Free Civics Studies Lesson 15: The National Capital

What Washington is and why it exists.

Read the current chapter online: “The National Capital.”


Learn more about the District of Columbia:

[The District of Columbia is] the federal district containing the capital of the United States; area 69 square miles. Authority for establishing it was given in the Constitution and the site was selected by Congress. A tract lying on both banks of the Potomac and containing 100 square miles was ceded by Maryland and Virginia, but in 1846 the Virginia cession was returned.

There is comparatively little manufacturing except for governmental purposes and most of the people depend directly or indirectly upon the government for a livelihood.

Since 1874 the district has been governed by three commissioners appointed by the president. The residents have no vote though they may pay taxes, but Congress pays a part of the expenses.

from The Book of Knowledge

Additional Resources

Our Nation’s Capital
Pictures and facts from National Geographic for Kids.

Mathematician and Astronomer Benjamin Banneker
Information from the Library of Congress for Kids site.

Washington, D.C. History FAQ
Why, how, what, and more!

History of Self-Government in the District of Columbia
Explains the history behind the unusual form of government.

The L’Enfant and McMillan Plans
History from the National Park Service.

The 1901 Plan for Washington D.C.
The reformers and the City Beautiful movement.


Pierre L’Enfant: Designing Washington D.C.
C-Span video for older students.


Ye Domesday Booke: Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Founding of the National Capital at Washington D.C.
Don’t miss this beauiful free eBook!

Washington, the City and the Seat of Government by C. H. Forbes-Lindsay
Some may recognize this author’s name from the frequently recommended John Smith: Gentleman Adventurer.

Rider’s Washington: A Guide Book for Travelers
Public domain work with lots of information and maps.

Units & Lesson Plans

Famous Person: Benjamin Banneker
Lesson plan exploring the man who assisted in the surveying of the Washington D.C. territory.

Notebooking Pages & Printables

L’Enfant Plan
Map for notebook.

Current map for notebook from the National Park Service.

The Nation’s Capital Notebooking Pages
Our free and simple notebooking pages for copywork, narrations, dictations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the entire series:
Free Civics Studies
Free Civics Studies: The Century Book for Young Americans

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