tv Book Discussion on Washington Rules CSPAN March 5, 2016 4:00pm-5:31pm EST
is the nations capitol. >> he knew to take metro onto reletting night. [laughter] and he came down from saratoga springs. despite the fact that he is a new yorker i should say that no less a local source than the "washington post" saying he succeeds in showing us the human face of washington, and too often perceived as faceless, that is achievement enough. tom lewis. [applause] >> thank you very much. i'm glad that you knew -- >> microphone.
>> take the metro. i will be getting to it. i am glad that you knew to take the metro. i want you to no that i invited several people to come tonight, as my guest. and i have been in the back of the green room and have gotten frantic messages saying, we are stuck in traffic. and i said, ditch your cars, grab a metro, and get off at federal triangle. they will be coming in late, and i expect others, too, will be will be that way as well. i want to thank rebecca very much for her introduction and think the smithsonian associates for inviting me. delighted to be here, on it to be here. and i also want to thank james smithson, john quincy
adams, and joseph henry. now, you all know, but it is good to remind ourselves, james smithson gave 100 thousand pounds, which translated into $500,000 in us currency and ultimately enter 105 sacks of gold. and he said that that money should be used in america for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men. and john quincy adams, we have to thank him -- and i certainly thank him. i think he is greatly underrated as a president and as a congressperson, too. john quincy adams shepherded that money through and often
resistant and reluctant congress. john c calhoun wanted to return the money to the -- to england because it would expand the role of the federal government and the states he had to persuade congress again to take the money because it fell into the hands temporarily of president van buren secretary of the treasury. and he lost most of it in the shady arkansas bond deal , and he had to -- and now john quincy adams had to get the congress to put pressure on the treasury to restore the money, and that
unfortunately happened. we also, and i especially have to thank joseph henry as a pioneer and electromagnetism. we never touch a computer, we never push aa little button on our cell phone, never even turn on the light without being touched by one of joseph henry's discoveries and electromagnetism. and he became, of course, the 1st secretary, and he thought and made sure that everyone else you'd to his thinking that the smithsonian should be, for the benefit of men of all countries and of all times for the extension of the boundaries of fraud, and you the smithsonian out of the hands of people like stephen douglas, lincoln douglas fame who wanted to expend
all of james smithson's money on agricultural schemes and projects. and he kept it out of the hands of andrew johnson, the president, who wanted to rename the smithsonian washington university for the benefit of indigent children of the district of columbia. now, perhaps his greatest achievement in washington was surviving for 30 years from 1846 to 1878 as secretary. that is no mean feat, especially as joseph henry in the civil war was a man of decidedly southern sympathies but stayed on and served and survived in the smithsonian survived because of him. so that is my thank you's,
but i do want to also tell you why i wrote this book and what this book means, at least to me. i began writing this book as a young child. standing up, about five and six years old in the back of my father's 1946 studebaker as he drove from philadelphia to virginia and would come in on what i later realized was new york avenue into the capitol, and i would see it and be quite stunned by it and then later as a young and in your schoolchild i had a little bit of an argument with my high school teacher who told
me that washington, people could not vote. they don't vote because there are not many of them. and they don't really live there. they just go back to their states to vote? this did not sit well with me that wrangle me and bother me for many years. later in the 1980s and 1990s i did a variety of projects which brought me to washington dc, spent a great deal of time wandering the streets at night, walking
and all sorts of neighborhoods just downtown, the washington that is in everyone's minds does not live here and i came this is a city i wanted to investigate and explore more the writing and research to have the ideas reinforced to understand that there are three things that are working in my book and themes that work in my book ended washington's history. right from the very beginning. and that is washington's trouble with governance
rippled through the two centuries plus and the many ways it has merit what has gone on and i came to the conclusion this might annoy people that washington belongs to washingtonians, but it also belongs to me. belongs to every citizen of the united states, and it should end after all it is our representatives, our senators who control your destiny as washingtonians. that, of course, is
something i'll be returning to time and time again this evening. washington is our city, not just the capitol of the united states. but as i put in the subtitle of my book the history of our national city. phyllis talk about how we're going to do our job tonight. he received a sheet about them. which will tell you something about them. don't think you have been cheated. there are many other images that will come along as the evening progresses. so, without further ado let's take a look at this picture,, edward savage's
