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Title: Walks in Washington
Author: Leupp, Francis E.
Language: English
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                       _Walks About Washington_

                            [Illustration]

                            [Illustration]

                  [Illustration: _Where Lincoln Died_

                             FRONTISPIECE]



                              WALKS ABOUT
                              WASHINGTON

                                  BY
                           FRANCIS E. LEUPP

                           WITH DRAWINGS BY
                           LESTER G. HORNBY

                            [Illustration]

                                BOSTON
                      LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
                                 1915


                          _Copyright, 1915_,
                    BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

                         _All rights reserved_

                      Published, September, 1915


 Set up and electrotyped by J. S. Cushing Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
       Presswork by S. J. Parkhill & Co., Boston, Mass., U.S.A.



                                  To
                          ADA, HAROLD, ETHEL,
                          CONSTANCE, KATHLEEN
                                AND THE
                           MEMORY OF GRAHAM



[Illustration]

_Preface_


This is not a history. It is not a guide-book. It is not an
encyclopedia. It is nothing more ambitious than the title would
indicate: a stroll about Washington with my arm through my reader’s, and
a bit of friendly chat by the way. Mr. Hornby, sketch-book in hand, will
accompany us, to give permanence to our impressions here and there.

First, we will take a general look at the city and recall some of the
more interesting incidents connected with its century and a quarter of
growth. Next, we will walk at our leisure through its public places and
try to people them in imagination with the figures which once were so
much in evidence there.

For the stories woven into our talk I make no further claim than that
they have come to me from a variety of sources--personal observation,
dinner-table gossip, old letters and diaries, and local tradition. A
few, which seemed rather too vague in detail, I have tried to verify. My
ardor for research, however, was dampened by the discovery of from two
to a dozen versions of every occurrence, so that I have been driven to
accepting those which appeared most probable or most picturesque,
falling back upon the plea of the Last Minstrel:

    “I cannot tell how the truth may be;
     I say the tale as ’twas said to me.”

And now, let us be off!

                                 F. E. L.


WASHINGTON, D.C.,

   August 1, 1915.



[Illustration]

_Contents_


                                                               PAGE

PREFACE                                             vii

CHAPTER

   I. A CAPITAL MADE TO ORDER                                          1

  II. WAR TIMES AND THEIR SEQUEL                                      26

 III. “ON THE HILL”                                                   54

  IV. THESE OUR LAWMAKERS                                             85

   V. “THE OTHER END OF THE AVENUE”                                  114

  VI. THROUGH MANY CHANGING YEARS                                    147

 VII. “THE SPIRIT OF GREAT EVENTS”                                   177

VIII. NEW FACES IN OLD PLACES                                        207

  IX. THE REGION ’ROUND ABOUT                                        235

   X. MONUMENTS AND MEMORIES                                         261


INDEX                                                                287



[Illustration]

_List of Illustrations_


                                                                    PAGE

White House, from the State Department                                 i

Where Lincoln Died                                         _Frontispiece_

Down F Street to the Interior Department                             vii

Old Mill, on Bladensburg Battlefield                                  ix

Washington, across the Potomac from Arlington                         xi

Capitol, from Pennsylvania Avenue, West                             xiii

                                                             FACING PAGE

General Washington’s Office in Georgetown                              8

George Washington Tavern, Bladensburg                                 18

Octagon House                                                         30

Union Engine House of 1815                                            42

On the Ruins of Fort Stevens                                          50

Survivals from “Before the War”                                       62

Rock Creek                                                            74

Capitol, from New Jersey Avenue                                       84

Where Dolly Madison Gave Her Farewell Ball                            96

Lee Mansion at Arlington                                             108

Old Carlyle Mansion, Alexandria                                      120

Washington’s Pew in Christ Church, Alexandria                        132

Mount Vernon                                                         142

Tudor House, Georgetown                                              154

Bladensburg Duelling-Ground                                          156

Decatur House                                                        170

Soldiers’ Home                                                       180

Old City Hall                                                        192

The “Old Capitol”                                                    204

St. Paul’s, the Oldest Church in the District                        218

St. John’s, “the President’s Church”                                 234

Ford’s Theatre, the Old Front                                        248

Stage Entrance through which Booth Escaped                           260

Rendezvous of the Lincoln Conspirators                               274

A Herdic Cab                                                         286

[Illustration]



_Walks About Washington_



CHAPTER I

A CAPITAL MADE TO ORDER


With the possible exception of Petrograd, Washington is the only one of
the world’s great capitals that was deliberately created for its
purpose. Look for the origin of London, Paris, Berlin, or Rome, and you
find it enveloped in a cloud of myth and fable, from which, it appears,
the city emerged and took its place in history because certain
evolutionary forces had made it the nucleus of a nation and hence the
natural seat of government. Not so the capital of the United States.
Here the Government was already established and seeking a habitation;
and, since no existing city offered one that seemed generally
satisfactory, a new city was made to order, so that from the outset it
could be shaped as its tenant-master deemed best.

The creative force at work in this instance found its outlet through a
dinner. Of the ready-made cities which had competed for the honor of
housing the Government, New York and Philadelphia were regarded by the
Southern members of Congress as too far north both geographically and in
sentiment, while the Northern members were equally unwilling to go far
south in view of the difficulties of travel. Another sectional
controversy broke out over the question whether the Federal Government,
since it owed its birth to the War for Independence, were not in honor
bound to assume the debts incurred by the several States in prosecuting
that war. The North, as the more serious sufferer, demanded that it
should, but the South insisted that every State should bear its own
burden. In the midst of the discussion, Thomas Jefferson, who happened
to be in a position to act as mediator, invited a few leaders of both
factions to meet at his table; there, under the influence of savory
viands and a bottle of port apiece, they arranged a compromise, whereby
the Southern members were to vote for the assumption of the debts, in
exchange for Northern votes for a southern site. The program went
through Congress by a small majority, and the site chosen was a tract
about ten miles square on both banks of the Potomac River, the land on
the upper shore being ceded by Maryland and that on the lower by
Virginia. The Virginia part was given back in 1846.

As far as we know, the first map of this region was drawn by Captain
John Smith of Pocahontas fame and published in 1620 in his “Sixth Voyage
to that Part of Virginia now Planted by English Colonies, whom God
increase and preserve”; and the picturesque river which runs through it
was described by him as the “Patawomeke, navigable 140 myles, and fed
with many sweet rivers and springs which fall from the bordering hils.
The river exceedth with aboundance of fish.”

When the Commissioners appointed by President Washington took it over as
a federal district, they changed its Indian name, Connogochegue, to the
Territory of Columbia; and the city which they laid out in it was by
universal acclaim called Washington, regardless of the modest protests
of the statesman thus honored. Georgetown, which is now a part of
Washington, was then a pretty, well-to-do, little Maryland town about a
hundred years old, and Alexandria, Virginia, included in the southern
end of the District as then bounded, was a shipping port of some
consequence. All the rest of the tract was forest and farm land. The
President felt a lively personal interest in the whole neighborhood. His
estate, Mount Vernon, lay only a short boat-ride down the Potomac; and
he had been instrumental in starting a project for the canal now known
as the Chesapeake and Ohio, connecting Georgetown with a bit of farming
country west of it, and had planned one from Alexandria which should
form part of the same system. During his activities on the Maryland side
of the river, he made his headquarters in a little stone house in
Georgetown which is still standing.

It took time and diplomacy to induce some of the local landholders to
part with their acres to the Commissioners. There is an old story, good
enough to be true, of one David Burns, a canny Scot, who held out so
long that President Washington personally undertook his conversion.
After pointing out to the farmer what advantages he would reap from
having the Government for a neighbor, the great man concluded:

“But for this opportunity, Mr. Burns, you might have died a poor
tobacco-planter.”

“Aye, mon,” snapped Burns, “an’ had ye no married the widder Custis, wi’
all her nagurs, ye’d ha’ been a land surveyor the noo, an’ a mighty poor
ane at that!”

However, when he learned that, unless he accepted the liberal terms
offered him, his land would be condemned and seized at an appraisal
probably much lower, Burns met the President in quite another mood, and
to the final question, “Well, sir, what have you concluded to do?”
astonished every one by his prompt response: “Whate’er your excellency
wad ha’ me.” On one of his fields now stands the White House, and an
adjacent lot became Lafayette Square. By the sale of property adjoining
that which the Government bought, he amassed what for those days was an
enormous fortune. It is within our generation that his cottage was torn
down for the improvement of the neighborhood from which we enter Potomac
Park. Although a poor building in its old age, in its prime it had
sheltered many eminent men. Among them was Tom Moore, the Irish poet,
who was under its roof when he wrote his diatribe against--

    “This fam’d metropolis where Fancy sees
     Squares in morasses, obelisks in trees;
     Which second-sighted seers, ev’n now, adorn
     With shrines unbuilt and heroes yet unborn.”

Little as we may relish such satire, we are bound to admit its modicum
of truthfulness, for the brave souls who founded Washington were given
to the grandiloquent habit of their day. They had called to their aid
Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French military engineer who had served
in the patriot army of the Revolution, and who cherished brilliant
dreams of the future of his adopted country. To him they had committed
the preparation of a plan for the federal city, and he had laid it out
on the lines, not of an administrative center for a handful of newly
enfranchised colonies, but of a capital for a republic of fifty States
with five hundred million population. As he had lived in Versailles, he
is supposed to have taken that town as a general model in his
arrangement of streets and avenues, which some one has likened to “a
wheel laid on a gridiron.”

Of course, it was the business of the Commissioners to advertise the
attractions of the federal city as effectively as possible, to promote
its early settlement; so perhaps we may forgive their taking a good deal
for granted, and permitting real estate speculation to go practically
unchecked. Congress for several years ignored their appeals for an
appropriation for the development of the city, and in the interval their
chief dependence for the funds necessary to spend for highways and
buildings was on the sale of lots, and on grants or loans obtained from
neighboring States. The most sightly hill was set apart for the Capitol,
and a beautiful bit of rising ground, overlooking a bend in the river,
for the President’s House. The two buildings had their corner-stones
laid with much ceremony, but progress on them was slow. Nevertheless,
their sites, as well as the spaces reserved in L’Enfant’s plan for
parks, fountains, and statuary, were always treated by the speculators,
in correspondence with prospective customers, as if the improvements
designed eventually to crown them were already installed. The outside
public manifested no undue eagerness to buy, and the auction sales of
lots proved very disappointing. Then a lottery was organized, with
tickets at seven dollars apiece, and for a first prize “a superb hotel”
with baths and other comforts, worth fifty thousand dollars; but that,
too, fell short of expectations, all the desirable prizes going to
persons who felt no concern for the city’s future, and the hotel, though
started, never being finished. It was a pretty discouraging prospect,
therefore, which confronted the officers of the Government when, on May
16, 1800, President John Adams issued his order for their removal from
their cozy quarters in old Philadelphia to what seemed to them, by
contrast, like a camp in the wilderness.

The six Cabinet members, with their one hundred and thirty-two
subordinates, made the journey overland at various dates during the
summer, and in October the archives followed. These filled about a dozen
large boxes, which, with the office furniture, were brought down by sea
in a packet-boat and landed on a wharf at the mouth of Tiber Creek, a
tributary of the Potomac which then ran through the city but was later
converted into a sewer. All Washington, numbering perhaps three thousand
persons, turned out to greet the vessel; and amid cheers, ringing of
bells, and blasts from an antique cannon brought forth for the occasion,
its precious contents were carried ashore. “The Department buildings” to
which they were consigned were a wonderful assortment. The Treasury was
a two-story brick house at the southeast corner of the President’s
grounds, the War Office a still unfinished replica of it at the
southwest corner. The Post-office Department found shelter in a private
house in which only half the floors were laid and four rooms plastered;
while the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Navy, and the
Attorney-general had to direct their affairs from their lodgings. All
these temporary accommodations were sought as near as possible to the
President’s House. Congress had striven, for its greater ease of access,
to have the Departments quartered near the Capitol; but Washington had
set his face resolutely against every such proposal, citing the
experience of his own secretaries, who had been so pestered with
needless visits from Senators and Representatives that some of them “had
been obliged to go home and deny themselves, in order to transact
current business.” Which shows that one modern nuisance has a fairly
ancient precedent.

Members of both houses of Congress came straggling in all through the
first three weeks of November, to

[Illustration: _General Washington’s Office in Georgetown_]

find most of the best rooms in the two or three hotels and the little
cluster of boarding-houses already occupied by the executive
functionaries and their families. President Adams, who had preceded them
by a few weeks, was not much better off even in the official abode
reserved for him, if we may call his wife as a witness.

“The house is on a grand and superb scale,” she wrote to her daughter,
“requiring about thirty servants to attend and keep the apartments in
proper order, and perform the ordinary business of the house and
stables. The lighting the apartments, from the kitchen to the parlor and
chambers, is a tax indeed; and the fires we are obliged to keep, to
secure us from daily agues, is another very cheering comfort. Bells are
wholly wanting, not one single one being hung through the whole house,
and promises are all you can obtain. I could content myself almost
anywhere three months; but surrounded by forests, can you believe that
wood is not to be had, because people cannot be found to cut and cart
it! There is not a single apartment finished. We have not the least
fence or yard, or other convenience without; and the great unfinished
audience-room I make a drying-room of, to hang up the clothes in. The
principal stairs are not up, and will not be this winter. The ladies are
impatient for a drawing-room; I have no looking-glasses but dwarfs for
this house, not a twentieth part lamps enough to light it.”

Mrs. Adams’s consolatory reflection that she would have to endure these
conditions only three months, was probably shared by many of the
thirty-two Senators and one hundred and five Representatives who, on the
high hill to the east, shivered and shook and passed unflattering
criticisms on everybody who had had a hand in the construction of the
Capitol. Only the old north wing was in condition for use, and not all
of that. The Senate met in what is now the Supreme Court chamber; the
House took its chances wherever there was room, ending its travels in an
uncomfortable box of a hall commonly styled “the oven.” Most of the
members had made some study of the L’Enfant chart before coming to
Washington. One of them put into writing his impressions as he looked
about and tried to identify the public improvements he had been led to
expect. None of the streets was recognizable, he said, with the possible
exception of a road having two buildings on each side of it, which was
called New Jersey Avenue. The “magnificent Pennsylvania Avenue,”
connecting the Capitol with the President’s House, was for nearly the
entire distance a deep morass covered with wild bushes, through which a
passage had been hewn. The roads in every direction were muddy and
unimproved. The only attempt at a sidewalk had been made with chips of
stone left from building the Capitol, and this was little used because
the sharp edges cut the walker’s shoes in dry weather, and in wet
weather covered them with white mortar. Another member declared that
there was nothing in sight in Washington but scrub oak, and that, since
there was “only one good tavern within a day’s march,” many members had
to live in Georgetown and drive to and from the daily sessions of
Congress in a rickety coach. And a particularly disgusted critic, not
content with recording that “there are but few houses in any place, and
most of them are small, miserable huts,” added: “The people are poor,
and, as far as I can judge, live like fishes, by eating each other.”

Newspapers in all parts of the country echoed these depressing reports,
accompanying them with demands that the Government move again, this time
to some already well-populated and civilized region. Indeed, of several
resolutions to that end introduced in Congress, one was actually carried
to a vote and barely escaped passage. It may have been this accumulation
of discouraging elements which caused the delay in the arrival of the
Supreme Court from Philadelphia; or it may have been the paucity of
business before that tribunal, whose first Chief Justice, John Jay, had
resigned his commission to become Governor of New York, because he had
come to the conclusion that the Court could not command sufficient
support in the country at large to enforce its decisions! Whatever the
reason, the Justices did not find their way to Washington till well on
in the winter, or open their work there till February. They were
assigned the room in the basement of the Capitol now occupied by the
Supreme Court library.

Even when the first acute discomforts incident to removal had passed
away, the general depression was little relieved. Most of the earlier
citizens of Washington had entertained hopes of its becoming a
commercial as well as a political center of importance. They reasoned
that since Alexandria and Georgetown had already built up some trade
with the outside world, Washington, much more eligibly situated than
either, ought to attract a correspondingly larger measure of profitable
business. But all these bright anticipations were doomed to
disappointment: the progress of the city was as inconsiderable as if its
feet had become mired in one of its own marshes. The Mall, which on
L’Enfant’s map appeared as a boulevard fringed with fine public
buildings, soon degenerated into a common for pasturing cows. There was
good fishing above the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue from Sixth
Street to Thirteenth. Wild ducks found a favorite haunt where the Center
Market now stands. The whole place wore an air of suspended vitality in
striking contrast with the generous face of nature. “I am,” wrote a
visiting New Yorker to his wife, “almost enchanted with it--I mean the
situation for a city, for there is nothing here yet constituting one. As
to houses, there are very few, and those very scattering; and as to
streets, there are none, except you would call common roads streets. The
site, however, for a city, is the most delightful that can be
imagined--far beyond my expectation.”

“I took a hack after dinner to visit Nath’l Maxwell, and although he
lives near the center of the great city, yet such was the state of the
roads that I considered my life in danger. The distance on straight
lines does not exceed half a mile, but I had to ride up and down very
steep hills, with frightful gullies on almost every side.” And the
simplicity of life at the capital then is reflected in his statement
that after finishing his letters one night he was afraid to go out to
post them lest he lose his way in the dark, though he knew that the mail
would close at five in the morning. “After I had got comfortably into
bed,” he continued, “a watchman came past my window bawling out, ‘Past
one o’clock, and a very stormy night,’ on which I sprang out of bed and
called to him to take my letters to the post-office, which he consented
to do. I accordingly wrapped them in a sheet of paper to protect them
from the wet, and threw them out of the chamber window to him.”

The declaration of war against Great Britain in June, 1812, for which
the country at large held President Madison chiefly responsible, and
which reduced considerably such measure of popularity as he still
retained, did not produce much effect on the pulses of the stagnant
city. The first hostilities occurred in the north and on the sea; and,
although the enemy threatened Washington for more than a year, Madison
and most of his advisers regarded an attack as highly improbable. When,
however, it became known in 1814 that a large body of Wellington’s
veterans were setting sail from England, under convoy of a powerful
fleet, for the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, every one suddenly awoke to the
impending peril. It was then too late. Thanks to the misjudgment of
General Armstrong, Secretary of War, or General Winder, who was in
charge of military affairs in the District, midsummer found the enemy in
Maryland, but the city still without an efficient defensive force, or
ammunition or provisions to equip one properly. Hurried efforts brought
together a first line of thirty-one hundred men, all raw recruits except
six hundred sailors and a couple of hundred soldiers. A second line,
almost equal in number, was formed, mostly of militia, and disposed for
use as a home guard. At Bladensburg, Maryland, five miles north of
Washington, the decisive battle occurred on the twenty-fourth of August,
from which the seamen led by Captain Joshua Barney were the only
contingent that emerged with extraordinary credit; but they did so well
that a grateful community has not yet raised a monument to them or their
leader. The battlefield was close enough to the old George Washington
tavern, of which Mr. Hornby gives us an intimate glimpse, for the
occupants to hear the rattle of musketry and see the cannon-smoke from
the upper windows.

The outcome of the fight was that the British commanders, General Ross
and Admiral Cockburn, with six thousand men, drove the Americans back
and swept down upon the city, spreading ruin in their track. Ross had
his horse killed under him by a shot from a private house he was passing
and kept more in the background thereafter, but Cockburn was active in
the work of devastation. Tradition describes him as mounting the
Speaker’s dais in the Hall of Representatives, calling a burlesque
session of Congress to order, and putting the question: “Shall this
harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All in favor will say, ‘Aye’!”
There was a roar of “Ayes” from the men, who at once set going a mammoth
bonfire of written records and volumes from the library of Congress, and
soon the whole Capitol was wrapped in flames. Thence the party proceeded
to the other public buildings, burning whatever was recognizable as the
property of the Government. Their progress was nearly everywhere
unopposed, the clerks in charge having gathered up such books and papers
as they could carry away, and transported them to the most convenient
hiding-places.

The first break in this program occurred at the Patent Office, which was
under the superintendency of Doctor William Thornton, himself of English
birth. A neighbor having warned him at his home that his office was in
danger, he mounted his horse and galloped to the spot, where he arrived
just in time to see a squad of soldiers training a field-piece upon the
building. Leaping from the saddle and dramatically covering the muzzle
of the gun with his body, he reminded the artillerists that the
inventions they purposed destroying were monuments of human progress
which belonged to the whole civilized world, and denounced such
vandalism as a disgrace to the British uniform. His boldness had its
effect, and the Patent Office was spared. Another check came, in the
form of an accident of poetic justice, at Greenleaf’s Point, the present
site of the Army War College. This place had been used as an arsenal by
the defenders of the city, who, before deserting it, had secreted all
their surplus gunpowder in a dry well in the midst of the grounds. A
body of British troops undertook to destroy the American cannon they
found there by firing one gun directly into another, when a fragment of
burning wadding was blown into the well, causing an explosion that
killed twelve and wounded more than thirty of the party.

President Madison, who had been at Bladensburg personally superintending
the placing of our troops, hastened southward when the rout began, and
took refuge among the hills of northern Virginia. There he was presently
joined by his wife, and both remained in seclusion till they received
word that the British had marched away. This message was preceded by the
news that the President’s House had been burned, with all its contents
except a few portable articles which could be gathered and put out of
harm’s reach at an hour’s notice. The property destroyed with absolute
wantonness in various parts of the city aggregated in value between two
and three million dollars--a heavy loss for a government which was just
managing to stagger along with its legitimate burdens, and in a capital
that could barely be kept from collapse under the most favoring
conditions. It is not wonderful that the British press was almost a unit
in condemning Cockburn’s vandalism, the London _Statesman_ saying:
“Willingly would we throw a veil of oblivion over the transactions at
Washington; the Cossacks spared Paris, but we spared not the capital of
America!” And the _Annual Register_: “The extent of the devastation
practised by the victors brought a heavy censure upon the British
character, not only in America, but on the Continent of Europe.” The
restoration of the President’s House alone, including the repainting of
its outside surface to remove the scars of the fire, consumed four
years, in the course of which President Madison made way for his
successor, Monroe, and the building had fastened to it, from its
freshened color, the title it has worn in popular speech from that day
to this.

It was a sorry-looking Washington to which the Madisons came back.
Blackened ruins were everywhere; placards posted here and there
denounced the President as the author of the city’s misfortunes;
mournful streams of women, children, old men, and

[Illustration: _George Washington Tavern, Bladensburg_]

shamefaced stragglers from the defensive force, trickled in from the
woods in the suburban country where they had been hiding since the
battle; the streets were strewn with the wreckage of a cyclone which had
swept the valley almost simultaneously with the hostile troops,
unroofing houses, uprooting trees, demolishing chimneys, and generally
supplementing the disasters of warfare. Indeed, almost the only
potentiality of evil that had not come to pass was an uprising of the
slaves, which had been widely feared, as some of the restless spirits
among them had been overheard counseling their fellows to join the
British in looting the city and then make a break for freedom. The
Madisons, after a brief visit with friends, rented the Octagon house at
the corner of New York Avenue and Eighteenth Street, now the
headquarters of the American Institute of Architects. It was here that
President Madison signed the treaty of Ghent, binding Great Britain and
the United States to a peace which has remained for a whole century
unbroken. Here, too, Dolly Madison held her republican court, the most
famous since Martha Washington’s in New York, and far eclipsing that in
splendor.

To provide a meeting-place for Congress till the Capitol could be
occupied once more, a building which stood at the corner of F and
Seventh Streets was made over for the purpose. It proved so
uncomfortable, however, as to revive with increased zest the discussion
whether, in view of the spread of population through the newly opened
West, it would not be wiser to remove the seat of government to some
fairly accessible point in that part of the country. The agitation
alarmed the more important property-owners in Washington, who, in order
to head it off before it had gone too far, hastily organized a company
to put up a temporary but better equipped substitute for the Capitol.
They chose a site a few hundred yards to the eastward of the burned
edifice, and there built a long house which is still standing, though
now divided into dwellings. The stratagem accomplished its aim, and
Congress stayed in its improvised domicile till 1819. This occupancy
gave the building the title, “the Old Capitol,” that clings to it to-day
in spite of the changes it has undergone in the interval.

Washington was early supplied with a good general newspaper in the
_National Intelligencer_, and the social side of life presently found a
weekly interpreter in _The Huntress_, edited by Mrs. Ann Royall, whose
personality was so aggressive that John Quincy Adams described her as
going about “like a virago-errant in enchanted armor.” She said so much,
also, in disparagement of some of her neighbors, that she was indicted
by the grand jury as a common scold and threatened with a ducking in
accordance with an old English law in force in the District. But the
disseminators of information to whose coming the citizens looked forward
more eagerly than to any printed sheet, were two men who made their
rounds daily on horseback among the homes of the well-to-do. One was the
postman, delivering the mails that came in by stage-coach from the outer
world; the other was the barber, who, like an endless-chain letter,
picked up the latest gossip at every house he visited, and left in
exchange all the items he had picked up at previous stopping-places.

During the next generation Washington saw, it is safe to say, more of
the ups and downs of fortune than any other American city. The reasons
were manifold. For one thing, the larger part of its population
consisted of persons whose permanent ties were elsewhere. As federal
officeholders they were residents of Washington, but they retained their
citizenship in the places from which they had been drawn. Under the
Constitution, moreover, Congress exercised supreme authority in the
District of Columbia, and every member of Congress had the interests of
his home constituency more at heart than those of the people who were
his neighbors for only a few months at a time. Nevertheless, the
population of the capital, which, when it rose from its ashes, numbered
between eight and nine thousand, more than doubled within the next
twenty years. Then came ten years of great uncertainty, during which
occurred the overwhelming business panic of 1837, that set awry nearly
everything in America, and for this period the increase averaged only
about five hundred souls annually. But another twenty years of forward
movement brought the total up to a little more than sixty thousand.

In the meantime many things had happened, calculated to attract public
attention generally to Washington. President Monroe had proclaimed his
famous doctrine, warning Europe to keep its hands off this hemisphere.
President Jackson had made his fight upon the United States Bank and won
it, changing the whole financial outlook of the country. The Capitol had
been enlarged, and several new Government buildings started; the
Smithsonian Institution had begun to make its mark in the scientific
world, and the Washington Monument had risen nearly two hundred feet
into the air. The long-threatened war with Mexico had come and gone,
adding a rich area to our public domain. Steamships had crowded sailing
vessels off the highways of commerce and become the main dependence of
the Yankee navy. The Baltimore and Ohio Railway, the first successful
experiment in its field, had brought what we now call the Middle West,
with its grain and minerals, to within a day’s journey of the capital,
and this pioneer enterprise had been followed by the opening of other
rail facilities. The Fugitive Slave Law and the Kansas-Nebraska Act had
been passed, slavery had been abolished in the District of Columbia, the
Underground Railroad had begun to haul its daily consignment of runaway
negroes across the Canada border, the Supreme Court had rendered the
Dred Scott decision, and John Brown had led his raid in the mountain
country scarcely fifty miles from where the Court was sitting. Letter
postage, anywhere east of the Mississippi River, had come down to a
three-cent unit. The first telegraph message had been transmitted over a
wire connecting Baltimore with Washington, and out of this small
beginning had presently been developed a network of electric
communication covering all our more thickly populated territory; while
experimenters with a submarine line had effected an exchange of messages
between England and the United States which proved the practicability of
their enterprise. Last but not least, royalty had smiled upon us in the
person of the Prince of Wales, who had passed some days as the guest of
President Buchanan at the White House.

Had Washington been situated elsewhere than on the border line between
two sections, neither of which felt any pride in its success, or had it
been governed by executives whose records were to be made or marred by
the faithfulness with which they turned every opportunity to account for
its welfare and reputation, we should probably have seen the capital
beginning then its career as the model city of the new world. Instead,
the dependence of its people, at every stage, on the favor of what was
practically an alien governing body, bore natural fruit in a feeble
community spirit.

By 1860 Washington had reached the middle of its Slough of Despond. Not
a street was paved except for a patch here and there, and Pennsylvania
Avenue was the only one lighted after nightfall. Pigs roamed through the
less pretentious highways as freely as dogs. There was not a sewer
anywhere, a shallow, uncovered stream carrying off the common refuse to
the Potomac, which was held in its channel only by raw earthen bluffs.
Wells and springs furnished all the water, and the police and fire
departments were those of a village. The open squares, intended for
beauty spots, were densely overgrown with weeds. Except for an omnibus
line to Georgetown, not a public conveyance was running. Such permanent
Department buildings as had been started, though ambitious in design
and suggesting by their outlines a desire for something better than had
yet been accomplished, had not reached a habitable state. The Capitol
was in disorder, and still overrun with workmen who had been employed in
constructing the new wings and were preparing to raise the dome; the
White House had scarcely a fitter look, with its environment of stables
and shambling fences and its unkempt grounds.

Nor was there any prospect of speedy improvement in municipal
conditions. Every considerable stride in that direction would mean
largely increased taxation, and the bulk of the taxable property had
drifted into the hands of unprogressive whites and ignorant negroes, who
were equally unwilling to pay the price. Upon this seemingly hopeless
chaos descended the cloud of civil war.

It was a black cloud, but it had a sunlit lining.



CHAPTER II

WAR TIMES AND THEIR SEQUEL


Three days after John Brown had been hanged for his Harper’s Ferry raid,
the Thirty-sixth Congress convened. Brown’s exploit had sent a wave of
excitement sweeping over the country, and the slavery controversy had
entered a phase of emotional acuteness it had never known before. There
was a strong Republican plurality in the new House of Representatives,
but it was by no means of one mind, most of its members still hoping to
avoid any action which might precipitate a dismemberment of the Union.
It took forty-four ballots, covering a period of eight weeks, for a
combination of Republicans with a few outsiders to choose a Speaker, and
the wrangling which preceded and followed the choice reached at times
the verge of bloodshed. A large majority of the Representatives from
both Northern and Southern constituencies attended the sessions armed.

Before the end of June, 1860, four Presidential tickets were in the
field. The Republican ticket was headed by Abraham Lincoln of Illinois,
the Northern Democratic ticket by his old rival in State politics,
Stephen A. Douglas. The Southern Democrats had nominated John C.
Breckinridge of Kentucky, then Vice-president, and what was left of the
Whig party had united with the peacemakers generally in naming John Bell
of Tennessee. When Lincoln was elected in November, every one knew that
a crisis was at hand; for, although opposed to the use of violence for
the extinction of slavery, he disbelieved utterly in the system, and the
radical leaders in the South proceeded at once with their plans for
divorcing the slave States from the free States.

South Carolina led the actual revolt by adopting an ordinance of
secession and withdrawing her delegation from Congress. Almost
simultaneously she sent three commissioners to Washington, “empowered to
treat with the Government of the United States for the delivery of the
forts, magazines, lighthouses and other real estate within the limits of
South Carolina” to the State authorities. President Buchanan, fearing
lest any discussion with them might be construed as a recognition of
their claim to an ambassadorial status, referred them to Congress, which
met the difficulty at the threshold by turning their case over to a
special committee, with the result that their demands were disregarded.
The committee, however, played a pretty important part in the activities
of the succeeding winter, for the Union men in its membership organized
themselves into a sort of subcommittee of safety, and opened
confidential channels of communication with men and women all over the
city who were in a position to tell them promptly what the enemies of
the Union were planning to do. These secret informers included all
classes of persons, from domestic servants to Cabinet officers. The
correspondence was conducted not through the post-office, but by cipher
notes hidden in out-of-the-way places, where the parties for whom they
were intended could safely look for them after nightfall.

The militia and fire departments of the District of Columbia were modest
affairs then, but their members were alert to the growing possibilities
of trouble. Some who were secession sympathizers formed themselves into
rifle clubs and drilled privately at night; while the Unionists built up
a little body of minutemen, who elected their own officers and secreted
stands of arms at the Capitol and other convenient points, so that they
could respond instantly, wherever they chanced to be, to a summons for
emergency service. Day after day brought its budget of news from the
South, saddening or thrilling. Thomas and Floyd quitted the Cabinet,
Dix became Secretary of the Treasury, and Holt Secretary of War. In
January, 1861, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi
seceded, seizing all the forts, vessels, and other Government property
on which they could lay hands; and Dix put upon the wire his historic
despatch to his special agent at New Orleans, “If any one attempts to
haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot,” but it was
intercepted and never reached its destination.

February witnessed the secession of Texas, the election of Jefferson
Davis as President and Alexander H. Stephens as Vice-president of the
Confederate States of America, and the withdrawal of several Senators
and Representatives from the United States Congress. The only cheering
news of the month was the refusal of Tennessee and Missouri to secede,
though both States contained a multitude of citizens who would have
preferred to do so. Daily the galleries of Congress were crowded with
spectators representing all shades of opinion and at times
uncontrollable in their expressions of approval or disapproval. When the
House voted to submit a Constitutional amendment forbidding the
interference of Congress with slavery or any other State institution,
one element in the gallery burst into deafening applause; the opposing
element in the Senate became equally boisterous in applauding a speech
by Andrew Johnson, denouncing as a traitor any man who should fire upon
the flag or conspire to take over Government property for the
Confederacy. The difference in the treatment of the two outbreaks was
significant: that in the House was merely rebuked in words, but in the
Senate the gallery was cleared and closed to spectators for the rest of
the day.

In fairness it should be said that at this trying juncture several men
in positions of responsibility, who had made no secret of their interest
in the Southern cause, acted the honorable part when put to the test.
Vice-president Breckinridge was credited by current gossip with an
intention, at the official count of the electoral vote, to refuse to
declare Lincoln elected, or permit a mob to break up the session and
destroy the authenticated returns. On the contrary, he conducted the
count with as much scrupulousness in every detail as if his heart were
in the result. Equal praise is due to the chief of the Capitol police,
who, though bitterly hostile to Mr. Lincoln, took all the precautions
for his safety on the day of inauguration that his best friend could
have taken.

Thus the Buchanan administration went out, and the Lincoln
administration came in. The persistent

[Illustration: _Octagon House_]

warnings of a plot to kill or kidnap the President-elect led to the
adoption of an extraordinary program for bringing him safely to
Washington. Under the escort of an experienced detective, he made the
journey from Harrisburg at high speed, in a special train provided by
the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, all the tracks having been previously
cleared, and the telegraph wires cut along the route. Meanwhile, a
sensational newspaper had published locally a story that Lincoln was
already in the city, having been smuggled through Baltimore in disguise
in order to elude the conspirators who were waiting there to assassinate
him. This fiction so incensed William H. Seward, who had been in
Washington preparing for the arrival of his future chief, that Lincoln
was not allowed to make a toilet after his night’s journey, but was
hurried, all unwashed and unshaven, to the Capitol, so that the members
of Congress could see him and satisfy themselves of the falsity of what
they had read.

His immunity thus far did not quiet the apprehensions of Lincoln’s
friends, who took especial pains to prevent the interruption of his
inauguration at any point. A temporary fence was built around the space
immediately in front of the platform from which his address was to be
delivered, and an enclosed alley of boards was constructed from the
place where he would leave his carriage to the place where he would
pass into the Capitol. On the morning of the fourth of March, armed men
in citizen’s clothing were stationed on the roofs of all the buildings
overlooking the main east portico, and others on and under its platform,
while yet others mingled with the crowd of thirty thousand spectators
that early assembled on the plaza. Batteries of light artillery were
posted in commanding positions, with their cannon loaded and prepared to
sweep any of several converging streets on the approach of a mob.
Buchanan drove with Lincoln to the Capitol, and their carriage was
surrounded by a hollow square of regular troops, in formation so dense
that the occupants of the vehicle were scarcely visible from the
sidewalk. Hannibal Hamlin, the Vice-president-elect, walked up from
Willard’s Hotel, on purpose to hear what the people who lined the Avenue
were saying. Their comments were, as a rule, far from friendly to the
incoming administration, and some were distinctly ominous.

Lincoln appeared very calm, in spite of the general atmosphere of
excitement. Buchanan’s face was graver than usual, and he spoke little
during the drive. When the party came upon the platform, Senator Baker
of Oregon stepped forward and said simply, “Fellow citizens, I introduce
to you Abraham Lincoln, President-elect of the United States”; and the
tall, ungainly hero of the day advanced to the rail. He laid his
manuscript, to which he had put the finishing touches at daybreak that
morning, upon the little desk with his cane for a paper-weight, and
looked about for somewhere to lay his high silk hat; Stephen A. Douglas,
who was sitting near, reached for the hat and held it throughout the
proceedings. Lincoln, after a brief pause, drew from his pocket a pair
of steel-bowed spectacles, which he adjusted very deliberately, and
began to read with a seriousness of manner that soon quenched all
disposition to frivolity in his audience. The address was a plea for the
preservation of that friendship between the North and the South which
had been hallowed by their united warfare in the past against the
enemies of their country, and ended thus:

“Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of
affection. The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battlefield
and patriot grave to every loving heart and hearthstone all over this
broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched,
as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

When the last syllable had passed his lips, he stood still a moment,
slowly sweeping the multitude with his eyes. Then he bowed to Chief
Justice Taney, who, in a voice tremulous with emotion, administered the
oath of office.

Within six weeks thereafter Fort Sumter had been fired upon, and the new
President had issued his call for seventy-five thousand volunteers to
maintain the laws of the United States, and summoned Congress to meet in
extra session on the fourth of July. Almost the first thing the Senate
did when it came together was to expel six of its members who had cast
their fortunes with the seceding States. Meanwhile, Washington had been
transformed from an outwardly peaceful town into a military camp. A home
defense corps was hurriedly enlisted by Cassius M. Clay of Kentucky and
James H. Lane of Kansas, and a guard was posted around the White House
every night. The minutemen were called out repeatedly for special
service. Once they seized a vessel which was about to sail from a
Potomac wharf for a southern port, laden with munitions of war alleged
to have been stolen from the Government. Again, they marched to
Georgetown and took forcible possession of the flour stored in a mill
there and reported to them as destined for the Confederate army; this,
by commandeering all the wagons in the neighborhood, they removed to the
Capitol and stowed away in the basement rooms. In the streets, all
strangers were eyed with suspicion. Signals to the police, the home
defense corps, and the minutemen were conveyed by certain tollings of
big bells; and, as every signal meant trouble either present or
imminent, the townspeople lived continually as if on the brink of a
volcano.

