Few artifacts of American cultural history once loomed so large, only to disappear from our collective consciousness. Look for Columbia only on maps now—and in America By Another Name.
She was America's very own goddess of liberty. Lady Columbia appeared in civic art, and in political cartoons around the world as a symbol of the ideals of the American people (Uncle Sam, on the other hand, always represented the U.S. government).
At one time, the names Lady Columbia and Lady Liberty were interchangeable.
A common figure in the visual war propaganda of World War One, the advent of modernism in the 1920s sent Lady Columbia into retirement.
"Columbia, Columbia, to Glory Arise" was one of the few songs to outlive the American War for Independence.
"Columbia, Gem of the Ocean" was so popular that school children sang it into the 1950s.
Until Congress declared "The Star-Spangled Banner" America's official national anthem in 1931, "Hail, Columbia" was the tune played at all federal functions. "Hail, Columbia" was particularly a song about union as the greatest protector of our liberty.
The district of Columbia
Even before officially named, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the new federal city would be called Columbia. An 11th hour decision to honor the Father of Our Country rendered its primary moniker as Washington.
If taxation without representation was a rallying cry of our War for Independence, you'd never know now: More than 600,000 District of Columbia residents have no voice in Congress. To keep it real, most District residents sport that rallying cry of 1776 on their car license plates.