portrait of the washington family, as it is called. i actually like the title the president and his family , the full size of life which is the way it was presented in 1796 on washington's birthday at the columbia gallery in new york city. now, washington has set for edward savage beginning in 1790. and really seemed to like savage as an artist. and you might if you are historically inclined to ask why. and i think there are several things that are important in the picture despite what are some shortcomings. i've never's been quite as little eye contact in
obtaining in my life. we have to take this into account. you see that it is an extraordinarily symbolic portrait. you see washington with his time to have had on table beside his sword. and there you see him in his full military dress that he wore especially for paintings. he liked this dress for paintings. washington, by the way, i have fallen in love with george washington. and that is in some ways not easy to do. but i think he is really
important. we have fallen in love, everyone is in love with lincoln, but washington always seems a somewhat more distant figure, and indeed he shows that in his painting, but look where his right hand and arm rests on the shoulders of young george washington cusp this from a known to the family is washy. george washington, if you look down here you will see that he has a compass in his hand, and is and is resting on the globe of the world, and shortly we have gotten to see that george washington cusp this is the future of the country. country. they did not exactly work out that way for george washington. but that doesn't matter.
this is democracy coming down through washington, through george washington cusp this and spreading across the world, and on this side of course we have martha washington and young eleanor or nelly. martha washington has, of course, iran on what is so important to us to all of you as well. the map of the city of washington, and we will return to this painting again as we go forward here. as i think i wrote in my notes, it became an engraving, and edward savage
wrote about that until washington he made $10,000. that was almost cheeky of the essay. matt melbourne and going to the morning and there is george washington and his family looking down on the table where george washington and his family used to take there breakfast. it is almost like the morton salt girl going down down down. but i do think that it is a magnificent engraving, and extremely, extremely important in the history of the country. popular because this picture represented what the country was, and we have more to
talk about in that painting in a minute. they have to talk about what washington was up against. the capitol, the seat of government on the banks of the potomac. washington was given the task of siding it in the 100-mie potomac and actually was given up to as the constitution says to create federal district up to 10 miles square. he created a diamond district, if you will, diamond shaped district command you can see the tops of the diamond going up to
maryland as they do, as i'm sure your all familiar, but they went down across the potomac to alexandria. it gave him not 1 penny to carry out the job. so it was rather a trendsetting of the congress at the time to vote for something and yet not give it any money. and so washington had to contend with that, and we
will talk briefly about that. he also really had to contend with thomas jefferson on the one hand who had a vision of the city which was very different. in fact, it was not a city at all. it was a federal town, and this is it right here, this is rock creek coming in here. you see the town. jefferson's capitol will take in 20 dwelling houses for those who belong to the government then washington
did not think that way and we have to remember that washington invited someone to come up with a plan. and the planet he came up with which is the older plan done by andrew ellicott was for a city of about 750,000 people. at the time the largest city in the united states was 40,000 people in 1790. ellicott's plan is adapted. he used words like empire, american empire, words like wealth, and he used the word
which was important also. he thought not of the united states as it was, but as the united states would be. and could be. and jefferson had designed the town. because of washington not having any money to build the city he had to resort to ridiculous schemes of course that's not so ridiculous today. lottery has been very much a part of the united states
history and raising money in the united states. you'll see down at the bottom a man named daniel blodgett started. it would be a great lottery. the completely and utterly failed and cost money. had it succeeded it would have been close to $5 million he would have gained, but he actually cost the government money, but he did lower others into land schemes, and one of those was james greenleaf of greenleaf's point, a man who was one of the most remarkable scoundrels in the history of the united states , and a great deal more should be known about him.
we talked a lot about the federal government, and what i have chosen to call troubled governance, but now we have to think about something else, and you notice, i ami am sure you have known that i have left out something. and that is the slave. the slave is wearing washington which interestingly enough mirrors washes over here. and the slave has a collar that is very much like washington's as well, only it is turned up. i think the slave is actually quite important.