Among the earliest State volunteers to reach the city were regiments
from Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Massachusetts Sixth,
which had been fired on by a mob while passing through Baltimore, was
quartered in the Hall of the Senate, and the New York Seventh in the
Hall of Representatives; while bivouacked in other parts of the same
building were about five hundred Pennsylvanians and a company of United
States artillery, for there was general expectation of a Confederate
attack upon the Capitol. The New York Seventy-first was assigned to the
Washington Navy Yard, so as to be convenient for repelling approaches
from Alexandria by way of the river.

The first incident of the war in which Alexandria figured, however, was
not a foray on Washington but a tragedy at home. Colonel Ephraim E.
Ellsworth, who had recruited a regiment of zouaves from New York City,
came to Washington at its head. He was young, handsome, soldierly in
bearing, and full of enthusiasm; but Mr. Lincoln, though greatly
attracted to him, felt some misgivings as to his ability to control his
zouaves, for the New York firemen of that period had a reputation for
turbulence. Hence, when arrangements were made for moving troops into
Virginia to occupy a region which must be held for the defense of the
capital, the President consented to let Ellsworth’s regiment go only on
condition that it should be instantly disbanded if its members committed
any breach of discipline.

At two o’clock on the morning of May 24, 1861, the zouaves boarded two
Potomac steamboats, which before sunrise had dropped down to Alexandria.
Leaving most of his men on the wharf, Ellsworth started with a small
squad toward a telegraph office whence he could report to Washington by
wire. He observed a Confederate flag flying from the roof of a hotel
known as the Marshall House, and, realizing what might happen if his men
caught sight of it, entered with the purpose of directing its removal.
Jackson, the landlord, was abed, and the man in charge of the office
seemed irresponsible, so Ellsworth and his squad hauled down the flag
themselves. As they were descending with it, Jackson suddenly emerged
from his chamber in the second story and leveled a double-barreled
shotgun at Corporal Brownell, the soldier nearest him. Brownell, with
his rifle, struck Jackson’s gun just as its trigger was pulled, and the
shot went wild; but in an instant Jackson had aimed again and discharged
the contents of the second barrel into Ellsworth’s breast. The Colonel
fell dead, and Brownell, firing and using his bayonet almost
simultaneously, killed Jackson where he stood.

Except one who had lost his life by an accident, Ellsworth was the first
Union soldier to fall in the Civil War. He was buried from the White
House by the President’s order; and the news of his death so aroused the
North that volunteers poured into Washington for a time faster than the
Government could arm and provision them. Mostly they were militia
regiments which had come on under their own officers. In Washington they
were united in brigades, with generals of some experience in command,
and sent into Virginia by way of the “Long Bridge,” which had its
terminus on the fringe of the Arlington estate; it was a wooden
structure, and the troops had to break step in crossing it. The first
battle between the two armies was at a point near Manassas, and took its
name, Bull Run, from a small stream which, about twenty-five miles
southwest of Washington, joins the Occoquan River.

So little conception had the people at large of the actualities of war
that many Washingtonians and tourists, of all ages and sexes, drove down
in carriages to watch the battle from a safe position on the hillside.
Fighting began on the morning of Sunday, July 21, and the first reports
that reached the city described everything as going favorably to the
Union cause. The despatches sent to Northern newspapers all reflected
this view, and some went pretty elaborately into detail concerning
incidents on various parts of the field. But suddenly the tide turned,
and with a panicky force which started the whole body of Federal troops
on a pell-mell rush for Washington. The light-hearted spectators ran,
too, often impeding the retreat of the soldiers by getting their
carriages wedged together on a bridge or a narrow road, while the air
shook with mingled profanity and prayers, punctuated with hysterics. Not
a few of the carriage folk, as night drew near, became so terrified that
they cut their harness and rode their horses bareback, two sometimes
clinging to one animal. The Confederates, discovering the rout, were as
much surprised as the Federals. They set out to follow their foes, but,
not fully grasping the real conditions, stopped about fifteen miles
short of Washington and waited for morning, thus giving the fugitive
army a chance to recover from its first demoralization. Had they
pressed on, they might have taken possession of the capital that night,
captured the stored munitions, and looted the Treasury; and the record
of the next four years must have been written in a different vein.

Meanwhile, the true story had been brought in by the fleeing
non-combatants, and the Associated Press attempted to send out a
correction of first reports, but discovered too late that the Government
had seized all the telegraph lines and established a temporary
censorship, postponing any further dissemination of news. As far as
known, only one prominent paper in the North was able to describe the
disaster in its Monday morning’s issue. That was a Philadelphia journal,
whose correspondent had taken to his heels as soon as the panic began.
By the time he reached Washington, he was so convinced that the
Confederates were going to capture the city at once, that he boarded a
train which was just pulling out for Philadelphia, and at his desk in
his home office dictated his observations of the battle and the
stampede.

The President, having received only cheering bulletins in the earlier
part of Sunday, went out for his usual drive in the cool of the
afternoon. On his return, about half-past six o’clock, he found awaiting
him a request to come immediately to General Scott’s room at the War
Department. All his Cabinet had gathered there, and his hurried
consultation with them resulted in messages directing various movements
of troops in the field, and appeals to the Governors of the loyal States
for more men. When he came back to his office, he threw himself upon a
lounge, where he spent the night, not in sleep, but in listening to, and
closely catechising, parties of civilians who had made their way in from
Manassas and had hastened to the White House to pour their disjointed
narratives into his ear. By daylight the streets of Washington presented
a pitiful spectacle. Ordinary business was almost at a standstill;
excited citizens were gathered in knots at every corner; and a multitude
of disheartened soldiers, lacking leaders and organization, not knowing
where to look for their next orders and thinking with dread of the
effect the bad news would have upon their friends at home, were
wandering aimlessly about. The President, after twenty-four hours of
anxiety, was greatly relieved when the responses from the Northern
States began to reach him, showing that the shock had not broken the
faith of the people but had awakened them to the realities of the
situation. This change was reflected in the Cabinet councils, too, where
a sudden revision of opinion was observed on the part of those members
who had fancied that the war would be merely a three months’ holiday--a
triumphal march of a Northern army from Mason and Dixon’s line to the
Gulf of Mexico.

This is not a history of the civil conflict; its beginnings have been
thus outlined only because they made so deep an impress on the future of
Washington, which, from being generally regarded by the American people
with comparative indifference, had become a center of interest for all
the world. The city was not again seriously threatened with capture till
July, 1864, when the Confederate General, Jubal A. Early, with a corps
of seasoned soldiers, had worked his way around so as to descend upon it
from the north. The news of his approach, spreading through the
community, did not cause the consternation which might have been
expected in view of the slight defensive preparation that had been made
in the menaced quarter. Requisitions were sent to the army in Northern
Virginia for such troops as could be spared. Wounded and discharged
Union veterans shouldered their guns once more. The male nurses in the
hospitals were drafted for active duty. A troop of cavalry was recruited
among the civilian teamsters at work in the city. From all the executive
Departments the able-bodied clerks were called out, armed with rifles or
muskets as far as possible, and for the rest with pistols, old
cutlasses, axes, shovels, and whatever other implements might be turned
to emergency use, and ranged up on the sidewalks for elementary
instruction and drill. Those who were least strong or most poorly armed
were organized into a home-guard, to act as a last reserve if the
Confederates succeeded in piercing a line of earthworks thrown out north
of the city. Some of these fortifications can still be identified,
though worn away by a half-century’s exposure to a variable climate,
overgrown with trees and vines, and at intervals used as building sites.
The most interesting of the chain is Fort Stevens, near the present
Seventh Street Road, for there President Lincoln stood for hours under
fire, refusing to go home as long as there seemed a chance that his
presence could lend any inspiration to the men. The invading force was
repulsed after a two days’ effort to break through, and Washington
breathed freely once more.

We come now to the concluding stage of the great struggle. Mr. Lincoln
was reëlected in November, 1864, and inaugurated on the fourth of March,
1865, making the chief theme of his address a plea for generous
treatment of the South. Within a month Richmond fell, and five days
after that General Lee surrendered his army. There was great rejoicing
in Washington over both these portents of peace, and parties of men and
women paraded the streets after

[Illustration: _Union Engine House of 1815_]

nightfall, singing patriotic songs in front of the dwellings of
prominent Government officers. On the night of April 11 a great crowd
gathered in the White House yard, loudly cheering the President and
calling for a speech. Having been notified in advance, he had jotted
down a few remarks which he now read from manuscript. This memory of him
we shall take away with us, as he stood framed in an open window, with
one of his secretaries at his side holding a lighted candle for him to
see by, and his little son Tad taking from his hand the pages of
manuscript, one by one, as he finished reading them, while the rest of
his family, with radiant faces, were grouped where they could overlook
the scene.

Three nights later, almost at the same hour, Booth’s bullet laid the
good man low in his box at Ford’s Theater; and in a little back hall
bedroom of the house across the street to which he was carried, he
breathed his last at an early hour on the following morning.
Simultaneously with the shooting of Mr. Lincoln, an attempt was made to
kill Secretary Seward, and the detectives unearthed evidence of a wide
conspiracy, which contemplated a simultaneous murder of the President,
the Vice-president, all the Cabinet, and General Grant. The conspirators
were soon tracked. Booth was shot in a Virginia barn in which he had
taken refuge from his pursuers; four others were tried by a military
commission and hanged.

Andrew Johnson, the Vice-president, was not a tactful man, and had
already drawn upon himself the enmity of the radical wing of his party
in Congress, which was intensified by his first acts as President,
foreshadowing a considerate policy toward the South. A tiresome petty
warfare set in, Johnson vetoing bill after bill, only to see it repassed
over his veto. Of the members of the Lincoln Cabinet he had retained,
Secretary Stanton was the one with whom he had most friction, and in
August, 1867, he called for Stanton’s resignation, designating General
Grant to manage the War Department temporarily. On Stanton’s refusal to
resign, Johnson suspended him, and Grant took over the Department and
held it till the Senate adopted a resolution declaring its
non-concurrence in Stanton’s suspension. Then Grant stepped out, and
Stanton returned to duty. Johnson suspended him again, this time
designating General Lorenzo Thomas to act in his stead. Matters had now
reached a climax, and the House in 1868 impeached the President. His
trial by the Senate consumed nearly two months and ended in a failure to
convict. In view of this defeat, Stanton resigned, and from that time
till the close of his term President Johnson continued his quarrel with
the opponents of his policy, celebrating his last Christmas in the White
House by proclaiming a general pardon and amnesty, so framed as to
include all grades of political offenders.

Johnson was President when the enlargement of the Capitol building was
finished, including the rearing of the present dome. While the
alterations were in progress, the grand two days’ parade of the
victorious armies took place on Pennsylvania Avenue, the President
reviewing it as it passed the White House. General Grant was elected by
the Republicans to succeed Johnson, taking office in March, 1869. During
the next sixteen years, divided between his two terms and the
administrations of Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur, Washington almost
doubled in population. While Grant was President, it was so constantly
in the public eye that many rich men discerned its future possibilities
and invested in real estate there. Army and navy officers, retired from
active duty, found it pleasant to settle down where they would be most
likely to meet their old comrades. A few scholars drifted in, so as to
have easy access to the Government libraries and records. Thus, in both
a material and a social way, Washington took a strong upward start.

For the esthetic side of the general change, less can be said in
praise. Most of the dwellings built during this era can still be
distinguished by their gratuitous ugliness. The parks became strewn with
flower-beds of fantastic shape, overrun by a riot of inharmonious
colors. Statues sprang up like mushrooms, unrelated in size or style or
any other quality. Alterations of street grades left little houses
perched on bluffs and leaning against big neighbors built at the new
level, or sunk in dingy pits. All this contributed to give the city an
unfinished look, like that of a child growing out of its small clothes.
Over the whole process of transformation loomed its master figure,
Alexander R. Shepherd.

No man of his day, unless it were Grant himself, endured more wholesale
denunciation or found more valiant defenders than he. Like Grant, who
believed in him thoroughly, he had an iron will which treated all
obstacles as negligible when he had set himself to accomplish a certain
end. As a plumber by trade and a very competent one, he had accumulated
a fortune before middle life. Early in his business career he had made
up his mind that Washington’s failure to fulfil L’Enfant’s ideal of a
beautiful capital was due to the sluggishness which pervaded it, and
this he resolved to dispel. Grant listened to his projects and
encouraged them. The first step was to abolish the existing form of
municipal government and to substitute a Territorial form, with a
Governor and a Board of Public Works. Shepherd was made vice-president
of the Board and virtually its dictator.

What he had to face in his effort to launch the city afresh can hardly
be conceived by an observer of to-day. Although ten years had elapsed
since the outbreak of the great war of which Washington was the focal
center, local conditions had improved but slightly upon those described
toward the close of the previous chapter. The road-bed of Pennsylvania
Avenue had received a pavement of wood, which was fast going to pieces.
A single square in Vermont Avenue was surfaced with a coal-tar product
that had proved its unfitness. A few other streets had been spread with
a thick coat of gravel, which, as it was gradually ground down, filled
the air with fine grit whenever the wind blew. The rest of the highways
were either paved with cobblestones or left in their primitive dirt,
which became nearly impassable in very wet weather for mud, and in very
dry weather for dust. It was not uncommon for a heavy vehicle like a
fire-engine to get stalled when it most needed to hurry, and to avoid
this contingency the engines sometimes ran over the sidewalk. In the
northwestern quarter, now so attractive, the marshes were undrained, and
the people forced to live there suffered tortures from chills and
fever. There was no efficient system of scavenging, but swine were kept
in back yards of dwellings to devour the kitchen refuse. Poultry and
cattle roamed freely about the vacant lots in thinly settled
neighborhoods. There were several open sewers; and the street sweepings,
including offal of a highly offensive sort, were dumped on the common
south of Pennsylvania Avenue and strewn over the plots set apart for
lawns.

Because Shepherd foresaw the hostility he would excite by his program of
reforms, and that what he did must therefore be done quickly, he crowded
into three years what might well have consumed twenty. To save time and
cut red tape, he awarded contracts to friends whom he believed to be as
much in earnest as he was--a practice which of course laid him open to
accusations of favoritism; he experimented with novel materials and
methods, many of which proved ill-adapted to his needs; and his
expenditures reached figures which surprised even him when he found
leisure to foot up his debit page. But he shirked nothing because of the
danger or trouble it might involve for himself, and his opponents had to
lie awake nights to outwit him.

For instance, there stood on the present site of the Public Library in
Mount Vernon Square a ramshackle old market building, the owners of
which had contrived so to intrench themselves behind legal
technicalities that they could not be ousted by any ordinary process.
One evening, after the courts were closed, a platoon of brawny laborers
was marched up to the building, armed with battering-rams, axes, and
sledge-hammers, and, before proprietors or tenants could hunt up a judge
to interfere, the party had reduced the market to kindling wood and
prepared the ground for conversion into a public park. Again, when the
time came to improve the lower end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a railroad
crossing stood in the way. It had been laid during the war, with no
legal warrant but as a temporary military necessity, and the company had
repeatedly refused to remove it. So at one o’clock one Sunday morning,
when injunctions were out of the question, Shepherd brought down a gang
of trusty men and proceeded to tear up the rails, which could never
thereafter be replaced.

The boldness of this performance so stirred the admiration of John W.
Garrett, one of the most powerful railway magnates of the day, that he
offered Shepherd a vice-presidency of the Baltimore and Ohio Company.
But Shepherd was not to be lured away. He was promoted by Grant from the
vice-presidency of the Board of Public Works to the Governorship of the
District, a move which, though flattering, made him all the more shining
a mark for attack; and a group of large landowners, shuddering at the
prospect of further increases in taxation, induced Congress to
reorganize the local government, wiping out entirely the Territorial
system and popular suffrage, and putting the administration of affairs
into the hands of three Commissioners to be appointed for limited terms
by the President. This plan has remained substantially unchanged for
more than forty years, to the satisfaction of the citizens who have most
at stake in the welfare of the city.

Having entered office rich at the age of thirty, Shepherd quitted it at
thirty-three so poor that he had to begin life anew in the Mexican
mining country. He left as his monument a record expenditure of
twenty-six million dollars, about half that amount remaining as a bonded
debt; many miles of newly opened or extended streets; a splendid
achievement in shade-tree installation and parking improvement; modern
water, sanitation, and lighting plants; and, above all, an awakened
popular spirit as to civic advancement. Albeit his ways of working out
his plans often were so crude as to shock the sense of quieter people
and not to be commended as a continuing force for

[Illustration: _On the Ruins of Fort Stevens_]

good, they served their time, which needed the application of a crowbar
rather than a cambric needle.

True to his human type, Shepherd was an odd mixture of incongruities. He
poured out public funds like water, yet profited never a cent himself.
In his own fashion he was pious, yet he could swear like a trooper when
aroused, and once halted in the midst of family prayers to order a
servant to “drive that damned cow out of the rose-bushes!” He was
overheard, after hurling imprecations at some contractor who had
mishandled a job, murmuring a prayer to the Almighty to forgive and
forget his momentary loss of temper. A lady who once engaged him as a
plumber to hang a chandelier in her parlor noticed that it swayed under
her touch, and sent for him again to make sure that it would not fall
upon the heads of her guests. His answer was to mount a chair on one
side of the room, pull the chandelier toward him till he could grasp it
with both hands, jump off, and swing his whole weight of two hundred and
twenty-five pounds across to a chair on the opposite side. This
exhibition of his confidence in his work completely restored hers.

Little more need be told here. The sodden soil plowed up by Shepherd was
gradually harrowed and seeded, watched and watered, till it brought
forth a new city, which under later administrations, in spite of many
vicissitudes, has prospered in the main. Presidents Cleveland, Harrison,
and McKinley took an interest in it which, while kindly, had some of the
detached quality of their interest in any of the States or Territories;
under them, however, the beautiful Rock Creek National Park and its
neighbor the “Zoo” were planned and largely developed, and the
pleasure-ground and suburban expansion programs received a considerable
impetus. President Roosevelt felt a lively sense of the importance of
the city as the capital of a great nation. It was in his time that the
White House underwent its restoration, and the L’Enfant plan generally
was revived as a standard. He was responsible, also, for attracting to
Washington, as permanent residents, many literary and scientific workers
whom it had formerly welcomed only as visitors, and the foundation of
the Carnegie Institution went far to make this period notable in local
annals. Mr. Taft’s interest took more the neighborly bent, as if
Washington were his home. He bore an active part in the popular
movements for beautifying the city, not so much because it was a
capital, as because he wished to have a hand in the civic enterprises of
his fellow townsmen.

President Wilson’s attitude has not thus far been so clearly defined as
that of his recent predecessors. Other pressing public concerns have
left him scant time for looking into municipal improvement projects.
Mrs. Wilson, however, gave them much attention; and a hope expressed
during her last illness so touched the heart of Congress as to bring
about the enactment of some long-delayed legislation to abate the use of
unwholesome alleys for the tenements of the poor.



CHAPTER III

“ON THE HILL”


In the ordinary conversation of Washington, one rarely hears Congress
mentioned by name. The respective functions of its two chambers are so
generally understood that it is common to distinguish between them: the
Senate yesterday did so-and-so; something is about to occur in the House
of Representatives. In speaking of the lawmakers collectively, the
familiar phrase is “the gentlemen on the hill.” Washington has several
hills, but “the” hill is by universal consent the one on which the
Capitol stands.

To the visitor who knows the city only in its present aspect, the choice
of this hill for the monumental building now crowning it seems most
natural. This is not, however, the place originally considered for the
purpose. James Madison favored Shuter’s Hill, an eminence a little west
of Alexandria, now embraced in the tract set apart for George Washington
Park. Thomas Jefferson supported Madison in this preference; but
President Washington, feeling that Virginia had already had her full
share of the honors in launching the new republic, insisted that the
most important architecture at the seat of government should stand on
the Maryland side of the Potomac. His view prevailed; and, when the
sites of the principal public buildings were marked on L’Enfant’s plan
of the city, that selected for the Capitol was the elevation which,
besides being fairly central, commanded in its outlook, and was
commanded by, the greatest area of country on both sides of the river.

Like almost everything else architectural in Washington, the Capitol is
a pile of gradual growth, subjected to many changes of detail in the
plans. Sketches were submitted in competition for a prize; the two
competitors who came nearest to meeting the requirements, though adopted
citizens of the United States, were respectively of French and English
birth; and the drawings finally evolved from the general scheme of the
one modified by the more acceptable ideas of the other were turned over
to an Irishman to perfect and carry out. Most of the credit belongs,
undoubtedly, to Doctor William Thornton, a draftsman by profession, who
afterward became Superintendent of Patents. The material used was
freestone from a neighboring quarry. Only the north or Senate end was
far enough advanced by the autumn of 1800 to enable Congress to hold
its short session there, and the disputes which arose over the
succeeding stages of the work led President Jefferson to call in
Benjamin H. Latrobe of Richmond, the first architect of already
established rank who had had anything to do with it. Under his
direction, the south end was made habitable by 1811; and the House of
Representatives, which till then had been uncomfortably quartered in
such odd places as it could find, took possession. There was no central
structure connecting the Senate and House ends, but a roofed wooden
passageway led from the one to the other. In this condition was the
Capitol when, in 1814, the British invaders burned all of it that was
burnable.

The heavier masonry, of course, was unaffected by the fire except for
the need of a little patchwork here and there; but in his task of
restoration Mr. Latrobe found himself so embarrassed by dissensions
between the dignitaries who gave him his orders that after three
vexatious years he resigned, and the celebrated Charles Bulfinch of
Boston took his place. In 1830 Mr. Bulfinch pronounced the building
finished and returned home, and for twenty years it remained
substantially as he left it. Then, the needs of Congress having outgrown
the space at their disposal, Thomas U. Walter of Philadelphia was
ordered to prepare plans for an enlargement, and he was far-sighted
enough to make the extension the vehicle for some other improvements.
The great wings attached to the northern and southern extremities were
built of white marble, which has rendered imperative the frequent
repainting of the old freestone surfaces to match; the dome was raised
proportionally; and additions made, then and since, to the surrounding
grounds, have given the building an appropriate setting and vastly
enhanced its beauty of approach.

This is, in brief, the story of the Capitol as we find it to-day. A
stroll through it will call up other memories. As you look at the
building from the east, you will be struck by the difference in tint
between the painted main structure and the two marble wings. Imagine the
wings cut off and the dome reduced to about half its present height and
ended abruptly in a flat top, and you have in your mind’s eye a picture
of the Capitol as Bulfinch left it, and as it remained till shortly
before the Civil War. Its most conspicuous feature now is its towering
dome, surmounted by a bronze allegorical figure of American Freedom. As
the sculptor Crawford originally modeled the image, its head was crowned
with the conventional liberty-cap; but Jefferson Davis, then Secretary
of War, objected to this on the ground that it was the sign of a freed
slave, whereas Americans were born free. The cap was therefore discarded
in favor of the present helmet of eagle feathers.

Filling the pediment over the main portico is a bit of sculpture which
enjoys the distinction of having been designed by John Quincy Adams,
because he could not find an artist who could draw him what he wished.
It consists of three figures: the Genius of America in the center and
Hope and Justice on either side, Justice appearing without her customary
blindfold. Flanking the main staircase are two groups of statuary. That
on our left is called “The Discovery”--Columbus holding aloft a globe,
while an Indian woman crouches at his feet. It was done by the Italian
sculptor Persico, who copied Columbus’s armor from the last suit
actually worn by him. And now comes a bit of politics; for Congress,
having awarded this work to a foreigner, was besieged by a demand that
the next order be given to an American, and accordingly engaged Horatio
Greenough to produce “The Rescue,” which stands on our right. It
represents a frontiersman saving his wife and child from capture by an
Indian.

The portico has an historic association with another President besides
Adams, for it was here that an attempt was made upon the life of Andrew
Jackson. At the close of a funeral service in the House of
Representatives, he had just passed out of the rotunda to descend the
steps, when a demented mechanic named Lawrence sprang from a place of
hiding, aimed a pistol at him, and pulled the trigger. As they were less
than ten feet apart, the President was saved only by the failure of the
powder to explode. Lawrence instantly dropped the useless pistol and
tried another, with like effect. Jackson never could be talked out of
the idea that Lawrence was the tool of political conspirators who wished
to put some one else in his place as President.

We enter the building between the bronze doors designed by Randolph
Rogers, commonly called the “Columbus doors” because they tell, in a
series of reliefs, the life story of the discoverer. In the rotunda, the
center of the building, we find ourselves surrounded by paintings and
sculpture dealing with historical subjects. Hung at even intervals are
eight large canvases, of which four are by John Trumbull, a portrait
painter who was also an officer of the patriot army in the Revolution.
For the one representing the signing of the Declaration of Independence,
old John Randolph could find no better designation than “the shin
piece,” because “such a collection of legs never before came together in
any one picture”; but a more friendly commentator has discovered by
actual count that, of the nearly fifty figures, only ten show either
legs or feet, the rest being relieved by drapery or deep shadows. In
another, the “Resignation of General Washington,” are the figures of two
girls, which have given rise to many a discussion among sightseers
because the pair seem to have five hands between them; I shall not
attempt to solve the problem.

The paintings of the “Landing of Columbus,” “Discovery of the
Mississippi,” “Baptism of Pocahontas,” and “Embarkation of the Pilgrims”
are from the brushes of Vanderlyn, Powell, Chapman, and Weir
respectively. Their subjects permit of picturesque costumes and dramatic
groupings which Trumbull could not use. But whatever his limitations, we
owe to him, probably more than to any other one man, the rotunda as we
know it. Bulfinch had under consideration various schemes of treatment
for the center of the building, but Trumbull’s foremost thought was of a
good light for his pictures; and, as he was a valued friend of the
architect, the pertinacity with which he urged this design won the day.

Four doors pierce the circular chamber, and over each is a rectangle of
sculpture in high relief. As works of art, the quartet are little short
of execrable, but as milestones on the path of esthetic development in
America they have a charm of their own. All were the work of Italian
sculptors, whose acquaintance with our domestic history and concerns was
presumptively scant; and when the tablet showing William Penn
negotiating his treaty with the Indians was first exhibited to the
public, the head of the gentle Quaker was adorned with a cocked hat and
military queue. It was necessary, therefore, to decapitate him and set
upon his shoulders the head he now wears. All four reliefs deal with our
aboriginal problem. In one, the Indians are welcoming the Pilgrim
Fathers with a gift of corn; in another, they are conveying to Penn the
land on which Philadelphia now stands; in a third, Pocahontas is saving
the life of Captain John Smith; while in the fourth, Caucasian
civilization, personified in Daniel Boone, has already killed one Indian
and is engaged in bloody combat with a second. The series drew from an
old chief the comment that they told the true story of the way the white
race had repaid the hospitality of the red race by exterminating it; and
another observer, pointing to the huddled-up body of the fallen Indian
under Boone’s foot, remarked: “The white man has not left the Indian
land enough even to die on!”

Running all around the circular wall and immediately under the dome
opening, we note an unfinished frieze, so done in neutral tints as to
convey the suggestion of relief sculpture, depicting the most notable
events in the history of America from the landing of Columbus to the
discovery of gold in California. Six of the fourteen scenes were painted
by Constantino Brumidi, and the others after sketches left by him. It
was an ambitious design, in view of the rapidity with which history is
made now and the brevity of the space. Only a trifling gap is left for
all that has happened in the last sixty years or so, and Congress has
had more than one debate over what ought to be crowded into the record
of this interval. Among the subjects considered have been the
emancipation of the slaves, the completion of the first transcontinental
railroad, and the freeing of Cuba; but the proposal which has met with
most favor is a symbolic treatment of the Civil War, not as a breach
between the sections but as the cementing of a stronger bond. This was
set aside because the design outlined was a representation of Grant and
Lee clasping hands under the Appomattox apple tree--the objection being
based on the discovery that the apple tree existed only in fiction, and
that the real meeting-place of the two commanders was too unromantic for
artistic use.

From the frieze our eyes ascend to the canopy, or inner lining of the
dome, which hangs above us like an

[Illustration: _Survivals from “Before the War”_]

inverted bowl enclosing an elaborate fresco in colors. This, too, is
from the brush of Brumidi. Although it is ostensibly allegorical, many
of its sixty-three human faces are recognizable portraits, including
those of Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Robert Morris, Samuel F. B.
Morse, Robert Fulton, and Thomas U. Walter, who was architect of the
Capitol while the work was in progress. In a group representing War,
with an armed goddess of liberty for its center, are heads resembling
those of Jefferson Davis, Alexander H. Stephens, Robert E. Lee, and John
B. Floyd. Whether the likenesses are there by the deliberate intent of
the artist, or merely by accident, no one will ever know, as Brumidi
died in 1880.

The door on our left leads, through a short corridor, into what was once
the Hall of Representatives. It is now known officially as the Hall of
Statuary, but to irreverent critics as the National Chamber of Horrors,
because of the varied assortment of marble and bronze images collected
there. The room is semicircular, with a domed ceiling, a great arch and
supporting pillars on its flat side, and a colonnade lining the
horseshoe. During the forty years that it was used for legislative
purposes, a rostrum holding the Speaker’s table and chair filled the
arch, and the desks of the Representatives were arranged in concentric
curves to face it. Overlooking the chamber, and following most of the
rear wall, ran a narrow gallery for visitors who did not enjoy the
privileges of the floor; it derived an air of comfort from curtains hung
between the columns of the colonnade and looped back so as to produce
the effect of a tier of opera-boxes. Stay in the room a while, and you
will understand why, for many years, the complaint of its acoustic
properties was so constant, and a demand for a better hall so strong: it
is a wonderful whispering gallery. There are spots in the tiled pavement
where you can stand and hear the slightest sound you make come back from
some point before or behind you, over your head, or under your feet. Go
to the place where the semicircle ends on one side of the room, and I
will go to the corresponding place on the other side, and, by speaking
into the vertical fissures between the wall and the pillars at the two
extremities of the great arch, we can converse in the lowest tones with
as much ease as if we were side by side instead of a hundred feet apart.

A vivid imagination can people this hall with ghosts. Here some of the
fiercest forensic battles were fought in early days over protective
tariffs, internal improvements, and, above all, negro slavery. Here it
was that Randolph’s piping voice denounced the Northern “dough-faces,”
and here Wilmot launched his historic proviso. Here Alexander H.
Stephens made his last effort to resuscitate the moribund Whig party,
while Abraham Lincoln listened to his argument from a seat on the same
side of the chamber. Here John Quincy Adams drew upon himself the fire
of an incensed opposition by championing the people’s right to petition
Congress, and here he fell to the floor a dying paralytic. Here John
Marshall, the greatest of our Chief Justices, administered the oath of
office to two early Presidents. And here it was that Henry Clay, as
Speaker, delivered his address of welcome to Lafayette as the guest of
the nation, and listened with becoming gravity to the Marquis’s
response--which, as it afterward appeared, owed its excellent English to
the fact that Clay had composed it for the most part himself.

The conversion of the hall from its former to its present uses was at
the instance of the late Senator Morrill of Vermont, who procured
legislation permitting every State in the Union to contribute two
statues of distinguished citizens to this temple of fame. No restriction
having been placed on the sizes of the figures, one result of his
well-meant effort is a grotesque array of pigmies and giants, some of
the personages biggest in life being most diminutive in effigy, while
others of comparatively insignificant stature are here given massive
proportions. Most of the notables thus immortalized are persons with
whose names we associate a story. Here stand, for example, Ethan Allen
as he may have looked when demanding the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga
“in the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress”; Charles
Carroll, who wrote Carrollton after his name so that the servants of the
King, when sent to hang him for signing the Declaration, would know
where to find him; sturdy John Stark, who snapped his fingers at
Congress and whipped the British at Bennington in his own fashion;
Muhlenberg, the patriot parson, throwing back his gown at the close of
his sermon and standing forth as a Continental soldier; and fiery Jim
Shields, who once challenged Lincoln to a duel, but was laughed out of
it when, arriving on the field, he found his adversary already there,
mowing the tall grass with a cutlass to make the fighting easier!

Another corridor brings us to the present Hall of Representatives, which
has been in use since the latter part of 1857. It is a spacious
rectangular room, with a high ceiling chiefly of glass, through which it
is lighted in the daytime by the sun and after nightfall by the modified
glow of electric lamps in the attic. Its plan is that of an
amphitheater, the platform occupied by the Speaker being at the lowest
level in the middle of the long southern side. Facing this are the
concentric curved benches of the members. Formerly the body of the hall
was filled with desks but, as the membership increased with the
population of the country, these were found to take up too much room,
not to mention the temptation they offered for letter-writing and other
diversions. Back of the Speaker’s chair hang a full-length portrait of
Washington by Vanderlyn and one of Lafayette by Ary Schaeffer. The
Washington is the conventional portrait as far as the waist-line, but
the legs were borrowed from a prominent citizen of Maryland, who had a
better pair than the General, and who consented to pose them for the
benefit of posterity.

Now let us go back to the north or Senate wing of the building. On our
way we swing around a little open air-well, through which we look down
into the corresponding corridor of the basement. The well is surrounded
by a colonnade supporting the base of a circular skylight. The columns
are worth noticing, because their capitals are of native design, using
the leaf of the tobacco plant somewhat conventionalized. They date from
the period when the clerk of the United States Supreme Court, whose
office is near by, used to receive a part of his compensation in
tobacco.

A few steps more bring us to the Court itself, sitting in a chamber
considerably smaller than the Hall of Statuary, but laid out on the
same plan. This was the first legislative chamber ever occupied in the
Capitol, having been till 1859 the Hall of the Senate. Here it was that
Thomas Jefferson was twice inaugurated as President. Here Daniel Webster
pronounced the famous “reply to Hayne” which every boy orator once
learned to spout from the rostrum. Here Preston Brooks made his
murderous assault upon Charles Sumner, and here Henry Clay delivered the
farewell address which we used to find in all the school readers. On the
walls of this chamber once hung the life-size oil portraits of Louis
XVI. and Marie Antoinette, which were presented by the Government of
France to the Government of the United States just after our Revolution,
and which disappeared when the British burned the Capitol in 1814. The
room has always suffered from the same bad acoustic properties which
caused the House of Representatives to exchange its old hall for its new
one; and it has a similar whispering gallery, so that a court officer in
one corner can communicate with a colleague in the other in a tone so
low as to be inaudible to any one else.

Since it took possession here, the Court has rendered its legal tender
and anti-trust decisions, and a number of others of historic importance.
In this room sat, in 1877, the Electoral Commission which decided that
Mr. Hayes was entitled to take office as President. Here occurs, every
day during a term, the one ancient and impressive ceremonial which can
be witnessed at our seat of government. At the stroke of noon there
appears at the right corner of the chamber the crier, who in a loud
voice announces: “The Honorable the Supreme Court of the United States!”
All present--attorneys, spectators, and minor functionaries--rise and
remain standing while the members of the Court enter in single file, the
Chief Justice leading. The lawyers bow to the Justices, who return the
bow before sinking into their chairs. Thereupon the crier makes his
second announcement: “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business with
the Honorable the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to
draw near and give attention, as the Court is now sitting. God save the
United States and this Honorable Court!”

All the Justices wear gowns of black silk. John Jay, the first Chief
Justice, relieved the somber monotony of his by adding a collar bound
with scarlet, but the precedent was not followed. The Court has
sometimes been styled the most dignified judicial tribunal in the world,
and doubtless it deserves the compliment. Certainly no American need
blush for its decorum. The whole atmosphere of its chamber is in
keeping with the fact, reverently voiced by one of its old colored
servitors, that “dey ain’t no appeal f’m dis yere Co’t ’xcep’ to God
Almighty.” The arguments made before it are confined to calm,
unemotional reasoning. The pleaders do not raise their voices, or forget
their manners, or indulge in personalities or oratory while debating:
and the opinions of the Court are recited with a quietness almost
conversational. These opinions are very carefully guarded up to the
moment they are read from the bench; but now and then, after a decision
has become history, there leaks out an entertaining story of how it came
to be rendered.

One such instance was in the case of an imported delicacy which might
have been classed either as a preparation of fish or as a flavoring
sauce. The customs officers had levied duty on it as a sauce, and an
importer had appealed. The Justices, when they came to compare notes,
confessed themselves sorely puzzled, and one of them suggested that,
since the technical arguments were so well balanced, it might be wise to
fall back upon common sense. That evening he carried a sample of the
disputed substance home to his wife, who was an expert in culinary
matters.

“There, my dear,” said he, “is a sauce for you to try.”

With one look at the contents of the package, which she evidently
recognized, she exclaimed: “Pshaw! That’s no sauce; that’s fish--didn’t
you know it?”

The next day the Court met again for consultation, and on the following
Monday handed down a decision overruling the customs officers and
sustaining the importer’s appeal.

Leaving the court-room and continuing northward, we come to the present
Hall of the Senate. It is smaller than the present Hall of
Representatives and also cleaner looking and more comfortable. When
Congress is in full session, the contrast may be extended further so as
to include what we hear as well as what we see, for there is little
likeness between the two houses in the matter of orderliness of
procedure. But that’s another story, which will keep. It was from this
chamber that the Senators from the seceding States took their departure
in 1860 and 1861. For years afterward the first request of every
visiting stranger was to be shown the seats formerly occupied by these
men. As long as the old doorkeeper of the Senate, Captain Bassett,
lived, he was reputed to be the only person who knew the history of
every desk on the floor. Whether he transmitted this knowledge to any of
his assistants before his death, I cannot say; but more than once he
saved some of the furniture from injury at the hands of wanton vandals
or curio collectors.

During the early days of the Civil War, a party of Northern zouaves,
passing through the city on their way to the front, entered the Senate
Hall during a recess and tried to identify Davis’s desk. They frankly
avowed their purpose of destroying, if possible, the last trace of the
Confederate President’s connection with the United States Government;
but Bassett refused to be coaxed, bribed, or bullied into revealing the
information they wished. Their persistency presently aroused his fears
lest they might come back later and renew their attempt in his absence;
so he resorted to diplomacy and made them a little speech, reminding
them that, no matter what Mr. Davis might have done to provoke their
indignation, the desk at which he had sat was not his property, but that
of the Government which they had come South to defend. His reasoning had
its effect, and, admitting that he was right, they went away peaceably.

Back of the Senate chamber are two rooms set apart for the President and
Vice-president respectively. Till lately, the President’s room as a rule
has been occupied only during a few closing hours of a session, when the
President wishes to be readily accessible for the signing of such acts
as he approves. Sometimes he has spent the entire last night of a
Congress here, returning to the White House for breakfast and coming to
the Capitol again for an hour or two before noon. President Wilson has
used the room more than any of his recent predecessors, going there to
consult the leading members of his party in Congress while legislation
is in course of preparation or passage.

