Washington County, D.C.

Washington County, D.C.

Washington County, D.C.

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The County of Washington was one of the five political entities contained within the geographic region comprising what was originally the 100-square-mile District of Columbia. These were the City of Alexandria, the County of Alexandria, Georgetown, the City of Washington, and the County of Washington. Washington County was that area of the District that had been ceded by Maryland to the federal government, other than Georgetown and the City of Washington.

In an 1846 act, Congress returned the Virginia portions of the District to Virginia, leaving Washington County as the sole county in the District of Columbia.

The county was farmland and large country estates owned by wealthy farmers and statesmen. These estates included Pleasant Plains, the estate of the Holmead family; Edgewood, home of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase; and Petworth, the estate of Col. John Tayloe. Also established in Washington County was the U.S. Soldiers' Retirement Home, where Abraham Lincoln lived during his summers as President. Despite its size, the population of Washington County was small.

Washington County was governed by a group of Justices of the Peace, who met on a Levy Court council. They performed the duties of county commissioners, and were subject to the Maryland state laws governing county commissioners, even though the county was outside the "state of Maryland". The President appointed the justices, and had the discretion to determine the number of...
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