tv The Civil War CSPAN April 4, 2015 3:13am-4:24am EDT
how the location was chosen and the figures that shaped creation including story of the plan presented to president george washington in 1791. this session from the smithsonian associates and historical society of washington, d.c. is about an hour. i don't have any visuals and i can claim that that is because i don't know how to do it but the truth is i never know what i'm going to say and how i'm going to say it until i get here. so i hope you will forgive me for the lack of visuals. my title is dreams nightmares and neglect. and i'm going to start earlier than 1783. i'm going to start with the beginning of european exploration, the early part of the 17th century. so it's going to be an almost
200-year dream. and but it will go fast because i'm going to concentrate on what happened once the dream was realized. in 1607 john smith entered the seven-mile wide mouth of the potomac river and headed north. whether he got this far north we are actually not certain but the people living here called the place petomek. it translates as a place to which something is brought, a trading place, a place to which tribute is brought. it was a beautiful area in which the tide water from the ocean stopped. the river narrowed and as you know north of georgetown it's
very different river. but here where georgetown was to rise there was a huge tidal marsh. and this is the origin of the swamp myth. washington, d.c. was not built in the swamp. it is an insult to george washington to think that he would locate the capital of the united states in the swamp. it's a very well drained area of ancient potomac river terraces. think of the cathedrals coming down the columbia road where the river sat for many years down to dupont circle to the area of the white house where it sits now. if there was a torrential rain storm in the 18th or 19th century logs and dead cattle would flow down the creeks.
in the 17th century the family proprietors of maryland begun to provide speculative land grants in the area. so there were places here, plantations, if you will, although they were not settled at the time named rome, new troy widow's might, all of those were encompassed in what became the federal city. settlement took place at the end of the 17th century and through the 18th century so that by 1749 when georgetown was founded and soon became the largest tobacco exporting port in maryland there were many plantations tobacco
plantations. in fact, by the 1770s the land had pretty much been exhausted from the tobacco. the slave economy very prominent catholic community. it was the root of the ferry that crossed from virginia to georgetown and on up to ballmer and philadelphia, new york. the revolutionary war was not fought here. it was fought elsewhere in the united states. the revolutionary war lasted 7 1/2 years but the revolution was much longer. because i'm sure that most of you are americans you know very little about the revolution. that's because we deny that we had one. it was actually a 30-to-40-year
event. the location of the capital is very much a metaphor for what happened constitutionally during that revolution as i will point out. more property was appropriated, taken by the state in the united states during that revolution and more people fled than fled france during the french revolution. this was like all revolutions pretty much a minority event probably a third people john adams estimated supported it. it had an ideology republicanism. the belief that a people were capable of governing themselves and that they didn't need a king or some strong executive figure. secondly, there was something called the westward course of
empire. there was a belief in the 18th century that empire, the concept, had a life of its own and that since the time of the fertile crescent in egypt it had been progressively traveling westward greece, rome in the 18th century. there was a competition between england, france and spain over which would be the great new empire and which empire which country would control the new world. americans thought that americans shouldn't control it. and american revolutionaries were very familiar with the concept and in fact they thought continentally most of them, many of them rather the pacific was going to be part of the united
states. we were going to go across the continent in time. 1783 the war came to an end. and suddenly there were 13 of england's 32 colonies that were no longer british. the people had strong prejudices against people in other colonies. indeed governor morris who drafted the united states constitution and owned the south bronx, his father's will provided any amount of money necessary to educate anywhere in the world except for the colony of connecticut where the people hide behind god but really are abrisionest criminals. he didn't use the word
criminals. if there was that kind of prejudice between the bronx and connecticut you can imagine the attitude new englanders had towards southerners and southerners had towards new england. what held united states together after 1783? it is very fragile believe me. a national debt $25 million. a common language. and the pride in having defeated the strongest military and especially naval power in the world. well we're going to govern this country. we had a constitution. it was called the articles of confederation. it made the states supreme over the federal government. it was ratified in 1781.
