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Creation of Washington D.C.: The Idea and Location of the American Capital Hardcover – June 27, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Bowling examines the conflict between vaguely defined agrarian and capitalist interests in Revolutionary America through the debate over a national capital. Tracing the issue from its beginnings in 1774 to the selection of Washington, D.C. in 1790, he argues that the final decision represented a major compromise between a slavery-based agrarian South and the commercial capitalism of the Eastern seaboard. In the process, the author describes the pivotal roles of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington, three slaveholding southerners who endorsed a mer cantilist ethos. Though offering a less expansive account than Bob Arnebeck in Through a Fiery Trial: Building Washing ton, 1790-1800 ( LJ 1/91), Bowling provides a well-researched book that better explores the conflicting interests which underlay the bitter debate over the federal capital. Recommended for scholars and laypersons.
- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Perhaps the finest section in Bowling's book recounts the original debate over exclusive jurisdiction. (Richard B. Bernstein)

Kenneth R. Bowling's...wealth of experience enables him to lead the reader, with a sure touch, through a maze of political intrigue. Anyone who still thinks the Founding Fathers were heroes of spotless character ought to read this book. Bowling is to be complimented for his scholarly detachment and careful handling of evidence. It is a fine piece of work.

In addition to documenting and analyzing the issues underlying the debate over the capital, Bowling offers an excellent summary of how the Potomac site was chosen, together with Washington's role in this choice and the city's development under Pierre L^d'Enfant.

The appearance in paperback of this definitive study is especially welcome. Superbly researched and clearly and lucidly written, Kenneth Bowling's study casts new light on the political rivalries and national tensions of the early republic. Bowling hasreshaped our understanding of this pivotal period in American history. (Richard B. Bernstein)

George Washington felt the capital [on the Potomac] could make it one of the great rivers of the world. (Richard B. Bernstein)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Rl Innactive Titles (June 27, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 091396929X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913969298
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,928,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Thompson on March 9, 2000
This book provides a riveting account of America's first great compromise: the location of the capital. I could not put it down, marveling at how many times the capital was almost here or almost there, fascinated by the leaders involved in the debate. There is much to learn and understand well beyond how the capital came to be located in WDC: the embryonic and fragile balance of new states and regional interests, the other issues pressing on the country, such as assumption of state war debts, the economic interests and prospects of various factions, visions of how America's economy would blossom, the kernals of the Civil War, and especially, a deep insight and understanding of our country's early leaders, above all, George Washington, James Madison, and several Lees of Virginia. This is a must read not only for DC residents like me, but for anyone fascinated by our country's early days. This book made me want to be a fly on the wall at many of the pivotal proceedings and secret meetings that decided the location of our now beautiful capital city.
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