Brian: From 1775 to 1800, the nation's capitol was wherever Congress met - which was in eight different cities. This worked okay until one time when Congress met in Philadelphia - 400 soldiers rioted trying to force Congress to cover back pay. The congressmen escaped but learned a key lesson : if they were going to function free of outside pressure, they'd need their own city. But no one had ever created a city just for a federal government before ... so, how did America pick a capitol?
H. W.: When Washington, D.C. was established, it was in the middle of the country. It was the middle between the northern states along the Atlantic Ocean and the southern states along the Atlantic Ocean - and those were the only states there were so it was pretty much right in the middle. It made very good sense. It was a political compromise, but also, it was a geographical compromise.