it granted the united states of america power over foreign affairs, war and a post office. that was it. if congress wanted money which it needed it had to recwisition it from the states. so every year congress would adopt a budget and tell each state how much their share would be. often the money never arrived. so congress had no power over commerce, no power of revenue. no taxation and certainly no power to create, as it would later, a 100-square mile federal territory over which the united states congress had exclusive jurisdiction. in 1783 congress consisted of
the 13 states each delegation can have as many members up to seven as it could pay for but only one vote. it took seven votes to do anything and nine votes to do anything that cost money. consequently didn't get too much done. so immediately there were attempts to amend it, to strengthen it and give congress the power to have a tariff impost duty. like all revolutions when the articles of confederation were first written everybody's on the same side of things. and so they put in a provision in the articles that in order to amend the articles it took the unanimous vote of all 13 states. never happened. very quickly the patriot party divided into two camps, those who believed in strong states and the dominance of the states
and those who increasingly saw the necessity of a stronger federal union if indeed the united states was going to survive. in early june 1783 while it was sitting in philadelphia where congress had sat since 1774 except on two occasions when it fled to baltimore and then to lancaster and york in order to avoid the british army, on june 4 congress invited the states to submit proposals for a place within their boundaries that might be the seat of federal government. the offers came very quickly. there is going to be eventually more than 50 places between new
port news and norfolk virginia that were either mentioned in the newspapers as possibilities or actually offered by state governments. the offers that came in in the summer of 1783 were very limited in size and jurisdiction. one mile square over which congress would have limited jurisdiction. but with places like princeton and new bruns wick and newark and indianapolis each offer tried to top the previous offer so that by the end of the summer they were talking about 36 square miles. congress was not in philadelphia when the decision was made. congress informed the states in june please make your offers. we are going to make a decision
the first week of october. congress was not in philadelphia because of an event probably the most destructive event in washington, d.c. history. on the 21st of june a saturday soldiers of the continental army bearing their arms marched on what we call independence hall, the pennsylvania state house where the assembly of pennsylvania met, the supreme executive council of pennsylvania. and to give you an idea of the relative unimportance of congress of the united states met in the pennsylvania state house. but the soldiers were not stupid. what they wanted was to demand their back pay and various other promises that had been made to them but they knew that congress had no revenue. there was no point in confronting congress.
it was the states that had the revenue so they chose a saturday because congress never met on a saturday but the executive council of pennsylvania did. they surrounded the state house and alexander hamilton who was chairman of the congressional committee to deal with this mutiny that had been going on now for five days got the president of congress to call a special session and the congress went into the building because hamilton and congress wanted it to appear that this was a demonstration against the united states of america. this was the horror of republics, military rising against civilian control. and that the appeal to the american people seeing this would come to the defense of congress. so congress, even though it did not get a quarm, congress was
not surrounded by these troops, sent a representative up and asked the president or governor if you will of pennsylvania the great john dickenson to call up the philadelphia militia to drive the continental soldiers away from the building. dickenson looked at the congressman who had come up and said are you nuts? do you think that militia of philadelphia is going to take up arms against the men that won independence? that's not going to happen. nobody has been harmed. this is just a political demonstration. and indeed congress left the building in a huff. the soldiers went back to their barics. that night congress held an emergency session in which there
was a quaremand voted that since pennsylvania did not defend congress of the united states the congress of the united states was going to move. and it was going to move to princeton, new jersey, little village of princeton. and that's exactly what it did. since -- well, what happened was very quickly there was op-ed pieces in the newspapers saying well, this should never happen again. what congress needs is an exclusive jurisdiction some territory where the federal government is supreme and controls everything. this idea had been talked about privately by members of congress for some three or four years but it was so threatening to the constitutional basis of the republic in which the states
were supreme that it was never brought out publically until after the demonstration when the idea came out of the closet and came to the floor of congress another one of these amendments to the constitution and to the articles of confederation that allow congress to have a small territory over which it had exclusive jurisdiction. it was laughed off the floor of congress because states controlled congress. since it would then, of course, in 1787 that committee report was taken out of the files of the papers of the continental congress and written into the united states constitution only it was no one mile or three mile. it was a federal territory of up to 100 square miles over which congress would have exclusive
jurisdiction. term capital was not used because capital was like really threatening. only certain states had capitals, of course. richmond was a capital philadelphia was a capital. boston was a capital. many states didn't. annapolis was another capital. what they had was the state government that sat in one city or one town and rotated around the state. the term seat of federal government or seat of government is a term in the united states constitution and as our next speaker will point out united states, people in the united states did not refer to this place as the capital of the united states until the 1870s
