« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Pieces of sound timber are often discovered from ten to fifty feet below the surface. In digging wells, several pieces of black looking limbs of trees, and entire roots have been found at a considerable depth.-An extensive stratum .of carbonated limbs of trees has been discovered near Bladensburg, and north of the City, and traced for a considerable distance.
Many of the blocks of stone that compose the walls of the Capitol contain specimens of the leaves of trees, and ligneous fragments, -and when exposed to the air they have sometimes shrunk.
On turning up the surface of the soil some curiosities of Indian origin have been found. Round stone vessels in the shape of common pots, or bowls, and stone axes are sometimes picked up. A good specimen of an Indian axe in excellent preservation was found on the farm of Mr. Dunlop in Montgomery county, Md.--and is yet in his possession. Points of darts, and arrow heads of stone, used in Indian warfare are met with in many parts of the District. In some ancient records an Indian fort is mentioned, as standing on the banks of the Eastern Branch, not far from the spot on which the powder magazine is now located, but there are now no traces of it to be found.
The temperature of the water of the city springs, when brought to the surface of the earth at midsummer may be set down at 58° of fahrenheit, the Bladensburg chalybeate at 64°,-—and the stream of the Potomac at 85°, --and the water in the hydrants in Pennsylvania Avenue generally, where the pipes are sunk to a proper depth, at 56°, though it may issue from the fountain al 58o.
GEOLOGY AND MINERALOGY.
A few years ago a correspondent of a New York print, (generally understood to be an intelligent member of Congress) took a glance at some of the prominent geological features of this District; and although there be some imagination in the sketch, yet, there is enough of science to justify its insettion.
It is obvious, says he to the most careless observer, that over the site of the Capitol of the United States, and the country far around, the waves of the ocean once rolled, and that these fields, now quietly tilled by the planter, were thrown from beneath it by some tremendous convulsion. Where the great concerns of this nation are now canvassed, and our politicians are imagining that they may provide for the perpetuity of our republic, memory, as if mocking their schemes, points to the period when the monsters of the deep flowed over the spot; and no human being conceived that the waters would not continue to hide it forever.
The proofs of the amazing changes are numerous and conclusive. It is announced by the strata of earth; by the rounded stones, like those which grind and polish each other on the sea shore; and by the numerous secon. dary formations, which without analysis, instruct us satisfactorily on the slightest inspection. In many of the stones found even on the hights around us, are distinct impressions of marine shells. The lime of which these shells were constituited, has been decomposed, and has vanished, or been incorporated with the general mass, which, when broken, exhibits the concave and convex surfaces of the marine substance, and the vacant space produced by the slow waste of ages not now to be numbered. These stones are of various composition, some being exceedingly hard, and others soft,
and others having the character of the coarse grey sandstone, or what has I think erroneously been called granular-quartz."
The material of the soil is clay, discolored by the oxide of iron. It becomes fixed by fire, and no place can boast of greater facilities for brick making
Rock creek, and its immediate vicinity, is the line between the primitive formation and the tertiary; from Rock creek up the Potomae, the borders of the stream is pregnant with primitive rocks in situ and in boulders, with the exception of a few small pieces of allavial soil here and there, in the valley of the river. This is the case for twenty miles or more, when the country changes to old red sandstone, which continues 20 or 25 miles further up the river, with occasional ridges of brecca or pudding stone; marble shows itself in various places along the valley below and above Monocacy. About a mile, however, east of the entrance of Rock creek into the Potomac, on the southern point of the city, near the Glasshouse, the final termination of the primitive rocks that line the bed and banks of the Potomac above, clearly takes place. In digging wells beyond this point, rocks or stones seldom obtrude; the alluvial soil every where prevails.-Rock creek separates the primitive from the alluvial soil. In the former gneiss abounds, which is succeeded by the amphibolic rock or grunstein. The gneiss contains small crystalised tubes of magnetic iron, veins of feldspath and quartz of opaque white color. The rock of the Great Falls of the Potomac consists chiefly of micaceous schist,--the mica schistoide of Hauy, or glimmer schiefer of the Germans, and contains grains of iron which attract the magnetic needle. The stone, with which the basins of the Potomac canal are lined, is a species of sandstone (gris) siinilar to that known by the name of gris des mouilliores (sandstone of coal-beds.) The rock employed to form the foundation or base of the houses of Washington, is a species of gneiss, composed of feldspath, quartz and mica, of a leafy textere, owing to the abundance and disposition of the mica. It contains primitive sulphurous iron--and also particles of the same metal, which are attracted by the needle. At Fort Washington there is a ferruginous clay, known by the name of bol, which is employed to dye cloth and thread, of a reddish color... This sabstance, when heated, attracts the magnetic needle. The moulds of petrified shells of the genus arca weighing several pounds, have been dug up at this place.