a gray coat and ate salmon red waistcoat. he possesses almost a princely quality. his blackcomb back here frames that dark face which is unknowable. and a prominent nose that he has. his left hand is i think somewhat enigmatically concealed in that waste wescott, and the slave remains in shadow. now, i want to say something about the slave. the slave is one who is responsible for two doctoral dissertations that have been written, people are walking around with doctorates who one of them claimed that the slave is without question billy lee, and another one
has claimed without question that it is james riley who was not one of washington slaves, but a slave who the artist captured in london where he worked on the painting. savage captured that art slave in london. i say does not matter. i think what is important about it is that the slave is so unknowable, and i think that is absolutely important. but it does point out something that is captured in this work. and that is very much a part of the structure of the united states. before moving on from this, i cannot resist telling you that the painting went after
savage sold it and his son soldsons sold it and it went from various places and ended up in new york where in 1892 the new york sun reported that it had been given a vigorous and good cleaning with soap and water and salt. somehow i don't think the national gallery was involved. we will go on to another painting which is actually quite a wonderful one which is, negro life. which was painted by eastman johnson in 1859. now, johnson was a very fine artist and i think somewhat underrated in this country, but a very fine portrait artist. and this is actually a remarkable painting. by the way, it immediately became after it immediately
became the old kentucky home. i am not sure what that was, whether it was an uncomfortable fact that people thinking about this as washington dc, and if you look at the words of stephen foster's song, is valid, they are pretty rough on the idea of slavery, too. i'm not really sort of that out. those get back to the things that are important in this. if we captured this from the rear yard of his father's house.
this was an image of a slave which was, driven across in front of the capitol of the united states that is the capitol will remember, the british had something to do with it in 1850. what you have here are the two houses, the senate and the house, the tao of the capitol has yet to be built. the dome will undergo many changes over the years. this was, and we have to understand that when johnson came here, and he came from the state of maine, by the way, or what was later the state of maine. he was born in massachusetts, but after 1850 it divided into maine.
johnson came here and was quite appalled by the idea of slavery, and the fact of the matter was that by 1840 when johnson arrived, slavery and slave trade was in full form in both washington dc and in alexandria, and most especially in alexandria. one of the reasons for the retrocession which took the bottom of the diamond away was that alexandria was one of the major slave trading emporiums in the united states. there were plenty of slaves, slave places, slave pens, as you are aware, and washington dc. the decatur house was, for a time, in the hands of a slave trader.
there was the old capital and then the old capitol prison. which was also a slave holding pen. and there were several others situated around the capitol. so, the abolitionists who were really growing in congress by this time in the 1840s and 50s for also sitting in the center of the slave trade. and it was everywhere. here is another picture. it is blown up from the one that you just saw. which shows the slaves being driven across the capitol which has its dome. this is a view of the patent office looking across backyards about 1846.
and i think it is very important to see this picture because it does show the rear of houses. we now can return to the picture itself, which i find endlessly fascinating. the painting, of course, has these wonderful vignettes going. i love this man having an interesting conversation with this mulatto woman. the fact of the color of her skin speaks volumes about what might be going on in the house next door. interestingly enough, there is a ladder up against the house. this is obviously the white gentrified house here, and across almost virtually next-door, in fact virtually next-door is the house in
just appalling repair, the child on this right here at the window, the roof about to collapse, the terrible disrepair of this particular wall, and then coming through here is the white woman coming from obviously the owners, the white owners house into the back cover into this house, and she is almost startling these people, interrupting, intruding on their space, if you will. just as,, obviously, there have been other intrusions as the color of the skin suggests of this woman suggests from the house on the right, the white owners
house into the black. i think it is an extraordinary painting in the new york historical society, i urge you. it is always up, and i urge you to go see it. it is worth studying and thinking about. we have to move on quickly to a wonderful image which is the washington monument. now, robert mills, as i think i told you, designed the washington monument in -- designed the washington monument in 1836. he won the competition for it, for doing so. but in that competition he beat out other people, and the competition, and they were people who were unhappy
about his wedding. mills at the time was running high. he had just secured the patent office, which he also designed, and he also had secured the addition to the treasury, which destroys pennsylvania avenue, and he was not so much responsible for that as perhaps the story is it was andrew jackson who put his cane into the road and said, this is where the dam building is going to be. and that is supposedly the story. well, let's take a look at what mills had created in the washington monument. it was an enormous, tall obelisk, much taller than the present one of 555. i think it went up to over 700 feet, surrounded by this
