Pre-1800s Items (33 total)

In 1791, President Washington appointed Thomas Johnson, Daniel Carroll, and David Stuart commissioners to supervise the planning, design, and construction of the new capital city and surrounding federal district. They oversaw the survey and land…

In February 1792 President George Washington dismissed city planner Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who had been hired to design the new capital but continually argued with the Federal City commissioners. One of L'Enfant's most offensive acts was…

David Burnes, one of the original nineteen proprietors of land that created the District of Columbia, lived in this humble cottage overlooking today's Constitution Avenue. Burnes owned 700 acres encompassing the heart of downtown, including the…

In 1791, Andrew Ellicott surveyed the future city of Washington, taking the place of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the city's original designer. While Ellicott reshaped many intricacies of L'Enfant's plans for grand views, fountains, and public buildings,…

This ticket is one from a collection of 20 lottery tickets of the Washington City Canal lottery "for cutting the canal, through the City of Washington to the Eastern Branch harbour." Eight tickets are signed by Notley Young, four by Daniel Carroll,…

Notley Young's plantation bordering the Potomac was among the lands appropriated for the city of Washington and its public buildings. These site plans show the plantation's original grounds, buildings, slave quarters, overseer's house, gardens, water…

This early aquatint shows the landscape surrounding Washington. Looking east from the land of the federal city, it shows views of the Potomac River.

Three-quarters of a century of a century after the founding of the city of Washington, Dr. Joseph Toner, an amateur historian of the District of Columbia, decided to find out who had owned the land of the nation's capital before the city was…

During the 1890s, archaeologists, geologists, and paleontologist affiliated with the Smithsonian began extensive excavations in stone quarries dotting the land in the District of Columbia. "The spot now the political center of the nation was, in…

In 1607, English colonists established the Jamestown settlement in Virginia at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Captain John Smith and a small party of colonists explored and mapped the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, and the surrounding lands. The map…
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