The Vice-president’s room has been more constantly in use as a retiring
room for its occupant during the intervals when he is not presiding over
the sessions of the Senate. On its wall has hung for many years a little
gilt-framed mirror for which John Adams, while Vice-president, paid
forty dollars, and which was brought with the other appurtenances of the
Senate from Philadelphia when the Government removed its headquarters to
Washington. Many of the frugal founders of the republic were scandalized
at the extravagance of the purchase, and one gravely introduced in the
Senate a resolution censuring Adams for having drawn thus heavily upon
the public funds “to gratify his personal vanity.” What these good men
would say if they were to revisit the Capitol now and see in the same
room with the forty-dollar mirror a silver inkstand that cost two
hundred dollars and a clock that cost a thousand, we can only imagine.
It was in this room, by the way, that Vice-president Wilson died in
November, 1875, after an attack of illness which suddenly overcame him
at the Capitol and was too severe to justify his being carried to his
home.

On the floor below are two other points of interest. We shall do well to
descend, not by the broad marble staircases in the north wing, but by an
old iron-railed and curved flight of stone steps a little south of the
Supreme Court. Note, in passing, its columns, as truly American in
design as those above-stairs to which attention has already been
directed; for they conventionalize our Indian corn, the stalks making
the body of a pillar and the leaves and ears the capital. The first
point we shall visit is the crypt, which is directly under the rotunda.
It is a vaulted chamber originally intended as a resting-place for the
body of George Washington. There was to have been a circular opening in
the ceiling, so that visitors in the rotunda could look down upon the
sarcophagus, above which a suspended taper was to be kept continually
burning. The light was duly hung there, and not extinguished for many
years; but as Washington’s heirs were unwilling to allow his remains to
leave Mount Vernon, the rest of the plan was abandoned.

A little way north of the crypt we come to the room that the Supreme
Court occupied for about forty

[Illustration: _Rock Creek_]

years after the restoration of the Capitol. Out of it was sent the first
message with which Samuel F. B. Morse announced to the world the success
of his invention, the magnetic telegraph. Morse was perfectly convinced
that his device was workable, but he had exhausted his means before
being able to make a satisfactory experiment. He therefore asked
Congress for an appropriation to equip a trial line between Washington
and Baltimore. Some of the members scoffed at his appeal as visionary;
others intimated that he was trying to impose upon the Government; only
a handful seemed to feel enough confidence in him and his project to
vote for the appropriation. After a discouraging struggle lasting till
the third of March, 1843, Morse was at the Capitol watching the dying
hours of the Congress, when his friends advised him that his cause was
hopeless, and he returned to his hotel and went to bed.

Before breakfast the next morning he received a call from Miss Annie
Ellsworth, daughter of the Commissioner of Patents, who brought him the
news that after he had left the Capitol his appropriation had gone
through, and the President had signed the bill just before midnight. To
reward her as the bearer of glad tidings, Morse invited her to frame the
first message to be sent to Baltimore. It took more than a year to
build the line and insure its successful operation; but on May 24, 1844,
in the presence of a gathering which filled the court chamber, the
inventor seated himself at the instrument, and Miss Ellsworth placed in
his hand a phrase she had selected from the twenty-third verse of the
twenty-third chapter of the Book of Numbers: “What hath God wrought!” In
less time than it takes to tell the facts, the operator in Baltimore had
received the message and ticked it back without an error. In that hour
of his triumph over skepticism and abuse, Morse could have asked almost
anything of Congress without fear of repulse.

Not all the associations which cling about the Capitol are confined to
politics or legislation, science or business. The old Hall of
Representatives was, in the early days of the last century, long used
for religious meetings on Sundays, the Speaker’s desk being converted
temporarily into a pulpit. One of the first preachers who held stated
services there was a Swedenborgian. When the custom had become well
established, most of the clergymen of the city consented to take the
Sundays in a certain order of succession. Sir Augustus Foster, a
secretary of the British Legation during Jefferson’s administration, has
left us his impressions of the meetings:

“A church service can certainly never be called an amusement; but, from
the variety of persons who were allowed to preach in the House of
Representatives, there doubtless was some alloy of curiosity in the
motives which led one to go there. Though the regular Chaplain was a
Presbyterian, sometimes a Methodist, a minister of the Church of
England, or a Quaker, sometimes even a woman, took the Speaker’s chair,
and I do not think there was much devotion among the majority. The New
Englanders, generally speaking, are very religious; but though there are
many exceptions, I cannot say so much for the Marylanders, and still
less for the Virginians.”

Probably this comment on the worldly element entering into the meetings
was called forth by their gradual degeneration into a social function.
The hall came to be regarded as a pleasant Sunday gathering-place for
friends who were able to see little of one another during the secular
week. They clustered in knots around the open fireplaces, apparently
quite as interested in the intervals afforded for a bit of gossip as in
the sermon. The President was accustomed to attend from time to time;
and possibly it was by his order that the Marine Band, nearly one
hundred strong and attired in their brilliant red uniforms, were present
in the gallery and played the hymn tunes, as well as some stirring march
music. Their attendance was discontinued later, as their performances
attracted many common idlers to a hall already crowded almost to
suffocation with ladies and gentlemen of fashion, and thus increased the
confusion.

Partly as a result of this use of the hall, the habit of treating Sunday
as a day for social festivities of all sorts reached a point where the
strict Sabbatarians felt called to remonstrate. One, a clergyman named
Breckenridge, preached a sermon denouncing the irreligious frivolities
of the time, which created a great sensation. He addressed his remarks
directly to Congress. “It is not the people,” said he, “who will suffer
for these enormities. It is the Government. As with Nineveh of old, your
temples and your palaces will be burned to the ground, for it is by fire
that this sin has usually been punished!” And he cited instance after
instance from Bible history, showing how cities, dwellings, and persons
had been burned for disrespect of divine law.

One day in the fall of 1814, after the British had left the city scarred
with blackened ruins, Mr. Breckenridge was passing the Octagon house,
when he was hailed by Dolly Madison from the doorway.

“When I listened to that threatening sermon of yours,” she exclaimed, “I
little thought that its warnings would be realized so soon.”

“Oh, Madam,” he answered, “I trust that the chastening of the Lord may
not have been in vain!”

It was, however, as far as any permanent change in the habits of the
people was concerned. There was a brief interval of greater sobriety due
to the sad plight of the community; then Sunday amusements resumed their
sway with as much vigor as of old.

Although to the eye of the casual visitor the Capitol seems so quiet and
well-ordered a place that it practically takes care of itself, the truth
is that it is continually under pretty rigid surveillance. It has a
uniformed corps of special police, whose jurisdiction covers everything
within the limits of Capitol Park; besides this, the Superintendent of
the Capitol has general oversight of the building, and the officers of
the House and Senate look after their respective wings. When Thomas B.
Reed of Maine became Speaker, he found the House wing a squatting ground
for a small army of petty merchants who had crept in one by one and
established booths for the sale of sandwiches and pies, cigars,
periodicals, picture cards, and souvenirs, obstructing the highways of
communication between one part of the building and another. He proceeded
to sweep them all out. There was loud wailing among the ousted, and some
who could command a little political influence brought it to bear on
him, but in vain; and for more than twenty years thereafter the
corridors remained free from these intruders. With the incoming of the
Sixty-third Congress, however, discipline began to relax, and, unless
the House acquires another Speaker with Mr. Reed’s notions of propriety
and the force of will to compel obedience, we shall probably see the
hucksters camping once more on the old trail.

Outside of the building the rules are as well enforced as inside. When
Coxey’s Army of the Commonweal marched upon Washington in 1894, its
leader advertised his intention to make a speech from the Capitol steps,
calling upon Congress to provide work and wages for all the idle
laborers in the country. Under the law, no harangue or oration may be
delivered anywhere on the Capitol grounds without the express consent of
the presiding officers of the two chambers of Congress. Remembering the
way the lawmakers had been intimidated by a mob at Philadelphia in the
early days of the republic, neither the Speaker nor the President of the
Senate was willing that Coxey should carry out his plan; and the Capitol
police, without violence or display of temper, made short work of the
proposed mass meeting. On another occasion, the performers for a
moving-picture show attempted to use the steps of the Capitol as a
background for a scene in which a man made up to resemble the President
of the United States was to play an undignified part; the police pounced
down upon the company, confiscating the apparatus and escorting the
actors to the nearest station-house. A like fate befel an automobilist
who, on a wager, tried to drive his machine up the steps of the main
portico. Occasionally a bicycler, ambitious to descend this staircase at
full speed, has proved too quick-witted for the officers, but as a rule
they are at hand when needed.

Now that we are outside, let us look around. To the eastward lies the
part of the city broadly designated as Capitol Hill. As far as the eye
can reach, it is a beautiful, evenly graded plateau--an ideal residence
region as far as natural topography, verdure, sunshine, and pure air are
concerned. It is the part which George Washington and other promoters of
the federal city picked out for its residential end, and the Capitol was
built so as to face it. These circumstances made it a favorite locality
for speculative investment, and the prices at which early purchasers of
land held out against later comers sealed its fate: the tide of favor
turned toward the opposite end of the city, and the development of the
northwest quarter took a start which has never since halted. The first
plans of Capitol Park included on its eastern side a pretty little
fish-pond, circular in shape, which must have been about where the two
raised flower-beds with mottled marble copings now flank the driveway to
First Street.

The west front of the Capitol overlooks a gentle slope pleasantly turfed
and shaded. The building itself descends the slope a little way by an
esplanade and a series of marble terraces, from which broad flights of
steps lead down nearly to the main street level. The perspective view of
the Capitol is much more impressive from this side than from the other,
thanks to an admirable piece of landscape gardening. In old times, the
lawns on the west side were used by the residents of the neighborhood
for croquet grounds, and the whole park was enclosed in an iron fence,
with gates that were shut by the watchmen at nine every evening against
pedestrians, and at a somewhat later hour against carriages. With
characteristic impatience of such restraints, sometimes a Congressman
who had stayed at the Capitol past the closing hour would save himself
the trouble of calling a guard to open the gate, by smashing the lock
with a stone. The increasing frequency of such incidents undoubtedly had
much to do with causing the removal of the fence.

No point in the city affords so fine facilities for fixing L’Enfant’s
plan in the mind of the visitor and enabling him to find his way about
the older parts of Washington, as the Capitol dome. A spiral staircase,
the doors to which open from obscure parts of two corridors, leads first
to the inside circular balcony crowning the rotunda. This is worth a few
minutes’ delay to test its quality as a whispering gallery. The
attendant in charge will show you how, and, if you can lure him into
telling you some of the funny things he has seen and heard in his eyrie,
you will be well repaid.

More climbing will bring you to an outside perch, which forms a sort of
collar for the lantern surmounting the dome. Now open a plainly printed
map of Washington and hold it so that the points of the compass on the
map correspond with those of the city below you. With a five minutes’
walk around the base of the lantern, to give you the view from every
side, you will have mastered the whole scheme designed by L’Enfant. Here
are the four quarters--northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest--as
clearly spread before you on the surface of the earth as on the paper in
your hand. Here is the Mall, with its grass and trees, leading up to the
Washington Monument and abutting on the executive reservation where
stand the White House, the Treasury, and the State, War and Navy
Department buildings. Well out to the northward you can descry a tower
which fixes the site of the Soldiers’ Home, and to the southward the
Potomac, flowing past the War College and the Navy Yard. East of you
loom up the hills of Anacostia. On all sides you see the lettered
streets running east and west, intersected by the numbered streets
running north and south, while, cutting both diagonally at various
angles, but in pursuance of a systematic and easily grasped plan, are
the avenues named in honor of the various States of the Union. Once let
this chart fasten itself in your mind, and there is no reason why, total
stranger though you may be, you should have any difficulty in finding
your way about Washington.

[Illustration: _Capitol, from New Jersey Avenue_]



CHAPTER IV

THESE OUR LAWMAKERS


The House of Representatives, albeit presenting an average of conduct
equal to that of any corresponding chamber in the world, is a
rough-and-tumble body. It is apt to carry partisan antagonisms to
extremes and wrangle over anything that comes up, with accusations and
recriminations, and at rare intervals an exchange of blows. Repeatedly I
have seen the Sergeant-at-Arms lift his mace and march down one aisle
and up another, to compose disturbances which seemed to threaten a
sequel of riot, while the Speaker pounded his desk in an effort to
overcome the clamor of several members trying to talk at once. By laxity
of discipline and force of custom, there is a degree of freedom here, in
even a peaceful discussion, unknown to the Senate. Members will bring,
to exemplify their statements in a tariff debate, samples of
merchandise--a suit of clothes, a basket of fruit, a jar of sweetmeats,
perhaps. One day a debater, discussing olive oil, accidentally dropped
a bottle of it on the floor, and several of his colleagues lost their
footing in crossing the scene of the disaster. Another, who had a
pocketful of matches designed for illustrative purposes, suddenly found
his clothes ablaze and made a fiery bolt for a water-tank. Still
another, inflamed by his own eloquence in trying to show how Congress
ought to wring the life out of an odious monopoly, impetuously laid
hands upon a small and inoffensive fellow member who happened to sit
near and shook him till his teeth rattled, amid roars of delight from
every one except the victim.

Usually, the Senate is as staid as the House is uproarious. All routine
business is transacted there “by unanimous consent”; it is only when
some really important issue arises that the Senators quarrel publicly.
When a serious debate is on, there is no commotion: every Senator who
wishes to speak sends his name to the presiding officer, or rises during
a lull and announces his purpose of addressing the Senate on a specified
day. The rest of the Senators respect his privilege, and, if he is a man
of consequence, a goodly proportion of them will be in their seats to
hear him. If a Senator is absent from the chamber when a matter arises
which might concern him, some one is apt to suggest deferring its
consideration till he can be present. It is the same way with
appointments to office which require confirmation by the Senate: a
Senator objecting to a candidate nominated from his State can count upon
abundant support from his fellow Senators, every one of whom realizes
that it may be his turn next to need support in a similar contingency.
This is what is called “Senatorial courtesy.” So well is it understood
that no unfair advantage will be taken of any one’s absence, that the
attendance in the chamber sometimes becomes very thin. An instance is
often cited when the Vice-president, discovering only one person on the
floor at the beginning of a day’s session, rapped with his gavel and
solemnly announced: “The Senator from Massachusetts will be in order!”

The strong contrast between the two chambers has existed ever since the
creation of Congress. This is not wonderful when we reflect that the
Senate was for a long time made up of men chosen by the State
legislatures from a social class well removed from the masses of the
people, and that they held office for a six-year term, thus lording it
over the members of the House of Representatives, who, besides being
drawn directly from the rank and file of the body politic, had to
struggle for reëlection every two years. In the early days, the Senators
were noted for their rich attire and their great gravity of manner;
whereas most of the Representatives persisted, while sitting in the
House during the debates, in wearing their big cocked hats set “fore and
aft” on their heads. Whether the Senate sat covered or bareheaded for
the first few years of its existence, we have only indirect evidence, as
it then kept its doors closed against everybody, even members of the
House. Little by little a more liberal spirit asserted itself, until the
doors were opened to the public for a certain part of every morning,
with the proviso that they should be closed whenever the subjects of
discussion seemed to require secrecy. By common consent, these subjects
were limited to certain classes of business proposed by the President,
like the ratification of treaties and the confirmation of appointments
to office. Such matters remain confidential to this day, and the Senate
holds itself ready to exclude spectators and go into secret session at
any moment, on the request of a single Senator.

As a secret session is always supposed to be for the purpose of
discussing a Presidential communication, the fiction is embalmed in the
form of a motion “that the Senate proceed to the consideration of
executive business.” This is the signal for the doorkeepers to evict the
occupants of the galleries and shut the doors leading into the
corridors; but sometimes the real reason for the request is widely
removed from its pretext. I have known it to be offered for the purpose
of cutting short the exhibition which a tipsy Senator was making of
himself; or to prevent a tedious airing of grievances by a Senator who
had quarreled with the President over the dispensation of patronage in
his State; or to silence a Senator who, objecting to the negotiation of
a certain treaty, kept referring to it in open debate while it was still
pending under the seal of confidence. In this last instance, the
offending Senator was so obstinate of purpose that the doors had to be
closed and reopened several times in a single day.

On the face of things, there is no reason why the President should not
attend any session of the Senate at which business of his originating is
under debate. No President since the first, however, has made the
experiment. Washington attended three secret sessions, but was so
angered by the Senate’s referring to a committee sundry questions which
he insisted should be settled on the spot, that he quitted the chamber,
emphatically vowing that he would waste no more time on such trifling.
The Senators excused their conduct by saying that they were embarrassed
in talking about the President and his motives while he was sitting
there.

The custom of wearing their hats while transacting business was
continued by the Representatives for fifty years or more. Even the
Speaker, as long as he sat in his chair, would keep his hat on, though
he was accustomed to remove it when he stood to address the House. The
Senators, whatever may have been their practice during the years of
their seclusion, distinguished themselves from the Representatives
immediately thereafter by sitting with bared heads. They also avoided
the habit, common in the House, of putting their feet up on the nearest
elevated object--usually a desk-lid--and lolling on their spines.
English visitors, though accustomed to the wearing of hats in their own
House of Commons, nevertheless found a text for criticism in the way the
American Representatives did it; and they all had something severe to
say of the prevalence of tobacco-chewing in the House, with its
accompaniment of spitting, as Mrs. Trollope put it, “to an excess that
decency forbids me to describe.” Less offensive to the taste of our
visitors from abroad was the indulgence in snuff-taking, which was so
general that boxes or jars were set up in convenient places inside of
both halls, and it was made the duty of certain employees to keep these
always filled with a fine brand of snuff. Any of the most eloquent
orators in Congress was liable to stop at regular intervals in a speech
to help himself to a large pinch, bury his face in a bandanna
handkerchief, and have it out with nature. A few of the lawmakers,
indeed, cultivated snuff-taking as a fine art, and were proud of their
reputations for dexterity in it. Henry Clay was one of the most skilful.

While we are on the subject of indulgences, we must not overlook a drink
called switchel, which was very popular, being compounded of rum,
ginger, molasses, and water. Every member was allowed then, as now, in
addition to his salary and traveling expenses, a fixed supply of
“stationery”; and this term, which was elastic enough to include
everything from pens and paper to jack-knives and razors, was stretched
to cover the delectable switchel under the thin disguise of “sirup.” In
later years, when a wave of teetotalism had swept over Washington, and
the open sale of alcoholic drinks in the restaurants of the Capitol was
under a temporary ban, any member who wished a drink of whisky ordered
it as “cold tea,” and it was served to him in a china cup. This
stratagem fell into marked discredit when one of the most respectable
and abstemious members of the House, who had never tasted intoxicating
liquor of any sort, ordered cold tea in entire good faith to clear his
throat in the midst of a speech, and became maudlin before he was aware
that anything was amiss.

Besides sprawling with their feet higher than their heads, and otherwise
airing their contempt for conventional etiquette, many of the old-time
Representatives felt free to read newspapers while debates were going on
around them, indifferent to their disturbance of both orators and
audience. The first pointed rebuke of this practice was administered by
James K. Polk when Speaker of the House. He noticed one morning that
substantially every Representative had a newspaper in hand when the
gavel fell for beginning the day’s session. The journal was read, but
nobody paid any attention to it, and then the Speaker made his usual
announcement that the House was ready for business. Still everybody
remained buried in the morning’s news. After another vain attempt to set
the machinery in motion, Mr. Polk quietly drew a newspaper from his own
pocket, seated himself with his back toward the House, spread the sheet
open before him, and ostentatiously immersed himself in its printed
contents. One by one the Representatives finished their reading, and
perhaps a quarter of an hour passed before there came from all sides an
irregular volley of calls: “Mr. Speaker!” “Mr. Speaker!” Mr. Polk
ignored them till one of the baffled members moved that the House
proceed to the election of a presiding officer, to take the place of the
Speaker, who appeared to be absent. This brought Mr. Polk to his feet
with the remark that he not only was present, but had notified the House
that it was ready for business and had received no response. The House
took the joke in good part and showed by its conduct thereafter that it
was not above profiting by the Speaker’s reproof.

Although women were admitted as spectators to the sessions of both
chambers on the same terms as men, there was for many years an
undercurrent of feeling against their encroachments. There was limited
room in either hall for their accommodation behind the colonnade. In
this space--the original “lobby”--there was an open fireplace at each
end, and it soon became a common complaint among the Senators that the
feminine guests drew the sofas up in front of the fire and thus
effectually shut off the warmth from every one else. Aaron Burr, while
Vice-president, was the first person in authority to take cognizance of
this indictment. He notified the visiting women that after a certain
date they must cease coming into the lobby and find seats in the
gallery. They were appropriately indignant and declared an almost
unanimous boycott against the Senate. Vice-president Clinton was of a
different temper from his predecessor and let them all come back again.
By degrees, however, as the privileges of the floor became more and more
restricted in both chambers, the women were given a special gallery for
themselves.

From the time they began coming to Congress in any multitude, the fair
visitors have made their presence felt. In the House one day John
Randolph drew attention to them by halting a debate to point a long,
skinny finger in their direction and snarl out: “Mr. Speaker, what,
pray, are all these women doing here, so out of place in this arena?
Sir, they had much better be at home attending to their knitting!” In
spite of that, they continued to come and to attract attention, till the
number of members who habitually quitted their seats to repair to the
gallery and pay their devoirs to their lady friends threatened to play
havoc with the roll-calls. This abuse did not last long, and nowadays
the visit of a member of either house to the gallery is an incident.

So far from objecting to spectators, both House and Senate now offer
distinct encouragement to the public to come and hear the debates. To
this end, each chamber has a deep gallery completely surrounding it,
with cross partitions at intervals. One section is reserved for the
President and Cabinet and their families; another for the members of the
diplomatic circle; a third for the members of the press, and so forth.
Control of each press gallery is nominally retained by the chamber
concerned, but actually is left in the hands of a committee of newspaper
men, who enforce an exemplary discipline, so that a writer guilty of
misconduct would be excluded thenceforward from his privileges. On the
other hand, the newspaper men have always stood firmly for their right
to discuss the members and measures of Congress with all the freedom
consonant with truth. It has required a long and sometimes dramatic
struggle to bring about the present harmonious mutual understanding
between Congress and the press as to the legitimate preserves of each
body upon which the other must not trespass.

Some of the battles leading to this result are entertaining to recall.
In the later forties, while members of the press were still permitted to
do their work at desks on the floor of the House, a correspondent of the
_New York Tribune_ named Robinson published an article about a certain
Representative named Sawyer, whose unappetizing personal habits he
thought it would be wise to break up. Among other things he described
the way Sawyer ate his luncheon: “Every day at two o’clock he feeds.
About that hour he is seen leaving his seat and taking a position in the
window back of the Speaker’s chair to the left. He unfolds a greasy
paper, in which is contained a chunk of bread and sausage, or some other
unctuous substance. He disposes of them rapidly, wipes his hands with
the greasy paper for a napkin, and throws it out of the window. What
little grease is left on his hands, he wipes on his almost bald head.”
There was more to the same effect, but this will suffice. When the paper
containing the article reached Washington, there was much laughing
behind hands in Congress; but, though most of the members rejoiced that
somebody should have told the truth for the dignity of the House, few
had the courage to come out boldly and say that the satire was deserved.

One of Sawyer’s colleagues retaliated with a resolution that all writers
for the _Tribune_ be excluded thenceforward from the floor; after a
brief debate it was adopted, and the offending correspondent was obliged
to go up into the gallery and sit among the women. But his pursuers were
not satisfied with this measure of revenge; for, reviving a
half-forgotten rule that men were to be admitted to the gallery only
when accompanied by women, and then must be passed in by a member of the
House, they sent a doorkeeper to eject him even from his temporary
refuge. At once several ladies volunteered to accompany him for his
visits, and among the Congressmen who climbed the stairs from day to day
to pass him in was one not less distinguished than John Quincy Adams.
Nor

[Illustration: _Where Dolly Madison Gave Her Farewell Ball_]

was this the end. For the correspondent went home, ran for Congress and
was elected, while the wrathful Representative dropped into obscurity
under the nickname, which he was never able to shake off, of “Sausage
Sawyer.”

Many newspaper publications have been made subjects of special
investigation by committees of Congress, but in no instance has a threat
of expulsion from the gallery or of prosecution in the courts produced
any practical results; and the locking up of recusant committee
witnesses has become a mere mockery. The most notable case on record was
that of Hallet Kilbourn, a former journalist who had become a real
estate broker and a leading participant in a local land syndicate which
the House undertook to investigate. Kilbourn was commanded to produce
certain account-books, as well as the names and addresses of sundry
persons who, not being members of Congress, he insisted were outside the
jurisdiction of that body. For his refusal to furnish the information
demanded he was thrown into jail and kept there nearly six weeks. From
the first, he had declared that he had no objection to opening his
accounts to the whole world or to publishing the data desired, as all
the transactions covered by the inquiry had been honorable; and this
assertion he proved later by voluntarily printing everything. But he
was resolved to make a legal test of the right of Congress to arrogate
to itself the arbitrary powers of a court of justice, and he got a good
deal of enjoyment out of the experience.

For the whole period of his imprisonment he lived like a prince at the
expense of the contingent fund of the House; drove about the city at
will in a carriage, merely accompanied by a deputy sergeant-at-arms; and
entertained his friends at dinner within the jail walls. Of course, the
newspapers exploited the whole episode gladly, and when he had held his
prosecutors up to popular ridicule long enough, he sued out a writ of
habeas corpus and was released. Then he brought a suit for damages
against the Sergeant-at-Arms for false imprisonment and won it on appeal
after appeal, till the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a
sweeping decision that “there is not found in the Constitution any
general power vested in either house to punish for contempt.” In spite
of the efforts of all the judges in the lower courts to cut down the
damages granted by their juries, Congress was finally obliged to pay
Kilbourn twenty thousand dollars, or about five hundred dollars a day
for his forty days’ incarceration. It took him nine years to carry his
case through all its stages.

Both chambers open their daily sessions with prayer. Clergymen of
nearly all denominations have served as Chaplains, including Father
Pise, a very eloquent Catholic priest who was a close friend of Henry
Clay and was invited at his instance to lead the devotions of the
Senate. As a rule, the prayers are extemporaneous, and it seems almost
inevitable that, in periods of political upheaval, some color of
partisanship should creep into them. Yet such slips have been very rare
indeed. The most startling was made by the late Doctor Byron Sunderland,
who was Chaplain of the Senate in 1862. He was the foremost Presbyterian
minister in Washington and a strong anti-slavery advocate. One day
Senator Saulsbury of Delaware, who was an accomplished biblical scholar,
made a speech reviewing the references in the Hebrew scriptures to human
servitude, as proof that slavery was of divine origin. Doctor
Sunderland, having left the hall, did not hear the speech made, but was
told about it when he arrived at the Capitol the next morning. He was
nettled by the news, and, before he was fairly conscious of it, he
caught himself saying something like this in his opening prayer: “Oh,
Lord God of Nations, teach this Senate and all the people of this
country that, if slavery is of divine institution, so is hell itself,
and by Thy grace help us to abolish the one and escape the other!” These
few words caused a great sensation, and later in the day Mr. Saulsbury
vented his indignation in a resolution to expel the offending clergyman
from the chaplaincy; but some quick-witted Senator on the opposite side
cut off debate by moving to adjourn, and the matter died there.

Every day’s proceedings of Congress are published in a special journal
called the _Record_; but it must not be too lightly assumed that every
speech reported has been made in Congress. One of the rules of the House
of Representatives permits a member, with the consent of the House, to
be credited with having made remarks which, as a matter of fact, he has
only reduced to writing and handed to the Clerk. That is what is meant
by the “leave to print” privilege. Into the authorship of these
speeches, or even of some that are delivered, it is not wise to probe
too far. There are trained writers in Washington who earn a livelihood
by digging out statistics and other data and composing addresses on
various subjects for orators who are willing to pay for them, and
Congressmen are among their customers. Once in a while something happens
which casts a temporary shadow over this traffic. Several years ago, for
example, two Representatives from Ohio were credited in the _Record_
with the same speech. Inquiry developed the fact that it had been
offered to one of them, who had refused either to pay the price
demanded for it or to give it back; so the author had sold a duplicate
copy to the other. But worse yet was the plight of two members who
delivered almost identical eulogies on a dead fellow member, having by
accident copied their material from the same ancient volume of “Rules
and Models for Public Speaking.”

I have alluded to disorders which occasionally mar the course of
legislation, when members hurl ugly names at each other or even exchange
blows. While some such affrays have carried their high tension to the
end and sent the combatants to the dueling field to settle accounts,
others have taken a comical turn which decidedly relaxed the strain.
Perhaps the most picturesque incident of this kind was the historic
Keitt-Grow contest in February, 1858. The House had been engaged all
night in a wrangle over an acute phase of the slavery question, and two
o’clock in the morning found both the Northern and the Southern members
with their nerves on edge. Mr. Keitt of South Carolina, objecting to
something said by Mr. Grow of Pennsylvania, struck at him, but Grow
parried the blow, and a fellow member who sprang to his assistance
knocked Keitt down. From all sides came reinforcements, and in a few
minutes what started as a personal encounter of minor importance
developed into a general free fight.

Potter of Wisconsin, a man of athletic build, whirled his fists right
and left, doing tremendous execution. Owen Lovejoy, seeing Lamar of
Mississippi striding toward a confused group, ran at him with arms
extended, resolved on pushing him back, while Lamar as vigorously
resisted the obstruction. Covode of Pennsylvania, fearing lest his
friend Grow might be overpowered by hostile numbers, picked up a big
stoneware spittoon and hurried forward, holding his improvised
projectile poised to hurl at the head where it would do most good; but
having no immediate need to use it, he set it on top of a convenient
desk. Everybody was too excited to pay any attention to the loud
pounding of the Speaker’s gavel, or to the advance of the
Sergeant-at-Arms with his mace held aloft. Even the unemotional John
Sherman and his gray-haired Quaker colleague Mott could not keep out of
the fray entirely.

But Elihu Washburne of Illinois and his brother Cadwallader of Wisconsin
proved by all odds the heroes of the occasion. They were of modest
stature, but sturdy and full of energy. Elihu tackled Craig of North
Carolina, who was tall and had long arms, which he swung about him with
a flail-like motion; and it would have gone hard with the smaller man
had he not suddenly lowered his head and used it as a battering-ram,
aiming at the unprotected waist-line of his antagonist and doubling him
up with one irresistible rush. Just then Cadwallader, seeing Barksdale
of Mississippi about to strike Elihu, ran toward him; but being unable
to penetrate the crowd, he leaped forward and reached over the heads of
the intervening men to seize the Mississippian by the hair. Here came
the culmination; for Barksdale’s ambrosial locks, which were only a
lifelike wig worn to cover a pate as smooth as a soap-bubble, came off
in his assailant’s hand. The astonishment of the one man and the
consternation of the other were too much for the fighters, who, in spite
of themselves, united in wild peals of merriment; and their hilarity was
in no wise dampened when Barksdale, snatching at his wig, restored it to
his head hind side before, or when Covode, returning to his seat and
missing his spittoon, marched solemnly down the aisle and recovered it
from its temporary perch.

This scene occurred in the old Hall of Representatives. The most
dramatic scene ever witnessed in the present hall was one which attended
the opening of the Fifty-first Congress, when the Republicans, who had
only an infinitesimal majority, had organized the House with Thomas B.
Reed as Speaker. Reed, who was a large, blond man with a Shakespearian
head and a high-pitched drawl, signalized his entrance upon his new
duties by announcing his purpose to preside over a lawmaking rather than
a do-nothing body. For several successive Congresses the House had found
itself crippled in its attempts to transact business by the dilatory
tactics of whichever party happened to be in the minority. Day after
day, even in a congested season, would be wasted in roll-calls
necessitated by some one’s raising the point of “no quorum,” although
everybody knew that a quorum was present, and that its apparent absence
was deliberately caused by the refusal of members of the opposition to
answer to their names. Reed had bent his mind to breaking up this
practice.

Early in his Speakership a motion to take up a contested election case
was put to vote, and a roll-call demanded as usual by the minority. As
the House was then constituted, one hundred and sixty-six members were
necessary to a quorum, and four Republicans were unavoidably absent.
Following the old tactics, nearly all the Democrats abstained from
voting; but, as the call proceeded, Reed was observed making notes on a
sheet of paper which lay on his table. At the close, he rose and
announced the vote: yeas 162, nays 3, not voting 163. Mr. Crisp of
Georgia at once raised the point of no quorum. Reed ignored it, and,
lifting his memorandum, began, in measured tones and with no trace of
excitement or weakness:

“The Chair directs the Clerk to record the following names of members
present and refusing to vote--”

And then Bedlam broke loose. The Republicans applauded, and howls and
yells arose from the Democratic side. Above the din could be heard the
voice of Crisp: “I appeal from the decision of the Chair!” But the
Speaker, not having finished his statement, kept right on, oblivious of
the turmoil:

“Mr. Blanchard, Mr. Bland, Mr. Blount, Mr. Breckinridge of Arkansas, Mr.
Breckinridge of Kentucky--”

The Democrats generally had seemed stunned by the boldness of this move;
but the Kentucky Breckinridge, at the mention of his name, rushed down
the aisle, brandishing his fist and shaking his head so that its
straight white hair stood out from it. His face was aflame with anger,
and his voice quite beyond his control, as he shrieked: “I deny the
power of the Speaker--this is revolutionary!” The other Democrats,
inspired by his example and recovering from their stupefaction, poured
into the center aisle. They bore down in a mass upon the Speaker’s dais,
gesticulating wildly and all shouting at once, so that nothing could be
understood from the babel of voices save their desire to express their
scorn for the Speaker and their defiance of his authority. The
Republicans sat quiet, making no demonstration, but obviously prepared
to rush in if the trouble took on a more violent form. The Speaker stood
apparently unruffled, not even changing color, and only those who were
near enough to see every line in his face were aware of that slight
twitching of the muscles of his mouth which always indicated that his
outward composure was not due to insensibility.

So furious was the clamor that he was compelled to desist from his
reading for a moment, while he pounded with his gavel to command order
on the floor. Then, as the remonstrants fell back a little, his nasal
tone was heard again, still reciting that momentous list:

“Mr. Brookshire, Mr. Bullock, Mr. Bynum, Mr. Carlisle--”

And so on down the roll, one member after another jumping up when he
heard his name called, but subsiding as the Speaker went imperturbably
ahead, much as might a schoolmaster with a roomful of refractory pupils.
Presently came the opportunity he had been waiting for. Mr. McCreary of
Kentucky, a very dignified, decorous-mannered gentleman on ordinary
occasions, had shown by his change of countenance and color that he was
repressing his emotions with difficulty; and, resolved not to be ridden
over ruthlessly as the rest had been, he had risen in his place and
stood there, holding before him an open book and waiting to hear his
name. The instant it was read out, he raised his disengaged hand and
shouted: “Mr. Speaker!”

To every one’s astonishment, the Speaker paused, turning a look of
inquiry toward the interrupter, while the House held its breath.

“I deny,” cried Mr. McCreary, in a voice which, in spite of his endeavor
to be calm, was trembling with agitation, “your right to count me as
present; and I desire to cite some parliamentary law in support of my
point!”

Reed, wearing an air of entire seriousness, answered with his familiar
drawl:

“The Chair is making a statement of fact that the gentleman is
present.” Then, with a significant emphasis on each word:
“Does--the--gentleman--deny--it?”

The silence which had settled momentarily upon the chamber continued for
a few seconds more, to be succeeded by an outburst of laughter which
fairly shook the ceiling. The Republican side furnished most of it at
first, but those Democrats who possessed a keen sense of humor soon gave
way also. The Speaker, still grave as a statue, maintained the expectant
attitude of one awaiting the reply to a question. McCreary held his
ground for a few minutes, striving to make himself heard in reading a
passage from his book, while the gavel beat a tattoo on the desk as if
the Speaker were trying to aid him by restoring order; but he was
talking against a torrent, and had to realize his defeat and resume his
seat.

When the last name on the written list had been read, the Speaker handed
the sheet to the Clerk for incorporation in the minutes, and, as coolly
as if nothing had happened, proceeded to set forth briefly the
precedents covering the case, including one ruling made by a very
distinguished Democrat who was at that hour the most conspicuous
candidate of his party for the Presidency.

The fight was resumed the next day and continued to rage all through the
session, the foes of the Speaker constantly devising new stratagems to
outwit him, but in vain. Sometimes there were funny little developments,
as when, in a precipitate flight of the Democrats from the hall to
escape being counted, Mr. O’Ferrall of Virginia inadvertently left his
hat on his desk, and the Speaker jocosely threatened to count

[Illustration: Lee Mansion at Arlington]

that, on the theory that its habitual wearer was constructively present;
or when “Buck” Kilgore, a giant Democrat from Texas, refused to stay in
the hall after the Speaker had ordered the doors fastened, and kicked
one of them open with his Number 14 boot. Sometimes a tragic threat
would be uttered by a group of hot-headed enemies, and the galleries
would be thronged for several days with spectators expecting to see Reed
dragged out of the chair by force and arms. But, though every day
witnessed its parliamentary struggle, the bad blood aroused was never
actually spilled. What did happen was that, at the close of the
Congress, when it is customary for the opposition party to move a vote
of thanks to the Speaker, Reed went without the compliment. Something
far more flattering than thanks was in store for him, however; for in
the Fifty-third Congress, the House, which was then under Democratic
control, by a vote of nearly five to one adopted his quorum-counting
rule with only a technical modification. Since that day it has never
found itself in a condition of legislative paralysis.

The communications in which the President, as required by the
Constitution, gives to Congress from time to time “information of the
state of the Union,” take the form of general and special messages. A
general message is sent at the beginning of every session and usually
reviews the relations of our Government with its citizens and with the
outside world. A special message is called forth by some particular
event or series of events requiring a union of counsels between the
legislative and executive branches of the Government.

The formalities attending the presentation of general messages have
differed at various stages of our national history. John Adams, for
example, brought his in person to the Capitol. A military and civic
procession escorted him from his house to the Senate chamber, where the
Senators and Representatives were assembled in joint session. He was
attired with more elegance than was his wont and was accompanied by the
members of his Cabinet, the United States Marshal acting as usher; the
Vice-president surrendered to him the chair of honor and took a seat at
his right while he read his address aloud. In those days, each house
appointed a committee to consider the address of the President and to
draft a reply to it; when the reply was ready, a committee waited upon
him to inquire at what time it would be agreeable for him to receive it,
and on the day appointed, the members called upon him in a body to
present it.

