• The Big Chair in Anacostia (Source: Flickr user stgermh. Used via Creative Commons license.)
    Strange But True
     
     
    In one of D.C.'s more creative publicity stunts, an Anacostia furniture store built a giant dining room chair and paid a local model to live on top of it for six weeks in the summer of 1960.
  • Mary Church Terrell
     
     
    Ending segregation in Washington restaurants hinged on activism and the Supreme Court's interpretation of DC laws which had been literally lost.
  • Potomac's Past
     
     
    A spattering of stone ruins and a handful of crumbling locks are all that remain of a town conceived by none other than George Washington.
  • The Peacock Room (Source: Wikipedia, used via CC BY-SA 2.0)
    Art History
     
     
    When the Smithsonian dragged its feet, Teddy Roosevelt stepped in to secure one of the world greatest art collections for the nation.
  • Gravestone image.  (Source: Thomas Boudren, An Open Letter to the Governor and Members of the General Assembly of Connecticut, Bridgeport, Connecticut: Press of the Farmer Pub., Co., 1911)
    Medical History
     
     
    First, Howard University instructor Harry Bradford fought against vaccines. Then, he got in a fight with his employer.
After the Pearl was captured and returned to Washington, many of the slaves on board were sold to the deep South. Emily and Mary Edmonson (above) had a better fate when their freedom was purchased with funds raised by Henry Ward Beecher's Congregational Church in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo source: Wikipedia)

The Pearl Incident

1848 was a busy year for the residents of Washington, D.C. The Washington monument was under construction and Congress was hotly debating the question of slavery in the new territories.  Closer to home, most white Washingtonians favored slavery though many had objections to actual slave-trading taking place in the capital. D.C.’s large free black population, which contained a great many marriages between enslaved and free, sought freedom for those who didn’t yet posses it, and were spurred by an increasing number of abolitionists flocking to the city.

To put it mildly, Washington was a tense place in April 1848, and it was about to get even moreso. Enter the Pearl.

Jackie Robinson tied a National Negro League record by going 7 for 7 at the plate in a June 24, 1945 doubleheader against the Homestead Grays in Washington. (Photo source: Library of Congress, American Memory)

When Jackie Played Here

When you see the Jackie Robinson film, 42, it’s safe to assume there won’t be any scenes of Robinson’s Dodgers playing the Senators in Washington. That’s because it never happened, aside from maybe an exhibition game. The teams were in different leagues, so only a World Series would have had them square off. And, anyone who knows anything about baseball (or has seen Damn Yankees) knows the Senators were not exactly World Series material in the 1940s and 1950s.

But what you may not know is that Robinson actually did play in D.C. before he became a Dodger and it was a pretty big deal.

Assassin's Cranium

Lewis Powell, the would-be assassin of Secretary of State William H. Seward, was prone to goof-ups. You might even say he had the tendency to lose his head.

As you know from our previous post, Powell was one of the co-conspirators in the Lincoln assassination plot. After his bloody rampage in the Seward home, Powell was tried and hanged along with three other conspirators on July 7, 1865. That should have been the end of the story, but it took over one hundred years for Powell's tale to come to an end.

Colorized photo of Lewis Powell.

Even More Little Known Victims of the Lincoln Assassination Plot

April 14th, 1865 was a pretty bad day for a lot of people. Lincoln was assassinated, Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone had their lives torn apart, and Secretary of State William H. Seward was brutally stabbed along with most of his family and a few bystanders.

Oh, you hadn’t heard about that last one?

Booth and his co-conspirators’ plan was larger than just the assassination of Lincoln. Their plot included a number of top officials in the U.S. government whose death they hoped would bring the country to its knees. Lewis Powell, a twenty year old Confederate soldier, was chosen to assassinate the Secretary of State.

Luckily for the Sewards, Powell was probably the worst assassin in American history.

The Music Behind the Corcoran's Pump Me Up Exhibit

Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, Rare Essence, Minor Threat, SOA.

If you lived in DC in the 1980s, you probably recognize these as local Go-Go and hardcore bands. If that's the case, the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s newest exhibit, Pump Me Up, is sure to invoke nostalgia. For those who have come here more recently, the exhibit offers a rare opportunity to see how much DC has changed in the last thirty years. (You definitely get a different image of the 80s than at a Legwarmers concert at the State Theatre!) Either way, it's worth a visit.

To put it mildly, the 1980s was a tumultuous period for the District of Columbia. There was a lot going on and homegrown music was right at the center of the city's experience.

Stephen Decatur

Every Second Counts: The Decatur-Barron Duel of 1820

In the early 19th century, taking a life was as easy as taking offense. Just ask Commodore Stephen Decatur. On this day in 1820, he was killed in a duel leaving (as some claim) his spirit to wander and perhaps seek retribution from the parties that coldly arranged his death.

Decatur was born in 1779 and had a mostly praise-worthy navy career, earning “the heart of a nation” and the malice of a few whose careers he stepped over to achieve his own greatness. One of these was Commodore James Barron.

Things got ugly between the two men with the help of two others who apparently wanted a piece of Decatur, too.

The District's Claim to the Daiquiri

Though it may not really feel like it when you go outside lately, spring is almost here. It won't be long before people all over the DMV are sipping drinks by the pool. Pina coladas... mojitos... and, of course, everyone's favorite homegrown cocktail, the daiquiri.

Ummm...?

Okay, okay, the daiquiri is not truly a Washington creation -- it was first mixed in Cuba -- but it has a strong early connection to the District. So, we have some basis to claim it. Read on!

The Washington Post Gets Snarky in 1891

Around these parts it’s pretty common to have buildings named after politicians. The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the Rayburn House Office Building, the Tip O’Neill Building, the Clinton E.P.A. Building – the list goes on and on.

Well, back in the 1890s, the Washington Post felt that Rep. Joseph G. Cannon (R – Illinois) deserved a different kind of recognition for his work on the National Zoo project.

Bomb Rocks U.S. Capitol

Washington Post cartoon March 1, 1971.

In the wee hours of the morning on March 1, 1971, a disturbing phone call came in to the Senate telephone switchboard. A man “with a hard low voice” told the operator that the U.S. Capitol would blow up in 30 minutes.

In the past, operators had fielded similar threatening calls from time to time, but all of them had turned out to be false alarms or pranks. This one, however, would be different.

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