bordewich, Fergus M. (2008). Washington: the making of the American capital. HarperCollins. pp. 272. ISBN 9780060842383. http://books.google.com/books?id=kKKMJ7Rqta8C. 
  5. ^ "An Act to provide a Government for the District of Columbia". Statutes at Large, 41st Congress, 3rd Session. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=016/llsl016.db&recNum=0454. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ Dodd, Walter Fairleigh (1909). The government of the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.: John Byrne & Co.. p. 4. http://books.google.com/books?id=_29DAAAAIAAJ. 
  7. ^ Wilcox, Delos Franklin (1910). Great cities in America: their problems and their government. The Macmillan Company. pp. 27–30. http://books.google.com/books?id=jY4SAAAAIAAJ. 
  8. ^ "History of Self-Government in the District of Columbia". Council of the District of Columbia. 2008. http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/history. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 

External links


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