The message ceremonial was considerably shortened during the
administration of President Jefferson, who scandalized some of the
sticklers for propriety by reading his first address to Congress clad in
a plain blue coat with gilt buttons, blue breeches, woolen stockings,
and heavy shoes tied with leather strings. This democratic departure was
typical of the way a good many old customs died out. We find most of the
later Presidents, till the spring of 1913, rather studiously avoiding
the Capitol, meeting Congress seldom outside of the White House, and
confining their official communications to written messages presented in
duplicate at the doors of the two halls respectively by the hand of an
executive clerk. The response of each house, if any is deemed worth
while, now takes the form of the introduction of legislation on lines
suggested by the President. But the common practice is to cut a message
into parts, referring the passages which deal with one class of subjects
to one committee, and those which deal with another class to another
committee; and in most cases, unless an emergency arises to make further
consideration essential, little more is heard of them.

President Wilson has revived the custom of visiting Congress in its own
home and there delivering his addresses directly to the lawmakers in a
body, assembled for the occasion in the Hall of Representatives. This
is a much more effective mode of approaching Congress than sending a
written document by messenger, to be drawled through in a singsong voice
by tired clerks, simultaneously in both halls, to a gathering of only
half-interested auditors. It is also a more certain means of
concentrating public attention upon the work of the session. There is a
subtle something in the very personality of a President which appeals to
the popular imagination. As the one high officer of state elected by the
votes of all the people, he stands in their minds as a conservator and
champion of their broadest ideals, as contrasted with the narrower
sectional interests represented by the members of Congress. When,
therefore, he takes his position face to face with the men who are to
frame whatever legislation grows out of his recommendations, the whole
country instinctively draws near and listens.

It is hard to guess what might happen should it fall to the lot of
President Wilson to appear before Congress in person with such a
trumpet-call as was sounded in President Harrison’s message on the
maltreatment of our sailors in Chile, or President Cleveland’s on the
encroachments of England in Venezuela, or President McKinley’s on the
failure of his peaceful efforts for freeing Cuba. If the mere reading of
these formal messages was so impressive as to paint a vivid picture of
the attendant scenes on the memory of all who witnessed them, what an
extra touch of the dramatic would have been added had the chief
executive of the nation appeared at the Capitol to tell his story
himself!



CHAPTER V

“THE OTHER END OF THE AVENUE”


Although Pennsylvania Avenue is several miles long, the mile that lies
between the hill on which Congress sits and the slope where the
President lives is called in local parlance “the Avenue.” Outside of
their formal speeches and documentary literature, members of Congress
are wont to refer to the White House and its surroundings as “the other
end of the Avenue.” This familiar phrase is, like the popular
designation of Congress as “the gentlemen on the hill,” a survival from
the period when only one hill in town was officially occupied, and the
strip of highway connecting it with the group of buildings used by the
executive branch of the Government was about the only thoroughfare
making any serious pretensions to street improvement. It was along this
line that President Jefferson planted the first shade trees; and
L’Enfant’s plan made the south side of it the northern boundary of the
Mall.

The title which for almost a hundred years the American people have
given to the headquarters of their chief public servant is a fine
example of historic accident. The White House was not originally
intended to be a white house. It was built of a buff sandstone which
proved to be so affected by exposure to the weather that as an
afterthought it was covered with a thick coat of white paint. From its
nearness to several red brick buildings, many persons fell into the way
of distinguishing it by its color, and after its repainting to conceal
the stains of the fire of 1814 this practice became general. Presidents
have referred to it in their messages variously as the President’s
House, the Executive Mansion, and the White House. Among the people it
was also sometimes known, in the early days, as the Palace. The
Roosevelt administration made the White House both the official and the
social designation, and fastened the label so tight that there is little
reason to expect a change by any successor.

The White House was born under the eye of Martha Washington, was nursed
into healthy babyhood by Abigail Adams, received its baptism of fire
under Dolly Madison, was popularly christened under Eliza Kortright
Monroe, and passed through numberless vicissitudes under a line of
foster-mothers stretching from that time to the end of the century,
every one carrying it a little further away from its original plan;
then Edith Kermit Roosevelt administered a restorative elixir which
started it upon a second youth. The evolution of the Capitol, described
in an earlier chapter, finds a parallel in the architectural genesis of
this building. Its drawings were made and its construction superintended
by James Hoban, an Irishman; but a distinguished critic has described it
as “designed on classic lines, modified by an English hand, at a time
when French art furnished the world’s models in interior detail.” That
accounts, of course, for its monumental and palatial features.

But we must bear in mind that its sponsors intended it not only as an
official residence for the executive head of the Government, but as a
home for the foremost American citizen and his family, and that, in the
esthetics of domestic architecture, local influences were most potent.
All the Presidents except one, for the first thirty-six years of the
republic’s existence, were Virginia gentlemen; so, although broadly
following in treatment the Viceregal Lodge in Dublin, the President’s
House took on much of the character of the “great house” on a Virginia
plantation. This will explain why, in their work of restoration, when
the architects were confronted by some gap in their plans which could
not be filled by reference to the early records of the house itself,
they drew upon the material common to the Virginia mansions of the same
period.

By no means the least notable of their revivals was the recognition of
the proper front of the building. For a half-century, and perhaps
longer, its back door had been used as its main entrance, and most
visitors had borne away the impression that that was the face its
designer had intended it to present to the world. Nearly all the
authoritative pictures helped to confirm this notion, by displaying the
north side as confidently as the photographers in Venice take San Marco
from the Piazza. The confusion of front and rear came about with other
changes wrought by the increase of facilities for land transportation.
The rural and suburban architecture of a century ago took great note of
watercourses; for in those days wheeled vehicles were rarer than now and
vastly less comfortable, the saddle was unsociable, and most travel was
by river and canal. Hence the finest houses were built, when
practicable, where they would not only command a pleasing view, but
present their most picturesque aspect to the passing boats. Doubtless
the site of the White House was chosen with reference to the bend which
the Potomac made opposite the center of the building, thus opening a
view down to Alexandria and beyond. The river was broader then, and
probably washed the outer edge of what was intended to be preserved
forever as the President’s Park.

With the growing preference for land approaches, a good many Southern
houses of the colonial type altered their habits, the White House among
them; the side which faced the street offered the easier entrance, and
thus the back door gradually usurped the dignities of the front, and
accordingly the grounds on that side were laid out with lawns, trees,
and shrubbery. Its outlook, also, is upon Lafayette Park, which, if
sundry plans are carried through, will one day be faced on three sides
with stately buildings, housing those executive Departments with which
the President has to keep in closest touch.

Though President Washington was never to occupy the White House, or even
to see it after it was nearly enough finished for occupancy, he took the
greatest interest in watching it go up, and, only a few weeks before his
death, went all over it with Mrs. Washington, thoroughly inspecting
every part then accessible. He had borne a share in the Masonic ceremony
of laying its corner-stone, and by his personal influence had induced
the State of Virginia to advance a large sum of money at one
particularly critical stage of the building operations; so the old
mansion may boast of having some honored association with every
President from the foundation of our Government till now.

When John and Abigail Adams moved in, the scantiness of fuel and lights,
and the necessity for devoting the east room to the humblest of domestic
uses and converting an upstairs chamber into a salon, were not the only
shortcomings in their environment. Surface drainage water from a
considerable bit of high ground to the eastward had formed a turbid
little creek which almost surrounded the mansion. There was no water fit
to drink and of sufficient quantity to meet the daily needs of the
President’s family, short of a spring in an open tract which we now know
as Franklin Square, about half a mile away, whence it was brought down
in crude pipes. Beds of growing vegetables filled parts of the garden
area where to-day we find well-kept lawns and ornamental shrubbery. The
only way of reaching the south door from Pennsylvania Avenue was by a
narrow footpath, on which the pedestrian took a variety of chances after
dark. The streets surrounding the President’s grounds were so deep in
slush or mud for a large part of the year that, in order to keep their
clothing fairly presentable, visitors were obliged to come in closed
coaches; and when the Adamses gave their first New Year’s reception,
their guests, though so few that the oval room in the second story
accommodated them, could not obtain in Washington enough suitable
vehicles, and had to draw upon the livery stables in Baltimore.

Adams was a well-bred and well-read man, reared in the best traditions
of New England, including the sanctity of a pledge; and, having promised
his friend and predecessor, Washington, to do what he could toward
building up a capital in fact as well as in name, he pocketed his petty
discomforts and made the best of things. Among his other efforts to
promote the popularity of the new city must be counted several dinners
of exceptional excellence, at which Mrs. Adams presided with
distinguished graciousness in a costume that, though it would strike us
now as rather prim, was in keeping with her age and antecedents. The
President, who was a rotund, florid man of middle height, appeared at
these entertainments in a richly embroidered coat, silk stockings, shoes
with huge silver buckles, and a powdered wig. These were concessions to
the general demand for elegance of attire on the part of the chief
magistrate, following the precedent established by Washington. They did
not at all reflect Mr. Adams’s preferences, for he was one of the
plainest of men in his tastes, and his ordinary course of domestic life
in the President’s House was to the last degree unpretentious; his
luncheon, for example,

[Illustration: _Old Carlyle Mansion, Alexandria_]

consisted usually of oatcake and lemonade, and one of his amusements was
to play horse with a little grandchild, who used to drive him up and
down the somber corridors with a switch.

Albeit Adams and Jefferson became, late in life, the warmest of friends,
no love was lost between them during the period when both were active in
politics. Adams, who would have been gratified to receive, like
Washington, a second term, was not disposed to “enact the captive chief
in the procession of the victor,” so he did not stay to see Jefferson
inaugurated, but at daylight of the fourth of March, 1801, left
Washington for Boston. There was no need for such haste to escape, for
Jefferson, as the high priest of democratic simplicity, had no
procession; though the cheerful little fiction about his riding down
Pennsylvania Avenue alone, and hitching his horse to a sapling in front
of the Capitol while he went in to be sworn, received its death-blow
long ago. The truth is, he had no use for a horse. He was boarding in
New Jersey Avenue, where he had lived for the latter part of his term as
Vice-president. A few minutes before noon on inauguration day he set out
on foot, in company with several Congressmen who were his fellow
boarders, and walked the block or so to the Capitol, where he was
escorted by a committee to the Senate chamber and there took the oath
of office and delivered his address. Then he walked back again to his
boarding-house, and at dinner occupied his customary seat at the foot of
the table. A visitor from Baltimore complimented him on his address and
“wished him joy” as President. “I should advise you,” was his smiling
response, “to follow my example on nuptial occasions, when I always tell
the bridegroom that I will wait till the end of the year before offering
my congratulations.”

The accommodations in the President’s House were somewhat better by the
time Mr. Jefferson moved in than they were when the Adams family opened
it, yet he seems to have been more or less cramped during most of his
two terms--owing, doubtless, to the continued presence of mechanics and
building materials in the incomplete parts of the house. When the
British Minister called in court costume to present his credentials, he
was received, with his convoy the Secretary of State, in a space so
narrow that he had to back out of one end of it to make room for the
President to enter at the other. One of the legation described Jefferson
as “a tall man, with a very red, freckled face and gray, neglected hair;
his manners were good natured and rather friendly, though he had
somewhat of a cynical expression of countenance. He wore a blue coat, a
thick, gray-colored hairy waistcoat with a red under-waistcoat lapped
over it, green velveteen breeches with pearl buttons, yarn stockings
with slippers down at the heels, his appearance being very much like
that of a tall, raw-boned farmer.” On the other hand, an admiring
contemporary insists that his dress was “plain, unstudied and sometimes
old-fashioned in its form,” but “always of the finest materials,” and
that “in his personal habits he was fastidious and neat.” So there you
are!

A social being Jefferson certainly was. He liked company, and his former
residence in France had cultivated his taste for the good things of the
table, including light wines and olives. He once said that he considered
olives the most precious gift of heaven to man, and he had them on his
table whenever he could get them. He was also fond of figs and
mulberries, and his household records bristle with purchases of crabs,
pineapples, oysters, venison, partridges, and oranges--a pretty fair
list for a man devoted to plain living. One of his hobbies as a host at
very small and confidential dinners was to insure to his guests the
utmost privacy, so he devised a scheme for dispensing as far as
practicable with the presence of servants and avoiding the needless
opening and closing of doors. Beside every chair was placed a small
“dumb-waiter” containing all the desirable accessories, like fresh
plates and knives and forks and finger-bowls; while in a partition wall
was hung a bank of circular shelves, so pivoted as to reverse itself at
the pressure of a spring, the fresh viands entering the dining-room as
the emptied platters swung around into the pantry. The company at table
rarely exceeded four when this machinery was called into play. At big
state dinners the usual array of servants did the waiting.

The first great reception in Jefferson’s administration occurred on the
fourth of July next following his inauguration. For some reason,
possibly because the novelty of his sweeping invitation prevented its
being generally understood by the populace, only about one hundred
persons presented themselves. A luncheon was served, in the midst of
which the Marine Band entered, playing the “President’s March,” or, as
we call it, “Hail Columbia.” The company fell in behind and joined in a
grand promenade, with many evolutions, through the rooms and corridors
of the ground floor, returning at last to the place whence they had
started and resuming their feast of good things.

As he was a widower when he succeeded Adams at the head of the
Government, and it was not feasible, most of the time, for either of his
daughters to preside over his public hospitalities, Jefferson naturally
turned for aid to Mrs. James Madison, wife of his Secretary of State.
He despised empty precedent; and when, at a diplomatic dinner, he led
the way to the dining-room with Mrs. Madison instead of offering his arm
to Mrs. Merry, wife of the British Minister and dean of the corps, he
defied all the old-world canons. Mrs. Merry withdrew in high dudgeon,
and her husband made the incident the subject of a communication to the
Foreign Office in London.

Dolly Madison’s fondness for society counterbalanced the indifference of
her husband--a little, apple-faced man with a large brain and pleasant
manners but no presence, of whom every one spoke by his nickname,
“Jemmy.” She is described as a “fine, portly, buxom dame” with plenty of
brisk small-talk. She knew little of books, but made a point of having
one in her hand when she received guests who were given to literature;
and she would have peeped enough into it to enable her to open
conversation with a reference to something she had found there. One of
the celebrities she entertained was Humboldt, the scientist, concerning
whom she wrote: “We have lately had a great treat in the company of a
charming Prussian baron. All the ladies say they are in love with him.
He is the most polite, modest, well-informed, and interesting traveler
we have ever met, and is much pleased with America.” Another was Tom
Moore, who, though embalming in verse some of the spiteful spirit he
had absorbed from the Merrys, in later years recanted these utterances.

As she was praised everywhere for the beauty of her complexion, it is
disconcerting to learn from a candid biographer that Mrs. Madison was
wont to heighten her color by external applications, and now and then,
through an accident of the toilet, gave to her nose a rosy flush that
was meant for her cheeks. We are told also that she was addicted to the
fashionable snuff habit and kept always at hand a dainty little box made
of platinum and lava, filled with her favorite brand of “Scotch,” which
she would freely use at social gatherings and then pass around the
circle of diplomatists who assiduously danced attendance upon her. This
indulgence accounted for her carrying everywhere two handkerchiefs: one
a bandanna tucked away in her sleeve, whence she could draw it promptly
for what she called “rough work,” and the other a spider-web creation of
lawn and lace, which she styled her “polisher” and wore pinned to her
side.

Besides the British Minister with his standing grievance, which he
advertised by never bringing Mrs. Merry to the President’s House after
the fateful dinner, we read of two other foreign envoys who used to
appear there spouseless. One was Sidi Mellanelli, who, Dr. Samuel
Mitchill tells us, “came from Tunis to settle some differences between
that regency and our Government. He is to all appearance upward of fifty
years old; wears his beard and shaves his head after the manner of his
country, and wears a turban instead of a hat. His dress consists simply
of a short jacket, large, loose drawers, stockings, and slippers. When
he goes abroad he throws a large hooded cloak over these garments; it is
of a peculiar cut and is called a bernous. The colors of his drawers and
bernous are commonly red. He seldom walks, but almost always appears on
horseback. He is a rigid Mohammedan; he fasts, prays, and observes the
precepts of the Koran. He talks much with the ladies, says he often
thinks about his consort in Africa, and wonders how Congressmen can live
a whole session without their wives.”

The other unaccompanied diplomat was the French Minister, General
Turreau, a man of humble birth who had risen to some eminence during the
recent revolution in his country. Having once been imprisoned, he
improved the opportunity to make love to his jailer’s daughter and marry
her; but he appears to have tired of his bargain, and it was no secret
that they led a most inharmonious life. According to Sir Augustus
Foster, he was in the habit of horsewhipping her to the accompaniment
of a violoncello played by his secretary to drown her cries, and the
scandalized neighbors had finally to interfere. Doctor Mitchill’s
version of the affair is that the Minister tried to send his wife back
to France, and that, when she refused to leave and raised an outcry, a
mob gathered at their house and enabled her to escape and go to live in
peaceful poverty in Georgetown. The Doctor has little to say of
Turreau’s ability, but dwells impressively on “the uncommon size and
extent of his whiskers, which cover the greater part of his cheeks,” and
on the profusion of lace with which his full-dress coat was decorated.

Jerome Bonaparte, a younger brother of the first Napoleon, passed a good
deal of time in Washington during the Jefferson administration and was
one of the lions at the parties in the President’s House. Meeting Miss
Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore, he succumbed to her attractions and
lost no time in suing for her hand. Her father was a bank president and
one of the richest men in the United States, and the family, whose
social position was unexceptionable, were far from having their heads
turned by the proposed match, possibly feeling some misgivings as to
future complications; but the young people would listen to no argument
and were married. Mr. Jefferson wrote at once to the American Minister
at Paris, telling him to lay all the facts before the First Consul and
to make it plain that in the United States any marriage was lawful which
had been voluntarily entered into by two single parties of full age.
Nevertheless, the great Napoleon did not hesitate to treat the marriage
as void, and Jerome lacked manliness to defy his brother and fight the
matter out; but Mrs. Bonaparte, having spunk enough for two, stood up
firmly for her rights as a wife to the end of her days, and commanded
recognition for them everywhere outside of the imperial court.

A friend of Jefferson’s who came to Washington during his
administration, and whose advent created not a little stir, was a man
about seventy years of age, described as having “a red and rugged face
which looks as if he had been much hackneyed in the service of the
world,” eyes “black and lively,” a nose “somewhat aquiline and pointing
downward” which “corresponds in color with the fiery appearance of his
cheeks,” and a marked fondness for talk and anecdote. This was none
other than Tom Paine, patriot, poet, political pamphleteer, and infidel.
He was favorably remembered all over the United States for his writings
in behalf of human rights, and for the leaflets and songs which had
cheered the hearts of the Continental soldiers at the most discouraging
pass in our War for Independence. After the Revolution, he had gone
abroad as an apostle of popular liberty, and, though outlawed in
England, had been permitted to cross to France to take his seat as a
deputy in the proletariat National Assembly. There, among other acts
which won him commendation, he raised his voice and cast his vote
against the resolution which sent Louis XVI to the guillotine.

Appreciating his services to this country and also strongly sympathizing
with the French type of democracy, Jefferson had invited Paine to come
back to his native land in a United States war-ship; and the Federalist
newspapers seized their chance to make partisan capital by parading
Paine’s religious heterodoxy and charging Jefferson with having brought
him home to undermine the morals of our people. Jefferson had
considerable difficulty in counteracting the effects of the accusation,
for his own opinions had been for a good while under fire, and it was
not a day of nice distinctions. Probably in this more tolerant age a man
like Paine would be given due credit for his practical benevolence even
when mixed with a hatred of ecclesiasticism, and Jefferson would find
himself not out of place in the Unitarian fold.

When Jefferson was not occupied with affairs of state or entertaining
visitors, he was fond of sitting in what he called his “cabinet”--a room
which he had fitted up to suit his own fancy. The rest of the house was
rather unhomelike. The east room was still unfinished, and through the
others were strewn articles of furniture which, though good in their
way, were not especially suggestive of comfort; many of them were relics
of the Washington régime, brought from Philadelphia. But in the cabinet
stood a long table with drawers on each side, filled with things dear to
their owner’s heart. One contained books with inscriptions from their
authors; another, letters and manuscripts; a third, a set of carpenter’s
tools for his amusement on rainy days; a fourth, some small gardening
implements, and so on. Around the walls were maps, charts, and shelves
laden with standard literature. Flowers and potted plants were
everywhere, and in the midst of a bower of these hung the cage of his
pet mockingbird; but the door of the cage was rarely shut when the
President was in the room, for he loved to have the bird fly about
freely, perch on his shoulder, and take its food from his lips.

As may be guessed, the sponsor for this greenery was fond of all growing
things. Jefferson was often seen walking about the embryo city, watching
the workmen digging or building, but manifesting a special interest in
tree-planting and ornamental gardening. He tried to induce Congress to
vote enough money to beautify the grounds around the President’s House,
but in vain; the most he could do was to enclose the yard with a common
stone wall and seed it down to grass. Among the plans he prepared but
was obliged to abandon was the adornment of these grounds exclusively
with trees, shrubs, and flowers indigenous to American soil. He must be
credited with the first attempt ever made in Washington to establish a
zoölogical park; Lewis and Clarke, the explorers, brought him from the
West a few grizzly bears, for which he built a pen in the yard. He also
made the first move to furnish Pennsylvania Avenue with shade trees. His
preference was for willow-oaks; but he started four rows of Lombardy
poplars to take advantage of their rapid growth till the slower oaks
matured. One of his hobbies was to improve the market gardening of the
neighborhood by distributing new varieties of vegetable seeds obtained
through the American consuls in foreign countries, and instructing his
steward always to buy the best home-grown table delicacies at the
highest retail prices.

At Madison’s inauguration in 1809, Jefferson not only did not imitate
the ungraciousness of Adams eight years before, but went to the opposite
extreme, declining

[Illustration: _Washington’s Pew in Christ Church, Alexandria_]

Madison’s invitation to drive to the Capitol in the Presidential coach
lest he might divide the honors which he felt belonged exclusively to
the President-elect. Madison had what was then deemed a wonderful
procession of military and civic organizations, and turned the occasion
into the first “made-in-America” gala day, wearing himself a complete
suit of clothing made by an American tailor, of cloth woven on American
looms from the wool of American sheep. Jefferson, clad in one like it,
modestly waited till the procession had passed and then rode to the
Capitol alone, not even a servant following to care for his horse. On
entering the Hall of Representatives, he declined the chair reserved for
him near Madison’s but joined the ordinary spectators, saying: “To-day I
return to the people, and my proper seat is among them.” At the close of
the ceremony, he mounted his horse again and rode up the Avenue
unattended, till George Custis, also mounted, joined him, and they went
together to the Madisons’ house.

Here a crowd of friends had gathered to welcome in the new
administration. Mr. Madison’s emotions had been a good deal stirred by
what had passed at the Capitol, but his manner was affable. His wife was
all herself as usual. She was attired in a plain cambric dress with a
very long train, and a bonnet of purple velvet and white satin, adorned
with white plumes. Jefferson seems to have been, for such time as he
stayed, quite as much the lion of the occasion as his successor.
Presently he slipped quietly away and went over to the President’s
House, where the empty halls echoed to his footsteps; for he had given
all the servants a holiday so that they could see the show. But he did
not remain long alone; the news spread among his old friends that he had
gone back to bid his home of eight years farewell, and they followed him
after a little. In the evening he went to the inaugural ball--the first
ever held, and the only ball of any sort he had attended since his
return from France.

From all accounts it was not a highly enjoyable affair. The room was so
crowded that it was difficult to elbow one’s way across it; nobody could
see what was going on without standing on a chair; the air became
stifling, and when an attempt was made to freshen it by letting down the
upper sashes of the windows, they would not move, so nothing was left
but to smash the glass. Mrs. Madison was almost crushed to death;
Madison was so tired that he confessed to a friend that he wished he
were abed; and as soon as supper was over, the Presidential party
withdrew. The younger set stayed and danced till midnight, when, at the
stroke, the music ceased and the attendants began to put out the lights.

The social success achieved by Dolly Madison as official hostess through
so large a part of Jefferson’s administration did not wane when, with
the rise of her husband to the head of the Government, she came into her
own by right instead of by courtesy. Her first term as mistress of the
President’s House was a continuous blaze of gayety, in which we catch
fleeting glimpses of her in a variety of toilets, the most truly typical
being a buff velvet gown with pearl ornaments and a Paris turban topped
with a bird-of-paradise plume. Then came the second war with Great
Britain and the wrecking of the city.

When the British approached Bladensburg, and the improvised home-guard
of Washington went out to engage them in battle, Mr. Madison permitted
his military advisers to persuade him that, after seeing the stiffness
of the American resistance, the British would withdraw. His wife caught
the infection of confidence, and together they planned to celebrate the
victory by a dinner to the officers on the evening after the battle. The
table was spread by three in the afternoon, when Mrs. Madison, who had
been listening with composure to the distant boom of cannon, was
dismayed to see a lot of demoralized American soldiers running in from
the north by twos and threes. Her sudden fears were confirmed when one
of her colored servants galloped up to the door, shouting: “Clear out!
Clear out! General Armstrong has ordered a retreat!” Then a few friends
came over to insist on her seeking safety in flight. They helped her to
fill a wagon with such valuables as were not too heavy; but she provoked
their indignation by waiting till the oil portrait of General Washington
attributed to Stuart, which hangs in the White House to-day, could be
cut out of its frame and “placed in the hands of two gentlemen from New
York for safe keeping.”

We have already seen how the Capitol and other public buildings were
burned. A particularly vicious scheme was worked out to assure the
destruction of the President’s House, because of Mr. Madison’s personal
share in the dispute which led to the war. Indeed, it was the hope of
the invaders to find him and his wife at home and take them captive, so
as to humiliate the American Government and people and thus impress a
lesson for the future. By way of a reconnoiter, Admiral Cockburn went to
the mansion and looked through it, taking with him as a hostage a young
gentleman of the city, named Weightman. In the dining-room they found
everything prepared for the dinner of triumph, and Cockburn ordered his
companion to sit down with him and “drink Jemmy’s health.” Then he bade
Weightman help himself to a mantel ornament as a souvenir of the day. “I
must take something, too,” he added, and with great hilarity tucked
under his arm an old hat of the President’s and a cushion from Mrs.
Madison’s chair.

When all was ready, a detachment of fifty sailors and marines were
marched in silence up Pennsylvania Avenue, every man carrying a long
pole with a ball of combustible material attached to the top of it.
Arrived at the mansion, the balls were lighted, and the poles rested
each against a window. At a command from their officer, the pole-bearers
struck their windows simultaneously a hard blow, smashing the glass and
hurling the fire-balls into the rooms with a single motion; and the
little group of lookers-on beheld an outburst of flame from every part
of the building at once.

At the Octagon House, where they passed some months after their return
to Washington, the Madisons were surrounded by the same friends who had
enjoyed the hospitalities of the President’s House before the fire. It
was not, however, till they removed to the dwelling at the corner of
Pennsylvania Avenue and Nineteenth Street that Mrs. Madison was able to
entertain on the scale she desired. The house was one of the most
commodious in town, and for any fine function the whole of it was thrown
open. This was done on the occasion of the levee of February, 1816,
which was universally pronounced the most splendid witnessed in the
United States up to that time. The illumination extended from garret to
cellar, much of it coming from pine torches held aloft by slaves
specially drilled to maintain statuesque attitudes against the walls and
at the heads of staircases. Mrs. Madison’s toilet of rose-tinted satin
was set off with a girdle, necklace, and bracelets of gold, and a
gold-embroidered crown. It may have been this last adornment which
suggested to Sir George Bagot, the new British Minister, his comment
that “Mrs. Madison looks every inch a queen.” The compliment promptly
spread over Washington, where for some time thereafter the President’s
wife was constantly referred to as “the Queen.”

This levee was in the nature of a farewell, for on the fourth of the
next month President Madison made way for his successor, James Monroe,
whose inauguration was the first ever held in the open air. The
innovation was due to a quarrel between the two chambers of Congress,
which was then occupying its temporary quarters opposite the east
grounds of the Capitol. Monroe had arranged to take the oath in the
Hall of Representatives; but the Senators found fault with the seats set
apart for them, the Representatives were stubborn, and a deadlock seemed
imminent, when Monroe suggested as a compromise that a platform be
raised in front of the building, and that the ceremony take place there,
where all the people could witness it. Thus began what came to be known
as “the era of good feeling.”

How class consciousness prevailed in those days is amusingly illustrated
by Monroe’s resentment of the foreign conception of Americans. “People
in Europe,” he had once said to the French Minister, while Secretary of
State under Madison, “suppose us to be merchants occupied exclusively
with pepper and ginger. They are much deceived. The immense majority of
our citizens do not belong to this class, and are, as much as your
Europeans, controlled by principles of honor and dignity. I never knew
what trade was; the President was as much a stranger to it as I.”
Perhaps it was because he knew so little about trade that he took pains
to cultivate its acquaintance as soon as he became President. He made a
grand tour of the new West, staying away from Washington more than four
months and visiting especially the commercial centers, where he showed
himself to the people as much as possible. He invited some criticism by
making his tour in the buff-and-blue uniform of the Continental
soldiery of forty years before, cocked hat and all; but his friends
always contended that this appeal to patriotism vastly increased his
popularity and went far to account for his wonderful success in his
campaign for reëlection in 1820, when he captured all the electoral
votes except one.

The period covered by the last few pages brought to Washington two great
men, whose share in shaping the history of the United States was such as
to warrant our pausing to take a closer look at them. These were Henry
Clay and Daniel Webster. Clay was probably the most popular man in our
public life from Washington’s time to Lincoln’s, and his legislative
career was unique both in its beginning and in its ending. He came to
Washington first to fill a vacancy caused by the death of a Kentucky
Senator, and held this position for several months while he was still
too young to be eligible under the Constitution, because nobody was
disposed to inquire into the years of one who possessed so mature a
mind. Both before and after this experience he served in the Kentucky
legislature, where, on account of an insult received in debate, he
challenged its author and “winged” him in a duel. When the Twelfth
Congress was about to meet, with every prospect that John Randolph and
his little coterie were going to make trouble in the House, a demand
arose for a Speaker who would be able to cope with the turbulent
element. Clay had just been elected a Representative, and his prowess as
a duelist drew all eyes in his direction. “Harry Clay can keep Randolph
in order,” declared his Kentucky neighbors, “and he is the only man who
can!” On this ground, then, he was elected Speaker before he had
actually taken his seat in the House. He was the first man ever thus
honored; and he was, I believe, the only one who ever made two formal
farewells to the Senate. The first, preliminary to his resignation in
1842, appears among the classics of American eloquence; but, as he was
sent back in 1849, he had the chance, rarely accorded any one except a
histrionic star, to bow himself off the stage a second time.

During the years of his greatest activity, every announcement that he
was to speak made a gala day at the Capitol. “The gallery was full,”
wrote Margaret Bayard Smith of one such occasion, “to a degree that
endangered it; even the outer entries were thronged. The gentlemen are
grown very gallant and attentive, and, as it was impossible to reach the
ladies through the gallery, a new mode was invented for supplying them
with oranges, etc. They tied them up in handkerchiefs, to each of which
was fixed a note indicating for whom it was designed, and then fastened
to a long pole. This was taken on the floor of the house and handed up
to the ladies who sat in the front of the gallery. These presentations
were frequent and quite amusing, even in the midst of Mr. Clay’s speech.
I and the ladies near me divided what was brought with each other, and
were as social as if acquainted.”

The orator who could hold his own against such a background of confusion
might well take pride in his powers; but the universal testimony was
that Clay’s wonderfully modulated voice and magnetic charm of
personality triumphed over everything. He was so attractive a man that
even Calhoun, with whom he was at swords-drawn in every forensic battle,
could not forbear wringing his hand with a “God bless you!” at their
final parting in the Senate chamber; and John Randolph, with whom he had
clashed repeatedly and whose coat he had punctured in a duel, insisted
on being carried to the Capitol, while dying, and laid on a couch where
Clay was going to deliver a much-heralded speech. Possibly one of the
secrets of Clay’s success in winning people was illustrated in his
quarrel with Senator King of Alabama, which began on the Senate floor
and led to the passage of a challenge. Friends interfered, and after
some days a peace was

[Illustration: _Mount Vernon_]

patched up, both men publicly withdrawing their offensive remarks, and a
brother Senator making some appropriate gratulatory observations on the
reconciliation. Then Clay gave the final dramatic touch to the scene by
crossing the chamber to where his late adversary sat, saying aloud:
“King, give me a pinch of your snuff!” King, surprised, sprang up and
held out both a snuff-box and an open hand, while Senators and
spectators applauded to the echo.

Clay was a slimly built man who always appeared for action clad in a
solemn suit of black, with a claw-hammer coat, a stiff silk stock, and a
huge white “choker” with pointed ears. His face was spare and his
forehead high, his cheekbones were prominent, the nose between them was
slender and forceful, and the mouth wide, thin-lipped, and straight-cut.
His lank hair, naturally of a tawny hue, became early streaked with gray
and was worn long enough to fringe his coat collar. He was approachable
in manner, had a most genial smile, and was ready with a pleasant
response to every greeting, its effect being intensified by its musical
clarity of enunciation. He was distinctly fond of society and especially
enjoyed a game of cards. Although his wife accompanied him to
Washington, she appeared little with him in public. She was a good woman
with few gifts, but a devoted mother, and her chief joy in life was to
sew for her six children. Wherever he went, Mr. Clay was always
surrounded by a circle of adoring women, who hung upon every word of the
many he uttered as he talked in desultory style with his back against a
sofa-cushion. He followed a free fashion of his time in taking toll from
the lips of all the young and pretty maidens he met. The first time he
saw Dolly Madison, her youthful face and dainty dress misled him into
saluting her in this fashion. On discovering his mistake, “Ah, madam,”
he pleaded gallantly, “had I known you for whom you are, the coin would
have been larger!”

I may add in passing that the American navy owes its monitor type of
fighting-craft largely to Henry Clay. Theodore Timby, who invented the
revolving turret which Ericsson used during the Civil War, came to
Washington bearing a letter of introduction to Clay, who became
interested in the idea and helped him get the patent without which it
might have been lost to the world.

Webster was cast in quite a different mold from Clay. He was godlike
where Clay was human; his eloquence overwhelmed his hearers where Clay’s
fascinated them. He had a big head, a big frame, a big voice, a big
presence. Emerson speaks of his “awful charm.” Some one who heard him
condemn the dishonest gains of a certain financial institution, says
that the word “disgorge,” as he uttered it, “seemed to weigh about
twelve pounds.” Once Mrs. Webster brought their little son to hear his
father deliver an oration. Daniel began a sentence in his thunder-tone:
“Will any man dare say--” and the audience were waiting breathless to
hear what was coming next, when a wee, piping voice responded from the
gallery: “Oh, no, no, Papa!”

His greatest effort in Congress, of course, was his reply to Hayne.
Everybody in Washington was eager to hear it, and galleries and floor,
including the platform on which the Vice-president sat, were crowded to
the last limit. Representative Lewis of Alabama, being unable to gain
access to the hall, climbed around behind the wooden framework which
flanked the platform and bored a hole through it with his pocket-knife
in order to get a view of the great expounder. At a levee that evening
at the White House, Webster was besieged by admirers offering
congratulations. Among the crowd that drew near him at one time happened
to be Hayne himself. “How are you, Colonel Hayne?” was Webster’s
greeting. “None the better for you, sir,” answered Hayne, good humoredly
but with sincere feeling.

We are treated to another picture of him when he arrived late at a
concert given by Jenny Lind. For the benefit of the statesmen who were
present, Miss Lind, for an encore, sang “Hail Columbia.” Webster, who
had been dining, was on his feet in an instant and added his powerful
bass voice to hers in the chorus. Mrs. Webster did all she could to
induce him to sit down, but he repeated his effort at the close of every
verse, and with the last strain made the songstress a profound
obeisance, waving his hat at the same time. Miss Lind curtsyed in
return, Webster repeated his bow, and this little comedy of etiquette
was kept up for some minutes, to the delight of the audience.



CHAPTER VI

THROUGH MANY CHANGING YEARS


With the advent of the Monroes, social life at the President’s House
underwent a transformation. Its character could have been forecast from
the fact that, although for the six years Monroe had been at the head of
the Cabinet his family had been with him in Washington, they were as
nearly strangers to the great body of citizens as if they had been
living in New York or Boston. If a lady wished to call on Mrs. Monroe,
she had to apply for an appointment and have a day and hour fixed,
unless she were a member or intimate of some former Presidential family.
In this administration, too, was born to Washington its first formal
code of social precedence, which, with certain modifications in detail,
has remained unchanged to this day. It differs from the codes of other
American communities in having official rank as a basis. John Quincy
Adams, before becoming Secretary of State, had served at various times
as envoy to five European courts. He was therefore ripe with
information on the rules observed abroad and resolved on bringing
something of the same sort into operation at our capital.

Mrs. Monroe and her daughters made it an absolute rule to pay no visits;
so calls made on them, no matter by whom, went unreturned. Their dislike
of the underbred caused them to take no part in the preparations for the
general levees, which were thronged with anybody and everybody; but
their invitation list for select receptions was cut down mercilessly,
and the reduced company were treated to supper, an innovation on recent
practices. At all such entertainments Mrs. Monroe was so exacting in her
demands as to dress that when one of her near relatives presented
himself in an informal costume which he had worn without criticism at
the best of the Jefferson and Madison functions, she refused him
admittance till he should don the regulation small-clothes and silk
hose.

The Monroes renamed the east room “the banqueting hall” and had their
state dinners there, partly because of its spaciousness, and partly
because the dining-room had been so badly damaged in the fire that it
took a long time to rehabilitate. The table appointments included a
central oval “plateau” twelve feet long by two feet wide, composed of a
mirror “surrounded by gold females holding candlesticks.” The china was
highly gilt, and the dessert knives, forks, and spoons were of beaten
gold. All the plate was the private property of the family and bore the
initials “J. M.”; much of it was afterward purchased by the Government
and made a part of the official furnishing of the White House, where it
remained in use down to Van Buren’s day.

