America’s First National Cemetery

Buried here, along with hundreds of congressmen and various Indian chiefs, are Mathew Brady, John Philip Sousa, and J. Edgar Hoover

As the truck bearing two coffins rolled out the main cemetery gate onto Potomac Avenue, the spirit of Richard Bland Lee must have sighed, “It’s about time.” In 1980, after 153 years, the brother of LightHorse Harry and uncle of Robert E. was finally going home to Sully Plantation in northern Virginia. Until his remains were disinterred, this little-known Lee, as mild as his middle name, had lain in the District of Columbia’s once-proud Congressional Cemetery. Read more »

“im A Born Optimist”

The Era of Hubert H. Humprey

They were Hubert Humphrey’s kind of people trudging through the corridors of the U.S. Capitol that day. Ordinary Americans from everywhere— blue-collar workers, men and boys in sports shirts and polyester pants, women and girls in shorts or jeans and halters, businessmen in double-knit suits. Humphrey’s kind of people. Read more »

The Supreme Court

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting! God save the United States and this Honorable Court!” On October 6—the first Monday of the month—those venerable words will herald the opening of the 1975–76 term of the Supreme Court of the United States, which has long been revered as the bulwark of our constitutional system. We offer here a portrait of its role in the American past.

 

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Garibaldi And Lincoln

Would the great fighter come over for the Union? Italian freedom and lead troops Lincoln hoped so

In the summer of 1861, when the newspaper generals in New York clamored for a clash of arms to put down the Confederate rebellion, the battle and the recriminations came sooner than expected. The people of Washington loaded up picnic baskets in buggies and carriages and drove across the bridges of the Potomac to watch the fun. Under the southern sunlight the sabers of the Union cavalry glistened, and the hope of a quick and punishing victory was in the smoking air.Read more »

The Drought And The Dole

Few places are more unpleasant ban Washington in the summer, and the summer of 1930 was worse than most. The pressures of the business downturn had kept Herbert Hoover a prisoner in the White House through a hot June and a hotter July —the stock-market crash was less than a year old—and in those days before air conditioning, editorial writers were beginning to express concern for the President’s health.Read more »

George Washington Sat Here … And Here …

James Fenimore Cooper told him; Charles Sumner and Ralph Waldo Emerson told him; even Charles Bulfinch, one of the architects of the Capitol, told him; but Horatio Greenough knew his own mind. The gigantic monument to George Washington taking shape in Greenough’s Florentine studio was to be “the birth of my thought.Read more »

A Wrecker’s Dozen

There are places on this earth, in Europe particularly, where conservation is taken to mean the preservation of the notable works of man as well as nature. Magnificent old railroad stations and churches, public buildings, historic houses, architectural landmarks of all kinds, are valued for their beauty or for the memories they evoke, for the sense of continuity they give a place, or, often, just because they have been around a long time and a great many people are fond of them. But here in America we don’t—most of us, anyway—seem to feel that way.Read more »

“Murder Most Foul”

Two shots rang out in the railroad station, and the President of the United States slumped to the floor, mortally wounded

Early on the morning of July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield was awakened in the White House by his two older sons, Harry, seventeen, and James, fifteen. Their mood was sportive, for they were all about to leave on a vacation together. They challenged their father to jump over the bed. Garfield, whom Thomas Wolfe included in that procession of “gravely vacant and bewhiskered faces” between Lincoln and McKinley, was indeed bewhiskered. But he was not a stuffed shirt: he jumped over the bed.

 
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Bonus March

By frieght train, on foot, and in commandeered trucks, thousands of unemployed veterans descended on a nervous capital at the depth of the Depression—and were run out of town by Army bayonets

 

In the late spring of 1932 some 20,000 jobless World War veterans, many with their wives and children, descended on Washington, dumping the Depression on the doorstep of the Capitol and the White House. Two months later, when they had overstayed their grudging welcome, they were driven out of the city. The crimson glow of their burning camps had hardly faded from the midnight sky before a dispute arose as to who these people were, why they had come to the capital, and under what circumstances they had been expelled.

 
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A Royal Welcome For The Russian Navy

Flags flew and champagne flowed when the Czar’s ships anchored in New York Harbor. Fifty years later we learned the reason for their surprise visit

No delegation of Russian visitors, the Bolshoi dancers not excepted, ever has been welcomed to this country with anything like the enthusiasm that greeted the Czar’s Atlantic fleet when it dropped anchor in New York Harbor in 1863. The fleet’s arrival was completely unexpected—a point to which we will return—but the American reaction was immediate, spontaneous, and open-armed.

 
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