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James Madison and Thomas Jefferson wanted the location for the proposed District to be on the Potomac River, but didn't have the votes to get the Act through Congress. Pennsylvania was angling to get the Federal seat of government returned to Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Alexander Hamilton was floating the Assumption Bill, which would transfer the Revolutionary War debt from the States to the Federal government. Eventually, after a bit of political back-scratching, Virginia supported the Assumption Bill and New York supported the Residence Act which allowed the Act to pass both the House and the Senate by narrow votes.
The Act gave only a general location for the new District, with George Washington having the final say in exactly where it was to be located.
Considering the current ruckus over the debt ceiling, it is ironic -- in the non-hipster meaning of the word ironic that is -- that the compromise leading to the Residence Act involved debt as a large part of its solution.
Anyway, happy 221st birthday to DC, the seat of our Federal government. Also, I guess -- considering the Assumption Act -- a not so happy 221st birthday to the ballooning of the Federal debt. Sadly, it seems that tendency may be in the District's DNA.