A New York Representative went with some friends to dine with the
Monroes. Arriving at half-past five, his party were “ushered, Indian
file, into the drawing-room,” where they found “some twenty gentlemen
seated in a row in solemn state, mute as fishes, having already
undergone the ceremony of introduction.” And he goes on:

“Mrs. Monroe was seated at the further end of the room, with other
ladies. On our approach, she rose and received us handsomely. After
being myself presented, I introduced the other gentlemen. I now expected
to be led to the President, but my pilot, the private secretary, had
vanished. We beat a retreat, each to his respective chair. Observing the
President sitting very demurely by the chimney-corner, I arose and
advanced to him. He got up and shook me by the hand, as he did the other
gentlemen. This second ceremony over, all again was silence, and each
once more moved to his seat. It was a period of great solemnity. Not a
whisper broke upon the ear to interrupt the silence of the place, and
every one looked as if the next moment would be his last. After a while
the President, in a grave manner, began conversation with some one that
sat near him, and directly the secretary ushered in some more victims,
who submitted to the same ordeal we had experienced. This continued for
fully half an hour, when dinner was announced. It became more lively as
the dishes rattled.” The party remained at table till about half-past
eight.

The retirement of Monroe marked the end of “the Virginia dynasty.” It
had always been a sore point with John Adams that the highest office of
the Government should be passed from hand to hand in the Old Dominion,
and he once threw out the splenetic comment that not “until the last
Virginian was laid in the graveyard” would his son have a chance at the
Presidency. The son had been trained with reference to such an
inheritance, and, on becoming Monroe’s Secretary of State, regarded
himself as in the line of succession. His appearance as a Presidential
candidate, however, aroused no general enthusiasm, whereas General
Andrew Jackson, having given the finishing stroke to the defeat of the
British invaders by his victory over Pakenham, and acquired the
nickname “Old Hickory,” had become the idol of the multitude. In spite
of their approaching competition for the Presidency, Adams was obliged
to recognize Jackson’s prestige at every turn; and on the eighth of
January, 1824, Mrs. Adams gave a ball in the General’s honor which was
so grand that it was still talked of in Washington fifty years
afterward.

The Adams house stood on the site now occupied by the Adams office
building in F Street near Fourteenth. On this occasion the floor of the
ballroom was decorated with pictures in colored chalks. The central
design, which portrayed an American eagle clutching a trophy of flags,
bore the legend: “Welcome to the Hero of New Orleans!” The pillars were
trimmed with laurel and other winter foliage, roses were scattered
everywhere, and the illumination was furnished by variegated lamps, with
a brilliant luster in the middle of the ceiling. There were eight pieces
of music. Mrs. Adams was seated in the center of the hall, with Jackson
standing at her side and a semicircle of distinguished guests behind
them. President Monroe and Mr. Adams attended, but both were conspicuous
for their sobriety of attire. It was this gathering which inspired a
tribute in verse by a local journalist, beginning:

    “Wend you with the world to-night?
       Brown and fair, and wise and witty,
     Eyes that float in seas of light,
       Laughing mouths and dimples pretty,
         Belles and matrons, maids and madams,
         All are gone to Mrs. Adams!”

Nine months later, Jackson polled a far larger popular vote for the
Presidency than Adams, and so distributed as to give him a lead in the
electoral colleges also. But as there were four candidates, none of whom
had a clear majority of the electoral vote, the decision was left to the
House of Representatives, where Henry Clay, the candidate at the bottom
of the list, threw his support to Adams, giving him the office. Adams
recognized his debt to Clay by appointing him Secretary of State, and
thus placing him in the line of promotion. Jackson never forgave Clay
for his share in electing Adams, and from that day forth had nothing to
do with him beyond the coolest exchange of civilities. In other respects
the General accepted defeat philosophically, attending the inaugural
ceremonies and promptly coming forward to congratulate the new
President, an act of grace that brought tears to the eyes of Adams. The
appearance of the two men together in public delighted the crowd, and
there was vociferous hurrahing for Jackson. Judged solely by
appearances, indeed, the day was a festival in honor of Jackson rather
than of Adams. Many of the General’s friends had come a long distance,
in an era when traveling was so slow that they had been obliged to leave
home before learning the final outcome of the election, and supposed
that they were to attend the inauguration of their favorite. They sought
solace for their disappointment in turbulent demonstrations. For the
whole afternoon the dramshops carried on a tremendous business, and all
night the streets were full of tramping men roaring out Jackson campaign
songs and silencing opposition with their fists. Pistol shots were heard
at frequent intervals, and a rumor spread that Henry Clay had been
killed.

Whatever Adams may have thought of these exhibitions, he bore them with
a calm exterior. He was always indifferent to criticism, and became
famous as the most shabbily clad man who had ever occupied the
Presidential chair, being accused even of having worn the same hat for
ten years. He braved public opinion by setting up a billiard table in
the White House, which gave a North Carolina Representative a text for a
speech denouncing the expenditure of fifty dollars for the table and six
dollars for a set of balls as “alarming to the religious, the moral, and
the reflecting portion of the community.” The anti-administration
press, using the game of billiards as a theme, opened fire upon the
President as a gambler. For a fact, he never made but one bet in his
life. Clay had picked up at auction a picture which Adams tried to buy
of him. One day, in jest, Clay offered it as a stake for a game of
all-fours. To his astonishment, Adams, the supposed ascetic, took him
up, and won the game and the picture.

It was a habit of Adams to take a plunge in the Potomac, at the foot of
his garden, every morning “between daybreak and sunrise,” the weather
permitting. Once he had all his clothing stolen, and had to catch a
passing boy and send him home for enough raiment to cover him. But this
was by no means his most embarrassing adventure. It was during his
administration that the first woman newspaper correspondent turned up in
Washington. She was resolved to procure an interview with the President,
who did not care to gratify her. So she rose early one morning and
repaired, notebook and pencil in hand, to the river bank, and planted
herself beside his clothes till he started to come out. Standing almost
neck-deep in the water, he tried first severity and then persuasion to
induce her to go away, but she held her ground till he surrendered and
answered her most important questions.

[Illustration: _Tudor House, Georgetown_]

The billiard table was not the only basis for charges of prodigal living
brought against Adams. When he ran for reëlection, his enemies made
effective use of a letter written by a member of Congress who had
attended a New Year’s reception at the White House and who mentioned the
“gorgeously furnished east room.” The truth was that the east room,
except for three marble-topped tables and a few mirrors, did not contain
fifty dollars’ worth of furniture of any sort. A Washingtonian of the
period has written that there were no chandeliers, and that the great
room depended for its lighting on candles held in tin candlesticks
nailed to the wall, which “dripped their sperm upon the clothes of those
who came under them, as I well know from experience.”

Adams sometimes aroused personal hostility by his peppery temper. He had
to dine with him one evening a Southern Senator who was notorious for
his dislike of everything in New England but prided himself on his
knowledge of wines. The Senator had the bad manners to remark that he
had “never known a Unitarian who did not believe in the sea-serpent.”
This aroused the ire of Adams, who later, when his guest said that Tokay
and Rhine wine were somewhat alike, turned upon him with the
exclamation: “Sir, I do not believe that you ever drank a drop of Tokay
in your life!” He afterward apologized, but the Senator would not
accept the apology and became the implacable foe of his administration.

Jackson’s election in 1828 was a foregone conclusion from the moment he
reappeared as a Presidential candidate; and, immediately upon the
announcement that he had won an electoral vote a good deal more than
double that of Adams, Washington became the Mecca of a hundred
pilgrimages. By the fourth of March, 1829, the city was so crowded with
worshipers of the President-elect that they overflowed the inns and
boarding-houses, and many were obliged to live in camp. Half the men
wore their trousers tucked into their boot-legs, and not a few carried
pistols openly in their belts. The hickory emblem was in evidence
everywhere: men wielded hickory canes and staffs, women wore bonnets
trimmed with hickory leaves and necklaces composed of hickory nuts
fancifully painted, and scores of horses were driven with bridles of
hickory bark.

Like his father, Adams did not attend the inauguration of his successor;
he withdrew to a hired dwelling on the heights north of the city and
kept to himself till the flurry was over. Probably Jackson did not
regret his absence, for the campaign had been surcharged with bitter
personalities, into which the name

[Illustration: _Bladensburg Duelling-Ground_]

of Mrs. Jackson was remorselessly dragged. Mrs. Jackson had died since
election day, and the General believed her death the direct result of
calumny.

Madison had set the fashion, and Monroe and Adams had improved upon it,
of having a formal escort to the Capitol on the way to inauguration.
Jackson, however, refused to follow custom. As the only militia
organization in the city was under command of a colonel who hated him,
he had no military display, but walked down the middle of Pennsylvania
Avenue with only a body-guard composed of veterans of the War of the
Revolution, then a half-century past. For any lack of enthusiasm on the
part of the resident population, that of the visiting Jacksonians more
than compensated. All the way the General and his little party were so
surrounded by a yelling, cheering crowd that they could advance only at
a snail’s pace. To watchers on Capitol Hill he was distinguishable from
the mob by being the one man in the midst of it who walked bareheaded.

Jackson was the first President to take the oath of office on the east
portico of the Capitol, the place now generally used. He also was the
first to read his speech before being sworn. He wore two pairs of
spectacles,--a pair for looking at the crowd and a pair for reading;
when he was using one pair, the other was perched aloft on his
forehead. At the close of the exercises, he mounted a fine white horse
and rode to the White House, again having to make his way through a mass
of singing and shouting admirers. At the mansion a feast had been
provided, and the gates thrown open to every one. The building was soon
stuffed full; and, as the people waiting outside could hardly hope to
force their way in, negro servants came to the doors with buckets of
punch and salvers of cakes and ices and passed these out. Much of the
food and drink was wasted, and much china and glassware smashed. Women
fainted, men quarreled and bruised one another’s faces. At one stage the
doorways became so blocked that people coming out had to climb through
the windows and drop to the ground. The rabble inside, bent on shaking
the hand of the President, jammed him against a wall to the serious
peril of his ribs, till he succeeded in escaping through a back entry
and taking refuge in the hotel where he had lately had his lodgings.

The boisterous incidents of his first day in office were only an earnest
of the stormy administration which lay before Jackson. Realizing how
much he was indebted to New York for his election, and that Martin Van
Buren had a powerful following there, he appointed Van Buren his
Secretary of State. This proved a pretty lucky investment in human
nature; for in the Peggy Eaton controversy, which broke out soon after
Jackson began his term, Van Buren was a valuable ally. General John H.
Eaton, a lifelong friend whom Jackson had appointed Secretary of War,
had been boarding for several years with a local tavern-keeper named
O’Neal. The publican’s daughter, Peggy, had grown up a pretty, but pert
and forward girl, who flirted with her father’s patrons and married one
of them, Purser Timberlake of the navy. Timberlake was addicted to
drink, and during one of his cruises he ended a spree by suicide,
leaving his wife and children destitute; and Eaton, whose name gossip
had already linked with the widow’s, came to the front with an offer of
marriage, which was accepted.

The wedding followed so closely upon the tragedy as to cause wide
criticism, and this, together with her antecedents, condemned Mrs. Eaton
to social ostracism. Left to themselves, Eaton’s colleagues of the
Cabinet would have ignored the circumstances of his marriage, but the
ladies of their families declared that they would have nothing to do
with the bride. Van Buren, as a widower with no daughters, felt free to
act as he pleased; and Jackson, remembering what his own wife had
endured, gallantly espoused the cause of Mrs. Eaton and gave the hostile
Secretaries their choice between accepting her or resigning their
portfolios, whereupon the Cabinet went promptly to pieces.

Being a man of means, Van Buren did a good deal of entertaining for Mrs.
Eaton’s benefit, and also inspired those members of the diplomatic corps
who were unaccompanied by ladies to join him in “floating” her. The
British Minister was a bachelor, so was the Russian Minister; but,
though the dinners and balls which they gave attracted many feminine
guests who were flattered by being invited, they were not wholly
successful. Madam Huygens, wife of the Dutch Minister, for instance, was
induced to attend a ball, but when escorted to the supper table found
that she was expected to sit next but one to Mrs. Eaton and would have
to exchange a few words with that lady. Instantly she placed her arm in
that of her husband and withdrew with him from the room. When the story
was told to Jackson, he rose in his wrath and declared that he would
send Huygens home to Holland; but he never carried out the threat.

Viewed in historical perspective, Jackson appears to have been a man of
tremendous force, thoroughly patriotic, conscientious in even his most
wayward conceptions of duty, unlearned but not illiterate, and above all
things hating treachery. He handled the sword with more facility than
the pen, and some of his correspondence, reproduced with its crudities
of syntax and spelling, would make the better educated angels weep.
Conscious of his scholastic shortcomings, he rarely attempted anything
original in writing or speaking, except on public questions; and when
his autograph was sought in the albums which were the fashionable fad of
the day, he borrowed his sentiments from the Presbyterian hymn-book,
quoting, as Miss Martineau recalls, “stanzas of the most ominous import
from Dr. Watts.”

Jackson usually flavored his dinners and receptions with a dash of the
unexpected. On one occasion he jostled the proprieties by singing “Auld
Lang Syne.” He ate sparingly at his own table but talked a great deal,
slowly and quietly, and, when women were present, with much real
kindliness of tone. He had a homely way of disposing of questions which
he regarded as not overimportant. At a dinner in honor of the marriage
of his adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Junior, he decided on an innovation
in etiquette by having his Secretary of State precede the diplomatic
corps, the rest of the Cabinet to follow the foreigners. This plan was
vigorously resisted by the Secretary of the Treasury, who argued that
the Cabinet was a unit, and that its members should therefore be
treated on an equal footing. “In that case,” said the President, “we
will put all the Cabinet ahead of the diplomats,” and he sent his
private secretary, Major Donelson, to make the announcement to the
guests. The French Minister at once stirred up the Dutch Minister, as
senior member of the corps, to prevent the threatened indignity.
Meanwhile, dinner had been announced, and every one was standing.
Donelson reported the strained situation to the President, who, instead
of vowing “by the Eternal” that his commands should be obeyed, smiled
good-naturedly and said: “Well, I will lead with the bride. It is a
family affair; so we’ll waive all difficulties, and the company will
please to follow as heretofore.”

The first baby born in the White House probably was Mary Emily Donelson,
child of the private secretary. At her baptism in the east room the
President and Martin Van Buren stood as godfathers. Van Buren took her
in his arms when she was first brought in, but she squirmed and wriggled
so that Jackson reached out for her, whereat she cooed with delight, as
children always did at any attention from him. He held her throughout
the service, and, at the minister’s question, “Do you, in the name of
this child, renounce the devil and all his works?” he stiffened up as he
might have if confronted with a fresh machination of his enemies, and
declared with characteristic emphasis: “I do, sir; I renounce them all!”

It was during Jackson’s administration that Harriet Martineau first
visited Washington. She was suffering from overwork and had been orderd
by her physician in England to cross the sea for a good rest. In spite
of that, people would not let her alone. It is said that within
twenty-four hours after her arrival in town more than six hundred
persons had called to pay their respects. Probably not fifty could have
told why they did so, except that she was a literary celebrity. One lady
was eager to learn “whether her novels were really very pretty,” and
most of the statesmen, when told that she was a political economist,
laughed outright. A social leader, desirous of giving her a dinner such
as she had been accustomed to at home, made the table groan under the
choicest things the market afforded, including eight different meats,
only to see the guest confine herself to a tiny slice of turkey-breast
and a nibble of ham. She was equally disconcerting with her other
simplicities, such as coming to a five o’clock dinner at a little after
three, clad in a walking suit in which she had been tramping about the
city, but bringing in her capacious pockets all the trappings necessary
for a presentable evening toilet.

Notwithstanding her idiosyncrasies, Miss Martineau made a profoundly
pleasant impression wherever she went. Webster, Clay, and Calhoun would
desert their seats in the Senate to join her for a talk, and Chief
Justice Marshall would descend from the bench to greet her when she came
into his courtroom. She could take up her unpretentious position in the
corner of a sofa anywhere, and in a few minutes have a circle of the
country’s elect about her awaiting their turns for a chat; and this in
spite of the fact that she was very deaf and had to make use of an
ear-trumpet of an unfamiliar pattern, so that often a newcomer would
talk into the wrong aperture. She never made anything of her infirmity;
and, of all the poems, addresses, and letters of appreciation with which
she was showered, the production which gave her most delight was an ode
to her trumpet, beginning: “Beloved horn!”

Early in this administration, the east room at the White House, which
had figured in the Democratic campaign speeches as an audience chamber
sumptuous enough for royalty, was discovered to be too shabby for a
President of Jackson’s simple habits. So four large mirrors, heavily
framed in gilt, were hung against its walls, their bases resting on
mantels of black Italian marble. Chandeliers gleaming with glass prisms
were suspended from the ceiling; damask-covered chairs, their woodwork
gilded like the mirror frames, were substituted for the worn-out
furniture which had sufficed for the Adams family; the windows were
richly curtained; a Brussels carpet, with the sprawling pattern then so
much admired, was stretched over the entire floor; and this array of
elegance was capped with bouquets of artificial flowers, in painted
china vases, distributed among the mantels and tables and in the window
recesses.

These things did not long retain their freshness. Jackson’s dinners had
features quaint enough, but his receptions were little short of riots. A
literary visitor has left us the description of one where “generals,
commodores, foreign ministers and members of Congress” brushed elbows
with laborers who had come in their working clothes from a day of canal
digging, and “sooty artificers” direct from the forge. “There were
majors in broadcloth and corduroys, redolent of gin and tobacco, and
majors’ ladies in chintz or russet, with huge Paris earrings, and tawny
necks profusely decorated with beads of colored glass. There were
tailors from the board and judges from the bench; lawyers who opened
their mouths at one bar, and tapsters who closed theirs at another; and
one individual--either a miller or a baker--who, wherever he passed,
left marks of contact on the garments of the company.” Meanwhile, the
waiters who attempted to cross from the pantry to the east room with
cakes and punch were intercepted by a ravenous horde who emptied the
trays as fast as they could be refilled, so that little or nothing
reached the better-mannered guests. This went on till the Irish butler,
in exasperation, enlisted a dozen stalwart men and armed them with
billets of wood, to surround the waiters as a guard, and keep their
sticks swinging about the food so briskly that it could not be captured
except at the cost of a broken head. Of course the carpet, curtains, and
cushions were deluged with sticky refuse, and broken bits of china and
glass were ground into powder under foot.

If it be possible to imagine anything worse in its way than this scene,
it was Jackson’s farewell entertainment, given on the twenty-second of
February, 1837. The chief feature was the cutting of a mammoth cheese
which had been sent to the President by admirers in a northern dairy
district. It weighed fourteen hundred pounds, and nothing would satisfy
Jackson but to give a piece to every man, woman, and child who would
come for it. As a result, the paths leading to the White House, and the
portico itself, were thronged that afternoon with people going in to
get their chunks and coming out with greasy parcels in their hands. “We
forced our way over the threshold,” wrote one of the adventurous souls,
“and encountered an atmosphere to which the mephitic gas over Avernus
must be faint and innocuous. On the side of the hall hung a rough
likeness of General Jackson, emblazoned with eagle and stars, and in the
center of the vestibule stood the fragrant gift, surrounded by a dense
crowd who had in two hours cut and purveyed away more than a half-ton of
horribly smelling ‘Testimonial to the Hero of New Orleans.’ A small
segment had been reserved for the President’s use, but it is doubtful if
he ever tasted it.” The cutting was done by two able-bodied laborers,
armed with big knives extemporized from hand-saws.

In the White House, Jackson lived a good deal apart. He was always glad
to see any one who came on a friendly errand, and loved to frolic with
children; but one of his chief pleasures was sitting by himself in the
big south room of the second story and smoking. An aged friend who, as a
boy, visited the White House with his father while Jackson was there,
told me that the President bade them draw up with him by the fireside,
offered a clean clay pipe to the elder of the visitors, and, lighting
his own well-seasoned corn-cob, puffed the smoke up the chimney,
explaining that Emily Donelson--the wife of his secretary, who kept
house for him--disliked the smell of tobacco.

The ghost of the Peggy Eaton affair could never be permanently
exorcised. Timberlake had not only died penniless and in debt but left
his official accounts in confusion, and a year or two later it was
discovered that he had been a defaulter. His bondsman resisted payment
of the shortage, accusing Lieutenant Robert B. Randolph, who had taken
over Timberlake’s papers, of the actual responsibility for it. Randolph,
in demanding a court-martial, committed a technical breach of discipline
for which the President dismissed him summarily from the service. One
day Jackson was a passenger on a river steamboat which stopped briefly
at a wharf in Alexandria. He was sitting alone, when a stranger
approached him as if to shake hands. Jackson, seeing him drawing off one
of his gloves, said amiably, “Never mind your glove, sir,” and stretched
out his own hand. But the stranger, instead of taking it, made a violent
lunge at Jackson’s face, exclaiming: “I am Lieutenant Randolph, whom you
have wronged and insulted, and I came here to pull your nose!” Startled
by the noise, two or three gentlemen ran forward and sprang upon
Randolph, who, in the struggle that followed, reached the gangplank and
freed himself. The President, convinced by later developments that the
Lieutenant had really suffered an injustice, offered to reinstate him if
he would apologize for the nose-pulling; but he scornfully rejected the
proposal.

The Cabinet, as reorganized in consequence of pretty Peggy’s fight, did
not hang together long. Secretary Eaton intimated presently that he
would like to retire, Van Buren seemed of the same mind, so the
President appointed the former Governor of Florida and the latter
Minister to England. The Senate confirmed Eaton’s appointment with good
enough grace, but balked at that of Van Buren, who, having gone to
England in good faith to enter upon his duties, was put to the
humiliating necessity of coming home again. Jackson was angry, regarding
this as a blow at himself. “If they don’t want him for Minister,” he
thundered, “we’ll see if they like him any better as President!” He
therefore laid out a program beginning with his own reëlection with Van
Buren as his Vice-president, and ending with Van Buren’s election as his
successor. The plan carried; and, as Jackson’s affection for Van Buren
had grown largely out of the latter’s stanch loyalty in the Cabinet
quarrel, Mrs. Eaton may be said to have shaped American history for a
considerable term of years.

Long after this lady ceased to hold the center of the national stage,
her career continued to be picturesque. Her husband, having retired from
the Governorship of Florida, was appointed Minister to Spain, and in
Madrid she appears to have made herself a great favorite at court. After
General Eaton’s death she returned to Washington, and was living down
much of the adverse sentiment of former days, when there appeared on the
scene an Italian dancing-master named Buchignani, whose dark, soulful
eyes and insinuating manners proved too much for even her experienced
heart. Although she was well advanced in years and he was young enough
to be her son, she not only became his wife, but let all her comfortable
fortune slip into his hands, and gradually gave him also the custody of
her grandchildren’s property, which she was holding in trust. He repaid
her kindness by eloping with her favorite granddaughter to Canada, where
he went into business as a saloon-keeper. Mrs. Buchignani died in 1879,
still glorying in the memory of her early activities.

As Vice-president, Van Buren lived in the Decatur house, the big somber
brick dwelling on the corner of Jackson Place and H Street. Across the
park, just south of the present home of the Cosmos Club, lived Mr. and
Mrs. Ogle Tayloe, with whom it was his habit to pass his disengaged
evenings. Suddenly he ceased

[Illustration: _Decatur House_]

coming, and after some weeks Mr. Tayloe hunted him up to inquire what
was the matter. His only response was: “Mrs. Tayloe has things lying
about on her table which should not be there.” Van Buren had always
seemed interested in Mrs. Tayloe’s collection of contemporary
autographs; and, when husband and wife were searching there for the
possible cause of offense, they came upon a letter from a prominent New
York politician containing the passage: “What is little Matt doing? Some
dirty work, of course, as usual.” Mrs. Tayloe cut out the derogatory
paragraph and sent word to Van Buren that she had done so, and at once
he renewed his visits.

Jackson escorted Van Buren to the Capitol, for his inauguration, in a
carriage widely celebrated as the “Constitution coach.” It was a present
to the General from citizens of New York and was built out of timbers
from the old war frigate _Constitution_, a picture of which was
emblazoned on one panel. Van Buren discovered, before he had been long
in office, that a thousand things which the people accepted without
question from a military hero they were prepared to criticize in a
civilian. Moreover, his son John, while in England some years before,
had danced with the Princess Victoria and thus acquired the nickname
“Prince John,” of which the enemies of the administration made use as a
political cudgel, declaring that the whole family were aping the foreign
aristocracy. Along came the financial panic of 1837, reducing thousands
of well-to-do persons to poverty, and this was fatuously laid to Van
Buren’s account when he stood for reëlection in 1840 against General
William Henry Harrison, affectionately styled “Old Tippecanoe” in memory
of one of his victories.

Regardless of the fact that Jackson had refurnished the White House
expensively for those days and then given entertainments which spoiled
nearly everything spoilable, it was Van Buren who became the undeserving
target for attack on the ground that he maintained “a royal
establishment” in “a palace as splendid as that of the Cæsars, and as
richly adorned as the proudest Asiatic mansion.” The stump orators
harped on the use of gold and silver spoons at the White House table,
and on the excessive number of spittoons distributed in the parlors and
halls. Vainly did the President’s defenders show that the gold spoons
were mostly plated ware, and that the spittoons, like the other
furniture, were the property of the Government: the voters who ate their
porridge from wooden vessels and threw their quids into boxes of sawdust
were resolved upon putting into his place a man of different type. Henry
Clay, passing the White House one day when a blaze broke out in the
laundry, joined the firemen in helping to extinguish it, remarking
jocularly to the President: “Though we are bound to have you out of
here, Mr. Van Buren, we don’t want you burned out.”

Harrison was elected. He was sixty-eight when he arrived in Washington
in February, 1841, and was in delicate health, but affected a vain
pretense of robustness. Though the day was chilly, with snow thinly
covering the streets and a cold rain falling, he declined to enter a
carriage, and walked half a mile to the City Hall with his hat in his
hand, bowing to the people on either side of the street. At the hall he
stood on the portico, still uncovered, while the Mayor made a speech of
welcome and he responded. His exposure gave him a cold which, following
his fatigues and excitement, brought on a serious nervous attack, and
this was not improved by the prospect of a wearisome inaugural ceremony.
He had only a common school education, but had read a good deal,
particularly ancient history. Mr. Webster, whom he had selected for
Secretary of State, recognizing his literary limitations, composed an
excellent inaugural address and carried it to him, saying in
explanation: “I feared lest, with all you are called upon to do just
now, you might not find time to do anything of this sort.”

“Oh, yes,” answered Harrison, cheerfully, producing a packet of neatly
written sheets, “I attended to all that before leaving home.”

Webster tactfully contrived to induce him to exchange manuscripts, “so
that each author could read the other’s production, and whichever proved
the better could be used.”

But the next day Harrison handed back Webster’s paper with the remark:
“If I were to read your address, everybody would know you wrote it. Mine
is not so good, but at least it is mine, and I shall prefer my own poor
work to your brilliant one.” As a last resort Webster offered to revise
Harrison’s address, and Harrison consented, though very reluctantly.
Webster struggled with his task a whole day, chopping out paragraph
after paragraph of classical citations. When a lady that evening
inquired what he had been doing to make him look so ill, he exclaimed:
“You’d be ill, too, if you had committed all the crimes I have. Within
twelve hours I have killed seventeen Roman pro-consuls--dead as smelts,
every man of them!”

Though compelled to sacrifice so much of his antique lore, Harrison was
not to be argued out of his resolve to ride a white horse to and from
his inauguration, having read of sundry great Romans who thus traversed
the Appian Way. He refused, too, to wear an overcoat on the fourth of
March, notwithstanding that he had a heavy cold, and that a stiff gale
was blowing which searched the vitals of most men in thick garments. Nor
would he consent to cover his head while delivering his address, which
was a protest against executive usurpation, the corruption of the press,
and the abuses of party spirit. Few who heard it realized how near they
had come to witnessing no inaugural ceremony that day. It had been
arranged that Harrison should join the procession for the Capitol at the
house of a friend whom he was visiting, but he was in such a state of
nervous exhaustion that he fainted twice before the time came to start.
His companions bathed his temples with brandy, and the physician they
called in forbade his going out of doors unless in a carriage; but he
would hear to no change of plans, and managed, by sheer force of will,
not only to perform his part at the Capitol, but to hold an afternoon
reception at the White House and in the evening to look in at two or
three balls with which the Whigs were celebrating their triumph.

During the fortnight that followed, he did his best to conceal his
increasing feebleness, even going in person to market every morning when
he was able. But a succession of colds presently ran into pneumonia, and
the office-seekers hounded him not the less cruelly after this. Just
one month from the day of his inauguration, death came to his relief.
Mrs. Harrison, who had been too ill to accompany him to Washington,
never saw him from the day he parted with her in Ohio till his body was
brought back to her for burial.



CHAPTER VII

“THE SPIRIT OF GREAT EVENTS”


John Tyler, the first Vice-president to receive promotion to the
Presidency in mid-term, was at his home in Virginia when Harrison died.
He came to Washington at once and took lodgings at a hotel, where, two
days later, he was sworn in by Chief Judge Cranch of the Circuit Court
of the District. His administration was not picturesque in the usual
sense; the most it gave people to talk about was his narrow escape from
impeachment for deserting the party which elected him. But his
unpopularity bore valuable fruit for Washington. When the partisan
excitement was at its highest pitch, a company of local politicians went
to the White House one night and, drawn up in front of it, “groaned”
their disapproval of Tyler’s conduct. To protect the Presidential office
from further indignities of that sort, a bill was introduced in the
Senate to establish an “auxiliary guard” for the defense of the public
and private property against incendiaries, and “for the enforcement of
the police regulations of the city of Washington,” with an appropriation
of seven thousand dollars to equip a captain and fifteen men with the
proper implements to distinguish them in the discharge of their duty.
This was the foundation of the Metropolitan Police force, which now
numbers seventy-five officers and more than six hundred privates.

Life at the White House was simple in Tyler’s time. The President was in
the habit of rising with the sun, lighting a fire that had been laid
overnight in his study, and working at his desk till breakfast was
served at eight o’clock. At this meal he insisted on having the ladies
of his family appear in calico frocks. In the evening all the household
would gather in the green parlor and pass an hour or two in entertaining
any visitors who happened in, interspersing conversation with piano
music and old-fashioned songs. It was Tyler who introduced the custom of
periodical open-air concerts by the Marine Band; and on warm Saturday
afternoons the garden south of the White House was a favorite resort of
the best people of the city, while the President would sit with his
family and a few invited guests on the porch, listening to the music and
responding to the salutations of his acquaintances. Tyler is rarely
suspected of possessing a strong sense of humor; but he must have smiled
when he signed an official letter to the Emperor of China, in which he
described himself as “President of the United States of America, which
States are Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware,
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky,
Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama,
Missouri, Arkansas, and Michigan”--an array which so impressed the mind
of the Celestial despot that the envoy who presented the missive got
everything he asked for.

Tyler lost his wife soon after he entered the White House, and his
daughters presided over the domestic life there. He was fond of young
society, and one of the belles who appeared pretty regularly at his
parties was Miss Virginia Timberlake, daughter of the unfortunate naval
purser and the lady whose cause Jackson and Van Buren had championed.
Another was Miss Julia Gardiner of New York, who so captivated him that
at one of his receptions in the second year of his term he made her a
proposal of marriage. As she described it afterward, she was taken
wholly by surprise, and gave her “No, no, no!” such emphasis by shaking
her head that she whisked the tassel of her crimson Greek cap into his
face with every motion. The controlling reason for her refusal, she
explained, was her unwillingness to leave her father, to whom she was
devotedly attached; but an accident soon changed the whole face of
things.

Captain Stockton of the navy invited a party of about four hundred
ladies and gentlemen to inspect the sloop-of-war _Princeton_, then lying
in the Potomac. President Tyler, the members of his Cabinet and their
families, and a good many Congressmen were among the guests. The vessel
had dropped down the river to a point near Mount Vernon, when some of
the party importuned Stockton to fire his big gun, nicknamed “the
peacemaker.” This was just at the close of the luncheon, and the ladies
had lingered at table while most of the gentlemen went on deck. One
lady, fortunately, had detained Tyler as he was about to leave, by
inducing him to listen to a song; for the gun exploded, killing Mr.
Upshur, Secretary of State, Mr. Gilmer, Secretary of the Navy, Commander
Kennon of the navy, Virgil Maxey, lately American Minister at the Hague,
and David Gardiner of New York, the father of Miss Julia. A day of
merrymaking was thus turned into one of mourning, as the vessel slowly
moved up the stream again, bearing the bodies of the dead, for whom
funeral services were held at the White House. After an interval the
President renewed his suit and found Miss Gardiner more pliant. When he

[Illustration: _Soldiers’ Home_]

had composed in her honor a serenade beginning, “Sweet lady, awake!” she
agreed to marry him if her mother would consent. Her mother did not
approve of a union between a man of fifty-six and a girl of twenty, but,
as she did not actually forbid it, they had a very quiet wedding.

In spite of the enjoyment he took in social intercourse, Tyler was often
criticized for his frigid manners. A virulent type of influenza which
became epidemic during his administration received the name of “the
Tyler grip,” from the remark of a Boston man who fell ill a few hours
after being presented to him: “I probably caught cold from shaking hands
with the President.” A good deal was made of this in the campaign of
1844, and added point to John Quincy Adams’s denunciation of Tyler for
“performing with a young girl from New York the old fable of January and
May!” Tyler’s general unpopularity, and a deadlock between two other
prominent candidates, led the Democrats to nominate James K. Polk for
President. He was so little known to most of the voters that throughout
the campaign the Whigs, who were supporting Henry Clay, rang the changes
on the question, “Who _is_ James K. Polk?” thus contrasting his
obscurity with Clay’s eminence. The count of ballots showed that a
candidate of whom little was known might have certain advantages over
one long before the public eye; and as on inauguration day it rained
heavily, exultant Democrats kept themselves warm by hurling back at the
Whigs the familiar cry, “Who _is_ James K. Polk?” and then laughing
wildly at their own humor. It was on this occasion that the telegraph
first conveyed out of Washington the news that one President had retired
and another had come in--Professor Morse having set up an instrument at
the edge of the platform on which the President-elect stood, and ticked
off a report of the proceedings as they occurred.

Mrs. Polk being a devoted church-member, of a school which disapproved
of dancing, the inaugural ball that evening shrank into a mere promenade
concert till after she and her husband had quitted the hall. The social
activities of the Polks, through the four years which followed, were
consistent with this beginning, all the functions at the White House
being too sober to suit the diplomats or the younger element among the
resident population. On its practical side, Polk’s term was perhaps the
most notable in that generation, including as it did the war with
Mexico, which resulted in the annexation of California and the great
southwestern area afterward carved into the States of Utah, Nevada, and
Arizona and parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. This war,
moreover, furnished the usual crop of Presidential candidates, chief
among them General Zachary Taylor, who had led the first army across the
Rio Grande, and General Winfield Scott, who had wound up the invasion by
capturing the city of Mexico.

Believing Taylor the easier to handle, the Whig managers fixed upon him,
although, having passed the larger part of his sixty-four years with the
army, he had never voted. Indeed, he had always expressed an aversion to
office-holding, and, when approached on the subject of the Presidency,
met the overture with frank disfavor, declaring that he had neither the
capacity nor the experience needed for such a position. But his
“availability” overcame the force of his protests, and the Whigs won
with him a sweeping victory at the polls. There is pathos in the story
of the break-up of the pleasant home in Baton Rouge, and the reluctant
removal of the family to Washington, taking with them only a faithful
negro servant, a favorite dog, and “Old Whitey,” the horse the General
had ridden through the Mexican war. Taylor was with difficulty dissuaded
from his purpose of imitating his military predecessors and riding “Old
Whitey” either to or from the Capitol on inauguration day. What his
friends most feared was his loss of dignity in the eyes of the crowd,
for his legs were so short that, in certain emergencies, an orderly had
to lift one of them over his horse’s flanks whenever he mounted or
dismounted.

Taylor was as simple a soul as Harrison. His unostentatious ways in the
army had led the soldiers to dub him “Old Rough and Ready,” and this
title stuck to him always afterward. One of his favorite amusements was
to walk about Washington, chatting informally with people he met and
watching whatever was going on in the streets. His love of comfort was
such that he could never be induced to wear clothes that fitted him, but
his suits were always a size or two larger than his measure, and these,
with a black silk hat set far back on his head, made him recognizable at
any distance. His message at the opening of Congress contained one
announcement as voluminous as his costume: “We are at peace with all the
nations of the world, and the rest of mankind.” The bull was discovered
too late to prevent its going out in the original print; but in a
revised edition the sentence was made to end: “And seek to maintain our
cherished relations of amity with them.”

The White House underwent another grand refurbishing while the Taylors
were in it. The east room was newly carpeted, its walls were decorated,
and gas replaced its candles and lamps. The ladies of the family were
good housekeepers--particularly the younger daughter, who made the old
place look actually homelike, and whom an appreciative guest described
as doing the honors “with the artlessness of a rustic belle and the
grace of a duchess.” But this pleasant picture was soon to be clouded
over. On the fourth of July, 1850, a patriotic meeting was held at the
base of the Washington National Monument, with long addresses by
prominent men. It lasted the whole of a very hot afternoon, and
President Taylor, as a guest of honor, felt bound to stay through it,
refreshing himself from time to time with copious drafts of ice-water.
He reached home in a state of some exhaustion and at once ate a
basketful of cherries and drank several glasses of iced milk. From a
party to which he had accepted an invitation for that evening he was
obliged to excuse himself at the last moment on the score of
indisposition. He was violently ill throughout the night, and five days
later he died.

Millard Fillmore of New York, fifty years old, of moderate political
views and fair ability, was Vice-president at the time. Unlike Tyler, he
went to the Capitol to be sworn in the presence of a committee of the
two houses, but made no inaugural address. Mrs. Fillmore, who had
formerly been a teacher, cared little for society. She was of studious
habits and soon converted the oval sitting room in the second story of
the White House into a library, personally selecting the books. Her
taste ran chiefly to standard historical and classical works; and, as
the editions then available were generally not very good specimens of
the typographic art, most of her collection has disappeared. In this
administration the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, and Fillmore, by
signing it, alienated the North so largely that the Whig party refused
to nominate him for another term. General Scott, to whom it turned, did
precisely what most of the politicians had predicted he would: made a
number of public utterances which ruined his chances and thus gave the
election to his Democratic competitor, Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire.