colonnade which would have inside statues of american graves. now, this is one of the stories that i think doesi think does not speak well for anybody in washington, except for one person, thank goodness. to begin with, the washington monument society, which began raising money but the scripture on the amount it would accept for no more than $1 from any person. i suspect that is not a good way to raise money. it took them until 1848 when they have the ability to at
least start the monument comeau what they did not have enough money, but they thought, if we can get the thing started. they finally did in july 1848, dolly madison was there also with alexander hamilton's widow as well, these two widows were there and linked to the pass at the ceremony. and a young congressman who did not serve long in congress, abraham lincoln happens to be there as well. and well, you probably know what happened. it got up to 155 feet, which is where you see it in this picture, and in 1854, and 1854 the washington monument started to look for stones to be sent by foreign government and i expect you
seen them, but unfortunately the pope sent a stone. that did not sit well with the know nothing party. and the know nothing party was very mentally and the catholic, and a papist, and would not have a papal stone in this building. so they broke into the lapidary them in the middle of the night, smash the stone, dumped it into the potomac, people have been dredging and looking for it ever since. but nevertheless, i think it is very important that they also kicked all the workers off. and i saidi said comeau we
are going to take over. it will be billed by americans, not by foreigners. and what happened was kind of funny. they got three courses up, and that was about it. the civil war came along. even before the civil war they slunk away. but if we stop and think about this for a moment, there is something severely wrong in the story. here we are in front of a capitol of the united states and people have taken over the washington monument. i mean,, it just boggles my mind to think that the federal government, even at that time, would allow it to happen. i think it suggests a certain fecklessness on the part of members of congress
and valley regarded the city. the monument had a troubled history. after that it became -- i think you can read that, the great beef people monument during the civil war. and that is because, of course, we had all these troops massing to go into virginia, you know, george mcclellan was forever amassing them, and what happened was they had to feed them. so there was an enormous, and enormous slaughterhouse. where are you going to put it? well, why not at the washington monument. and why not do it there. they can slaughter the animals, the blood drains
into the potomac, and everyone is happy. and so anyway, that is essentially what happened. that washington monument was nothing like an old chimney. now, after that, finally in 1876 in the spirit of fervor of patriotism, the united states congress was burdened action, and it actually voted to complete the monument, and of course they voted $200,000 for this, and as soon as congress got involved guess what happened? everybody started to attack all of mills' proposals and
came up with their own. there were many, many proposals. like this one, there were proposals for a campanile, proposals for pyramids, just a bizarre number of proposals, and fortunately at that time the administration, there was a man who was in charge of all of washington's civil engineering, and that is this man, thomas casey. you can see him here, the end of the story here. that non- osha approved project. [laughter] and he is doing very well. casey is the hero of the
washington monument. and also, another man, looking over my notes he only gets a couple of sentences in my book. but that is a man named george perkins marsh, appointed by lincoln the public or states, i should say, in 1861, and he was also brilliant classical scholar, and he went and figured out what the size of the washington monument should be, and the dimensions he figured out having studied lots of monuments should be the ten
time in the woods these are ten times the width of the base. so that made for a monument that was 555 feet. now, it is basically good, the 1st washington monument was not built in a washington monument that we know was. because unfortunately, it was already beginning to pitch a little bit. the ground underneath it was not solid. casey had, for years to work underneath the monument shorn it up. most of his great engineering feats were under ground. marsh figured out the dimensions, and casey then ripped off the three that the know nothings have built and began building. and you can see in the
washington monument. i am sure you have notice the difference in the coloration, about 155 feet up. thomas casey was a wonderful man, he was incorruptible, also a bulldog, a great ability to simply ignore congress. he decided, the monument has become a football for blacks. and it is exactly what it was. but he is the one who persevered. by december 7, 1884 it was finished. and so the monument that we see here and cherry blossom time is a picture i chose a
couple of days ago because it was so foggy here. well, that is kind of nice. i like the photograph for a lot of reasons. adjusting her camera, this artist to his sketching, another woman here who is also taking a photograph. i think it is just a marvelous little picture. so, to move on, what for woodrow wilson tell you even
more profound dislike that i have what i started. and it was not too high before. but i came to really like and fall in love with wonderful woman named alice paul who is the woman that started really putting this on the federal government wrote woman suffrage. nothing like what alice paul did. it makes me wonder about how brilliant they were. this day, march 3, 1913, woman suffrage for session will again, the day before
the inauguration of woodrow wilson. that wasn't a mistake. nobody was at the station to welcome wilson when he came in, or very few, and his car got stuck in traffic with the parade, and they had difficulty getting into the hotel where he was staying the night before the inauguration. the inauguration took place like, so, but it was not enough. but alice paul is not about the fate, that's for sure. first world war came along. and alice paul was at the ready. because women were coming to washington and extraordinary numbers, and wilson needed them as he never needed women before.