except for a very few people. not george washington who would not use the word because he so careful about doing things constitutionally but certainly the american peter lanfant who designed washington, d.c. i'm highly offended to hear the word pierre. this man was an american french born, of course. but like italian-born and irish born they are americans. african born, they are americans. he was an american citizen. the pierre nonsense was created by the american institute of architects in the late 19th century in order to claim that our capital was not designed by some mere american slob but by a
frenchman and a parisean. he was trying desperately to find french men who had been involved in the creation of the country so that he can have a second to hold up against the prussians who were arguing that was more important than lafayette. the prussians and the french -- now the prussians are the germans by 1900. everybody in the diplomatic world knew that there was going to be a war. and the duty as ambassador to the united states was to create a french hero in the minds of the americans so that this dramatic nation would go to war on the side of france and not germany. and that is where the pierre
nonsense comes from. and it was absolutely -- i mean in my book on the creation of washington, d.c. i call him pierre. i didn't know any better. americans didn't know any better until one day i discovered the little land warrant that he had for his lot in washington, d.c. and in his own handwriting peter. he is not ever called pierre. he is pete charles. he refers to himself as major and now i'm way way, way ahead of my story. let me back up a bit. we're approaching october 1783. the vote is held. where to locate this seat of government this federal town. each state has one vote and they called the roll how many states
want it to be in new hampshire? how many states massachusetts? and then all the way down through georgia. the state that won was, of course, new jersey. could have been pennsylvania but it happened to be new jersey. new jersey got the seven votes. somewhere near trenton new jersey. committee is appointed to view the delaware river and choose actually. they could have chosen the pennsylvania side for a small federal town. this was very, very upsetting to the southerners. they very much wanted the seat of government to have a southern atmosphere. of course, it wasn't mentioned exactly why, but, of course, everybody knew the issue was slavery. if you have a southern town as
the seat of government it's going to have a southern atmosphere. southern office holders southern biassed newspapers et cetera. arthur lee from virginia saw the great musical 1776 best thing ever written on the revolution or coming of the declaration at least. here a lee there a lee, everywhere a leelee. arthur was in congress and had been part of what we call the lee-adams. the lees of virginia and adams of massachusetts suffolk county, boston. the radical seat of the revolution. these people had led the revolution thousands of americans had died in the revolutionary war. as i said many many had fled
the country. but here we have for the first time the south saying we are not going to remain in a union which locates its seat of government so far to the north as trenton, new jersey when everybody knows and it's a very lucky fact for our friend george washington the exact north/south center of the united states in 1783 was arlington house in arlington cemetery. and i recently saw a wonderful print bird's eye view of the city of washington in the 1830s from arlington house, very unusual. most bird's eye views are from the capital. and you can see that vast expanse of tidal marsh south of
georgetown which as i said gave rise to the swamp myth. well lee went to his friend who was part of the adams part of the lee-adams and said we have to find the solution. we have to hold the union together. after all the sacrifice that was made. we are just not going to tolerate a seat of government so far to the north as trenton. and they came up with a wonderful compromise called the dual residence. congress is going to have a residence. these terms are not really in the dialogue. it's simply residence for the federal government. a dual residence. they would have six months in the trenton area on the delaware and six months on the potomac in
georgetown, maryland. this is government that had no source of revenue sometimes couldn't pay the interest on its debts, certainly couldn't pay all the claims of americans from the war itself. it's now going to build two federal towns. philadelphiaens were outraged. philadelphia in the 18th century and perhaps in the 21st philadelphiaens viewed themselves as the only thing between philadelphia and heaven was london. and how in the world could congress have thea odd asity to by pass philadelphia and go to the potomac. francis hopkins, a signer of the
declaration of independence wrote a wonderful op-ed piece saying congress, you're such a wise body. in august you voted and even voted to appropriate money which you didn't have to build an equestrian statue of george washington at the seat of government. that was the term used. and now a month ago in october -- this was written in november of '83. you decided to have two seats of government but only one equestrian horse. what can you do? hopkins said obviously you build it on wheels. twice a year you drag the horse. why don't you make the horse large enough so that you can put the members of congress in the horse thus saving the taxpayers
their transportation costs. and because you are such a wise body and so important you must have very important papers. so let's build a little closet for the archives of the united states in the horse's rectum. just to let you know these were rather earthy people. well, it never happened. no horse although the statue does appear on the plan in 1791 and we have the equestrian statue off the campus of george washington university. it didn't occur because congress actually did start. it moved from princeton because part of the compromise was two federal towns but two temporary
