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Immediately north of Thompson's New Troy tract (which extended far north of what is now called Capitol Hill) was a tract called Scotland Yard, Patented to Captain Robert Troope in 1663, or earlier; and immediately north of Troope's land lay the tract known as Room, or Rome, granted to Francis Pope in 1663, and wrongly supposed by many writers to include the high land upon which our Nation's Capitol now stands. In 1600 James Langworth, of Charles County, Maryland, bequeathed to his son John his rights in 670 acres "yet to be taken up"; this, it is thought, was the 600-acre tract granted to John Langworth in 1664 - the so-called Widow's Mite, lying to the north. It changed hands many times during the next 130 years. A tract known as Vineyard, in what became the Georgetown area, was patented to William Hutchinson in 1696; part of it was owned by Robert Peter in 1791. In 1703 Col. Ninian Beall, of Upper Marlborough, acquired much land in the same vicinity - the so-called Rock of Dunbarton (or Dumbarton), and that recorded as Beall's Levels. Part of the latter passed to the Burnes family, including much of the land now comprised in the White House region and along Pennsylvania Avenue to the east.

The "10 mile square"; which in 1791 became the Federal area was fringed with many notable manors - Riversdale, belonging to the Calverts; Northampton, manor of the Fairfaxes of Cameron; the Darnall homes, including Woodyard; the Carroll manors, including Rock Creek Mansion, where Father (later Archbishop) John Carroll lived; Chillum Manor, where one branch of the Digges family lived; Clean Drinking Manor, which passed from the Coates to Charles Jones; Friendship; one of the Addison manors; Rosedale, the Beall properties, and others.

Long Before towns began to have any importance in the region, the social life of the great landowners was varied and delightful. Tobacco had brought vast wealth to the gentleman planters of Virginia and Maryland, and the abundance of slaves had given them ample time for leisure. The gentlefolk lived much in the saddle, thinking little of riding five, ten even more miles to pay a social call, or to dine, with a neighbor. "Every house was a house of entertainment,"; says Spofford, "for hotels were almost unknown. Any descent stranger was sure of welcome."; Card - parties, horse races, shooting matches, athletic sports, fencing, and other gentlemanly tests of alertness and skill, river parties, hunting meets, riding matches, etc... - all were popular in their due season. The table of gentlefolk gave evidence of abundance and good taste. Liquors were to be had in every variety, and hospitality was so open and sincere that it was rare day when some stranger did not sit at the family table.

But these landed proprietors, with their charming affluence and leisure, by no means comprised the whole of humanity in Colonial Virginia and Maryland. There were many small planters who worked the less fertile land themselves - sometimes with a slave or two, sometimes alone; and some of the great Maryland landowners made fortunes by settling German immigrants on their plantations as tenant farmers. these small growers could no, like the rich proprietors, profitably consign their crops to English agents. "The large planters, therefore, became traders, buying the tobacco of their poorer neighbors and opening plantation stores in which the small farmers bought necessary merchandise."; There were also rather considerable artisan, mechanic, and laborer class, mostly persons sent over from England under indenture to Colonial employers, whom they wee required to serve for a period of 3 to 5 years, as recompense for the cost of their passage and a commission to the agent or ship owner who had arranged the transaction. To all of these economically oppressed classes, the western "back country"; offered a promised land toward which they pushed in ever-increasing numbers. But no path of escape in any direction stood open to the hordes of African slaves, who constituted by far the largest population group in the tidewater region, and upon whose labor the imposing structure of plantation prosperity the region was chiefly based.

Thirty years after the coming of the Calverts, St. Mary's City near the mouth of the Potomac was still the only place in the province that could be called a "towne." Indeed, under the manorial system, there was little need of towns. Tobacco was king, and each manor was a community in itself. Counties began to be organized as well as minor divisions called "hundreds", the Washington region being known as "New Scotland Hundred." Prince Georges County, which originally included what is now the District of Columbia, was organized in 1695, taking in all of Charles County north of Matawaman Creek, near Glymont, its territory reaching to the Blue Ridge Mountains and including all the terra incognita beyond.

The first communities in the upper tidewater Potomac region were those little hamlets that gradually came into being at the river landings, where the manorial lords had their tobacco warehouses. The first town of appreciable size to develop in this region was Upper Marlborough, the legal seat of Prince Georges County (which then extended to the Potomac River, Montgomery County not being created until 1776). Upper Marlborough was a small village when laid out in 1706; but grew rapidly in urban importance, and when chartered or rechartered in 1744 it was fast emulating Annapolis as a center of fashion and gaiety. Bladensburg, at one time designated Garrison's Landing, became a town in 1742. Alexandria, earlier known as Belle Haven and earlier still as Hunting Creek Warehouse, was laid out in 1749. Georgetown, between which and Rock Creek lay an old shipping point known as Saw Pit Landing, was organized in 1751. Alexandria and Georgetown, in the second half of the 18th century, became the principal ports of the region, both hoping in time to compare favorably even with New York and Philadelphia.

But until the end of the Colonial Period, life centered chiefly in the manors. Only on gala occasion did the urban influence draw from the manorial. All the elite from both sides of the Potomac attended the plays at Upper Marlborough, where every season for 20 years after 1752 the players from Annapolis displayed their artistry for the Potomac gentry. Then, and during the race weeks, every manor house over a wide radius would be crowded, each a brilliant social center in itself.

This was the region in which President Washington, in 1791, decided to set the National Capital.


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