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The District of Columbia is the seat of the United States government. This federal district covers 69 square miles along the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. It lies about 38 miles southwest of Baltimore. The city of Washington covers the entire District.

Politics had a hand in determining the location of the `federal city`. Thomas Jefferson and Virginians wanted the permanent capital of the new nation to be along the Potomac River; to gain this demand, they backed northerner Alexander Hamilton's Assumption Bill. The final decision was conceded to George Washington, who chose what Jefferson termed "that Indian swamp in the wilderness."

The task of forging a visionary capital of monuments, broad avenues and spacious circles fell upon Pierre Charles L'Enfant. He designed the Capitol Building and the White House.


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