residences. every time this issue comes up, of course, there is major fights over where it is going to be. it was resolved that the southern seat of government would be annapolis which new englanders thought was just fine because a lot of republicans, a lot of extreme republicans who believed in various theories that went beyond self-government including the vices of commerce and luxury and banking and stock exchanges and things like that, aka, capitalism. they were delighted to go to annapolis because they said that -- people who lived there cared nothing about anything except pleasure. and they are not going to interfere with congress whereas in philadelphia the quakers were constantly petitioning for this or that.
congress sat in annapolis over the winter of 1783-'84 ratified the treaty of paris sent thomas jefferson to france and accepted the resignation of george washington as commander in chief, one of the most important events in american history. the military turning over its commission to the civilian body and probably and the president of which was probably washington's most bitter military and political enemy. it adjourned in the summer of 1784 reconvened temporarily at trenton at which point congress said, look the europeans are making fun of us, back and forth, back and forth. we need a permanent temporary
seat until we choose a permanent permanent seat. and we need to be in a city where we can have access to money and various other things like accommodations. and so congress agreed in december of 1784 to abandon the dual residence and to have one single place of residence and it was going to be new york city. and it was going to stay in new york until it made up its mind. let me picture new york for you as it was five years later. four years later in 1789 where here a lee, there a lee this time richard henry, the man that proposed the resolution for independence originally in 1786 is senator from virginia hated new york city. and he wrote a letter to his wife. some of the things i will say
aren't in that letter but in other letters at the same time. lee hated new york city because of what? crime, pollution traffic. the traffic was, of course, the water. there was no water system so all of the water was brought into the city in carts and barrels. the pollution was in large part the result of the horses pulling the wagons and there was horse manure everywhere. but he found a solution. as he wrote his wife he said i found a room in a farmhouse in a wonderful village a mile and a half north of the city. it's called greenwich. a mile north of new york city. well that resolution in december 1784 to move to new
york city also contained the creation of a three man committee to oversee the building of one federal town on the delaware in trenton on either side of the river. seven states were willing as they had been a year earlier to vote that way but it's going to take nine to appropriate the money. george w has on paper about the location of the seat of government was that when he wrote to congressman grayson from virginia and 8qid i don't have to be someone who sees into the future to know that that location will never satisfy the united states of america. grayson led the fight in
congress to block appropriations. it only took nine votes. they only had seven. money was never appropriated. this federal town on the delaware was not built. the issue kind of goes to sleep until 1787 when the new constitution is written. believe me, it was a counter revolution led by washington, hamilton, madison and a lot of other people who had been very strong patriots but who were part of the ring of the patriot movement that supported a strong federal or central government. they overturned the articles of confederation illegally. convention was supposed to amend the article. instead it wrote a new constitution which we call the constitution of the united states. it made the federal government
supreme over the states and delegated federal power delegated powers to the federal government like interstate commerce revenue and then something that said that congress could also do whatever was necessary and proper to do to accomplish those powers that were explicitly delegated. the constitution was ratified. it's very close. first state to ratify was delaware. patrick henry, virginia mocked the delaware ratification convention. it sat for a day and a half i think and it spent all its time writing and adopting an offer of 100 square miles to the federal government for the location of its seat of government as the constitution specified. now, this is rather large part
of the state of delaware. pennsylvania followed suit several days later with ratification and an offer of 100 square miles anywhere in the state of pennsylvania except for philadelphia which was its only port. now, we would be perfectly fine for congress according to the pennsylvania ratification convention to choose german town which was now basically central philadelphia philadelphia. i've had the cold. other states ratified by june 1788 nine states had ratified
because constitution writers and founders drafters of the constitution provided that it didn't take uninimity to ratify in three-fourths of the states. so it was ratified. congress started debating when the new government would meet when the president would be elected and so we have our third major debate between supporters of philadelphia which was perfectly fine for a temporary residence and new york city. finally, the philadelphiaens gave up because it was clear that there wasn't going to be a decision. there had been this long fight over ratification and here this issue of first federal congress is going to meet was threatening
the implementation of the constitution. so the philadelphians gave up. the ordinance wouldn't say congress was going to meet in new york. it simply said at the present location. congress met in march of 1789. the philadelphians wanted to bring forth a resolution saying move. congress is going to move to philadelphia. madisons talked the emout of it and promised that in september or at the end of the session which proved to be september 1789 they would debate the issue. and so in september of 1789 congress begins to debate where it would locate its 100-square mile seat of federal government.
