A few years ago, an old map started circulating around the internet from 1850 with a proposed Western District of Columbia located in western Kentucky, across from the real Illinois town, named in a bout of wishful thinking, Metropolis, Illinois. I'm trying to create an alternate history scenario where this or something similar actually happened, what should my point of departure be?
Here are the requirements:
- Like Washington, DC, the new capital should straddle the border between two states, either along the Mississippi River (between Missouri and Illinois) or the Ohio River (between Kentucky and Illinois or Kentucky and Indiana).
- As I mentioned in the title, this should happen before 1900. I want the capital to sit in the Midwest long enough to create a government bureaucracy in the area as the 20th century progresses.
- The US should stay mostly or completely intact as in our real timeline. For instance, I do NOT want the capital to be moved as a result of the Confederacy winning the Civil War or the British retaining the Atlantic coast in the American Revolution.
- Bonus points for a new city created to be the capital, like Washington, DC, but I'll also accept proposals to move the capital to an existing large city like St. Louis.
In real history, there were a few semi-serious proposals to move the capital that I've found:
1814 - When the British burned down Washington, there was some discussion of moving the capital elsewhere (Philadelphia most likely), but Southern representatives wanted to keep the capital adjacent to a state where slavery was legal and argued that moving after a defeat would be a sign of weakness, so DC was rebuilt.
1846 - When a portion the District of Columbia was retroceded to Virginia, Senator William Allen of Ohio briefly argued that the capital ought to be moved west, but no legislation came from this.
1861 - Though there was never an official call for the removal of the capital during the Civil War, it is worth noting the tenuous position of Washington, DC. Virginia, on one side, was in open rebellion and home of the Confederacy's capital in Richmond. Maryland, on the other, though generally sympathetic to the union, was a slave state and martial law was enacted to keep it from seceding. The fighting came within miles of DC, and President Lincoln actually came under fire at one point.
1868 - Probably the closest any legislation came to moving the capital, a vote was held in the House of Representatives on moving the capital to the "Valley of the Mississippi", and the motion failed by only 20 votes. The following year, several western states sent official delegations to a convention to discuss moving the capital to St. Louis, but it seems no action was taken following the convention. The movement pretty much died by 1871 when President Grant was able to convince Congress to appropriate money for the improvement of Washington, DC.
I feel like sometime between 1846 and 1870 is the most plausible time to make this happen, can one of these be manipulated realistically to move the capital?