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District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801

District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801

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The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 (officially An Act Concerning the District of Columbia) (6th Congress, 2nd Sess., ch. 15, , enacted 1801-02-27) is an Organic Act
Organic Act
An Organic Act, in United States law, is an Act of the United States Congress that establishes a territory of the United States or an agency to manage certain federal lands. The first such act was the Northwest Ordinance, enacted by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 in order to create the...

 enacted by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, which incorporated the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 and divided the territory into two counties: Washington County
Washington County, D.C.
The County of Washington was one of the five political entities contained within the geographic region comprising what was originally the 100-square-mile District of Columbia. These were the City of Alexandria, the County of Alexandria, Georgetown, the City of Washington, and the County of...

 to the north and east of the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

 and Alexandria County to the west and south. The charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

s of the existing cities of Georgetown
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Georgetown is a neighborhood located in northwest Washington, D.C., situated along the Potomac River. Founded in 1751, the port of Georgetown predated the establishment of the federal district and the City of Washington by 40 years...

 and Alexandria
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

 were left in place and no change was made to their status. The common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 of both Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 continued to remain in force within the District. A court was established in each of the new counties.

Subsequent history

The portion of the District of Columbia ceded by Virginia was returned to that state in 1846-47. All municipalities smaller than the District of Columbia (Washington County and the cities) were abolished and merged with the District by the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871
District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, formally An Act to provide a Government for the District of Columbia, is an Act of Congress, which created a territorial government for the District of Columbia. The act was the first to create a single government for the entire federal district and...


District voting rights

Following the passage of this Act, residents of the District of Columbia were no longer considered to be residents of either Maryland or Virginia. This left District residents unable to vote for members of Congress. They have voted in Presidential elections since the adoption of the Twenty third Amendment
Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution permits citizens in the District of Columbia to vote for Electors for President and Vice President. The amendment was proposed by Congress on June 17, 1960, and ratified by the states on March 29, 1961...

 in 1961 (which first applied in the election of 1964). District residents are represented in the House of Representatives by a non-voting delegate who may vote in committee and participate in debate, but cannot vote for final passage of a bill in the House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. There have been several efforts to give the inhabitants of the District representation.