the sumners wanting it badly went to the pennsylvanians with eight representatives in the house and made a deal. we are going to locate temporarily in philadelphia and then after 10 or 15 years we will move to the potomac river where we will have built a federal city. not a town. the new englanders said to the pennsylvanians you're crazy. you're the central state. let's make a deal. let's stay in new york temporarily and permanently locate in pennsylvania. okay said the pennsylvanians. and the house of representatives passed a bill to locate the seat
of federal government approximately three mile island, a place called columbia pennsylvania which had previously been merely wright's ferry but changed the name to columbia in hopes of enticing congress. the bill went to the senate led by robert morris of philadelphia. the senate amended the bill crossing out and saying it would be a german town, pennsylvania. bill came back to the house. the new englanders and the pennsylvanians were willing to go along with that. the pennsylvanians going to be pretty upset at the result. madison tries to argue constitutionally that this bill was different, couldn't have it at the end of the session. we need to discuss it. new englanders and
pennsylvanians said no no vote, vote. madison said there is one problem. there is no provision for who has jurisdiction over this 100-square mile area in the bill. the fact is the federal government is not ready to assume exclusive jurisdiction. we need to amend the bill to include the provision that laws of pennsylvania will remain in effect. goes back to the senate. madison goes to the new york senators over the weekend and says guys, vote against the bill. that will kill it. and congress will remain in new york. that's what happened. second session there is a move to bring the bill back off the table. instead congress adopts a rule that will be in effect for at least half a century. all business begins anew.
each session. so all spring what congress is doing is basically debating alexander hamilton's proposal to make capitalism the form of economic normalization in the united states. a funded debt with provision that the federal government could not pay off its debt no more than 2% a year because he recognized that a funded debt in which federal government paid the interest was a bond that held the wealthy classes of the country in support of the federal government in fact, everything he wanted passed except for one thing which was to assume into the federal debt all the -- most of the revolutionary war debts of the state. southerners didn't like that. they basically paid off their
debt. secondly, that was not true of south carolina. secondly who held all of the debt certificates? not southerners. they were owned by new yorkers and pennsylvanians. that part of the united states the attitude against capitalism was not as strong as in the a agrarian south. hamilton needed to get assumption. he was going to resign if he didn't get assumption. he ran into thomas jefferson one day on broad street outside of president washington's home and jefferson was just passing by. i suppose hamilton had been there hours waiting for it to happen. he was disheveled which was unlike such a strong lady's man. the myth is and it is not true but has to be told anyway that at valley forge martha
washington named her tomcat hamilton. jefferson was rather shocked at the way hamilton looked. hamilton said i'm going to resign if i can't get the assumption of state debt. you are part of the administration. i need your support. the president supports it. i don't know very much about money, which is true. he died in great debt. but my friend james madison who is your strongest opponent in congress does. i propose you come to dinner tomorrow and we'll try to work something out. and so the next day jefferson's enslaved half brother cooked a wonderful french meal for the three men, madison, hamilton and jefferson and the compromise was worked out.