and so we have this wonderful words, forgotten their sympathy with the poor germans because they were not self governed take the beam out of they're alive. well, that was bad enough. then they decided to train themselves to the white house fence. and then they got arrested. and then they went to jail. and then they were force-fed. and alice paul slipped messages out of jail to waiting and willing and happy reporters of all the indignities that were going on in the jail, and wilson was over a barrel. and he had to capitulate. and by november 19 18 wilson
was really in retreat. and he was decent, and this is something i have to give him and his defeat. he came to support the 19th amendment. he got it passed in the house. failed in the senate by two votes. he came from europe where he was working on the so-called peace, and he implored the senators to vote, which they finally did in june of 1919. it took a little over a year before the 19th amendment to the constitution became a lot. but i want to just briefly
talk about some of the women who were brought to washington at that time. and this woman is josephine lehman right here. left me a lovely,a lovely, rich diary of all of her experiences in washington during the war, including living through the influenza , and here she is on an outing with some of her female companions, very interesting hand gestures in this photograph. and three male companions, butcompanions, but this was unheard of. by the way, the washington zoo, and i want you to know that she was very careful with men because she said
she did not wish to be known as a fast piece of furniture. so, well you all know this iconic picture. which i absolutely love. and i have to now bring back mr. wilson. we have to remember what he did. almost immediately after he became president he allowed his cabinet to put in jim crow regulations henceforth people who were advancing
black men who were advancing in the civil service were stopped. he made no appointments that had to get through the congress. he was in many ways one of the worst presidents for washington dc. i have to say he was. which makes it very odd to me. he really dislikes the city. he never mentioned the city so far as i can find. everyone mentioned the city. john adams mentioned it. dwight eisenhower mentioned it. fdr mentioned it all the time. not once woodrow wilson.
which makes a curious. he is buried in washington. i have never quite understood that. but wilson, of course, did extraordinary damage to the city of washington through his racial, allowing these racial events to occur. it was almost entirely responsible. i wrote about this in politico recently for the 1919 ryan which was the 1st race riot of the summer of 1919 which was called the red summer is it was so much blood. the blood that was flowing in cities across the south,
butsouth, but it began in washington dc. the began very close to the white house. and it ended up and extraordinary death, but all of that and it the de facto segregation remained. and by law. and herelaw. and here was washington, on the cusp in 1939 of being a world power, and at that moment in the nation's history and the capitol of the democracy, a black man or black woman could not stay in a hotel in downtown washington. they had to go out. and anderson when she came to washington for this concert that morning did not go to a hotel. she had to go to the former governor of pennsylvania's
house. before she began to sing great words, which i think i mentioned. about my country, the sweet land of liberty. and it was a very important not only for the 75,000 who were around the reflecting pool, not back up toward, not just for them, but the millions who were listening over the radio. this is something i find disturbing, even though
what was basically the farm resettlement administration that has been merged into another administration. taking photographs of american life, happy photographs for the most part. i'm about to leave, i am so frustrated. and striker said comeau what are you go down the hall and see that lady and talk with her. met ella watson at that point. and what you see is that he went to a low watson and befriended her. we will talk about this photograph next. which is, of course, american gothic washington dc. and it is an absolutely
dramatic and wonderful picture. and what you see is the downward falling stars of the flag of liberty contrasting so magnificently with the upward thrust of the broom and the mop and suggest that there is a low watson and all blacks trapped in a new form of servitude. and i want to just go back to the more intimate picture of ella watson. which is ella watson and her grandchildren, which i think is absolutely sublime. american gothic is political and brilliant. this is sublime and divided in many, many ways, such as uniquely divided image. he has is looking through a doorway and to watson's cramped kitchen, small
children in the left foreground, one right here clutching a doll. they sit at this table with their dishes, and behind them watson sets almost madonna like as she gazes with a smile upon the infant in her lap. and then behind her, behind those that cans and the jars ascend upwards to meet the refrigerator and beyond. they go to the doorjamb and through the door jam. we catch an expansive glimpse of the tree in the sky. it contradicts, expands and contradicts with this compressed interior and makes us think it is even more impressed -- compressed. ..
