The permanent location of the U.S. capital at Washington, D.C. resulted from the Residence Act, approved on July 16, 1790. The official title was “An Act for Establishing the Temporary and Permanent Seat of Government of the United States.” The Residence Act provided for establishing a district or territory, not to exceed ten miles square, located on the Potomac River, to become the permanent seat of U.S. government in 1800. The Act was a result of political compromise between Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. In exchange for locating the new capital on the Potomac River, Jefferson and Madison rounded up enough southern votes to pass legislation mandating assumption of the states’ Revolutionary War debts by the Federal government. Most southern congressmen opposed the Federal assumption of state debts, but were eager to have the national capital located on the Potomac River. The Act gave the President authority to appoint three commissioners to survey, define and limit the territory, and to provide suitable buildings for Congress, the President, and public offices of the Federal government prior to the first Monday of December 1800. The Act provided for the temporary seat of government of the United States to be removed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before the first Monday of December 1790, and to remain there until the first Monday in December 1800, at which time the government would be transferred to the new district created by the Act. The exact location of the new district was chosen by President Washington.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution