How DC Can Vote in Federal Elections

When the Massachusetts Ratification Convention was debating whether to approve the U.S. Constitution in January 1788, Dr. John Taylor, a delegate from Worcester County, asked a pointed question about the language in the draft that called for creating a new and independent city to house the federal government.

“Dr. Taylor asked, why it need be ten miles square, and whether one mile square would not be sufficient,” said the records of the convention.Caleb Strong, who had been a delegate at the Constitutional Convention (and would later serve as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts), provided Taylor with an answer.As reported in the records of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention: “Hon. Mr. Strong said, Congress was not to exercise jurisdiction over a district of ten miles, but one not exceeding ten miles square.“Specifically, Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution said that Congress shall have power to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such Dis …

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