During Fillmore’s term Louis Kossuth visited Washington. The country was
just passing through one of its occasional periods of revolutionary
fervor, and Kossuth’s stand for the rights of Hungary against Austria
had aroused much sympathy here. Our public men were divided in opinion
as to how far to go with their demonstrations in his favor, wishing to
win the support of the Hungarians in the United States and of immigrants
who had fled from other countries to escape oppression, yet hoping to
keep clear of entanglements with Austria. As Kossuth had left home to
escape death for high treason and taken refuge in Constantinople, one of
our men-of-war was sent to the Dardanelles to bring him to America. He
did not then care to go further than England, whence, after an agreeable
visit, he came over, in the expectation of inducing our Government to
take up arms for Hungarian liberty. Henry Clay, who was already stricken
with his last illness, promptly put a damper upon that scheme; but
Kossuth remained the guest of the nation for a time and was dined and
fêted prodigiously. He maintained the state of a royal personage,
keeping a uniformed and armed guard about the door of his suite of
apartments at what is now the Metropolitan Hotel, and a lot of carousing
young subalterns always in his anteroom. He never appeared in public
except in full military uniform, with his cavalry sword, in its steel
scabbard, clanking by his side. Mrs. Kossuth, who accompanied him on his
tour, was unable to overcome her distrust of American cooking, and used
to scandalize her neighbors at table by ostentatiously smelling of every
new dish before tasting it.

The inauguration of Pierce was marked by several innovations: he drove
to and from the Capitol standing up in his carriage, delivered his
address without notes, and made affirmation instead of taking the oath
of office. A tragic interest attaches itself to his administration,
because, just as he was preparing to remove to Washington, he lost his
only child, a boy of thirteen, in a railway accident. Mrs. Pierce, who
was an invalid, was terribly broken by this bereavement, and all social
festivities at the White House were abandoned till toward the close of
her stay there. The new Vice-president, William R. King, was not
inaugurated at the same time and place with the President. He had gone
to Cuba in January for his health, and, as he was not well enough to
come home, Congress passed a special act permitting him to take the oath
before the American Consul-general at Havana. Soon after his return to
the United States, in April, he died.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was a college mate and intimate friend of
Pierce, was anxious to see something of Europe, but had not the means to
gratify his desire; so Pierce appointed him consul at Liverpool, where
he was able to live in comfort on his pay and save enough for a sojourn
on the Continent. To this experience American literature owes most of
his later work, including “The Marble Faun” and “Our Old Home.” In
Washington still linger stories of a visit Hawthorne paid the city about
the time of his appointment. Pierce tried to show him some informal
attentions; but Hawthorne’s shyness, which went to such an extreme that
he could not say anything to the lady next him at table without
trembling and blushing, prevented his making much headway socially.

All through Pierce’s term, political conditions were working up to the
point which caused the irruption of a few years later. The habit of
carrying deadly weapons on the person became so common in Washington,
especially in Congress, that scarcely an altercation occurred between
two men without the exposure, if not the use, of a pistol or a dirk. The
newspapers in their serious columns treated such incidents severely,
while the comic paragraphers satirized them; and Preston Brooks, a
Representative from South Carolina, in a half-earnest, half-cynical
vein, gave notice one day of his intention to offer this amendment to
the rules of the House: “Any member who shall bring into the House a
concealed weapon, shall be expelled by a vote of two-thirds. The
Sergeant-at-Arms shall cause a suitable rack to be erected in the
rotunda, where members who are addicted to carrying concealed weapons
shall be required to place them for the inspection of the curious, so
long as the owners are employed in legislation.”

Senator Sumner of Massachusetts having, a few days later, in a speech on
slavery, spoken disparagingly of a South Carolina Senator who was
absent, Brooks, on the twenty-second of May, 1856, entered the Senate
chamber when it was nearly deserted, and, with a heavy gutta-percha
cane, rained blows with all his strength upon the head of Sumner, who
was quietly writing at his desk. Sumner fell to the floor and for some
days thereafter hovered between life and death. He was three or four
years in recovering from the direct effects of the assault, and never
was entirely restored to health and strength. The incident excited
bitter feeling throughout both North and South. For denouncing the
assault as paralleling that of Cain upon Abel, Representative Anson
Burlingame of New York was challenged by Brooks; he accepted the
challenge, naming date, place, and weapons, but Brooks failed to appear
on the field.

The next President was James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, also a Democrat.
The two incidents in his term which most impressed Washington were the
first successful experiments with the Atlantic cable in August, 1858,
and the visit to the White House of the Prince of Wales, who later
became King Edward VII. Cyrus W. Field, after a struggle as soul-wearing
as Morse’s over the introduction of the telegraph, succeeded in making
his submarine cable work and induced Queen Victoria to send the first
despatch, a message of greeting to President Buchanan, who was requested
to answer it in kind. The skepticism of the day toward all scientific
novelties was reflected in Buchanan’s summoning a newspaper
correspondent whom he trusted and begging to be told frankly whether he
were not the victim of a hoax. At the White House all the members of the
Cabinet were gathered, earnestly debating the same question. The most
stubborn disbeliever was the Secretary of the Treasury, Howell Cobb, who
jeered at the whole thing as a wild absurdity. In spite of Cobb’s
resistance, the correspondent persuaded the President to answer the
Queen’s message. As bad luck would have it, the cable parted in
mid-ocean soon thereafter and was not restored to working order for
several years; and in the interval the skeptics were appropriately
exultant.

Buchanan, who was our first bachelor President, was sometimes slangily
called “the O. P. F.,” having once referred to himself in a message as
an “old public functionary.” The image of him carried in the popular
mind is derived from contemporaneous pictures, which show him as a
stiff, precise, ministerial-looking old man, wearing a black coat, a
high choker collar, and a spotless white neckerchief. But this was the
style of the day in portraiture and must not be accepted too literally.
The late Frederick O. Prince of Boston used to tell of a morning call he
paid Buchanan, whom he had imagined a model of formality and elegance,
and of his astonishment when the President entered the room clad in a
greenish figured dressing-gown, woolen socks, and carpet slippers, and,
to put the standing visitors at their ease, called to a servant: “Jeems,
sit some cheers!”

When Buchanan came to Washington for his inauguration, attended by a
number of Pennsylvania friends, he took lodgings at the National Hotel,
where the whole party fell ill with symptoms which to-day we should
charge to ptomaine poisoning. One or two of the sufferers died. Buchanan
escaped with a comparatively light attack; but a rumor gained
circulation that the Free Soilers had tried to assassinate him because
of his conservative disposition toward slavery. For some time after he
entered the White House, therefore, the police kept a watch on his
movements, and one rough-looking Kansan was arrested on suspicion,
having bought an air-gun and engaged a room in a building which the
President was in the habit of passing every day when he went out for
exercise.

The domestic accommodations at the White House were already so limited
that, when the Prince of Wales visited it in 1860, the President had to
give up his bedchamber to his guest and sleep on a cot in the anteroom
of his office. As I recall the Prince he was not

[Illustration: _Old City Hall_]

inordinately tall, but for some reason--possibly because the legs of
royalty were supposed to need more space than those of common folk--the
old bedstead in the President’s room was replaced by one of extra
length. Society in Washington was agog over the Prince’s advent, and the
reigning belles insisted that his entertainment must include a ball at
least as brilliant as that given in his honor in New York; but Mr.
Buchanan, whose ideas on certain subjects were rigid, would not listen
to the suggestion of dancing in the White House, and the ball was turned
over to the British legation. Miss Harriet Lane, the President’s niece,
who managed his household affairs, gave instead a large musicale, at
which was performed for the first time the once favorite song, “The
Mocking Bird,” its composer having dedicated it to her.

Trained as attorney, diplomatist, and politician, to regard the letter
of the law rather than its spirit, Buchanan found himself in an unhappy
situation when the preliminary mutterings of sectional warfare grew
loud. In January, 1861, he was urged by some of the Cabinet to recall
Major Robert Anderson from Charleston Harbor as a rebuke for having
removed the Fort Moultrie garrison to the stronger Fort Sumter without
orders from Washington, and he was holding the matter under advisement
when Justice McLean of the Supreme Court came to dine with him one
evening. After the ladies had left the table, the Justice drew the
President aside and inquired what was going to be done about the Major.
“Anderson has exceeded his instructions,” answered Buchanan, “and must
be disciplined.” McLean raised his hand and fairly shook it in the
President’s face as he ejaculated: “You dare not do it, sir! You dare
not do it!” This unique defiance of the executive by the judiciary had
an immediate effect: Major Anderson was left undisturbed, to become
within a few weeks the first hero of the Civil War.

General Scott, who filled a large place in national affairs from Polk’s
administration till the autumn of 1861, was a good officer and a pure
patriot but full of eccentricities. His love for military forms gave him
the nickname “Old Fuss and Feathers,” and a letter he wrote during the
Mexican war, excusing his absence from his headquarters when the
Secretary of War called there, on the plea that he had just stepped out
to get “a hasty plate of soup,” had won for him the punning title
“Marshal Turenne.” He was a good deal of a gourmet and did his family
marketing himself, especially delighting in the delicacy which he
persisted in calling “tarrapin,” and ordering his oysters by the barrel.
One of his favorite dishes was pork jowl, and once he told of having
eaten sauerkraut “with tears in his eyes.” He was a keen stickler for
the dignity due him on all occasions. Just after Taylor had been
inaugurated President, the two men met in Washington for the first time
since a somewhat acrimonious parting in Mexico. Taylor, passing over old
animosities, invited Scott to call. Scott did so the next day, and
Taylor, who was engaged with some other gentlemen in his office, sent
word that he would be down in a moment. Five minutes later, having cut
his business short, the President descended to the parlor, to find his
visitor already gone: Scott had waited two minutes by the clock and then
stalked in high dudgeon out of the door, not to come back again.

The drama of the Lincoln administration, on which the curtain rose to a
bugle-blast and fell to the beat of muffled drums, deserves a volume to
itself; but in my limited space I have been able to outline only some of
its features directly related to the capital city. Lincoln’s first levee
was held not in the White House but at Willard’s Hotel, some days before
the inauguration. The higher public functionaries and their wives, and a
number of private citizens of prominence, had been notified rather than
invited to come to the hotel on a certain evening for a first glimpse of
the new chief magistrate. Into this presence stalked the lank,
loose-jointed, oddly clad “Old Abe,” with his little, simple,
white-shawled wife at his elbow, and the never failing jest on his lips
as he made his own announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, let me present
to you the long and the short of the Presidency!”

The Lincolns received several social courtesies from members of Congress
and others before the fourth of March, and on the evening of that day
the usual inaugural ball was given in their honor. It was plain from the
start that they had not made a favorable impression in their new
setting, for the ball was a failure in point of attendance; few ladies
wore fine costumes, and of the men the majority came in their business
clothes. As neither Mr. nor Mrs. Lincoln knew how to dance, or felt
enough confidence even to walk through a quadrille, the early part of
the evening was devoted to a handshaking performance which threw a chill
upon the rest. Mrs. Lincoln’s feminine instinct had led her to exchange
the stuffy frock and shawl of her first reception for a blue silk gown.
Mr. Buchanan had been expected but sent belated regrets; and Stephen A.
Douglas, the “Little Giant” who always became a big one in an emergency,
stepped into the breach as representative of the abdicating party, and
established himself as the personal escort and knight-in-waiting of Mrs.
Lincoln.

In the White House, Lincoln took for his office the large square room in
the second story next the southeast corner, from the windows of which he
could look over at the Virginia hills. The room adjoining on the west
was assigned to his clerks and to visitors waiting for an interview. To
secure him a little privacy in passing between his office and the oval
library, a wooden screen was run across the south end of the waiting
room, and behind this he used to make the transit in fancied
invisibility, to the delight of the people sitting on the other side, to
whom, owing to his extraordinary height, the top locks of his hair and a
bit of his forehead were exposed above the partition. He was
persistently hounded by candidates for appointment to office; and it is
recalled that in one instance, where two competitors for a single place
had worn him out with their importunities, he sent for a pair of scales,
weighing all the petitions in favor of one candidate and then those of
the other, and giving the appointment to the man whose budget weighed
three-quarters of a pound more than his rival’s.

Visitors admitted to his office usually found him very kind in manner,
though now and then a satirical impulse would give an edge to his humor.
When an irate citizen with a grievance called and poured it out upon
him, accompanied by a variegated assortment of profanity, Lincoln
waited patiently till the speaker halted to take breath, and then
inquired: “You’re an Episcopalian, aren’t you?”

“Why do you ask that?” demanded the visitor, momentarily forgetting his
anger in his surprise.

“Because,” answered Lincoln, “Seward’s an Episcopalian, and you swear
just like him.”

The Reverend Doctor Bellows of New York, as chairman of the Sanitary
Commission, called once during the Civil War to tell Lincoln of a number
of things he ought to do. Lincoln listened with the most flattering
attention, slightly inclining his head in recognition of every separate
reminder of a duty left unperformed, and at the close of the catalogue
remained a minute or two in silent meditation. Then, throwing one of his
long legs over an arm of his chair, he looked up with a quizzical smile.
“Dominie,” said he, “how much will you take to swap jobs with me?”

He could not always keep his humor out of his official communications,
as in this despatch to General Hooker in Virginia: “If the head of Lee’s
army is at Martinsburg, and the tail of it on the plank road between
Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal must be pretty slim
somewhere. Couldn’t you break him?”

Indeed, it was his instinctive discernment of the ridiculous side of
everything which, though it gave his enemies their chance to assail him
as a mountebank and a jester, undoubtedly served as a buffer to many a
heavy blow. Sometimes his laughs were at his own expense. About the
middle of the war a young man from a distant State procured an interview
with him, to expound a project for visiting Richmond in the disguise of
a wandering organ-grinder and making drawings of the defenses of the
city for the use of the Union commanders. Lincoln was so impressed that
he contributed one hundred and fifty dollars or more to purchase the
organ and pay other preliminary expenses. The young man disappeared for
some weeks and then returned with a thrilling account of his adventures,
and with plats and charts covering everything of military importance
around Richmond and at various points on the way thither. As a reward,
the President nominated him for a second lieutenancy in the army and
spurred some other patriot into sending him a brand new uniform and
sword. After a little, and by accident, it came out that the youth had
never been anywhere near Richmond, but had spent the President’s money
on a trip to his home, where, at his ease, he had prepared his
fictitious report and maps. Of course his nomination was at once
withdrawn; but Lincoln was so amused at his own childlike credulity
that he could not bring himself to punish the offense as it deserved.

The Cabinet were often annoyed at the obtrusion of the President’s taste
for a joke at what seemed to them inopportune moments--especially
Secretary Stanton, whose sense of humor was not keen. On September 22,
1862, they were peremptorily summoned to a meeting at the White House.
They found the President reading a book, from which he barely looked up
till all were in their seats. Then he said: “Gentlemen, did you ever
read anything from Artemus Ward? Let me read you a chapter which is very
funny.” When the reading was finished, he laughed heartily, looking
around the circle for a response, but nobody even smiled; if any
countenance revealed anything, it was irritation. “Well,” said he,
“let’s have another chapter;” and he suited action to word. Finding his
listeners no more sympathetic than before, he threw the book down with a
deep sigh and exclaimed: “Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the
fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should
die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.” With that, he ran his
hand down into his tall hat, which sat on the table near him, and drew
forth a sheet of paper, from which he read aloud, with the most
impressive emphasis, the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“If any of you have any suggestions to make as to the form of this paper
or its composition,” said he, “I shall be glad to hear them. But”--and
the deliberateness with which he pronounced the next words left no doubt
that the die had already been cast--“this paper is to issue!”

The Lincolns brought two young children with them into the White House,
both boys. Of the elder, Willie, we hear little, except that he died
there, and that his loss added one more to the many lines which the war
had worn into the brow of his father. The younger boy, “Tad,” is better
known to the public through the exploitation of his juvenile pranks by
the newspapers and his appearance in some of the President’s portraits.
Many stories are told of his fondness for bringing ragged urchins from
the streets into the kitchen and feeding them, to the sore distress of
the cook and sometimes to the disturbance of the domestic routine in
other ways; but for whatever he wished to do in the charitable line he
found his father a faithful ally. There is a pretty tale of his having
espied in the lower corridor of the White House, one very rainy day, a
young man and woman, rather shabbily dressed, who seemed depressed in
spirits and anxious to consult with some one. Tad called his father’s
attention to them, and the President went up and asked them what they
wished. His sympathetic manner loosed their tongues and they told him
their story.

It appeared that the girl was from Virginia and had run away from home
to marry her lover, an honorably discharged soldier from Indiana. They
had met by arrangement in Washington, but they were strangers there and
very unsophisticated, and had little money to pay a minister or spend on
hotel accommodations; so they had been wandering about the city for
hours, not knowing where to go, and had taken refuge in the White House
from the storm. They had no idea that they were talking to the President
till he made himself known. With characteristic directness, he sent for
a clergyman of his acquaintance and had the nuptial knot tied in his
presence. Then he invited bride and groom to remain as his guests till
the next day, when the weather cleared and they went their way
rejoicing.

Although Mrs. Lincoln was the titular head of the President’s household,
the woman recognized as the social leader of the administration was Kate
Chase, daughter of the Secretary of the Treasury. She was handsome,
accomplished, and, after her marriage with William Sprague, the young
War Governor of Rhode Island, rich as well. Mrs. Lincoln never liked
her, but the President’s gift for peacemaking came into action here,
and there was no public display of the coolness of feeling between them.
Mrs. Sprague had a strong taste for politics, and her chief ambition was
to see her father President; but Lincoln cut off that chance at the
critical moment by making him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Among
the young and rising Congressmen with whom Mrs. Sprague was brought into
contact during this period was Roscoe Conkling, a Representative from
New York, who later became a Senator. He was the pink of elegance in
person and attire, of stately and somewhat condescending manners, and
master of the arts of verbal expression. They formed a firm friendship
which lasted as long as both lived. Edgewood, the Chase home on the
northern border of the city, was for many years one of the show places
of Washington, and after Chase’s death Conkling procured from Congress
an act exempting it from taxation as a tribute to the public services of
its former owner. Another young Representative of whom Mrs. Sprague saw
almost as much as of Conkling, but liked less, was James G. Blaine of
Maine, a brilliant orator who in after years became Conkling’s most
powerful adversary.

A warm friend of Chase’s who used to drop in at Edgewood whenever he was
in Washington was Horace Greeley, editor of the _New York Tribune_. He
was a quaint character, who wore his clothes awry and his hair long and
always tousled. His face he kept clean shaven, but raised a heavy blond
beard under his chin and jaws; and this, with his ruddy cheeks, blue
eyes, beaming spectacles, and generally bland aspect, made him look like
the typical back-country farmer of theatrical tradition. He accentuated
the peculiarities of his appearance by affecting a large soft hat and
not spotless white overcoat, the pockets of the latter habitually
bulging with newspapers. His handwriting was as unconventional as his
attire, and compositors in the _Tribune_ office had to be specially
trained in deciphering it, for Mr. Greeley was often unable to read it
himself after the subject-matter had grown cold in his mind.

Greeley was an anti-slavery man, but not an aggressive abolitionist;
nevertheless he smiled benignantly upon the work of the Hutchinson
family and took some pains to introduce them in Washington wherever
their music would be likely to meet with a cordial reception. The
Hutchinsons were a Massachusetts family of sixteen brothers and sisters,
nearly all of them bearing Bible names given them by a deeply religious
mother. They learned as children to lead the singing in the Baptist
church attended by their parents, and, as their musical fame spread, one
of the

[Illustration: _The “Old Capitol”_]

brothers developed a talent as a versifier and began writing songs
adapted to their interpretation, breathing an earnest spirit of
patriotism and pleading for human freedom. From giving concerts in their
native town and neighborhood, they gradually essayed more and more
ambitious ventures, and with Greeley’s aid came under the favorable
notice of the administration. Lincoln, realizing the appeal their homely
entertainments would make to the Union volunteers, gave them a roving
commission to visit the camps of the Army of the Potomac and encouraged
them to take in the recruiting stations wherever they happened to be.
They mixed fun with their seriousness in such proportions as they
believed would please all classes in their audiences; and in their way
they did as much to keep the soldiers cheerful as Tom Paine had done
fourscore years before.

So accustomed is the public mind to associating Lincoln and Grant as
coworkers for the Union cause that few persons suspect that the two men
never met till the Civil War was three-fourths over. Then, Congress
having revived the grade of Lieutenant-general of the Army, Grant was
ordered to Washington to receive his promotion. Arriving early in March,
1864, he went at once to the White House, where the President happened
to be holding a reception in the east room. He held back till most of
the people had passed, when Lincoln, recognizing him from his portraits,
turned to him with hand outstretched, saying: “This is General Grant, is
it not?”

“It is, Mr. President,” answered Grant. And with this self-introduction,
fittingly simple, the two great figures of the war faced each other for
the first time.



CHAPTER VIII

NEW FACES IN OLD PLACES


Although constantly urged to take precautions for his own safety,
Lincoln never did. He used to walk about the streets as freely as any
ordinary citizen; and night after night, during the darkest period of
the war, he would stroll across to Secretary Stanton’s office to talk
over the latest news from the front. Stanton’s remonstrances he would
dismiss with a weary smile, protesting that, as far as he was aware, he
had not an enemy in the world, but if he had, anybody who wished to kill
him had a hundred chances every day--so, why be uneasy? His second
inaugural address was shorter than the first; he wrote it about midnight
of the third of March, seated in an armchair where he was resting after
a hard day’s work, and holding the cardboard sheets in his lap. Its
concluding words were as memorable as those of four years before: “With
malice toward none, with charity for all, let us go forward with the
work we have to do: to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who
has borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, and to do all
things which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among
ourselves and with all nations.”

Early on the fourth, he went to the Capitol quietly and devoted the
remaining hours of the morning to reading and signing bills. The
procession which had been arranged to escort him was formed at the White
House, with the President’s carriage at its head, occupied by Mrs.
Lincoln and Senators Harlan and Anthony. A platoon of marshals pioneered
it, and a detachment of the Union Light Guard surrounded it. The crowd,
recognizing the White House coachman on its box, but not seeing
distinctly who sat behind, cheered it all along the line under the
supposition that it held the President. Two companies of colored troops
and a lodge of colored Odd Fellows were among the marchers, this being
the first time that negroes ever took part in an inaugural pageant
except in some servile capacity.

We have already seen how Washington received the news of the final
triumph of the Federal arms, and how Lincoln fell in the midst of the
general rejoicing. Many readers of his inaugural address of that year
have since professed to discern between its written lines a veiled
foreboding of the end. Certain it is that he was an habitual dreamer,
and that one dream, which came to him on the night before Fort Sumter
was bombarded, was repeated on the eve of the first battle of Bull Run,
and just before other important engagements. As he described it, he
seemed to be on the water in an unfamiliar boat, “moving rapidly toward
a dark, indefinite shore.” The last recurrence of the dream was in the
early morning hours of April 14, 1865. We shall never know, now, whether
it was this or some other portent that caused him to say to a trusted
companion, not long before his death: “I don’t think I shall live to see
the end of my term. I try to shake off the vision, but it still keeps
haunting me.” He had received several threatening letters, which he kept
in a separate file labeled: “Letters on Assassination.” After his death
there was found among these a note about the very plot in which Booth
was the chief actor.

Fate plays strange tricks. For a few hours that spring, one friend in
Washington unconsciously held Lincoln’s life in his hand. Harriet
Riddle, since better known as Mrs. Davis, the novelist, was a pupil at a
local convent school. Shortly before the tragedy at Ford’s Theater, a
teacher who had been on a brief visit to a Southern town returned,
apparently laboring under some terrible excitement which she was trying
to suppress. At the session of her class immediately preceding their
separation for Good Friday, she suddenly fell upon her knees, bade them
all join her in prayer, and poured forth, in a voice and manner so
agonizing that the children were thrilled with a nameless horror, an
hysterical appeal for divine mercy on the souls who were soon to be
called before their Maker without warning.

Harriet, who was an impressionable child, could hardly contain herself
till she reached home and sought her father, to whom she attempted to
relate the afternoon’s occurrence. He was the District-attorney, and an
intimate of the President’s, and was so immersed in the cares of office
that he put her off till he should have more leisure. When she was
awakened on Good Friday night by the noise of citizens and soldiers
hurrying through the streets and calling out the news of the
assassination, she uttered an exclamation which caught her father’s
attention, and then he listened to the tale which he had once waved
aside. “Why did you not tell me this before?” he demanded. It was then
too late to do more than collect such evidence as he might from the
pupils to aid the detectives; but the teacher who had uttered that awful
prayer had fled and could never be traced. No one could longer doubt her
guilty knowledge of the plot, probably acquired during her visit in the
South.

The oath with which Vice-president Johnson took upon himself the
obligations of the Presidency was administered to him at his rooms in
the Kirkwood House, a hostelry on the Pennsylvania Avenue corner now
occupied by the Hotel Raleigh. Of his administration, the most broadly
interesting incident was the impeachment trial described in an earlier
chapter; and in our reflections on how history is shaped, another
personal anecdote seems worthy of a place. Its heroine was Miss Vinnie
Ream, the sculptor, who later became Mrs. Hoxie.

As his trial drew near its close, and Johnson’s friends and enemies were
able to figure out pretty accurately how the Senate was going to divide,
it became plain that the issue would hang on a single vote. If all the
Senators counted against the President stood firm, he would be
convicted, thirty-six to eighteen; but Secretary Stanton insisted that
Ross of Kansas was preparing to go over from the majority to the
minority. Ross was occupying a room in the same house with Miss Ream on
Capitol Hill, and General Daniel E. Sickles, who was acquainted with
him, was deputed to see him on the night before the roll-call and try to
hold him fast against the President. Miss Ream happened to meet the
General at the door, ushered him into the parlor but refused to let him
see the Senator, and held him at bay till dawn the following morning,
when he gave up the effort as fruitless and went home. If she had
weakened for a moment, there is no telling what might have happened, for
Sickles was in a position to have brought very heavy pressure to bear
upon Ross. The roll-call showed thirty-five for conviction to nineteen
against--less than the two-thirds required to convict; and it was Ross’s
vote that saved Johnson.

At the inauguration of Grant, the relations between him and the retiring
President were so strained, owing to the recent struggle at the War
Department, that Johnson refused to attend the ceremonies unless it
could be arranged that he and Grant should ride in separate carriages.
General Rawlins therefore acted as escort to Grant and Vice-president
Colfax. Grant was not much of a speaker, but the delivery of his
inaugural address is remembered for a pretty incident. His little
daughter Nellie, confused by the continuous bustle all about her, obeyed
on the platform the same childish impulse which moved her in any
exigency at home, and, running to his side, nestled against him,
clasping one of his hands in both of hers and holding it all the time he
was speaking. At the ball that evening, access to the supper-room and to
the cloak-room was by the same door, which caused a blockade in the
passage. The servants in charge of the wraps became hopelessly
demoralized, with the result that Horace Greeley had to wait two hours
to recover his white overcoat and lost his hat entirely. The torrent of
lurid expletives he let loose during his ordeal shared space and
importance, in the next day’s newspapers, with the thirty-five thousand
dollars’ worth of diamonds worn by Mrs. John Morrissey, wife of the
prize-fighter.

Grant’s second inauguration began inauspiciously, his aged father
falling down a flight of stairs at the Capitol and suffering injuries
which finally caused his death. The day was stormy, and the evening the
coldest known in Washington for years. Unfortunately, the only place
where the ball could be held was an improvised wooden building, through
the crevices of which the icy wind blew a gale; and, to complete
everybody’s misery, the heating apparatus broke down, so that many of
the ladies who had come in conventional toilets had to protect their
shoulders with fur mantillas, while their escorts put on overcoats. The
President was so cold that he forgot the figures in the state quadrille
which he was to lead, and was obliged to depend on General Sherman to
push him through them. The supper was ruined, the meats and salads
competing in temperature with the ices; all that could be saved was the
coffee, which was kept hot over alcohol lamps. The breath of the members
of the band congealed in their instruments, and several hundred canaries
which were to sing in the intervals between band pieces shriveled into
little downy balls on the bottoms of their cages and uttered not a
trill.

The key-note of Grant’s administration on its political side was his
steadfast faith that any friend of his was capable of filling any office
in his gift. He named Alexander T. Stewart, the New York dry-goods
merchant, for Secretary of the Treasury, but had to let him resign on
account of technical objections raised in the Senate. Wendell Phillips
having come to his defense at a hostile mass-meeting in Boston, Grant
wished to make him Minister to England, but the offer was declined
because Mrs. Phillips would not be able to go abroad at that time. Caleb
Cushing of Massachusetts, though a stanch Democrat before the war, had
become an “administration man” as soon as the Union was threatened, and
thereby aroused the admiration of Grant, who named him for Chief Justice
after Chase’s death; but the same political independence which so won
Grant had incensed a number of Senators, who caused the rejection of the
nomination.

Later, however, Grant succeeded in sending Cushing as Minister to
Spain. Cushing was a man full of peculiarities, which strengthened with
his years. At an early age he discarded the umbrella as a nuisance and
braved storms unprotected. Naturally his hats suffered. At the time he
received his billet for Spain, he was wearing one of the chimney-pot
variety, which, from its appearance, he must have bought many years
before. The nap was a good deal worn, there was a slight bulge in the
top, and, thanks to the squareness of his head, he could wear it with
either side in front. When some one suggested that he had better buy a
new hat before presenting himself at the Spanish court, he considered
the question solemnly, turning the old hat around and examining it with
care before answering: “No, I think I shall wait and see what the
fashions are in Madrid.” Though ready to spend his money freely for any
public purpose, in private indulgences the frugal notions inherited from
his New England ancestry came to the front. Hardly anybody ever saw him
light a fresh cigar, but he used to carry about in his pocket a case
packed with partly consumed stumps, to one of which he would help
himself when he wished a smoke, only to let it die again as soon as he
had become interested in talking.

It was because of his liking for both Blaine and Conkling that Grant
strove, as his last act in the White House, to reconcile the two men,
who were intensely hostile to each other. Their quarrel had grown out of
a passage in debate when Conkling had made some very sarcastic comments
on Blaine. The latter retorted in kind. “The contempt of that
large-minded gentleman,” said he, glancing toward Conkling, “is so
wilting, his haughty disdain, his grandiloquent swell, his majestic,
supereminent, overpowering, turkey-gobbler strut have been so crushing
to myself and all the members of this House, that I know it was an act
of temerity for me to venture upon a controversy with him.” Referring to
a recent newspaper article in which Conkling had been likened to the
late Henry Winter Davis, Blaine went on: “The gentleman took it
seriously, and it has given his strut additional pomposity. The
resemblance is great. It is striking. Hyperion to a satyr, Thersites to
Hercules, mud to marble, a dunghill to a diamond, a singed cat to a
Bengal tiger, a whining puppy to a roaring lion!”

Conkling never forgave this attack. It seems like a small thing to
change the whole current of a nation’s history, but it probably cost
Blaine the Presidency; for in 1884 the disaffection of the Republicans
in Conkling’s old home in central New York gave the State to Cleveland.
President Grant’s effort to bring the foes together failed because
Blaine, though ready to make any ordinary concessions, balked when
Conkling demanded that he should confess his “mud to marble” speech to
have been “unqualifiedly and maliciously false.”

In 1874, Miss Nellie Grant was married to Algernon Sartoris, a British
subject. She was her father’s pet. At her wedding, he stood beside his
wife to receive the guests, his face wearing a sphinx-like calm, though
every one knew how he would feel the parting soon to follow. His forced
composure continued till Nellie had left the house with her husband, and
then he disappeared. An old friend, seeking him up-stairs, tapped at his
chamber door, and, as there was no response, pushed it slightly ajar and
looked in. There, on the bed, face downward, his eyes buried in his
hands and his whole frame shaken with grief, lay the great soldier,
sobbing like a child.

Throughout the Grant administration, the social arbiter for Washington
was Mrs. Hamilton Fish, wife of the Secretary of State. She was a woman
of the world, broad-minded and efficient, but the White House was not a
very ceremonious place in that era. When the new Danish Minister called,
for instance, in full regalia, to present his credentials, he found no
one prepared to receive him, even the negro boy who met him at the door
having to hurry into a coat before ushering him in. Persons who
attended the state dinners say that Grant often turned down his
wine-glasses. It was, as far as I have ever heard, the first instance of
a President’s doing this; and it paved the way for the reign of cold
water which came in with the next President, Rutherford B. Hayes.

Hayes entered office under cloudy auspices. His competitor for the
Presidency was Samuel J. Tilden, a powerful Democratic leader. In some
of the Southern States which were still in the throes of reconstruction,
United States troops were doing police duty, the Governors were
appointees of a Republican President, and the election machinery was in
the hands of Republican office-holders, though the bulk of the white
voting population was Democratic. In these States the official
canvassers had reported the Republican electors chosen, the electors had
cast their ballots for Hayes, and the Governors had signed and forwarded
their certificates accordingly, in defiance of Democratic protests that
the returns were fictitious. Without these States, the Democratic
candidate had one hundred and eighty-four of the one hundred and
eighty-five electoral votes necessary to a choice, while the Republican
candidate could win only with their aid; so a single electoral vote
would tip the scale either way. The duty of opening the certificates
and

[Illustration: _St. Paul’s, the Oldest Church in the District_]

announcing the results devolved upon the President of the Senate, a
strong Republican.

The Democrats made so serious charges of falsification of the records
that the whole country became much excited, and fears were entertained
in Congress that another civil war might be impending. In the midst of
the turmoil, a joint committee of both chambers worked out a plan for a
bi-partisan Electoral Commission, to consist of five Senators, five
Representatives, and five Justices of the Supreme Court, before whom all
the questions at issue should be argued by counsel, and whose decisions
should place the result beyond immediate appeal. The Commission, as made
up, contained eight Republicans and seven Democrats, and its decisions
were always given by a vote of eight to seven. It held its sessions in
the room now occupied by the Supreme Court, where it began its work on
February 1, 1877, and at the end of a month rendered its last ruling,
which gave the Presidency to Mr. Hayes.

As the fourth of March was to fall on Sunday, President Grant had Hayes
meet Chief Justice Waite in the red parlor of the White House on the
evening of the third and take the oath privately. The inaugural ball was
omitted because the Electoral Commission had finished its work too late
to enable preparations to be made. President Hayes was not nearly so
conspicuous a figure during the following four years as his wife, who
was a woman of very positive convictions, especially on the subject of
alcoholic stimulants. At her instance, wines were banished from the
White House table, the only exception occurring when the Grand Dukes
Alexis and Constantin of Russia visited Washington. It is said to have
been some incident at the entertainment given in their honor which fixed
Mr. and Mrs. Hayes definitely in the determination not to depart again
from the rule of teetotalism.

The newspapers poked a good deal of innocent fun at the Hayes parties on
the score that, though the ban was never lifted from the ordinary
intoxicants drunk from glasses, there was always plenty of strong Roman
punch served in orange-skins. The nickname which presently fastened
itself to this deceptive course was the “life-saving station.” In his
diary, however, Mr. Hayes has left us the statement: “The joke of the
Roman punch oranges was not on us, but on the drinking people. My orders
were to flavor them rather strongly with the same flavor that is found
in Jamaica rum. This took! It was refreshing to hear the drinkers say,
with a smack of their lips, ‘Would they were hot!’” I am bound to add
that, in spite of the good man’s enjoyment of his ruse, the suspicion
still survives that his steward used to put a private and particular
interpretation on his orders.

Although Mr. Hayes was not a member of any church, his wife was an
ardent Methodist, and one marked feature of their life in Washington was
the Sunday evening sociables at the White House, when Cabinet officers
and other dignitaries would come in and pass a couple of hours singing
hymns, with light conversation between. Among the most interested
attendants at these gatherings was General Sherman, who used to join
vigorously in the singing--or try to. Another, who was destined to play
an independent part in history a few years afterward, was a clever young
Congressman from Ohio named William McKinley, Junior. He had been a
volunteer soldier in Hayes’s regiment early in the war, and they had
grown to be fast friends. At one of the first of the secular receptions
during the Hayes régime, the guest of honor was a budding celebrity,
Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. She labored under the handicap of knowing
no English, and had to carry on most of her conversation through an
interpreter.

President Hayes provoked a good deal of criticism among the Southerners
in Washington by appointing Frederick Douglass, the negro ex-slave and
orator, United States Marshal of the District, for the office had up to
that time carried with it the duties of a sort of majordomo at the
President’s receptions, including the presentation of the guests. A
visitor to Washington about these days who did not attend the state
receptions, but held some of his own in the open air, was a man of small
and unimpressive stature, with black hair and mustache and a rather
good-natured face, whose portrait appeared repeatedly in the illustrated
papers, and whose name carried with it a certain terror to timid souls
who expected to see him launch a social revolution. This was Dennis
Kearney, who had made himself notorious by his speeches in the sand-lots
of San Francisco, declaring that “the Chinese must go,” and denouncing
every one, regardless of race, who had been thrifty enough to accumulate
any of this world’s goods. His remarkable coinage of words and generally
unique English gave currency to a multitude of epigrammatic phrases,
which for several years were known as “Kearneyisms.”

All through the campaign of 1880 a great deal was made of the sayings
and doings of “Grandma Garfield,” the mother of the Republican
candidate: an old lady of a type rarely seen now, who was not ashamed of
her years, wore her cap and spectacles as badges of distinction, and
never forgot that, however great he might have grown, her son was still
her son. Nor did he forget it; and on the east portico of the Capitol,
with his assent to the constitutional oath barely off his lips, his
first act as President was to bend down and kiss her. The inauguration
was notable, too, for the important part taken in the parade by the
defeated competitor for the Presidency, General Winfield S. Hancock. He
was a splendid-looking man and a superb horseman, and in his uniform as
a Major-general was the most imposing object in the procession. The
spectators, delighted with his sportsmanlike spirit, paid him as hearty
a tribute as they paid the President.

A few weeks after the inauguration, a fierce quarrel broke out over the
distribution of federal patronage, splitting the Republican party into
two factions. The angry irruptions of the newspapers on both sides,
which would have passed with any normal mind for what they were worth,
made a more serious impression on that of Charles J. Guiteau, a
degenerate with a craving for self-advertisement; and, failing in his
attempt to obtain an office for himself, he saw in the controversy an
opportunity to pose as a hero by removing its cause. Garfield, as a
graduate of Williams College, had arranged to attend the next
commencement, and was in the railway station on the second of July,
1881, on the way to his train, when he was approached by Guiteau from
behind and shot. He lingered, first in the White House and later at
Elberon, New Jersey, whither he was taken after the weather became too
sultry in Washington, till the nineteenth of September. The assassin was
brought to trial at the winter term of the Supreme Court of the
District, convicted of murder, and hanged.