painting which i did not put in your pack teat that i think is quite wonderful by a great artist. cuban artist by the name of jorge perez rubio. and it's an aerial deconstruction of the american capitol, and what you see here in this great picture is wonderful energy that washington exhibits. because when i was walking around this city, seeing what was going on, looking at the various neighborhoods, studying the various documents, just absorbing the energy of the city, i found the city with remark public energy that despite the compromised governmental situation, despite the racial difficulties which
>> i'm sorry -- >> from your research everybody that you've had in the book, who would you like to have dinner with and why? [inaudible] >> all of the people i'd like to have dinner with -- hum. wouldn't mind dinner with ales lis paul i'll tell you that much. [laughter] but i, i would probably like to have dinner with james madison not no in washington, d.c. but in princeton, new jersey because washington, d.c. they are in princeton, new jersey. and just a briefly incaps late
that story in 1783, the congress of the united states was meeting in philadelphia. they didn't like southern terse didn't philadelphia that's for sure. madison had lost his body slave. billy had run away and he was captured and he had to sell him because he department want him to go back to virginia and give the other slaves any notion of what freedom was like. and -- madison was the one who was part of what happened to that day in philadelphia. and that day in philadelphia, in july, june of 1783, the pennsylvania soldiers started to rally in front of the state house that is to say independence hall for their pay.
and they weren't actually angry at the congress. they were angry at the state legislature meeting on the second floor. but they were pointing their guns in to the congress on the first floor. and the continental congress was not happy. they were scared. they got the hell out, and they went to princeton, and they met in nasa hall for a while. i would have loved to have dinner with madison at that time who was sharing a bed with a man named james jones because there were no -- lots of people shared beds at that time. but there were no accommodations in princeton, and he was hearing them in a ten by ten room which actually shrank in his letters. it was not ten by ten by later in the letters. but -- what happened was what i'd like to do is say, you know, james,
you really got to reconsider this whole proposition that you've created. you're creating this, forming in your mind. but you want to create a place for the government which is what the district of columbia is of federal district apart from the people of this democracy. and you want to do it so those people in the can convene and deliberate without pressure by anybody. no million men marches. no -- no -- no martin luther king speeches, nothing like that. we can't have that in madison's world and i would have liked to have said to madison whom i have great regard for -- we have to look forward and think what the democracy will be. it is about the d most, it is about the people. and we -- we about maybe i could have
talked him into it. [laughter] yeah, sure. [silence] >> c-span is depending on you. [laughter] >> at what point did things like the monuments being built there's always controversy when somebody fire departments to build a museum or build a monument when did that get formalized? >> really in the -- i'm going to give you a broad answer but it is really in the 20th century. people were putting up monuments
pretty -- pretty freely, but fortunately the capitol planning commission arts commission came into being at the turn of the century. really is as a result of the truncating a lot of history here. but as a result of the mack millen commission that gave us the magnificent design for where we would put the washington excuse me, the lincoln memorial. and actually gave us union station. which is -- was quite remarkable because at the time, in 1900, trains were actually going right across the mall, and there was a huge station across the mall.