Robinson, in his catalogue of American mineralogy, furnishes the following for the District of Columbia :
Flint--on the shores of the Eastern branch of the Potomac near the Navy Yard, in small. nodules --Hornstone, containing organic remains, agatized wood, woodstone --three miles north from Washington, sometimes invested with minute crystals of quartz,-fine specimens and abundant. Schork In Georgetown-in gneisslignite and pyritical fossil wood are found abundantly in digging wells. Iron ore-in the vicinity of the woodstone locality, in detached masses on the surfaces-organie remains in sandstone abundant.
- The préjudices that some time back existed averse to the general health, of the District, have been dissipated by the monthly publication of meteorological observations, and the interments in the public grave yards, authen.
ticated by the board of health. The climate of course resembles that of the adjoining parts of Maryland and Virginia. The severity of the winters, or cold seasons, is no doubt of late years much mitigated. In 1780, Mr. Jefferson says, the Chesapeake bay was solid ice from its head to the mouth of the Potoinac. At Annapolis, where it is 54 miles between the nearest points of land, the ice was from 5 to 7 inches thick quite across, so that loaded carriages went over it.. In January, 1772, the snow in the District of Washington was nearly three feet deep, and in some places it drifted to ten or twelve feet. Of late years not more than as many inches have fallen. Formerly the river, near Dumfries, was frequently frozen over in Novem. bet,--heavy snows fell in the same month, and loaded the forest trees, till their branches broke under the pressure. The climate, as caktivation progresses, is rapidly improving. The District is now seldom visited with the long or severe winters, of which our early settlers so feelingly complained. France, as well as America, in its uncultivated state, had hard winters. In the time of Julius Cæsar, the Rhine was frozen over, and neither the. olive nor the vine was then cultivated. A Gallic winter, once proverbially severe, is now, under a state of high cultivation, mild and pleasant. In the days of Horace, mountains near Rome were covered with snow. • The climate of Britain, however, is a remarkable exception, it appears, in our days, to continue as it was, in the times of Tacitus, moist, cloudy, and rainy. --So we are encouraged, on the authority of the ancients to look forward to a progressive improvement and material mitigations on the rigors of winter, when our soil shall be more generally opened by cultivation; we may not then be tortured with those extremes of heat and cold, under which we now labor, varying from 18° below zero, ta 980 above of fahrenheit.
In summer, the District is visited with frequent thunder gusts, though, on the whole they are beneficial, as they tend to purify the atmosphere, and mitigate the sultriness of the season, which is often as oppressive as within the tropics. The most remarkable of these tempests or tornadoes occurred in June, 1811, and August, 1814; during the former, large hailstones weighing three or four ounces, fell, and destroyed every pane of glass on the north side of the houses in Alexandria: and, in the latter instance, many houses were blown down and trees laid prostrate, much to the terror of the British, who at that time held for 24 hours the occupation of the city. . ,
We have no doubt that the degree of caloric has considerably increased, since the forest trees were cut down on our commons, and wide gravelled avenues formed: the difference of temperature in favor of the forest shade is, by some philosophers, reckoned at one fifth less than on an open space. Bordering as the District does on so many water courses, it may be naturally presumed, that its inhabitants, in the summer months, are not free from the annoyance of insects. The musquetoe is the most formidable of this description; but houses on an elevated site, or with a thorough draught of air, are seldom troubled with them. On the low grounds, and on the borders of swamps, ephemeral insects, chiefly of aquatic origin, in swarms of various descriptions, make their appearance; musquetoe curtains, however; so common in Carolina, are here very seldom required for the comforts of the bed chamber.
