Catalog Archive
Auction 180, Lot 780

Important Article Advocating for the National Capital on the Potomac River

""The Federal City Ought to Be on the Patowmack" [in] The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser No. 3, of Vol. XVII. Friday, January 8, 1790. No. 1210", Anon.

Subject: Document - National Capital Debate

Period: 1790 (published)


Color: Black & White

10.8 x 16.9 inches
27.4 x 42.9 cm
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This article is signed by “A Citizen” in the complete 4 page January 8, 1790 issue of The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser. The anonymous writer proposes that the new federal city be built on the Potomac River rather than on the Susquehanna River (near Lancaster). Unhappy that the vote in the previous session of the Congress was favoring the Susquehanna alternative, the anonymous author argues that the nation will be divided if a site along the Susquehanna is selected. He dismisses the argument that the area along the Potomac is unhealthy with the assertion “No place in the world is generally more healthy than the banks of this river; and George-Town, a place pitched upon by some for the Federal City, and lying immediately on the Patowmack, is renowned for the purity and salubrity of its air.” In his 2020 book, Washington’s Final Battle: The Epic Struggle to Build a Capital and a Nation, Robert P. Watson calls this an “important article that weighed in on the main debate of centrality…it maintained that only the Potomac could satisfy the North-South and East-West rifts because it held the promise of connecting them.” (page 133). Later in 1790 Congress mandated the Potomac location and gave the President the authority to select the actual site.

Also of interest in this issue is a remarkable article (top of page 2) on the French Revolution and a baker who was hanged and beheaded by a mob even after having been found innocent of not baking enough bread by the apparently ineffective Revolutionary government.


Condition: B+

There is some minor staining at top and a chip that is confined to the top blank margin of the first sheet.

Estimate: $150 - $180

Sold for: $100

Closed on 11/18/2020