by Robert Wilkinson
Recently a reader asked me about the birth chart for Washington DC, since I didn't include it in the birth Sun and Moon signs of the 50 United States. That got me to do some research....
This article is primarily for astrologers and history buffs. Since the subject is somewhat obscure, I've tried to write this in a way that demonstrates how I go about figuring out such things.
It seems that the "birthday" of Washington DC is July 16, 1790. However, there are discrepancies regarding that particular day, even though it is stipulated in the "Residence Act" establishing the nation's Capitol. I'll present what I found to support the July 16 birth date, and then offer why other days may be valid.
Let's take a look at what the usually reliable Wikipedia says. First, from the article on Washington DC:
On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2).(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington,_D.C.)
From another source:
After the US Constitution (1787) provided that a tract of land be reserved for the seat of the federal government, both Maryland and Virginia offered parcels for that purpose; on 16 July 1790, Congress authorized George Washington to choose a site not more than 10 mi (16 km) square along the Potomac River. President Washington made his selection in January 1791 and then appointed Andrew Ellicott to survey the area and employed Pierre Charles L'Enfant, a French military engineer who had served in the Continental Army, to draw up plans for the federal city.(http://www.city-data.com/states/District-of-Columbia-History.html)
Here's a time line from yet another source for astrologers who want to do research across the entire period of the Capitol's development:
June 21, 1788 - The 1788 U.S. Constitution, as adopted by the Constitutional Convention on September 15, 1787, is ratified by the states. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, gives Congress authority "to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States...."(http://www.shgresources.com/dc/timeline/)
July 16, 1790 - The Residency Act of 1790 gives the president power to choose a site for the capital city on the east bank of the Potomac River between the mouth of the Eastern Branch and the Connogocheague Creek (now Conococheague) near Hagerstown, nearly 70 miles upstream.
January 22, 1791 - George Washington appoints Thomas Johnson and Daniel Carroll of Rock Creek, representing Maryland and Dr. David Stuart, to represent Virginia, as "Commissioners for surveying the District of (sic) Territory accepted by the said Act for the permanent seat of the Government of the United States...."
January 24, 1791 - President George Washington selects a site that includes portions of Maryland and Virginia.
However, now comes the rub. From the Wikipedia article on the Residence Act, we find the process really doesn't stipulate that day at all in terms of the Congressional voting on the substance of the Act:
The 1st United States Congress agreed to the compromise, which narrowly passed as the Residence Act. Jefferson was able to get the Virginia delegates to support the bill, with the debt provisions, while Hamilton convinced the New York delegates to agree to the Potomac site for the capital. The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 14 to 12 on July 1, 1790, and by the House of Representatives by a vote of 31 to 29 on July 9, 1790. The Assumption Bill narrowly passed the Senate on July 16, 1790, followed by passage in the House on July 26.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residence_Act - emphasis mine)
Yet from the Wikipedia article on the history of Washington DC, we find:
The signing of the federal Residence Act on July 6, 1790, (I suspect this is a misprint that should read July 16) mandated that the site for the permanent seat of government, "not exceeding ten miles square" (100 square miles), be located on the "river Potomack, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern-Branch and Connogochegue."(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Washington,_D.C.)
(From the same article:) On March 30, 1791, Burns and eighteen other key landowners relented and signed an agreement with Washington... Pursuant to the Residence Act, President Washington appointed three commissioners... In September 1791, the three commissioners agreed to name the federal district as "The Territory of Columbia," and the federal city as "The City of Washington."
Unless I'm overlooking something about how laws are passed in Congress, it means that the Residence Act passed Congress on July 9, 1790, and the part of that bill involving the Assumption of states' debts by the Federal Government - a different deal altogether! - passed on July 26, 1790.
From the Library of Congress site:
The Residence Act, officially titled "An Act for Establishing the Temporary and Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States," was passed on July 16, 1790, and selected a site on the Potomac River as the permanent capital (Washington, D.C.), in ten years times.(http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Residence.html)
The discrepancy here seems to be whether the Act was "passed" or "signed" on that day. I would think that when the Residence Act passed Congress on July 9, 1790, that would be the point at which the beginning of the creation of the Capitol began. July 16 only makes sense if we assume Congress passed the Act on July 9 but it was not signed into law until July 16. That removes the Assumption bill dates from the equation.
The other contender would seem to be January 24, 1791, when President George Washington actually selected the site. I assume that New York City would be the place of inception, since it was where Congress met in 1790-91, which would also include when Washington made his announcement as to location. And of course, such charts are usually done for noon.
For those who want to know the planetary positions, on July 9, 1790 we find Sun at 18 Cancer, Moon at 17 Gemini, and 15 Libra rising with Neptune at 23 Libra and North Node at 8 Scorpio in the Ascendant. It's a Locomotive pattern, led by Pluto at 21 Aquarius. Proceeding through the occupied span, Saturn is at 6 Aries in the 6th house, South Node 8 Taurus in the 7th, Venus 7 Gemini in the 8th, and Moon, Mercury at 1 Cancer and Chiron at 3 Cancer in the 9th. In the 10th, we find the Sun in Cancer and Uranus at 9 Leo. Jupiter is at 1 Virgo in the 11th, and Mars at 24 Virgo in the 12th.
The chart for July 16, 1790, shows the same Locomotive pattern, with Pluto, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, and Neptune in the same degrees as the July 9 chart, and everything in the same houses except for the Moon at 23 Virgo in the 12th. The degree changes on July 16 show the Ascendant at 20 Libra, the Nodes at 7 degrees Scorpio-Taurus instead of 8, Venus at 15 Gemini, Mercury at 5 Cancer, Sun at 25 Cancer, Jupiter at 2 Virgo, and Mars at 28 Virgo.
The chart for when Washington chose the location is very revealing. Sun at 5 Aquarius, Moon at 1 Libra, with 24 Taurus rising. It's a See Saw chart, which really does describe our Capitol! On the bottom half of the map, we see Chiron at 4 Cancer in the 2nd house, Uranus at 13 Leo in the 4th, Moon conjunct Jupiter at 2 Libra in the 5th, and North Node at 26 Libra and Neptune at 28 Libra in the 6th house.
The other half above the horizon shows Sun at 5 Aquarius, Venus at 11 Aquarius, Mars at 15 Aquarius, Pluto at 20 Aquarius, and Mercury at 22 Aquarius all in the 10th, Saturn at 2 Aries in the 11th, and South Node at 26 Aries in the 12th house.
So Washington DC could be a Cancer-Gemini-Libra, with Moon ruling the Sun, or a Cancer-Virgo-Libra, or an Aquarius-Libra-Taurus, with Saturn ruling the Sun, if we assume one of these days is the birthday for our nation's Capitol city.
For those who want to do research on which seems more accurate, I would think the progressions and transits for August 24, 1814, the day when the British burned the city in the War of 1812 would be an important point. Other important points would be April 25, 1861, when Union troops saved the city from a Confederate occupation, and August 4, 1861, when Lincoln organized the Department of the Potomac to safeguard the Capitol area. Also, on April 16, 1862, slavery was abolished throughout the District.
Another important marker would be whether March 4 and January 20 are significant transits each year, since they are the two inauguration days we've had in history. Two days would seem especially important: March 4, 1801, when Thomas Jefferson became the first to be sworn in as president in Washington, D.C. (which officially became the Capitol that year), and January 20, 1937, the first inauguration using that day (which we've used ever since.)
Anyway, I now leave the matter in the hands of those who want to do research. If you find something, or note something important that could help clarify things, please put it in the comment stream so that future readers can also benefit from our efforts.
© Copyright 2010 Robert Wilkinson