What’s in a Name? Washingtonians Seem Underwhelmed by ‘New Columbia’


Mayor Muriel Bowser has been pushing for D.C. statehood over the last few months, especially with the recent finalizing by the New Columbia Statehood Commission of a constitution for the new state.

Among the most popular discussions is what to call this would-be state. “New Columbia” has been the standard go-to name for years. Now, with more urgency in the slight possibility of D.C. statehood, officials and citizens are bantering such words as “Anacostia,” “Potomac,” “Nats Land,” “Fools’ Errand” and “South New York.” People want something more exciting and relevant, dare we say.

Chime in yourself with suggestions to The Georgetowner’s Twitter feed and for its poll as to which name we should approve.

The push for making Washington, D.C. — or, more specifically, the District of Columbia — a state has been bouncing around since the 1980s. The District is a territory controlled and owned by the U.S. Congress as the national capital, as required by the U.S. Constitution. Located along the northern shore of the Potomac River, the District is surrounded by Maryland, which donated the land in the 18th century.

Nevertheless, local citizens keep pushing the argument that they have all the requirements of any U.S. citizen, such as military service and paying taxes, without full voting rights in the U.S. House of Representatives and no standing at all in the U.S. Senate (save for the mayor being allowed on the Senate floor).

“Taxation Without Representation” is the slogan that appears on many D.C. license plates, and word has gotten out to the rest of the nation about the D.C. situation.

As columnist Mark Plotkin — an ardent and unapologetic supported of D.C statehood — wrote in the June 22 Georgetowner: “Last week, there was a flurry of activity. There were four different sites where D.C. citizens were asked to present their views on a new constitution. Much has happened since the last one was completed (1982) and amended (1987). A draft constitution has been made available to D.C. residents.

“The biggest and most vehement objection to the draft is that the new state legislature will be so small. There would be only 13 state legislators for a state of nearly 700,000 residents.

“The other issue is the name of the new state. It has been called New Columbia. Josh Burch has proposed that it be called Douglass Commonwealth, in tribute to iconic figure Frederick Douglass.

“After taking testimony and comments from citizens, five people will finalize the new constitution: Mayor Bowser, Council Chair Phil Mendelson, D.C. Shadow Senators Paul Strauss and Michael Brown and Shadow Representative Franklin Garcia. Then the document will go to the District Council for approval. The final step will be to put it on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, with all D.C. citizens asked to vote yes or no.”

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