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Is Washington DC a State? A Simple Explanation - Epictourist

Is Washington DC a State? A Simple Explanation

If you’re asking “Is Washington DC a State” the answer is no.

Washington DC is not a state because it is a district – as its name would suggest (District of Columbia). It’s easy to understand the division of the 50 states, but more complex to imagine that Washington DC sits somewhere between two states, and is not part of any state at all. It is simply labelled as a district.


Politics and Language

The confusion exists because people aren’t sure of what to make of the district title.

By definition, a district is “an area of a country or city, especially one regarded as a distinct unit because of a particular characteristic.”

A state, on the other hand, is defined as, “a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.”

Understanding that the states exist to represent different political communities helps to explain why Washington DC could not be a state itself or part of an existing state. 

All three branches of the federal government of the United States exist in the District, including the Congress, the President of the United States and Supreme Court. Because all states are either republic or democratic, Washington DC could not be a state because it’s neutral – existing as the base camp for American politics.

History of the District

In 1790, according to the Residence Act, creation of the capital district was officially approved. The US Constitution dictated that the district is under the jurisdiction of the Congress, which means it cannot be part of any state.

The location of the district was decided – land would be donated from the states Maryland and Virginia and would include Georgetown and Alexandria. The district was therefore positioned along the east coast by the Potomac River. Washington DC was founded in 1791.

In 1846 however, Congress returned the land borrowed from Virginia, and this is the district we recognize today.

So is Washington DC a state? No, but it is district, without a state, and will remain so to maintain neutrality for American politics.



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