Describing Our State:
The 51st State (Douglass, Douglass Commonwealth, New Columbia or TBD) is the city and future state where more than 700,000 residents of the District of Columbia live (more than Vermont and Wyoming, and about as many as Alaska and North Dakota). Like other cities and states, the 51st State includes within its borders a wide variety of people, neighborhoods, businesses, landmarks, natural spaces, schools, historic buildings, historic people, historic places, music, literature and other institutions.
Capital vs. State:
The 51st State is not the nation's capital. Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and most other federal government buildings are concentrated within a small part of today's District of Columbia that was designed to house the federal government, the National Mall and prominent national monuments. This area, known as the National Capital Service Area, sits outside of Washington, DC's residential neighborhoods. The 51st State is the rest of Washington, DC, the city distinguished from the federal government, the city which is located next to the nation's capital. The neighborhoods of the 51st State, divided among 4 quadrants and 8 wards, are the places where the business of Washington DC's residents takes place. These are the neighborhoods where the vast majority of DC's schools, businesses, libraries, universities, non-profit organizations, office buildings, parks and trails, and, most importantly, all of its homes, are to be found.
In establishing the 51st State, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act redefines the District of Columbia as the seat of the federal government -- and that alone. This revised District of Columbia would occupy about 5% of today's District of Columbia, but would remain an independent enclave for the federal government as defined in the Constitution. The rest of the District, the place where District residents live their lives beyond their jobs and their daily commutes, would become the 51st State.
A long-standing debate about the best name for our new state was revived in 2016. In November, the people of Washington, DC passed the Advisory Referendum on the State of New Columbia Admission Act Resolution of 2016 with 78.5% of all voters voting yes (86% of those who voted specifically on the referendum). Yet the DC Council passed a new draft constitution called the Constitution of the State of Washington, D.C. ("D.C. meaning Douglass Commonwealth" as explained in the preamble), which was ratified by DC voters in the same November 2016 referendum. Our new DC Statehood bill, HR 51 in the House and S. 631 in the Senate, is known as the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. So what gives? Why these totally different names?
The name "New Columbia" has been used since the early 1970s (even earlier), when a locally elected government was re-established in Washington, DC for the first time in a century. Soon after, DC Statehood activists and the newly formed DC Statehood Party launched a renewed campaign for statehood. The first Constitution of the State of New Columbia was drafted and ratified in 1982.
A name that has gained support in recent years is "Douglass" -- for Frederick Douglass, the fugitive slave, abolitionist, suffragist, civil rights activist, author and statesman who spent much of his life working in Washington, DC during and following the Civil War before moving permanently to the District of Columbia to build his iconic Cedar Hill home in Anacostia. The bicentennial of Douglass' birth was celebrated in 2018. The name "Douglass Commonwealth" would also, coincidentally, provide for the continued use of the 2-letter "DC" postal abbreviation.
Regardless of the name (we're calling it The 51st State for now), the place DC residents call home should not be equated with the federal government. It's our home, not our workplace.
For more information about our city and future state, see, for example:
Washington City Paper: "Boomtown Brats"
Where to Find Us:
New Columbia Vision
1651 HOBART ST NW
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202 387-2966
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