all spring january february march, april may. we are now at late june 1790 behind the scenes negotiations trying to restore as they did the pennsylvania and virginia southern agreement for temporary philadelphia permanent. and madison said to hamilton, well, of course, i can't change my position on assumptions since i'm the leader of the opposition. i can tone the rhetoric down. and i can find you the votes that you need. you only need three. if before i do that the president of the united states signs into law an act locating federal government on the potomac river. hamilton went to the new englanders and said the only way we can get assumption is to go to the potomac river.
don't interfere with the bargain that the pennsylvanians and virginians have made. and they didn't. and so hamilton facilitated the compromise of 1790, the residence act provided for up to 100-square mile seat of federal government on the potomac river anywhere between what we call the an costia river and concujig creek which is up the river about 80 miles. and washington was given the authority to appoint the first presidential commission in american history needing no senate confirmation necessary in order to locate the seat of government and build it so that it could be ready in 1800 when
congress, the federal government was going to move to the potomac. washington appointed his son-in-law, one of the maryland congressman who had switched his vote on assumption. who switched their votes? the alexandria, virginia congressman and georgetown congressman probably with assurances that seat of government was not going to be located near hagueers town. washington new specifically where he wanted it. he himself didn't trust them enough. he made the decision himself. he made a token trip up to haguers town to look at the various sites but knew exactly where he wanted it. he proposed that congress locate it where it is today but had to be north so washington asked congress to pass a special supplemental act to allow him to
include that portion of washington, d.c. that we know as anna costia and that portion of virginia that we know as alexandria virginia, washington's hometown. and congress would do that after playing some hard ball with the president for the first time in american political history forcing him to sign the bank act creating a bank. and so at last the dream was realized. there is going to be a seat of federal government. but immediately the nightmare begins. commissioners couldn't get along with the engineers and artists. his plan was brilliant. 6,000 acres larger than london, larger than paris, immense city.
but he quit because the commissioners didn't support the plan. they didn't support him. washington did not fire him. washington begging him not to resign. washington said these people this is a familiar story of the politicians who oversee what the artists are doing. they control the money and the time table, if you will. provisions like all buildings have to be brick so they were built kwixly. the capitol building itself, which was to be two wings, a house wing and the senate wing in the middle was downsized.
it was all that was available which was not the senate wing we have today, but the area between the senate wing and the rotunda in which the library of congress was housed. washington retired in 1797. his preeminent big ra fer said if he had nothing else to do but oversee the building, he couldn't have committed more time to it. total micromanager. when he leaves, he keeps an eagle eye on john adams to make sure he's doing the right thing.
commissioners all write to washington. it's the second election of thomas jefferson. a strong supporter of the potomac location whose plan was to have the seat, the federal city, within the 100 square miles be located on approximately the george washington university campus on 17th street between 23rd street between what became constitution avenue and virginia avenue. it was to be merely a seat of government. not a capitol.
the capitol of the future greatest empire in the world. no, jeff herb son said. just the political city. no appropriations. washington, d.c. is controlled as a colony by congress of the united states and congress does nothing for the city of washington unless the president takes leadership. washington, adams, jefferson. jackson is actually a supporter of doing something the great hero is going to be grant. only presidential leadership. of course, jefferson provided
leadership plans in the trash. and that's the way it's going to stay until grant. we only agreed to come here. we didn't agree that we couldn't leave. in 1804, 1805, attempts by congress were made to leave. to go to philadelphia or baltimore or back to nnl nj. new jersey. they all failed but then, in 1814, the new englanders were handed a wonderful gift by an englishman named robert ross who burned most of the federal building. one of the most important events in washington history.
i say thank you, general ross. never again until the end of the civil war was there ever a bill introduced into congress to move the seat of the federal government. it's talked about sometimes in the press. the reason it didn't is because what i can only call the 9/11 effect of the burning of washington. there was an immediate up welling of support.