so the mcmillan commission really changed that, and out of that and through the agency of williams howard taft, a lot of the arts foundation commissions were created. and so it's really at the beginning of the last century. [inaudible] >> can you talk a little bit about -- >> i'm sorry. [inaudible] all of the way down to arlington arlington -- [inaudible] that's washy. george washington cuts this who
did this. let's tell a little bit about him. george washington was a bit of a disappointment to his step grandfather. george, there's some letters that say, he's not doing so well in school. but he really as, of course, washington died without issue. those cost as children especially george washington was the one who held the mantle, took the mantle of -- of washington. and he created the mansion on the hill overlooking the city. and had i'm sure you've been there to the mansion itself you've seen slave quarters behind it, i mean, it's quite a remarkable place. it was filled with memorabilia
of washington, he then became a playwright who wrote some of the most incipient, awful words and i copy them in the book. but he married off one of his daughters to hale, and it became then and it became lee's, so in the civil war, it was taken over, and then you'll see if you read a little bit about montgomery makes that who -- he became really con o fed -- confederate and kept moving graves closer and closer to the
mansion itself it's really, the mansion has a wonderful history of its own. and i think i've done it on the lee family. thank you. >> you said that -- you said washington consisted of a ten mile square in the shape of a dime. >> yes. >> about and then [inaudible] part of it i believe in alexandria broke away. >> in the 1864. >> could you give a bit of background about that, also is it that cost in concrete because the reasons for breaking away, i understand no longer exist. [laughter]
>> how interesting that you should bring that up. this was called in 1846 retro session, and it was because of the -- as i suggested, there's some evidence at least that it's because of the great slave trade that was going on in alexandria, virginia, at the time. and if alexandria was slave, part of a slave state and not part of a district where slave commerce was becoming e illegal, then at that point, you had to -- you would be free to engage in your selling of flesh. and so that was exactly -- that was part of what the retro session was about. but the other part of your question quite intrigues me
because as a matter of fact, there have been people who have been head of the senate committee on the district of columbia who have floated the idea that there should be a new accession in a sense, return to the diamond state. i think this is not likely to happen. [laughter] [silence] >> i have two questions. the first, though, i was wondering if you can go about the naming of the city particularly to the d.c. part and perhaps maybe any
alternative names suggested and question is whether -- what you think about the fact that seems john adams is missing in a lot of memorials in the town. >> wow. well, let's think about that. first question which had had to do with the naming. is, it is basically washington, not to be washington. the congress did not designate it that way at the beginning. they designated it just as the federal seat of government that's the way it's stated it in the residents act of 1790. but what happened was washington appointed three commissioners i go into those commissioners in some it will in the book. and they decided along the way,
i think it was several years into the course of the city's creation that it should be called washington. and they declared that it would be called washington. about your question about john adams. excuse me. [inaudible] >> d.c. -- >> i apologize christopher columbus, columbia. d.c.. >>s oh, it was that was in -- that's in i believe that's in the federal act of 1790 that it would be the seat of government in the district of columbia. yeah. as simple as columbia --
columbus had a great importance to the land at that time there was a poet named joe parlo who wrote a poem columbiad about this nation soy apologize for allieding over that. the other part of your question was about john adams, and i think you're right. john adams has over o -- the years not been received very well. for several reasons to be sure. i think david's magnificent biography of adams has begun to change that. he's very important to the republic. he's very important as one of the founders of the nation, and
he was a person who by all means we should be thinking of memorializing in the city. i agree. i'd be hard pressed to disagree with that, as a matter of fact. >> you've got a -- [inaudible] >> in the d.c. area. >> a little bit might be the operative word. what i started, washington became in a way mid-way between the north and the south for the railroads as it was for the country. so the railroad, of course, shunted their trains across what is now the mall. the mall was --
had enormous tracks on it -- enormous number of tracks, they went down to maryland, down maryland avenue. they were and when -- in the cleveland administration the railroads had a very big push to make the mall that therm filling in, the mall that we walk across today has been largely reclaimed. beyond the washington monument toward the lincoln memorial. and they wanted to use that land for -- for freight yard. and it didn't work out that way. the more interesting story, i think, is about the creation of union station. in -- as part of mcmillan plan, and what happened was that the