On the evening of the day of Garfield’s death, the Vice-president,
Chester A. Arthur, was sworn in at his home in New York City, in the
presence of his son and a few personal friends, including Elihu Root. A
more formal administration of the oath took place in the
Vice-president’s room at the Capitol in Washington three days later,
Chief Justice Waite officiating, with Associate Justices Harlan and
Matthews, General Grant, and several Senators and Representatives as
witnesses. After signing the oath, Arthur read a brief address and
returned at once to his office.

Arthur was a widower, and his only daughter was still too young to take
full charge of his household affairs, so his sister, Mrs. McElroy,
presided at all his social functions. He was very fond of music, and the
great operatic and concert stars were always sure of a warm welcome from
him when they passed through Washington. The finest of his dinners was
that which he gave for Christine Nilsson. As the company rose from the
table and he offered his arm to escort her back to the east room, the
Marine Band in the corridor, responding to a secret signal, began
playing one of her favorite airs, and, with the spontaneous delight of a
child, she fell to singing it, her voice soaring bird-like above the
instruments as she walked. This surprise for Miss Nilsson was typical of
the graceful things Arthur was fond of doing, and in which he set the
pace for the members of his official family. Ex-president Grant and his
wife, on their return from their tour of the world, dropped in upon
Washington, as it chanced, just when a reception was about to be held at
the White House. Arthur sent his carriage for them. Mrs. Frelinghuysen,
wife of the Secretary of State, was on that occasion filling Mrs.
McElroy’s accustomed station next to the President in the receiving
line; but on the entrance of the distinguished guests she withdrew,
gently pressing Mrs. Grant into her place as hostess of the evening.

As the first Democratic President since the war, Grover Cleveland of New
York found a hard task laid out for him. He realized that he owed his
election chiefly to the reform element in both the great parties, yet it
was his own party that claimed him, and, having been out of power for a
quarter-century, it was not over-modest in its demands. His efforts at
tariff reduction stirred the protectionists to such activity in the
next campaign that Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, a Republican and a
grandson of “Old Tippecanoe,” was elected in November, 1888. When he
entered office, Cleveland was a bachelor forty-eight years old. In June,
1886, he married Miss Frances Folsom, the daughter of a former law
partner to whom he had been warmly attached. The wedding ceremony was
performed in the White House, only a small party of friends attending.
Mrs. Cleveland, who was young and of attractive presence, made friends
for herself on every side and did much to soften the antagonisms which
her husband’s course in office necessarily aroused.

The clerk of the weather seemed to have been storing his rain for weeks
in order to let it all out upon Harrison’s inauguration, and the street
pageant was a drenched and draggled affair. The civilities of the
outgoing to the incoming President gave the day its one touch of
cheerfulness. Cleveland sat on the rear seat of the open landau which
bore them to the Capitol, the front seat being occupied by Senators Hoar
and Cockrell, acting as a committee of escort. In order to enable
Harrison to lift his hat to the people who cheered him from the
sidewalk, Cleveland raised his own umbrella and held it over his
companion. When Cockrell undertook to do the same for Hoar, his umbrella
broke. Cleveland at once borrowed an umbrella of his Secretary of the
Treasury in the next carriage, and, when Mr. Hoar demurred, reassured
him with a laugh: “Don’t be alarmed, Senator; we’re honest, and I’ll see
that it gets back!” As they drove down the Avenue, most of the applause,
naturally, was for the President-elect; but once in a while a spectator
would shout, “Good-by, Grover!” or something of the sort, and Cleveland
would return the greeting with a smile and a nod. So much kindly feeling
was manifested throughout the morning that Harrison, who was
temperamentally the least effusive of men, was deeply touched; and he
could not forbear referring in his inaugural address to the courtesy he
had received at Cleveland’s hands, adding that he should endeavor to
show like consideration to his successor four years later.

And four years later Providence gave him the chance, which he improved
as far as in him lay. In the meantime he had passed through many sad
experiences. Factional divisions, almost as serious as those that
culminated in the assassination of Garfield, had broken up his party.
His Secretary of State, Mr. Blaine, had parted company with him on the
eve of the meeting of the Republican National Convention of 1892, become
his rival for the Presidential nomination, and died the following
winter. Two of Blaine’s sons and one of his daughters had already died.
Mr. Windom, Secretary of the Treasury, had fallen dead at a public
banquet, just after finishing a memorable speech in defense of the
administration. General Tracy, Secretary of the Navy, had lost his wife
and daughter in a fire which destroyed their Washington home. The wife
of the President’s secretary, Mr. Halford, had died; and to crown his
load of sorrows, Mr. Harrison lost his own wife and her father almost at
the time of his defeat for reëlection.

On the other hand, he had enjoyed the presence in the White House of his
daughter, Mrs. McKee, with her two children, one of whom, a bright
little boy named in his honor, was his special favorite and playfellow
out of office hours. The south garden was the scene of many of their
frolics, which recalled the legends about John Adams and his juvenile
tyrant. One incident will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
“Baby McKee,” as Benjamin junior was commonly called, used to drive a
goat before his little wagon. This amusement was confined, as a rule, to
occasions when the President could be near at hand to watch proceedings,
for the goat was an erratic brute. One day it caught the President
napping and started at full gallop for an open gate. Mr. Harrison,
suddenly awakened to the situation, dashed after. The goat succeeded in
pulling the wagon through the narrow aperture without a collision, but,
once in the street, bolted straight for a trench in which workmen were
laying a pipe. By a succession of mighty leaps, such as probably no
dignitary of his rank had ever made before, Mr. Harrison contrived to
get in front of the animal, seize it by the bit, and swing it around in
the nick of time to prevent its jumping the excavation and tumbling
wagon and boy into the mud at the bottom. The President was puffing hard
as he returned triumphantly to the White House, dragging the reluctant
goat by the headstall, under a running fire of complaints from his
grandson for spoiling the morning ride.

When Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland came back in 1893, they brought with them
their infant daughter Ruth, and open gates in the south garden of the
White House became at once a thing of the past; for the garden was the
child’s only playground, and an epidemic of kidnapping had recently
broken out. For further security, and in order to have one place where
his domestic hours would be free from business interruptions, the
President rented the small estate known as Woodley, in one of the
northwestern suburbs. Here he lived during the greater part of the year,
driving in daily to his work and spending a night in Washington now and
then if necessary. By that time the official encroachments on the family
space of the White House had reached a point where either the building
must be enlarged or a separate dwelling provided for the President. A
scheme of enlargement had been broached in Harrison’s term, but the
plans drawn under Mrs. Harrison’s direction changed the shape of the old
mansion in too many essential features to win the approval of the
architects consulted, and the matter was dropped. The Clevelands, by
living at Woodley, escaped some of the cramping the Harrisons had
suffered, and the McKinleys, who came in next, got along pretty well
because they had no children.

As Senator La Follette once said, McKinley never had a fair chance as
President to show what was in him: his first term was broken into by the
Spanish War, and his second was cut off almost at its beginning by
assassination. He was sweet-natured and a born manager of men, and no
one who ever filled the Presidential chair left behind him a more
fragrant memory. As his murder occurred in Buffalo, and Czolgosz, who
killed him, was tried and put to death there, the episode serves our
present purpose only in leading up to the accession of Theodore
Roosevelt of New York, the Vice-president, who was recalled from a
summer vacation in the mountains to take the head of the state. His
inauguration was of the simplest sort, at the house of a friend in
Buffalo, where some members of the McKinley Cabinet and a few other
gentlemen met to witness the administration of the oath.

His first few months in the White House convinced the new President that
something must be done without delay to relieve the building, which had
become not only inconvenient but dangerous. For several years, when
repairs had been found necessary, they had been made by temporary
patchwork, with little reference to their effect on anything else; not a
few of the floor timbers subject to most strain were badly rotted, and
others stood in so perilous relations to the lighting apparatus that
only by a miracle had the house escaped destruction by fire. Fortunately
Congress had begun to show some interest in a long-mooted project for
bringing the city back to the plan laid out by L’Enfant; and a generous
appropriation was procured for making over the White House to resemble
as nearly as practicable the President’s Palace built by Hoban. All the
latter half of 1902 was given to this work. The office was moved out of
the main building and planted in a little house of its own on the same
spot where Jefferson used to have his workroom, at the extremity of the
western terrace. The eastern terrace, of which nothing but the buried
foundations remained, was rebuilt, and so arranged as to afford an
entrance for guests at the larger receptions.

Inside of the main house, the old lines were kept intact as far as the
comfort of its occupants would permit, though the restoration did work
some changes. The noble east room, which for many years was decorated in
the style of the saloon of a river steamboat, wears now the air of
simple elegance designed for it before steamboats were invented; and the
state dining-room has been so enlarged that future Presidents will not
be forced, on especially great occasions, to spread their tables in the
east room in order to spare the diners the annoyance of bumping elbows.
Upstairs the changes have been rather of function than of form. The room
which, from Grant’s day to McKinley’s, was used for Cabinet meetings,
and where our peace protocol with Spain was signed, is now a library;
that in which Lincoln read to his official family the first draft of his
Emancipation Proclamation is now a bedroom, and a like fate has befallen
the former library, where Cleveland penned his Venezuela message. The
old lines of partition, however, are all there. Logs still blaze and
crackle in the fireplace beside which Jackson puffed his corncob pipe.
The windows through which Lincoln looked over at the Virginia hills have
not changed even the shape or size of their old-fashioned panes. The
places where our first royal guest slept, and where Garfield passed his
long ordeal of suffering, remain bedchambers.

Mrs. Roosevelt, who loved the White House and had made a study of its
architectural history, personally supervised every stage of its
restoration. When the alterations were finished, she took the same
interest in the process of refurnishing, so that the final product was,
as nearly as modern conditions would permit, the White House of a
century ago. The removal of needless obstructions was one of the most
successful elements in the renovation, as it made possible the handling
of a crowd of fifteen hundred or two thousand people without confusion.
Socially, the Roosevelt administration was in every way the most
brilliant Washington has ever known. Mrs. Roosevelt was a perfect
hostess, and the many-sided President drew about him the leaders in
every line of thought and action. In his democracy of companionship and
his forceful way of doing whatever he laid his hand to, he was another
Jackson; in his attraction for men of letters, students of statecraft,
artists, and scientific workers, he revived the best traditions of
Jefferson.

The four years of Taft are too fresh in the public memory to call for
extended mention. Taft was forced to have his inauguration in the Senate
Chamber on account of the execrable weather, for the worst blizzard
prevailed on the fourth of March, 1909, that had visited Washington for
ten years. The railroads leading into the city were blockaded, so that
many passengers who had come from a distance to attend the ceremony were
compelled to forsake their trains a mile or more from their destination
and plow their own way in, as the sole alternative of camping in the
cars for an indefinite number of hours. Only by the utmost diligence on
the part of the municipal laborers were the streets kept in condition
for the parade to pass, and most of the spectators’ stands erected on
the sidewalks were utterly deserted. Mr. Roosevelt having announced,
some time before, his intention to leave for New York as soon as he had
seen his successor sworn in, Mrs. Taft made the drive between the
Capitol and the White House by her husband’s side.

Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey, the next President, signalized his advent
by notifying the citizens of Washington that he did not wish any
inaugural ball, and the preparations already under way were abandoned.
His administration is still writing its own history.

[Illustration: _St. John’s, “the President’s Church”_]



CHAPTER IX

THE REGION ’ROUND ABOUT


No American city has suburbs more interesting than Washington’s. Those
that hold first rank, naturally, are on the Virginia side of the
Potomac, the region most redolent of the memory of the great patriot
whose name was given to the capital. The Arlington estate, which lies
nearest, was never the home of George Washington, but he visited it
often, for it belonged by inheritance to the grandson of his wife by her
earlier marriage; and George and Martha were so pleased with it that
they built a little summer-house about where the flagstaff now stands,
whence they could overlook the work going on in the new federal city
across the river. Young George Custis, owner of the place, built the
spacious dwelling substantially as we now find it, finishing it four
years after Washington’s death. He left the property to his daughter
Mary, who in 1831 became the wife of Robert E. Lee, then a lieutenant in
the regular army, but thirty years later commander-in-chief of the
Confederate forces. Their wedding took place in the old drawing-room,
where visitors now register their names.

Lee had just reached colonel’s rank when the Civil War broke out. He was
opposed to secession, but, faithful to the traditions of State
sovereignty in which he had been trained, decided that it was his duty
to sacrifice all other ties and follow the fortunes of Virginia. After a
painful interview with General Scott, who strove vainly to shake his
resolution, he wrote, in the library across the hall from the
drawing-room, his resignation of his commission in the United States
army. Then, accompanied by his family, he set out for the South, never
to return. In a few days the Federal troops took possession of the
estate as important to the protection of Washington. Here McClellan
worked out his plans for the reorganization of the Union army following
the Bull Run disaster. A few years afterward, there being no one at hand
to pay the war-tax laid on the land, it was sold under the hammer, and
the Government bid it in. Before the sale had been definitely ordered, a
Northern relative of the Lees came forward with an offer to pay the levy
and costs, but the tax commissioners declined the tender on the ground
that the delinquent taxpayer had not made it in person.

Meanwhile, the house had been turned into a military hospital, and the
patients who died there were buried close by. When it became necessary
to have a soldiers’ burial-ground near Washington, Quartermaster-general
Meigs was permitted to lay off two hundred acres of the estate for the
purpose. This was the beginning of the National Cemetery of to-day,
where about eighteen thousand soldiers and sailors have found a last
resting-place.

Some time after the war, General Lee’s son brought suit for the recovery
of the property and won it, the Supreme Court holding that the tax
commissioners ought to have accepted the tender made them; but Mr. Lee
compromised with the Government, conveying to it his interest for one
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Since then the house has been put
into excellent repair, and the land about it suitably enclosed and
improved. On the upper edge of the estate has been established the
military post known as Fort Myer, where cavalry-training is carried to a
high point, weather observations are made, and a wireless telegraph
station exchanges despatches with the Eiffel tower in Paris. Some of the
land down by the river has been made over into an experimental farm
under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture.

Happily, the Cemetery has been kept free from tawdry memorials and
inconsequential ornament, and enveloped in an atmosphere of dignity
well fitting its sacred character. Its most impressive tomb is that
dedicated to the Unknown Dead, which contains the remains of more than
two thousand soldiers found on various battlefields but never
identified. “Their names and deaths,” says the inscription, “are
recorded in the archives of their country, and its grateful citizens
honor them as their noble army of martyrs.” Not far away is a fine
amphitheater with a carpet of turf and a canopy of trellised vines,
where memorial exercises are held annually on Decoration Day, the
President almost always taking part. There is also a Temple of Fame,
bearing the names of Washington and Lincoln, with those of the military
leaders who particularly distinguished themselves in the Civil War. An
extension has recently been made in the grounds devoted to sepulture,
where the most conspicuous monument is that which commemorates the
tragedy of the battleship _Maine_ in Havana harbor. The base is built to
represent a gun-turret on the deck of a man-of-war; on this are
inscribed the names of the victims, while from the center of the turret
rises a mast with a fighting-top. A larger and more ambitious
amphitheater, also, has been laid out in the extension.

From Arlington we can go, by the same road that Washington trod on his
trips, to Alexandria, a town which fairly reeks with associations, from
the colonial names of some of its streets--King, Queen, Prince,
Princess, Duke, Duchess, Royal--to its remnants of cobblestone pavement
laid by the Hessian prisoners in the Revolution. Here is the old Carlyle
mansion, where General Braddock had his headquarters before starting on
his ill-fated expedition against the French and Indians. In its blue
drawing-room Washington, as a young surveyor ambitious to serve his
king, received the first rudiments of his military education; and at the
foot of yonder staircase one evening stood the same Washington,
expectant, while pretty Sally Fairfax tripped lightly down to join him
and be led through the opening cotillion at her coming-out ball.

This must have been a splendid mansion in its time, with a terraced
garden descending to the river-bank, and a fountain in the midst of the
flower-beds. It was built on the ruins of a fort used by the early
settlers against the Indians; the living-rooms of the fort became the
cellar of the mansion, and the fort proper the plaza, upon which the
main hallway opens. You enter the house now through a cozy little
tea-room established by a group of young ladies of Alexandria; and it
may be your good fortune to be shown about the premises by one of them
who is herself a member of the historic Carlyle and Fairfax families
and familiar with all their ancestral tales.

A prominent site in town is covered by Christ Church, where Washington
worshiped, and where you can see the square family pew for which he paid
the record price, thirty-six pounds and ten shillings. The church stands
in a large, old-fashioned yard, sprinkled with the gravestones of men
and women of local renown. Hither, on Sundays, drove the ladies from
Mount Vernon, seven miles away, in a chariot with a mahogany body, green
Venetian blinds, and pictured panels, drawn by four horses. The General
did not take kindly to the coach for himself, but rode beside it on his
favorite saddle-horse, followed at a respectful distance by Bishop, his
colored body-servant, in scarlet livery. After service he would linger
in the churchyard, chatting with his friends, till Bishop reminded him
of the flight of time by bringing up his horse and holding the stirrup
for him to mount.

A spirited historical controversy has been waged over the question of
Washington’s attitude toward religion. The weight of evidence favors the
idea that, though not bound by dogma, he had a broad faith in the
philosophy of Christianity, always knelt with the rest of the
congregation and joined in the responses, and occasionally remained for
the communion. He certainly encouraged his slaves to believe in the
efficacy of prayer; for once, when a long-continued drought threatened
to ruin his crops, he called his farm-hands together on Sunday morning
and bade them put up their united supplication for rain. They did so,
and to their great delight the flood-gates of heaven suddenly opened and
deluged the earth; but the Washington family were caught in the storm on
their way home from church, and could not make shelter soon enough to
save Mrs. Washington’s best gown from serious damage or the General from
being soaked to the skin.

In his younger days, Washington was fond of dancing, and used to come
into town to attend assemblies at Clagett’s Tavern. The assembly-hall
was up-stairs. It was afterward divided into three rooms, one of which,
having fallen into the hands of persons who respect its pedigree, has
been pretty well preserved. In the old times it had at one end a gallery
for the musicians, accessible only by a ladder, which was removed as
soon as they were all in their places. This arrangement was designed to
compel them to stay at their work till released, and to drink only what
was passed up to them with the approval of the floor-committee.

Across the corridor from the old assembly-hall was a chamber that later
became interesting through its occupancy by an unknown woman who came to
the tavern one morning in 1816, plainly in ill health. She was
accompanied by a few servants, with whom she conversed only in French,
and neither she nor they could be drawn into any communication with
other persons, except what was necessary to engage accommodations and
order meals. On the fourth day of her stay, there appeared on the scene
a strange man, who from various indications was assumed to be her
husband. An hour after his arrival she died in his arms. He buried her
in St. Paul’s cemetery on the outskirts of the town, planting a
willow-tree over her grave, and raising at its head a stone inscribed to
the memory simply of “A Female Stranger,” with this stanza from Pope’s
“Unfortunate Lady”:

    “How loved, how honored once, avails thee not,
     To whom related, or by whom begot.
     A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
     ’Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be.”

And the Female Stranger remains a mystery to this day, though many
efforts have been made to discover her identity. A local suspicion that
she was Theodosia Allston, the daughter of Aaron Burr, seems to be
discredited by the fact that Theodosia’s disappearance occurred in 1812,
and that her husband was dead long before the Stranger came to
Clagett’s Tavern.

How public-spirited a citizen Washington was is attested by his having
laid the foundation of Alexandria’s free-school system, presented the
town with its first fire-engine, organized its first militia company,
and got up a lottery to raise a fund for improving the country roads
thereabout. He was an earnest Freemason, and the lodge named for him
owns a number of relics like the chair in which he presided as Master,
his apron, his wedding gloves, his spurs, his pruning-knife, and a
penknife which his mother gave him when he was eleven years old and
which he carried till he died. It has also the last authentic portrait
of him taken from life, a pastel done by William Williams of
Philadelphia.

In and around Alexandria are other points of interest, including the
house in which Colonel Ellsworth was killed, and one where, it is said,
Martha Washington secreted herself for a while during her widowhood for
fear of a slave uprising; a theological seminary which has graduated,
among other eminent divines, Bishops Phillips Brooks of Boston and Henry
C. Potter of New York; and the nearly obliterated remains of the road
which, in 1765, General Braddock began to build into the West.

We can go to Mount Vernon by boat, or over a road which Congress has
repeatedly, but without effect, been petitioned to acquire and improve.
Already a trolley company has recognized a public demand and is running
cars on a regular schedule from the heart of the capital city to the
borders of Washington’s old estate. On the way down we pass Wellington,
once the home of Tobias Lear, whom General Washington hired for two
hundred dollars a year to act as tutor to the children at Mount Vernon,
promoting him later to the post of private secretary. In both
capacities, his employer provided, he “will sit at my table, will live
as I live, will mix with the company who resort to the house, and will
be treated in every respect with courtesy and proper attention.” Lear
married three wives, one of them a kinswoman of the General’s. He
acquired means, removed in later life to Washington, and became a
merchant with a warehouse on the river. His tombstone in the
Congressional Cemetery recites an overflowing list of his virtues and
honors, and posterity owes him a large debt for having preserved many of
the Washingtoniana most valued now by historians.

Mount Vernon became the property of the Washington family by a grant
from Lord Culpepper in 1670 to John Washington, the great-grandfather of
George. It was christened in honor of Admiral Vernon, a friend of
Lawrence Washington, the half-brother who brought George up and
superintended his education. George, who received it by inheritance,
willed it to his nephew Bushrod, he to his nephew John, and John to a
son of the same name. Financial embarrassments led the last heir to part
with some of the land; but to an area of a few hundred acres, including
the mansion, the family tomb, and the wharf on the Potomac, he held fast
till arrangements could be made for its purchase by the Mount Vernon
Ladies’ Association, a society of patriotic women who, with money
privately raised, have restored the place and kept it in order ever
since. There is good reason to doubt whether this would ever have come
about but for the heroic energy of Miss Ann Pamela Cunningham of South
Carolina, who, though a confirmed invalid, devised and executed a plan
which saved the estate from being sold to a professional showman.

Just as in Alexandria we found ourselves in touch with a George
Washington who was a flesh-and-blood Virginian as distinguished from the
colorless paragon of the standard histories, so at Mount Vernon we meet
the same Washington in his character of husband, farmer, and host. Even
here, however, we are not wholly beyond the penumbra of fiction; for
only five miles away is the town of Pohick, once the parish seat of
Parson Weems, the inventor of the cherry-tree myth on which my
generation were industriously fed. Although, of course, no one still
living in the region can remember Washington, there are not a few who
are familiar with the details of his daily life, handed down in their
families from ancestors who did remember him. These make him out a very
human country gentleman, who loved to ride, to shoot, to fence, and to
wrestle; who mixed business with pleasure in an occasional horse-race or
real estate speculation; who disbelieved in slavery, and was recognized
by his own two hundred bondmen as a kind master, yet was noted for
getting more work out of a negro than any other slaveholder in Virginia,
and for not hesitating to administer corporal punishment to one who
deserved it.

We learn from these sources that he was “as straight as an Indian, and
as free in his walk”; that he was what the ladies of that day, in spite
of some marks left by the smallpox, styled “a pretty man”; that his
weight of two hundred and ten pounds was all bone and muscle; and that
he stood six feet and two inches tall in his shoes, which ranged in size
from Number eleven to Number thirteen. His hands seem to have been his
only physical deformity; they were so large as to attract attention and
required gloves made expressly for them, three sizes larger than
ordinary. His eyes are variously described as “blue,” as “of a bluish
cast and very lively,” as “a cold, light gray,” and as “so gray that
they looked almost white.” These alternatives may be reconciled,
perhaps, by Gilbert Stuart’s recollection that his eyes were “a light
grayish blue, deep sunken in their sockets, giving the expression of
gravity of thought.” His hair was originally dark brown and fairly
thick; his face was long, his nose prominent, his mouth large, and his
chin firm. He suffered a good deal with toothache, particularly after
his military service, and, as the rural remedy was the simplest known,
he passed his last years almost toothless. This drove at least one
portrait-painter into padding the front of his mouth with cotton wool,
to make his lips look more natural than they did when drawn over the
ill-fitting artificial teeth which he inserted for state occasions.

The great man lived well, his principal meal being a three o’clock
dinner, which he washed down with five glasses of Madeira, taken with
dessert. This allowance he gradually increased toward the close of his
life till it reached two bottles. In sending away for sale a slave whom,
though troublesome, he guaranteed as “exceedingly healthy, strong and
good at the hoe,” he expressed his willingness to take in part payment
“a hogshead of the best rum” and an indefinite quantity of “good old
spirits.” In our gout-fearing era, these data have the ring of
immoderate indulgence, but measured by the standards of the eighteenth
century they were temperate enough. It must be said for the General,
also, that he was charitable in his judgment of the weaknesses of
others, as shown by his contract with an overseer, to whom he conceded
the privilege of getting drunk for a week once a year; and his campaign
expenses for election to the Virginia legislature embraced a hogshead
and a barrel of punch, thirty-five gallons of wine, and forty-three
gallons of strong cider.

It makes us feel a little nearer to the Father of our Country to learn
that he was not immune to the influence of bright eyes and dainty
toilets; that he was in love, or fancied he was, with several different
damsels at as many different times; and that his self-surrender
occasionally declared itself in amatory verse too dreadful for belief.
His most serious infatuation seems to have been with a Miss Gary, whom
he courted fervently, only to be dismissed by her father with the sordid
reminder: “My daughter, sir, has been accustomed to ride in her own
coach!” As this was a knock-down argument for a stripling surveyor who

[Illustration: _Ford’s Theatre, the Old Front_]

was just struggling to raise his professional terms to twenty-five
dollars a day when employed, he went his way, but sought consolation in
winning Martha Custis, who resembled Miss Cary almost as a twin sister.

Of Mary Washington, mother of George, we get glimpses in the familiar
chat of the vicinage. She appears as a rather difficult person, who
tried the methodical soul of her son by her thriftless habits and her
incessant complaints of being out of money. For years he did his utmost
to induce her to rent her plantation further down the State, hire out
her slaves, and live on her fixed income thus obtained, but to no
purpose. Yet after he had become so famous that he was obliged to
entertain at Mount Vernon all the traveling celebrities of two
hemispheres, she suddenly took it into her head that she would like to
come and live with him. In spite of his filial piety, candor compelled
him to show her the impracticability of her proposal; and, though he
tried to soften her disappointment by sending her the last seventy-five
dollars in his purse, she seems to have continued dissatisfied.

George was not stingy. On the contrary, on each of three plantations
which he farmed he kept one crib of corn always set apart for free
distribution among the poor, and never let this fail, even if he had to
rob his own table supply or to buy corn at a dollar a bushel to make up
a deficit. He was not a rich man, but for sentimental reasons held on to
Mount Vernon after it had ceased to be profitable property. At his
death, he was worth only about seventy-five thousand dollars in his own
right, and, had he lived ten years longer at the same rate, he would
have died a bankrupt. It was his wife’s better investments that kept up
the expenses of their home.

As we go over the old mansion, we are shown the various rooms associated
with Washington’s activities, and that in which his death occurred.
Notwithstanding his sturdy muscular development, his throat and chest
were always weak spots; and in 1799, after a soaking and chill from a
ride through a December storm, he went to bed with a cold which left him
unable to swallow. Soon he realized that the end was not far off. It was
characteristic of the man that he should then discharge the doctors from
further useless ministrations, give such directions about his burial as
he deemed important, and calmly proceed to watch the waning of his own
pulse. After a little the hand that held his wrist relaxed and dropped
upon the coverlet, and the friends gathered in the chamber knew that all
was over.

On the Maryland side of the Potomac, the suburb most convenient of
access is Georgetown. In fact, it long ago ceased to be strictly a
suburb, by incorporation with the city of Washington, from which it was
separated only by Rock Creek, a narrow tributary of the Potomac.
Officially, it is now West Washington, and its streets have been renamed
and renumbered so as to conform as nearly as practicable to the system
in use in the capital. All the same, Georgetown has never lost its
identity. It had a life of its own before Washington was thought of; and
within my recollection the old society of Georgetown used to look
askance at the “new people” with whom Washington was filling up. It is
still sprinkled with hoary houses set in quaint ancestral gardens,
though modernism has touched the place at so many points that we can get
a glimpse of these survivals sometimes only through deep vistas lined
with the red brick side-walls of urban blocks. The most attractive of
the old mansions, and the best preserved, is the Tudor house, built by
Doctor William Thornton about 1810. It is a good specimen from the
Georgian epoch in architecture, standing fitly in the midst of a great
square of lawn, with shade trees and box hedges to correspond; and one
of its traditions is that pretty little Nellie Custis went there to her
first ball, though--but I leave others to struggle with the problem of
conflicting dates. One thing we do know, that the place has always been
in the possession of kinsfolk of the Mount Vernon family.

Many amusing stories are told of Georgetown’s early days, when the
Scotch element were so strong in its population that a man could not be
appointed to the office of flour inspector without subscribing to a test
oath declaring his disbelief in the doctrine of “transsubstantiation in
the sacrament of the Lord’s supper”; when the city fathers sought to
save the expense of employing a surveyor to calculate the width of the
Potomac at a point where a bridge was to be built, by ordering out all
good citizens to pull at the opposite ends of a measuring-rope; and when
the big triangle which was pounded as an alarm of fire fell from the
belfry in which it hung, and fire-alarms were sounded thereafter by
blowing a fish-horn through the streets. But none of these tales will
have an interest for most visitors equal to the local version of the
origin of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” For Georgetown was Francis Scott
Key’s old home.

As the story goes, part of the British forces which marched upon
Washington in the summer of 1814 passed through Upper Marlboro,
Maryland, on a day when Doctor William Beanes, a prominent physician,
was entertaining several friends at dinner. As the gentlemen talked,
they grew more and more indignant against the invaders, and, news being
brought to them at table that a few red-coated stragglers were still in
town committing depredations after the main body of their comrades had
passed on, some one suggested that the party go out and arrest these men
as disturbers of the peace. This was done, but to little effect; for as
soon as the stragglers got away, they hastened to catch up with the army
and lodge a complaint with their officers, who at once sent back a squad
of soldiers to arrest the arresters. Three of the dining party,
including Beanes, were carried off to Admiral Cockburn’s flagship, which
was lying in the Patuxent River. Cockburn, after administering a
disciplinary lecture to the trio, dismissed the others but took Beanes
as a prisoner on his ship to Baltimore.

Key, who was Beanes’s nephew, hastened to Baltimore as soon as he heard
of the doctor’s plight, and under a flag of truce went aboard the vessel
to intercede with Cockburn for his uncle’s release. His plea was vain;
and Cockburn would not even let him go ashore again till after the
bombardment of Fort McHenry. When Key returned to Georgetown, he related
his adventures at the next meeting of the local glee-club, and his
fellow members urged him to put his narrative into verse. He read his
production at a later meeting, and the club introduced it to the
public, who adopted it as the national anthem.

Among the noted names associated with Georgetown, outside of political
life, may be mentioned those of Joel Benton, the poet and essayist, who
bought a farm on the Washington side of Rock Creek, since famous as the
Kalorama estate; Robert Fulton, the pioneer in steam navigation, who
made some of his early experiments with water-craft and submarine
explosives on the small streams of the neighborhood; George Peabody,
financier and philanthropist, who came as a poor boy from Massachusetts
and worked as a clerk in a store in Bridge Street; William W. Corcoran,
whose later career somewhat resembled Peabody’s, and whose real start in
life dated from the failure of a little shop he kept in the heart of the
town; and, last but not least, a youthful belle whose romance demands a
paragraph or two of its own.

Baron Bodisco, Russian Minister to the United States during the Van
Buren administration, lived, as did most of the foreign envoys of that
time, in Georgetown. He was a bachelor, well on toward sixty years of
age, uncompromisingly ugly, with a face covered with wrinkles, and a
bald head which he tried to conceal under a somewhat obtrusive wig. He
had for visitors one winter two young nephews, for whom he gave a
dancing party at the legation, inviting all the socially eligible boys
and girls in town. By some accident, one of his invitations miscarried
and failed to reach Harriet Beall Williams, a most attractive and
popular schoolgirl of sixteen. He hastened to repair his error as soon
as he discovered it, and on the evening of the party hunted her up to
make his apologies in person. It was a case of love at first sight.
After that he contrived to meet her occasionally on her way to or from
school, and ere long he became an avowed suitor for her hand. The
courtship, though not displeasing to the girl, was for some time
discouraged by her family. Finding her resolved to accept her elderly
lover, however, they withdrew their active opposition, and Beauty and
the Beast, as they were commonly called, were married in June.

The Baron, who had excellent taste in everything except his own make-up,
superintended all the details of the affair, even to the costumes of the
bridal party. The bridesmaids were schoolmates of Miss Williams, one
being Jessie Benton, then aged fourteen, who afterward became the wife
of General John C. Fremont. The groomsmen were generally contemporaries
of the groom, so that the note of age disparity was uniform throughout.
President Van Buren and Henry Clay were conspicuous among the guests.
At the first opportunity, the Baron took his bride to Russia and
presented her at court, where she electrified the assembled nobility by
shaking the Czar’s hand in cordial American fashion. It delighted the
Czar, however, which was more to the point; and, although she did many
unusual things, like declining the Czarina’s invitation to a Sunday
function because she had been brought up to “keep the Sabbath,” she
became a great favorite in the inner imperial circle, and loved to dwell
on her foreign experiences after she came back to Georgetown to live.
The Bodisco house is still pointed out to strangers.

Not all the historic associations of Georgetown and its neighborhood
have been so peaceful. For a few miles out of town the river’s edge is
dotted with sequestered nooks to which hot-brained gentlemen could
retire on occasion, to wipe out their grievances in one another’s blood.
The Little Falls bridge afforded such a retreat to Henry Clay and John
Randolph after Randolph’s speech declaring that the “alphabet that
writes the name of Thersites, of blackguard, of squalidity, refuses her
letters for” Clay. The combatants took the precaution to cross the
bridge far enough to avoid the jurisdiction of the District
authorities. Clay’s first shot cut Randolph’s coat near the hip,
Randolph’s did nothing. At the second word, Clay’s bullet went wild, and
Randolph deliberately sent his into the air, remarking: “I do not fire
at you, Mr. Clay!” At the same time he advanced with hand outstretched,
Clay meeting him halfway. Randolph, as they were leaving the field,
pointed to the hole made by Clay’s first bullet, saying jocosely: “You
owe me a coat, Mr. Clay.” “I am glad, sir,” answered Clay, “that the
debt is no greater.”

The subject of duels calls to mind another suburb, to wit, Bladensburg,
Maryland, where the defenders of Washington made their brief and
ineffectual stand against the invading British in 1814. Here, for sixty
years, in a green little dell about a mile out of town, all sorts of
personal and political feuds were settled with deadly weapons. The most
celebrated of these meetings was that of March 22, 1820, between two
Commodores of the American navy, Stephen Decatur and James Barren. Like
most duels, it was more the work of mischief-makers than of the
principals themselves.

Decatur was at the height of his fame for achievements in the War of
1812 and against the Barbary pirates; he was a fine marksman with the
pistol, and had had several earlier experiences on the dueling-field.
Barren, on the other hand, was under a cloud for some professional
mistakes; he was six years Decatur’s senior, had no taste for dueling,
and was near-sighted. Down to the last, Barron was plainly disposed to
accept any reasonable concession and call the affair off; but Decatur
was in high spirits and full of confidence.

Two shots rang out simultaneously, and both men fell. Decatur, who was
at first supposed to be dead, presently showed signs of returning
animation and was lifted to his feet, only to stagger a few paces toward
his antagonist and fall again. As the two men lay side by side, Barron
turned his face to say to Decatur that he hoped, when they met in
another world, they would be better friends than in this. Decatur
responded that he had never been Barren’s enemy, and, though he
cherished no animosity to Barron for killing him, he found it harder to
forgive the men who had goaded them into this quarrel. Both combatants
were carried back to Washington, where Barron slowly recovered from his
wound; but Decatur, after a day of intense suffering, died in the house
which still bears his name, at the corner of Jackson Place and H Street.

So habitually was this one ravine chosen for the settlement of affairs
of honor that when two Representatives, Jonathan Cilley of Maine and
William J. Graves of Kentucky, decided in 1838 to end a dispute with
rifles, they outwitted pursuit by choosing for their fight the eastern
end of the Anacostia bridge on the high-road to Marlboro, Maryland; and
a posse who started out to stop them went to the accustomed ground only
to find it empty. This duel had naught of the dramatic quality of that
between Decatur and Barren, but its effect on the public mind proved
more far-reaching. Cilley was a young man of brilliant promise, highly
respected as well as popular, with a wife and three little children. The
quarrel was forced upon him because, in the interest of the proper
dignity of Congress, he objected to a proposed investigation by the
House of some vague and irresponsible insinuations made in a recent
newspaper letter against sundry members who were not named or otherwise
identified. Graves insisted that this speech was an insult to the author
of the article, whose championship he gratuitously undertook.

The first two shots were thrown away on both sides. At the third fire,
Cilley fell upon his face, his adversary’s bullet having killed him
instantly. When the news of his death spread through Washington,
indignation against Graves rose to fever heat, and his public career
ended with that hour. The wantonness of such a sacrifice of a useful
life, where the writer who figured as the cause of the quarrel did not
even take a part in it, gave special point to the condemnation of the
false standard of honor set up by the “code.” The funeral services for
Cilley at the Capitol were attended by the President and Cabinet, in
testimony to the high esteem in which he had universally been held;
while the Supreme Court declined its invitation in a body, as the most
emphatic means of expressing its abhorrence of glossing murder with a
thin coat of etiquette. Ministers, not only in Washington but in all the
more highly civilized parts of the country, denounced dueling from the
pulpit, newspapers published editorials and associations adopted
resolutions against it, additional legislation for the abolition of the
practice was introduced in various legislatures, and Congress passed an
act to punish, with a term in the penitentiary, the sending or
acceptance of a challenge in the District of Columbia.