It may naturally be expected that the sudden changes of the atmosphere, --though in sound constitutions, they may harden the body,--yet with the more delicate, produce in winter and spring, colds, coughs, rheumatic affections, and in the fall, biljous fevers, agues, &c.; nevertheless that part of
the District in which Washington is located, is at least as healthy, if not more so, than any other portions of the Union, containing an equal number of inhabitants
Of the aborigines of the District we have a very imperfect account. In 1608 the first attempt to explore the Chesapeake and its tributary streams was made by Smith. Forty principal and subordinate tribes, occupied the shores of Virginia and Maryland at the time, of whom the Powhatans, the Manahoacs and Monacans were the chief. The Powhataps roamed from the shores of the Chesapeake to the Patuxent in Maryland: the Manahoacs and the Monacans on the territory contiguous to York and Potomac rivers. The Shawanees probably inhabited that part of Maryland which lies between the Patuxent and the Patapsco rivers, and from the Chesapeake to the Alleghanies. The Susquehanocks, it is believed, lived on the banks of the Susquehannah in Harford county, Maryland, towards the westward, penetrating considerably into Pennsylvania. The Fockwocks and Nanticokes possessed Kent, Queen Anns and Talbot counties, Maryland, from the Sassafras river to the Choptank; and the latter tribe, Dorchester and Somerset counties.
The Manahoacs and Monacans were in alliance with each other, and waged a confederate and perpetual war against the Powhatans. It is probable, and it is generally admitted, that they were occupiers of the territory which forms the present District of Columbia. The Mana hoacs, it is asserted by Colden, afterward assumed the name of Tuscaroras, deserted their country in Virginia about 1712, and repairing to the west, joined the Iroquois. In 1669, when a census was taken, it was found that in sixty-two years, one-third of their number were wanting. The valley at the foot of the Capitol Hill, washed by the Tiber creek, the Potomac and the Eastern Branch, it is stated on the authority of some of the early settlers, was periodically visited by the Indians; who named it their fishing ground, in contradistinction to their hunting ground; and that they assembled there in great numbers in the spring months to procure fish Green lief's Point was the principal camp and the residence of the chiefs, where councils were held among the various tribes thus gathered together. The coincidence of the location of the National Legislature, so near the site of the council house of an Indian nation, cannot fail to excite interesting reflections in the mind of the intelligent reader. It is highly probable that General Washington was acquainted with this tradition.
THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED States is the Legislature of the District of Columbia, and the President of the United States its highest
executive officer. The ordinary municipal control is exercised by a Mayor and Corporation.
Judiciary-Circuit Court. William CRANCH, of Washington, Chief Judge, Salary, 82,700 BUCKNOR THRUSTON,
2,500 JAMES S. MORSEL, Georgetown,
2,000 FRANCIS S. KEY, Washington, Attorney,
Fees, &e. Alex. HUNTER,
Fees, &c. Christopher NEAL, Alexandria, Judge,
$800 ALEXANDER MOORE,
Fees, &c. The Circuit Court for the District is held at Washington, on the first Monday in May and December, and at ALEXANDRIA on the second Mon, day in April and the first Monday in Norember. The District Court is held on the first Monday in June and November.
ALEXANDRIA originally called, Four members of the Council are an: BELHAVEN, a Post Town and Sea nually elected in each of the 4 wards Port, situated on the western bank of into which the City is divided, and the river Potomac, near the head of the Mayor is elected every year by tide water, on the south corner of the the Council. The political situation District, 6 miles south of the City of of Alexendria in common with the Washington, and 180 ms. from the other portions of the District of Coocean. The meridian of Washing. lumbia is singalar. The President ton passing through the Capitol, of the United States is the Governor, leaves the central part of Alexandria, and Congress, the Legislature of the near 3' to the E.-Lat. of Alexan- District, but the people have no voice dria 33° 48' N.
nor are their sentiments officially This lown lies principally in heard, in any of the political concerns the District of Columbia, but a small of the country. The Circuit Court of part of it is in the state of Virginia. the United States, for the District of It was incorporated in 1779 by the Columbia, sits in Alexandria twice a state of Virginia, and that part of it year, and its expenses are defrayed which lies within the District was by the General Government. From ceded to the General Government in the decision of the Court, there are 1801. The laws of Virginia, enacted appeals to the Supreme Court of the previous to that time, still remain in United States. force in the town and county of Alex. Alexandria is very handsomely andria, except those which have been situated. The streets are laid out on repealed by Congress. The muni- the plan of Philadelphia, crossing cipal government consists of a Coun- each other at right angles, and are cil of 16 representatives and a Mayor generally well paved. It is consider