congress however, was increasingly urn control of members who did not support slavery, particularly not in slave trade, foreign slave trade was at the sfoot of capitol hill. which included the largest slave trading city in the south, alex alexandria. so after 50 years of almost trying, the virginians succeeded in getting out of the district of columbia. the georgetown people are still
trying. 37 square miles retroceded to virginia in 1846. i will tell one other story before i stop and turn things over to questions. as i say, this design was by a great foreign french american. and i wrote a very short big ra fill, very well illustrated. it's for sale for ten bucks. well worth it. as a benefit for the first federal congress project. and there are leaflets out there that tell you how you can get a copy if you're interested.
in h the man that he had been living with sued him and produced all the evidence whereas he said you don't need to keep paper. he's eventually taken in by digs, dudly digs, at warburton, that we know is at ft. washington where he resides for many, many years. when he dies when digs dies the land is inherited by his niece who is the daughter of one of the original federal city commissioners. and she hated lamfant and drove him off the land.
he went to live with digs' nephew, essentially in blatansburg. it was built into one of his circles in the plan of the city. george washington fully supported lamfant. and you can steel the letter washington wrote to daniel carol in an exhibit that's opening at george washington university in march, at the new albert small museum at the new university museum two exhibits from small's collection.
unmarked grave, which when the aia got involved, they were able to find the exact skeleton which they took out of the graveyard. i questioned whether or not the bones that are there are peter lamfant's. i have attempted and now that i'm going to retire, people say what are you going to do? well i'm going to try to find out whether that grave holds the
bones of an enslaved african american. thank you very much. >> if lafant quit and the commissioners are still there, whose plan is washington built around? >> lafant's plan was laid out in the 1790s. that is the big, wide streets not in order to be able to march armies to control the people. people say to me did lamfant design washington, d.c. after paris? no the question is was paris
designed after lamfant's plan. probably not. when the aia got this thing going when the republican party started appropriateing money to build washington, d.c. all the great photojournal magazines in the united states and the 1870s started publishing these fabulous photographic essays about the new washington one of those journalists said this is a planned city. so he started exploring. what did he find? he found lamfant's papers.
washington fired as commander in chief during the war. he was not the only one but what happened is that the generous -- the children the first generation of the founding generation, when they would see these terrible things that their parents, their fathers, wrote about george washington in their papers, they would burn the letters. on a donkey being led by david humphries. and people are casting palm leaves and the caption reads and
the day shall pass. there were a lot of people like washington. no copies have survived. we only have the descriptions. in fact, i bhooefelieve that the last known copy was destroyed by a historian. >> i heard that washington was upset with the plan. >> i don't want to use four letter words, but total nonsense. washington wanted to have a
federal city adjacent to georgetown. or south capitol street. is so the idea of having existence on the town but concern vinced it was lanfant who convinced washington that he need it had whole 6,000 acres. thefuls the idea of the other g.w. who dreamed of the idea of this federal city. where exactly it was to be located, how it was to be financed. everything south of florida avenue. it's the only nonlinear diagonal
street in the old federal city. that was lamfant's idea that he convinced washington. washington, if you will, step son-in-law, commissioner rights to washington and says the presidential area, the place that the president, the white house has been at work, presidential mansion as it was called, at the time, is going to be located: it's too big. washington voted back and always supported lamfant's vision. always. even after lamfant quit. even after he was president. incidentally, it was known as the white house because that's the way it was painted. it was known that at least by 1804 and does not because of the burning of washington in 1814. >> since we're only up to 1850 and i want to try to stay on
time today since a few people came in late and didn't get a chance to hear who you are would you just remind people who you are? >> i'm kenneth wowing. bowling. i'm the co-editor of the first federal congress at george washington university and an adjunct professor of history there, the author of several articles in washington history magazine and two books which goes into all of this in much greater detail. and the big ra fill of lamfant, peter charles lamfant, which as i say, is availing for anybody who wishes to learn more about this brilliant, creative inc. >> thank you so much. [ applause ] >> we need to]g> take a break and
>> thank you for being here. it's a pleasure. thank you for the smithsonian and, in particular, and, of course, even the david logan foundation for underwriting the series, the making of the federal series. part of this series as rebecca mentioned, you have a chance to encounter that history through the eyes of historian don hawkins and pamela scott. all of those people are instrumental in my own research. i'm friends with all of