23 Jan 2023

History:

Lost Capitol Hill: Read these!

I promised last week to post links to some of the articles I have written over the years that I believe deserve more eyeballs than they got. Why they did not originally gain as much attention, I have no idea. And it may well be that there is a grave divide between what I believe is interesting, and what others do. With that caveat aside, let us dive in.

Bread baking in the Capitol as shown in Frank Leslie’s Newspaper (LOC)

I am always intrigued by strange goings-on in the Capitol, whether it is newlyweds being observed by authors or misbehaving or watching others misbehave. Sometimes, it is the current circumstances that drive surprising changes in the Capitol, like when the basement was used to bake large quantities of bread during the Civil War. Read all about that here.
Thaddeus Stevens addresses the House during the impeachment of Andrew Johnson (LOC)

While I have spent much time writing about memorials across the Hill, and even further afield when I could find some tenuous connection to our neighborhood, there is one type I wish that we would have more of: Memorial trees. To me, they are a great idea. If, when the tree dies 50 or 100 years later and you still feel that this person should be memorialized, go ahead. If nobody cares? Well, then maybe that person’s time has gone. A great example of this is the Thaddeus Stevens tree that graced the Capitol grounds and Lincoln Park for many years. When it finally went the way of all things, there was no great public outcry to re-erect a monument to him. Well, except maybe Tommy Lee Jones’s portrayal of him in the movie Lincoln.
Detail from advertisement for Gates’s establishment (LOC)

Sometimes, I think that the lack of interest is truly just because the subject was only of interest to me. So, for instance, I was extremely intrigued to learn that there had, at one time, been a whole row of bars (and other establishments) on 11th Street SE. As a resident of this fine road, one that has very few commercial buildings along it at this point, this interested me greatly. It looks as if my readers did not agree. Nonetheless, I’m giving you another chance to learn about these places.
Representatives White (l) and Rathbun (r) (LOC and Wikipedia)

I wrote a whole book about bad behavior on Capitol Hill (much of it taken up with incidents in the Capitol itself) but there were always going to be occurrences I would not have room for. Such incidents as the one where two Representatives actually came to blows (so, not the more recent situation []) No, this was – unsurprisingly – in the runup to the Civil War. Make sure you also read about the incident’s tragic aftermath.
The USS Monitor (NHHC)

And, finally for today (I will pick out five more posts for next week) I want to have you read a piece on the USS Monitor. No, not about its time at the Navy Yard or how badly people behaved when allowed on board but a model of it, which was brought along on the parade in honor of Lincoln’s second inauguration – in spite of the fact that the original had sunk over two years earlier. Sadly, no images of this part of the day’s festivities remain, but here’s how it was reported back then.


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