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Estelle and Melvin Gelman LibraryEckles Library at the Mount Vernon CampusVirginia Science and Technology Campus Library

July Collection of the Month: Washington, D.C. Statehood Constitutional Convention records

Photo of DC Statehood Now poster by Flickr user imissthevelvetundergroundThey called it “New Columbia,” the 51st state. In 1982, the citizens of Washington, D.C. voted to ratify a new constitution transforming the city into a state. It was the culmination of a process initiated several years before with the calling of a Constitutional Convention, a gathering of 45 elected delegates from the city tasked with establishing the structure and principals of the new city-state’s government.

The constitution was a long, bold document. The transcripts of debate on this document are held here in the Special Collections Research Center, in the Washington, D.C. Statehood Constitutional Convention records – nine boxes’ worth of transcripts of detailed, sometimes heated debates on the future of the city’s legislature, courts, taxes, labor laws, budget, and elections.

Upon the constitution’s ratification by the voters, a bill was introduced in Congress to admit this 51st state to the union. It did not pass. The statehood movement persists in Washington, though, from its license plates to the bills introduced in Congress each year for statehood.

If you would like more information on the collection or to arrange to view it, please contact the Special Collections Research Center at speccoll@gwu.edu or 202-994-3263.

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