[Illustration: _Stage Entrance through which Booth Escaped_]



CHAPTER X

MONUMENTS AND MEMORIES


Among the projects in the minds of the founders of the federal city was
a monument to celebrate the success of the American Revolution. George
Washington personally selected the site for it, due south of the center
of the President’s House. Meanwhile the Continental Congress had
recommended the erection of an equestrian statue of General Washington,
and, immediately after his death, the Congress then in session resolved
to rear a monument under which his body should be entombed. But, though
resolutions were cheap, monuments were costly, and the project gradually
faded out of mind till revived in 1816 by a member of Congress from
South Carolina. Still nothing happened, till another generation devised
a plan for raising the money by popular subscription without waiting
longer for a Government appropriation. The Washington Monument Society
was organized with a membership fee of one dollar, so as to give every
American opportunity to subscribe. By 1848 a sufficient fund had been
collected to spur Congress into presenting a site; and the spot chosen
was that marked by Washington for the monument to the Revolution, thus
happily combining his plan with the nation’s tribute to himself. Tests
of the ground showed that, in order to get a safe footing, it would be
necessary to move a little further to the eastward, which accounts for
the present monument’s being not quite on the short axis of the White
House.

For the original plan of a statue, an obelisk of granite and marble was
substituted, which by its simplicity of lines, its towering height, and
its purity of color, should symbolize the exceptional character and
services of the foremost American. The building fund held out pretty
well till a politico-religious quarrel arose over the acceptance, for
incorporation in the monument, of a fine block of African marble sent by
the Pope; and on Washington’s birthday, 1855, a Know-Nothing mob
descended upon the headquarters of the Society, seized its books and
papers, and took forcible possession of the monument. The Know-Nothing
party ended its political existence three years later, and the monument
went back to its former custodians; but the riotous demonstration had
checked the orderly progress of the work, and, as the Civil War was
imminent, the shaft, then one hundred seventy-eight feet high, was
roofed over to await the return of normal conditions. It was not till
1876 that, under the patriotic impetus of the centenary, Congress was
induced to coöperate. The work was vigorously pushed from 1880 to 1884;
and in the spring of 1885, when it had attained a height of five hundred
fifty-five feet and five and five-tenths inches, occurred the formal
dedication of the Washington National Monument as we see it to-day.

For the benefit of any one whose pleasure in a masterpiece is measured
with a plummet, it may be noted that the Monument falls less than fifty
feet short of the Tower of Babel; to him who revels in terms of
distance, the glistening pile will appeal on the ground that it is
visible from a crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, more than forty miles
away as the bee flies. But most of its neighbors in Washington find it
for other reasons an unceasing joy. To us it is more truly at the heart
of things than even the Capitol. It is the hoary sentinel at our
water-gate; or, spread the city out like a fan, and the Monument is the
pivot which holds the frame together.

The visitor who has seen it once has just begun to see it. A
smooth-faced obelisk, devoid of ornament, it would appear the stolidest
object in the landscape; in truth, it is as versatile as the clouds.
Every change in your position reveals it in a new phase. Go close to it
and look up, and its walls seem to rise infinitely and dissolve into the
atmosphere; stand on the neighboring hills, and you are tempted to throw
a stone over its top; sail down the Potomac, and the slender white shaft
is still sending its farewells after you when the city has passed out of
sight. It plays chameleon to the weather. It may be gay one moment and
grave the next, like the world. Sometimes, in the varying lights, it
loses its perspective and becomes merely a flat blade struck against
space; an hour later, every line and seam is marked with the crispness
of chiseled sculpture. On a fair morning, it is radiant under the first
beams of the rising sun; in the full of the moon, it is like a thing
from another world--cold, shimmering, unreal. Often in the spring and
fall its peak is lost in vapor, and the shaft looks as if it were a
tall, thin Ossa penetrating the home of the gods. Again, with its base
wrapped in fog and its summit in cloud, it is a symbol of human destiny,
emerging from one mystery only to pass into another. Always the same,
yet never twice alike, it is to the old Washingtonian a being instinct
with life, a personality to be known and loved. It has relatively
little to tell the passing stranger, but many confidences for the friend
of years.

To realize all that it is to us, you must see it on a changeable day.
Come with me then to the Capitol, whence, from an outlook on the western
terrace, we face a thick and troubled sky. The air is murky. Clouds
fringed with gray fleece, which have been hanging so low as to hide the
apex of the Monument, are folding back upon themselves in the southern
heavens, forming a rampart dark and forbidding. Against this the obelisk
is projected, having caught and held one ray of pure sunshine which has
found an opening and shot through like a searchlight. It is plain that
an atmospheric battle is at hand. The garrulous city seems struck dumb;
the timid trees are shivering with apprehension; the voice of the wind
is half sob and half warning. The search-ray vanishes as the door of the
cloud fort is closed and the rumbling of the bolts is heard behind it.
The landscape in the background is blotted from view by eddies of yellow
dust, as if a myriad of horsemen were making a tentative charge. Silent
and unmoved, the obelisk stands there, a white warrior bidding defiance
to the forces of sky and earth. As the subsiding dust marks the retreat
of the cavalry, the artillery opens fire. First one masked porthole and
then another belches flame, but the sharp crash or dull roar which
follows passes quite unnoticed by the champion. Then comes the rattle of
musketry, as a sheet of hail sweeps across the field.

We are not watching a combat, only an assault, for these demonstrations
call forth no response. On the champion--taking everything, giving
nothing--the only effect they produce is a change of color from snowy
white to ashen gray. Even that is but for a moment. As the storm of hail
melts into a shower of limpid raindrops to which the relieved trees open
their palms, the wind ceases its wailing, and the wall of cloud falls
apart to let the sun’s rays through once more.

The Monument is, of course, only one of many memorials to great men in
Washington. We have heroes and philanthropists, poets and physicians,
soldiers and men of science, mounted and afoot, standing and sitting. We
have horses in every posture that will hold a rider: Jackson’s balanced
on its hind legs like the toy charger on the nursery mantelpiece;
Washington’s getting ready to try the same trick; Sheridan’s dashing
along the line to the lilt of Buchanan Read’s poem; Pulaski’s, Greene’s
and McPherson’s, Hancock’s and McClellan’s and Logan’s, walking calmly
over the field; Scott’s and Sherman’s watching the parade. The best
equestrian statue is that of General George H. Thomas, by Quincy Ward,
at the junction of Massachusetts Avenue with Fourteenth Street. Here we
have the acme of art in treating such a subject: spirit coupled with
repose. The horse has been moving, but has been checked by the rider to
give him a chance to look about; they could go on the next moment if
need be, or they could stand indefinitely just as they are.

The Scott statue, at Massachusetts Avenue and Sixteenth Street, is good
if we take it apart and examine it piecemeal; but the massive rider
threatens to break down his slender-limbed steed, which is, by some
mischance, of the mare’s build and not the stallion’s. General Sheridan,
who used to live within a stone’s throw of this statue, lay while ill in
a bedroom commanding a view of it. “I hope,” he remarked one day, “that
if a grateful country ever commemorates me in bronze, it will give me a
better mount than old Scott’s!” It is hard to find anything new to do
with a general officer and a horse without putting them into some
impossible attitude. A sculptor who attempts a reasonable innovation is
liable to be snubbed for it, as one was not long ago when he offered in
competition a statue of General Grant, dismounted, with his bridle
swung over one of his arms while he used the other hand to hold his
field-glass.

Some of the best-known statues in the city have attracted as much
attention by their travels as by their artistic qualities. One of these
is Greenough’s colossal marble presentment of George Washington, which
visitors to the Capitol ten years ago will recall as standing in the
open space facing the main east portico. Greenough was in Italy in 1835,
when it was ordered, and spent eight years on its production. It shows
Washington seated, nude to the waist, and below that draped in a flowing
robe. It weighed, when finished, twelve tons without a pedestal, and
required twenty-two yoke of oxen to haul from Florence to Genoa.
Peasants who saw it on the way took it for the image of some mighty
saint, and dropped upon their knees and crossed themselves as it passed.
The man-of-war which was waiting for it at Genoa had no hatchway large
enough to take it in, so a merchant vessel had to be chartered for its
voyage to America. Arrived at the Capitol, where it was intended to
stand in the center of the rotunda, it could not be squeezed through the
doors, and the masonry had to be cut away. Then it was discovered that
it was causing the floor to settle, and a lot of shoring had to be done
in the crypt underneath. Finally, as it was not suited to its place, the
masonry around the doorway was ripped out again, and the statue was set
up in the plaza, where it remained till 1908, the sport of rains and
frosts and souvenir-maniacs, when it took what every one hopes will be
its last journey--to the National Museum. The original purpose of
Congress was to have a “pedestrian statue” costing, all told, five
thousand dollars. What has eventuated is Washington’s head set on a
torso of Jupiter Tonans, costing, with all its traveling expenses, more
than fifty thousand dollars.

Another peregrinating statue is that of Thomas Jefferson, which stands
to-day against the east wall of the rotunda. In 1833 it occupied the
center of this room. When Greenough’s Washington was brought in,
Jefferson was removed to the Library of Congress, which was then housed
in the rooms of the west front of the Capitol. In 1850 it was carried up
to the White House and planted in the middle of the north garden. It
held that site for twenty-four years and then came back to the rotunda,
from which there is no reason to think it will be moved again.

The only parallel to these instances of frequent shifts in the local art
world is the case of a painting entitled “Love and Life,” presented by
the English artist, George F. Watts, to our Government. Mr. Cleveland,
who was President at the time, hung it in the White House, but the
prudish comments passed upon it by visitors led to its transfer to the
Corcoran Gallery of Art. In the Roosevelt administration it made three
trips, first to the White House, then back to the Corcoran Gallery, and
then to the White House again, where it rested till President Taft came
in, only to be rebanished to the Corcoran Gallery. President Wilson had
it returned to the White House, and there it is at the present writing.

Although there has never been in Washington a definite scheme for the
location of statues, which have been planted, hit or miss, wherever
space offered, accident has arranged a few of them so as to form a
rather remarkable historical series. Starting with the Washington
National Monument, in honor of the foremost figure in the Revolution and
the President who set in motion the machinery of the embryo republic, we
pass directly northward to the White House, home of all his successors
in the Presidency and emblematic of the civil government which emerged
from the War for Independence. A few hundred feet further northward
stands the statue of Andrew Jackson, the hero of the War of 1812, the
first fought by the United States as a nation. About a half-mile more
to the north we reach the statue of Winfield Scott, the general whose
capture of Mexico City ended the second foreign war in which the nation
engaged. All that is needed to complete this remarkable procession is a
memorial arch on Sixteenth Street heights, to the soldiers and sailors
on both sides of the Civil War which cemented the Union begun under
Washington.

Strange to say, the city which best knew Lincoln and Grant has had, up
to this time, no out-of-doors statue whatever of Grant and no adequate
one of Lincoln. In Lincoln Park, about a mile east of the Capitol, is
the Emancipation statue, and in front of the City Hall there is an
insignificant standing figure of Lincoln, perched on a pillar so high
that the features can be seen only dimly. A statue of Grant will later
occupy the central pedestal of a group in the little park at the foot of
the western slope of the Capitol grounds, which it is proposed to call
Union Square. On either side of Grant, the plan originally was to place
Sherman and Sheridan; but as the Sherman and Sheridan statues already
set up elsewhere are so diverse in character, it has been questioned
whether they would fit into the Union Square group. After many
suggestions, controversies, and reports, Congress decided, a year or
two ago, upon a form of memorial for Lincoln, which is already under
way. It will be a marble temple, designed by Henry Bacon, in Potomac
Park, with a statue of the War President, by Daniel Chester French,
visible in the recesses of its dignified colonnade.

Besides the scores of statues and miles of painted portraits which keep
vivid the memory of great and good men who are gone, Washington has many
institutions and buildings with personal associations that fulfil a
similar purpose. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, for instance, was the gift
of the late William W. Corcoran, the financier. The national deaf-mute
college at Kendall Green, on the northeastern edge of the city, recalls
its original benefactor, Amos Kendall, who was Postmaster-general under
Jackson, as well as the work of Doctor Edward M. Gallaudet in raising it
from its modest beginnings to its present eminence. The Pension Office,
in which eight inaugural balls have been held, takes first rank among
our public edifices for architectural ugliness. It is nevertheless an
honor to the memory of Quartermaster-general Meigs, who asked the
privilege of proving, in an era of extravagance, that a suitable
building could be reared for the money allotted to it, and who turned
back into the treasury a large slice of his appropriation after having
paid every bill. The present Library of Congress is, in a like manner,
a monument to the late Bernard R. Green, whose engineering skill and
administrative faculty performed a feat corresponding to General
Meigs’s; it reminds us, also, of Thomas Jefferson, whose private
library, purchased after the burning of the Capitol, formed the nucleus
of the present magnificent collection. The Soldiers’ Home, near the
north boundary of the city, commemorates General Scott’s success in
Mexico, the tribute he exacted there for a breach of truce being used in
founding this beautiful retreat, where veterans of the regular army may
pass their declining years in comfort.

Few people, probably, are aware that the Smithsonian Institution, whose
fame is as wide as civilization, owes its origin to the rejection of a
manuscript prepared for publication. James Smithson, an Englishman of
means, who had been a frequent contributor to the Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society of London, sent in, a little less than
a century ago, a paper which the censors refused to print; and its
author avenged the affront by altering his will, in which he had
bequeathed his entire fortune to the Society, so as to throw the
reversion to the United States, a country he had never seen, to be used
for “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among
men.” Congress had a long quibble about the disposal of the money, but
at last hit upon a plan, and since then has turned over much of the
public scientific research work to be performed “under the direction of
the Smithsonian Institution.” The accumulation of trophies of
exploration, historical relics, and gifts of objects of art and industry
from foreign potentates, presently overflowed the accommodations of the
Institution proper, and a National Museum was built to house these
treasures. The Smithsonian commemorates not only the beneficence of
Smithson, but the great achievements of its several executive heads,
like Joseph Henry’s in electromagnetism, Spencer F. Baird’s in the
culture of fish as a source of food-supply, and Samuel P. Langley’s in
aërial navigation and the standardization of time.

The old City Hall, better known now as the District Court House, will be
remembered as the place where the first President Harrison probably
caught the cold which resulted in his death. It has a tragic association
with another President, also, for in one of its court-rooms was
conducted the trial of Guiteau for assassinating James A. Garfield. This
trial excited vigorous comment throughout the country by what seemed to
many critics an unwarrantable latitude allowed the defendant for
self-exploitation.

[Illustration: _Rendezvous of the Lincoln Conspirators_]

Judge Walter T. Cox, who presided, was one of the ablest and most
conscientious jurists who ever sat on the Supreme bench of the District.
From personal attendance on the trial, I feel sure that the course
pursued by him was the only one which could have given the jury a sure
ground for dooming the assassin to death; and it was doubtless a
realization of that fact which held in check the mob spirit that began
to show itself at one stage and threatened to save the Government the
trouble of putting up a gallows. The popular rancor against Guiteau was
so strong that in order to get him safely into the Court House from the
“black Maria” which brought him from the jail every morning, and to
reverse the operation at the close of every day’s session, the vehicle
was backed up within about twenty feet of one of the basement doors, and
a double file of police, standing shoulder to shoulder with clubs drawn,
made a narrow little lane through which he was rushed at a quickstep,
his face blanched with terror, and his furtive eyes fixed on the earth.

Another historical incident is associated with the old building, to
which many attribute the final resolve of President Lincoln to issue his
Emancipation Proclamation. I refer to the abolition of slavery in the
District of Columbia. A bill to this end, introduced by Henry Wilson in
December, 1861, was hotly debated in Congress but finally passed, and
was signed on April 16, 1862. Only loyal owners were to be paid for
their slaves, and every applicant for compensation had to take an
iron-clad oath of allegiance to the Government. The whole business was
handled by a board of three commissioners, who employed for their
assistance an experienced slave-dealer imported from Baltimore. They met
in one of the court-rooms, and the dealer put the negroes through their
paces just as he had been accustomed to in the heyday of his trade,
making them dance to show their suppleness and bite various tough
substances as a test of the soundness of their teeth. Many of the black
men and women came into the room singing hosannas to glorify the dawn of
freedom. The highest appraisement of any slave was seven hundred and
eighty-eight dollars for a good blacksmith; the lowest was ten dollars
and ninety-five cents for a baby. These were about half the prices which
would have been brought but for the fact that only one million dollars
was appropriated, whereas the total estimated value of the slaves paid
for was nearer two million, and all payments had to be scaled
accordingly.

A remarkable feature of this episode was the discovery of how many
slaveholders there were who were not white people. Now and then in the
past, when for some special reason a negro had been freed, he would save
his earnings till he had accumulated enough to buy his wife and
children, who still remained in bondage to him till he saw fit to
manumit them. One case which attracted wide attention was that of a
woman who had bought her husband, a graceless scamp who proceeded to
celebrate his good fortune by becoming an incorrigible drunkard. This
had so outraged the feelings of his wife that she had finally sold him
to a dealer who was picking up a boatload of cheap slaves to carry
south. From that hour she had lost sight of him; but she haunted the
commissioners’ sessions from day to day in the hope that the Government,
now that it was going into the slave-buying business, might give her a
little addition to the bargain price at which she had sold the old man.

Judiciary Square, in which the Court House and the Pension Office stand,
was, when Chief Justice Taney lived in Indiana Avenue, a neighborhood of
consequence. Several of the older buildings thereabout exhale a flavor
of fifty or sixty years ago, and tradition connects them with such
personages as Rufus Choate, Caleb Cushing, Thomas H. Benton, Stephen A.
Douglas, John C. Fremont, and John A. Dix.

Opposite the east park of the Capitol, as we have already seen, stands
the Old Capitol, a building with a variegated history. It was erected
for the accommodation of Congress after the burning of the Capitol by
the British. In it Henry Clay passed some years of his Speakership, and
till very lately there was a scar on the wall of one of the rooms which
was said to have been made by his desk. Under its roof the first
Senators from Indiana, Illinois, and Mississippi took their seats. In
front of it, President Monroe was inaugurated. After Congress left it to
return to the restored Capitol, it was rented for a boarding-house,
patronized chiefly by Senators and Representatives. Here John C. Calhoun
lived for some time, and here he died. In one of the rooms, Persico, the
Italian sculptor, worked out the model of his “Discoverer.” In another,
Ann Royall edited her _Huntress_.

After the Civil War broke out, the Old Capitol was turned into a jail
for the confinement of military offenders who were awaiting trial by
court-martial, and for Confederate spies and other persons accused of
unlawfully giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Belle Boyd, who was
locked up there for a while, has left us her impressions of the place as
“a vast brick building, like all prisons, somber, chilling, and
repulsive.” She describes William P. Wood, who was superintendent of
the prison, as “having a humane heart beneath a rough exterior.” Every
Sunday he used to provide facilities for religious worship to his
compulsory guests, announcing the hours and forms in characteristic
fashion: “All you who want to hear the word of God preached according to
Jeff Davis, go down into the yard; and all of you who want to hear it
preached according to Abe Lincoln, go into No. 16.” In the jail yard
Henry Wirz, who had been the keeper of the Confederate military prison
at Andersonville, Georgia, where so many Union soldiers died of
starvation and disease, was hanged for murder. At the close of the war
the building was divided into a block of dwellings, of which the
southernmost was long the home of the late Justice Field of the Supreme
Court. The Justice used to enjoy telling his visitors about the
distinguished men from the South who, after dining at his table, had
roamed over the premises and located their one-time places of
confinement.

The oldest house of worship in Washington is St. Paul’s, a spireless
Protestant Episcopal church not far from the Soldiers’ Home. It stands
well toward the rear of the Rock Creek Cemetery, which also contains the
world-famous bronze by St. Gaudens, in the Adams lot. This is a seated
female figure, in flowing classic drapery, to which no one has ventured
to attach a permanent title, though it has been variously known as
“Grief” and “The Peace of God.” St. Paul’s goes back to the colonial era
and was built of brick imported from England. A younger church,
nevertheless numbered among the oldest relics of its class within the
city proper, is St. John’s, at the corner of Sixteenth and H streets. It
was designed by Latrobe about the time he undertook the restoration of
the Capitol and was consecrated in 1816. It has long been called “the
President’s church” because so many tenants of the White House, just
across Lafayette Square, have worshiped in it.

Madison and Monroe were the first, and the vestry soon set apart one pew
to be preserved always for the free use of the reigning Presidential
family. John Quincy Adams was a Unitarian, but came to the afternoon
services; and Jackson, though a Methodist, was frequently to be seen
there. Van Buren was a constant attendant both as Vice-president and as
President. William Henry Harrison, for the month he lived in Washington,
came regularly, regardless of the weather or his state of health; and he
was to have been confirmed the very week he died. Tyler was a member of
the congregation. Polk had other affiliations, but Taylor, Fillmore,
and Buchanan used the President’s pew. Then came a break in the line
till Arthur entered the White House; and his retirement appears to have
been followed by another lapse in the succession till Mrs. Roosevelt
revived it. Her husband used to accompany her from time to time, though
he retained his active connection with the Reformed (Dutch) communion.
Since the Roosevelts, the line has been broken again. John Quincy Adams
became so fond of St. John’s that, when he returned to Washington as a
Representative, he renewed his Sunday visits. He paid close attention to
the preliminary service but seemed to sleep through the sermon, though
he was usually able to repeat the next day, with considerable accuracy,
the main things the minister had said.

This whole neighborhood bristles with memories of great people. The old
Tayloe mansion was styled, in its later years, “the Cream-white House,”
partly because of its color, and partly in jocose reference to its
occupancy by two or three Vice-presidents. The house on the corner north
of it, now owned by the Cosmos Club, was the home of Dolly Madison in
her widowhood. After her death it passed into the hands of Charles
Wilkes, the gallant naval officer who was for many years the
unrecognized discoverer of the Antarctic continent, and who, in the
early days of the Civil War, forcibly took two of his late Washington
neighbors, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, off the British steamer _Trent_,
which was conveying them to Europe on a diplomatic mission for the
Confederate Government. South of the Tayloe house is the Belasco
Theater, on the site of the old-fashioned red brick building in which
occurred the attempted assassination of Secretary Seward and where James
G. Blaine passed the last years of his life. On H Street, about a block
to the eastward, General McClellan made his headquarters in the
intervals between his commands of the Army of the Potomac; while in a
near cluster are former homes of Commodore Decatur, John Quincy Adams,
Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Montgomery Blair, Gideon Welles, George
Bancroft, and John Hay, as well as the house where the Ashburton treaty
was negotiated and where Owen Meredith wrote his “Lucile.” Edward
Everett, Jefferson Davis, and Tobias Lear lived, at various times, a
short distance away.

One of my favorite excursions about the city with friends who revere the
memory of the War President is what I call my “Lincoln pilgrimage.” We
start at the White House, turn eastward and take F Street to Tenth, and
then southward a half-square. This brings us in front of the building
which once was Ford’s Theater, by the route taken by Lincoln on the
evening of Good Friday, 1865. Here are the arches which once opened into
the theater lobby but are now used for ground-floor windows; through one
of them he passed on his way to his box. Directly across the street is
the house to which he was carried to die. In it is preserved the Oldroyd
collection of Lincoln relics, a really remarkable array. After
inspecting it, we return to F Street and go eastward again to about the
middle of the block, where an alley emerges from a lower level south of
us. Down into this we dive, and, making a sharp right-angle turn, find
ourselves at the old stage-door of the theater, beside which Booth left
his horse, and through which he made his dash for liberty after his mad
deed.

Back again up the alley we climb, through F Street to Ninth, through
Ninth to H, and eastward on H Street to Number 604, the house of Mrs.
Surratt, the rendezvous of the conspirators and the place where some of
them were captured. It looks to-day very much as it did on the night of
the assassination. Retracing our steps to Seventh Street, we board a
southbound car, which carries us to the gate of the reservation now
occupied by the Washington Barracks and the Army War College. Here,
within a few hundred feet of the entrance, used to stand the military
prison where the conspirators were confined, and in the yard of which
they paid the last penalty for their crime.

       *       *       *       *       *

And here, dear reader, we come to the end of our present walks and talks
about Washington. As I warned you at the outset, I have treated our
wanderings as a pleasure-jaunt rather than as a medium of solid
instruction. When you find yourself thirsting for the severely
practical, you can come back and make the round again, if you choose, in
a sight-seeing car, and the megaphone-man will point out to you twice as
many objects of interest and give you three times as much information
about them--accurate or otherwise. He will take pains to show you all
the Government buildings and the hotels, the foreign legations and the
theaters, the millionaires’ houses, and parks and circles and statuary
which I have dismissed with a line or left unmentioned. He will tell you
how many tons every bronze weighs, how long every edifice took in
building, and how large a fortune every Senator amassed before crowning
his career with a tour of public service. I could have told you these
things, too, but, rather than force too fast a gait upon you, I have
left them for the megaphone-man and taken for my task some odds and
ends he could not take for his. I should have liked to tell you how the
Government swept all the electric wires out of the sky and hid them
underground; how it drained the marshes on the city’s western edge,
cleared the channels of the Potomac, and built out of the dredgings a
big pleasure-ground; and how it got rid of the annual inundations, in
one of which, just about a generation ago, I crossed the busiest part of
Pennsylvania Avenue in a rowboat.

These improvements, and others in the same category, have been
paralleled by the changes in the architecture of the city, at the
expense of tearing down something old to make room for whatever new was
to go up. Touched by the spirit of progress, the face of Washington is
rapidly becoming as destitute of landmarks as its origin is destitute of
myths, and the artist who visits it in quest of the antique has a hunt
before him. Nevertheless, it has not lost its picturesque appeal for the
pencil guided by imagination, or its colorful legends for the memory
seeking relief from more serious things.

Hence this book.

[Illustration]



INDEX


Adams, Abigail, 9, 115, 119.
  John, 7, 73, 110, 119, 150, 156, 228.
  John Quincy, 20, 58, 65, 96, 147, 150, 151, 181, 280, 281, 282.
  Mrs. John Quincy, 151.

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, 23, 192, 233.

Alexandria, Va., 4, 12, 54, 238.

Allston, Theodosia, 242.

Anacostia, D.C., 84.

Anderson, Major Robert, 193.

Arlington Cemetery, 235.

Army War College, 17, 283.

Arthur, Chester A., 224, 281.


Bagot, Sir George, 138.

Baird, Spencer F., 274.

Bancroft, George, 282.

Barksdale, William, 103.

Barney, Joshua, 15.

Barron, James, 257.

Beanes, Dr. William, 252.

Belasco Theater, 282.

Bell, John, 27.

Bellows, Rev. Dr. Henry W., 198.

Benton, Joel, 254.
  Thomas H., 277.

Bladensburg, Md., 15, 135, 257.

Blaine, James G., 203, 215, 227, 282.

Blair, Montgomery, 282.

Bodisco, Baron, 254.
  Baroness, 255.

Bonaparte, Jerome, 128.

Booth, John Wilkes, 43.

Boyd, Belle, 278.

Braddock, Edward, 239, 243.

Breckinridge, John C., 27, 30.
  William C. P., 105.

Brooks, Rt. Rev. Phillips, 243.
  Preston, 68, 189.

Buchanan, James, 30, 190, 196, 281.

Buchignani, Mrs. (See MRS. JOHN H. EATON.)

Bulfinch, Charles, 56, 57, 60.

Bull Run, Battle of, 37, 236.

Burlingame, Anson, 190.

Burns, David, 4.

Burr, Aaron, 93, 242.


Calhoun, John C., 164, 278.

Capitol, 6, 15, 45, 54, 136.

Cary, Mary, 248.

Chase, Salmon P., 202.

Choate, Rufus, 277.

Cilley, Jonathan, 259.

City Hall, 173, 271, 274, 277.

Civil War, 25, 26, 194, 278.

Clay, Henry, 65, 68, 140, 152, 164, 172, 181, 187, 256, 278, 282.

Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 226, 229.
  Grover, 112, 225, 229, 232.

Clinton, George, 93.

Cobb, Howell, 191.

Cockburn, Sir George, 15, 253.

Congress, 8, 19, 54, 82, 85, 138.
    (See also SENATE and HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.)

Conkling, Roscoe, 203, 215.

Corcoran, William W., 254.

Corcoran Gallery of Art, 270, 272.

Cosmos Club, 281.

Court House. (See CITY HALL.)

Covode, John, 102.

Cox, Judge Walter T., 275.

Coxey’s Army, 80.

Craig, Burton F., 102.

Crawford, Thomas, 57.

Crisp, Charles F., 104.

Cunningham, Ann Pamela, 245.

Gushing, Caleb, 214, 277.

Custis, George, 133, 235.
  Nellie, 251.


Davis, Harriet Riddle, 209.
  Jefferson, 29, 57, 72, 282.

Decatur, Stephen, 257, 282.

Dix, John A., 29, 277.

Donelson, Andrew J., 162.
  Mary Emily, 162.

Douglas, Stephen A., 27, 33, 196, 277.

Douglass, Frederick, 221.

Dreams, Strange, of Lincoln, 208.

Dueling, Condemnation of, 260.


Early, Jubal A., 41.

Eaton, John H., 159, 169.
  Mrs. John H., 159, 168, 179.

Electoral Commission, 68, 219.

Ellsworth, Ephraim E., 35, 243.

Emancipation Proclamation, 200, 275.

Emancipation Statue, 271.

Everett, Edward, 282.


Field, Cyrus W., 190.
  Stephen J., 279.

Fillmore, Millard, 185, 281.

Ford’s Theater, 43, 209, 283.

Fort McHenry, Md., 253.

Fort Myer, Va., 237.

Foster, Sir Augustus, 76, 127.

Franklin Square, 119.

Frelinghuysen, Mrs. Frederick T., 225.

Fremont, Jessie Benton, 255.
  John C., 255, 277.

French, Daniel Chester, 272.

Fulton, Robert, 254.


Gallaudet, Dr. Edward M., 272.

Gardiner, David, 180.
  Julia, 179.

Garfield, “Grandma,” 222.
  James A., 222, 233, 274.

Georgetown, D.C., 3, 11, 12, 251.

Grant, Nellie. (See NELLIE GRANT SARTORIS.)
  Ulysses S., 43, 44, 45, 205, 212, 225, 232, 271.
  Mrs. Ulysses S., 225.

Graves, William J., 259.

Greeley, Horace, 203, 213.

Green, Bernard R., 273.

Greenough, Horatio, 58, 268.

Grow, Galusha A., 101.

Guiteau, Charles J., 223, 274.


Halford, Elijah W., 228.

Hamlin, Hannibal, 32.

Hancock, Winfield S., 223, 266.

Harrison, Benjamin, 112, 226.
  William Henry, 172, 274, 280.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 188.

Hay, John, 282.

Hayes, Lucy Webb, 220.
  Rutherford B., 218.

Henry, Joseph, 274.

Hoban, James, 116, 231.

House of Representatives, 10, 56, 63, 76, 85, 139. (See also CONGRESS.)

Hoxie, Vinnie Ream, 211.

Humboldt, Baron von, 125.

Hutchinson Family, 204.

Huygens, Bangeman, 160, 162.


Inaugural Balls, 134, 175, 212, 219.


Jackson, Andrew, 58, 150, 156, 232, 266, 270, 280.
  Andrew, Jr., 161.
  Mrs. Andrew, 157, 159.

Jay, John, 12, 69.

Jefferson, Thomas, 2, 54, 68, 111, 121, 231, 269.

Johnson, Andrew, 44, 211.

Judiciary Square, 277.


Kearney, Dennis, 222.

Keitt, Lawrence M., 101.

Kendall, Amos, 272.

Key, Francis Scott, 252.

Kilbourn, Hallet, 97.

Kilgore, Constantine Buckley, 109.

King, William R., 142, 188.

Kossuth, Louis, 186.


Lafayette, Marquis de, 65.

Lafayette Park, 5, 118.

Lamar, Lucius Q. C., 102.

Lane, Harriet, 193.

Latrobe, Benjamin H., 56, 280.

Lear, Tobias, 244, 282.

Lee, Robert E., 42, 235.

L’Enfant, Pierre Charles, 5, 83, 231.

Library, Public, 49.

Library of Congress, 273.

Liliuokalani, Queen, 221.

Lincoln, Abraham, 30, 65, 195, 232, 271, 275, 282.
  Mary Todd, 196, 208.
  “Tad,” 43, 201.
  Willie, 201.

Lind, Jennie, 146.

Lovejoy, Owen, 102.


McClellan, George B., 236, 266, 282.

McCreary, James B., 106.

McElroy, Mrs. John, 224.

McKee, “Baby,” 228.

McKinley, William, Jr., 112, 221, 230, 232.

McLean, John, 194.

Madison, Dolly, 19, 78, 115, 124, 135, 144, 281.
  James, 14, 54, 125, 132, 280.

Mall, 12, 83, 114.

Marine Band, 77, 124, 178, 225.

Marshall, John, 65, 164.

Martineau, Harriet, 161, 163.

Meigs, Montgomery C., 237, 272.

Mellanelli, Sidi, 127.

Meredith, Owen, 282.

Merry, Anthony, 125.

Mexican War, 22, 182, 271, 273.

Mitchill, Dr. Samuel, 127.

Monroe, Eliza Kortright, 115, 147.
  James, 18, 138, 147, 151, 278, 280.

Moore, Thomas, 5, 125.

Morrissey, Mrs. John, 213.

Morse, Samuel F. B., 75, 182.

Mott, Richard T., 102.

Mount Vernon, Va., 244, 249.


Negroes, First, in Inaugural parade, 208.

Nilsson, Christine, 224.


Octagon House, 19, 137.

O’Ferrall, Charles T., 108.

Old Capitol, 20, 278.

O’Neil, “Peggy.” (See Mrs. JOHN H. EATON.)


Paine, Thomas, 129.

Patterson, Elizabeth, 128.   (See also JEROME BONAPARTE.)

Peabody, George, 254.

Pension Office, 272, 277.

Pennsylvania Avenue, 10, 47, 49, 114, 285.

Persico, Luigi, 58, 278.

Phillips, Wendell, 214.

Pierce, Franklin, 186.
  Mrs. Franklin, 188.

Pohick, Va., 246.

Polk, James K., 182.
  Sarah Childress, 182.

Potter, Rt. Rev. Henry C., 243.

Presidents, Deaths of, in office, 43, 176, 185, 208, 223, 230.

Presidents and Congress, 72, 89, 109.

Press, Congress and the, 94.

Prince, Frederick O., 191.

_Princeton_, Sloop-of-War, 180.


Randolph, John, 59, 64, 94, 140, 256.
  Robert B., 168.

Ream, Vinnie. (See HOXIE.)

Reed, Thomas B., 79, 103.

Religious Exercises in Congress, 77, 98.

Robinson, William E., 95.

Rock Creek Cemetery, 279.

Rogers, Randolph, 59.

Roosevelt, Edith Kermit, 116, 233, 281.
  Theodore, 52, 230, 270, 281.

Root, Elihu, 224.

Ross, Edmund G., 211.

Ross, Robert, 15.

Royall, Ann, 20, 278.


Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 279.

Saint John’s Church, 280.

Saint Paul’s Church, 279.

Sartoris, Algernon, 217.
  Nellie Grant, 212, 217.

Scott, Winfield, 39, 183, 186, 194, 236, 266, 267, 271, 273.

Secession, Progress of, movement, 27.

Senate, United States, 10, 55, 68, 71, 86, 139. (See also CONGRESS.)

Seward, William H., 31, 43, 198, 282.

Shepherd, Alexander R., 46.

Sheridan, Philip H., 267, 271.

Sherman, John, 102.
  William T., 213, 271.

Shuter’s Hill, 54.

Sickles, Daniel E., 211.

Slavery, 23, 64, 99, 186, 275. (See also EMANCIPATION.)

Smith, Capt. John, 3.
  Margaret Bayard, 141.

Smithsonian Institution, 273.

Soldiers’ Home, 84, 273.

Sprague, Kate Chase, 202.
  William, 202.

Stanton, Edwin M., 44, 200, 207, 211.

“Star-Spangled Banner,” Song, 252.

Statues of Celebrities, 266.

Stephens, Alexander H., 29, 65.

Stewart, Alexander T., 214.

Stockton, Robert F., 180.

Stranger, “The Female,” 242.

Sumner, Charles, 68, 189.

Sunderland, Rev. Dr. Byron, 99.

Supreme Court of the United States, 11, 67, 74.

Surratt, Mary E., 283.


Taft, William H., 52, 233, 270.

Taney, Roger B., 34, 277.

Tayloe, Mrs. Ogle, 170.

Tayloe House, 281.

Taylor, Zachary, 183, 195, 281.

Telegraph, Atlantic, cable, 190.
  First American, 75, 182.

Thomas, George H., 267.

Thornton, Dr. William, 16, 55, 251.

Tilden, Samuel J., 218.

Timberlake, Mrs. (See MRS. JOHN H. EATON.)
  Purser, 159, 168.
  Virginia, 179.

Tracy, Benjamin F., 228.

_Trent_ Affair, 282.

Trumbull, John, 59.

Turreau, Louis M., 127.

Tyler, John, 177, 280.


Van Buren, John, 171.
  Martin, 158, 162, 169, 176, 256, 280.

Victoria, Queen, 190.


Walter, Thomas U., 56, 63.

War of 1812, 14, 135, 270.

Ward, Artemus, 200.
  J. Q. A., 267.

Washburn, Cadwallader, 102.

Washburne, Elihu, 102.

Washington, D.C.,
  Beginnings of, 1;
  Captured by British in 1814, 15, 56, 278;
  Growth of, 45;
  In Civil War Times, 24, 26;
  Journalism in Early Days, 20, 154;
  Plan of, 5, 83, 114, 231;
  Police Force, 178;
  Removal of Government to, 7;
  Suburbs of, 235;
  Threatened by Gen. Early in 1864, 41;
  Varying Fortunes of, 21.

Washington, George, 3, 67, 74, 81, 89, 118, 235, 238, 239, 240, 243, 268.
  Martha, 118, 235, 240, 243, 249.
  Mary, 249.

Washington National Monument, 261, 270.

Watts, George F., 270.

Webster, Daniel, 68, 140, 164, 173.

Weems, Rev. Mason L., 246.

Welles, Gideon, 282.

White House, 6, 8, 17, 114, 118, 135, 147, 155,
    162, 164, 172, 178, 182, 184, 195, 197, 201, 219, 231.

Wilkes, Charles, 281.

Williams, Harriet Beall. (See BARONESS BODISCO.)

Wilmot, David, 64.

Wilson, Henry, 74, 276.
  Woodrow, 52, 73, 112, 234, 270.

Windom, William, 228.

Wirz, Henry, 279.

Women visiting Congress, 93, 141.

Wood, William P., 279.





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