mcmillan plan if you're not familiar with it, was a group of senator james mcmillan from michigan who was in very much involved with the district of columbia and very much appreciative of everything in the district of columbia. he really cared about this city. and one of the things he wanted it to do was so bring some design organization to it because largely by 1900 while false plans had been ignored in terrible ways, and so mcmillan ultimately got through the senate in class it can senate fashion. they weighted to the proposal and waited till they were out of
town and created the mcmillan commission. it's a -- reed in my book i do it very quickly, but in the book too. it was sort of typical congressional maneuvering and he had a very able assistant named moore who was brilliant at pulling such things off. mcmillan ultimately appointed a commission and it included bernan world fair in gardens, fred olmstead and charms mckill so you'd two of the most brilliant architects including, you had the son of the man who was the most brilliant and foremost landscape architect olmstead they went by
the same nail name and so it's easy to confuse them. or nearing the end of his life had some difficulty doing his work. but he was certainly a part of that. they went to europe, and they studied all the great cities of europe. i often thought about that while i was -- researching it, thinking my god. what tabloid would love to get ahold of this story. all of these guys going to the great capitol to europe, having a great time. well, they really studied very hard. one of the people that they met actually was -- they were all in i think, paris but bernam had to go off with a meeting with -- james kasad. the father of mary kasad was also heads of the pennsylvania
railroad and he didn't want the railroad where it was. and bernam sure didn't want it where it was. so what they arranged was for a tunnel basically to go under capitol hill to the south. and then they would build union station. so that trains would terminate there. and i think i've exhausted all my knowledge of railroads. [laughter] in washington. [inaudible] excuse me. now you've got me started. [laughter] the origin is in the constitution of the united states article one of section eight i think it's clause 17 which says that this is a part from the country.
and that's where it began. but i think you might want more it be. s that's been reenforced. i often think about that, say that in a minute. but it started, nobody knew how to govern the city. congress didn't want to govern it when they came, so they aloud for a may or your and mayor first aupon thed and a counsel was appointed, and then mayor was elected, et cetera, et cetera. and then it came up 18 -- 1871 i think, and they made the district into a territory, and therefore it had a territorial governor and it didn't have any elected officials at that point. and that's when man name haded
shepard. alexander shepherd had full reign and i don't want to get into shepard because it will take us many -- moons away from here. but anyway shepard was a man who largely rebuilt the city, very controversial. what happened after that because of some of the things he did, there were great planes of funds, in what happened after that was 1874, i believe. they decided it wouldn't have a territory. it wouldn't be allowed to have a mayor. they'd have three people who would be appointed to be run the city of washington. two would be appointed by the president but all appointed by the president. but one of the third was always
reserved for a military man. that's why thomas lincoln casey could build the washington monument and take over the construction of that. well, this is all very well. but it lasted as the city grew from oh, gosh i think it was about maybe 65,000 at that time. to well over 800,000 during the second world war, and what you had was three commissioners. they were usually of the president or often croonnies an when marion anderson first wanted to use the daughters of the american revolution hall
constitution hall. she was refused that hall didn't allow black, a black performer. then they asked -- then saw heroc who was creating the concert said what about a school? or well schools turned her down, and then they decided maybe they would allow it for just this once. and then everybody got angry, at that point harold stepped in he said what about the lincoln memorial with roosevelt approval and he was dying to do it and eleanor redispriend the dair. well there was a military commissioner but one of the commissioners had reare designed and the other was more interested in the easter seals campaign and passing out certificates to good drivers was
preposterous that was going on. this situation existed up for 100 years. from 1871 to 1771 washington didn't really have a mayor. >> i have a speculative question, if the jefferson view of the city had prevailed, how would that have change haded -- changed our history? >> well, i think i want to broaden the question if jefferson had prevailed how would that have changed our history? jefferson believed in a agrarian democracy and trusted cities that were over 20,000, in fact, that was the outer limit. and he said things like -- of