DC Quotes

This is a rough, lyin’ town. They lie like a rug all over this town — 5th generation Washingtonian

The plan of the federal city, sir, departs from every principle of freedom, as far as the distance of the two polar stars from each other; for, subjecting the inhabitants of that district to the exclusive legislation of Congress, in whose appointment they have no share or vote, is laying a foundation on which may be erected as complete a tyranny as can be found in the Eastern world. Nor do I see how this evil can possibly be prevented, without razing the foundation of this happy place, where men are to live, without labor, upon the fruit of the labors of others; this political hive, where all the drones in the society are to be collected to feed on the honey of the land. How dangerous this city may be, and what its operation on the general liberties of this country, time alone must discover; but I pray God, it may not prove to this western world what the city of Rome, enjoying a similar constitution, did to the eastern. – Thomas Tredwell, New York Ratifying Convention for US Constitution, 1788

In Washington, the first thing people tell you is what their job is. In Los Angeles you learn their star sign. In Houston you’re told how rich they are. And in New York they tell you what their rent is. – Simon Hoggart

I felt very bad in Washington. . . I didn’t like my job, and I didn’t know what was going to happen to me, and I was cold and half-hungry, so I wrote a great many poems. – Langston Hughes

This is the best city in the world to live in – in the future – Gouvemeur Morris, 1800

Here are assembled from every State in the Union, what ought to be the collected talent, intelligence, and high principles of a free and enlightened nation. Of talent and intelligence there is a very fair supply, but principle is not so much in demand; and in everything, and everywhere, by the demand the supply is regulated. – Captain Frederick Marry at, 1838

The District of Columbia is the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the people and by the people. – Frederick Douglass,1877

It is always safe – in Washington – to be civil to the respectably clad. – Bertha Herrick, 1881

The population of Washington is more like that of Paris or Vienna than of the usual American city. The people are more interested in amusement than work, and a celebration of any kind is sure m a large attendance. – Frank G. Carpenter (1882?)

[Washington] looks a sort of place where nobody has to work for his living, or, at any rate, not hard. – G. W. Stevens, 1897

The Washington Smart Set, like others I have glimpsed, is too much concerned with smartness to be interesting – Maurice Slayton, 1898

Washington is the city where the big men of little towns come to be disillusioned – Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1900

Taking it all in all and after all, negro life in Washington is a promise rather than a fulfillment. But it is worthy of note for the really excellent things which are promised – Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1900

Washington is the graveyard of reputations as well as the cradle of fame – A. Maurice Low, 1900

One could not stay a month without loving the shabby town – Henry Adams, 1907

The social side of Washington was to be taken for granted as three-fourths of existence. Politics and reform became the detail, and waltzing the profession – Henry Adams, 1907

As a colored woman I might enter Washington any night, stranger in a strange land, and walk miles without finding a place to lay my head – Mary Church Terrell, 1907

Washington, one feels in Washington, is the spoiled child of the republic. – Montgomery Schuyler, 1912

Here almost everybody works for the government, depends on somebody who works for the government, works for somebody who works for the government, or is trying to sell something-to somebody who works for the government – Edwin Rosskam, 1939

This is a town of people who spend their time sitting at desks, writing little things on pieces of paper, dictating letters into machines, talking on the telephone to people they never see. – Anonymous bureaucrat, 1943

Even if Judgment Day is well advertised in advance, I’m quite sure there will be a party going on in Washington – Vera Bloom, 1944

Bourgeois town – Leadbelly, 1959

[Washington is a] very gossipy little village of people all going to the same bars . . . all watching each other having affairs with each other – British actress Helen Mirren

There is a sort of an unwritten code in Washington, among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend. – Marion Barry

When you arrived it was snowing. When you reached the hotel it was sleeting. When you went to bed it was raining. During the night it froze hard, and the wind blew some chimneys down. When you got up in the morning it was foggy. When you finished your breakfast at ten o’clock and went out, the sunshine was brilliant, the weather balmy and delicious, and the mud and slush deep and all pervading. You will like the climate-when you get used to it. . . . Take an umbrella, an overcoat, and a fan, and so forth. – Mark Twain

Profoundly ignorant, anxious, and curious, the young man packed his modest trunk again, which had not yet time to be unpacked, and started for Washington with his family. Ten years had passed since his last visit, but very little had changed. As in 1800 and 1850, so in 1860, the same rude colony was camped in the same forest, with the same unfinished greek temples for work-rooms and sloughs for roads. The Government had an air of social instability and incompleteness that went far to support the right of secession in theory as in fact; but right or wrong, secession was likely to be easy where there was so little to secede from. The Union was a sentiment, but not much more, and in December, 1860, the sentiment about the Capitol was mostly hostile, so far as it made itself felt. John Adams was better off in Philadelphia in 1776 than his great-grandson Henry in 1860 in Washington – Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams

The bitch set me up – Mayor Marion Barry

What do you want: a Disneyland for the rich or a state for free people? – Julius Hobson

The dumbest things they ever did was to put this shit on TV so they could see how stupid we are – City Council chair John Wilson talking about city council meetings

I am. . . here amid all this huge mess of traitors, loafers, hospitals, axe-grinders, & incompetencies & officials that goes by the name of Washington. – Walt Whitman

“I don’t poke holes in my clothes for nobody” – The always well dressed City Council chair John Wilson upon being offered a campaign button

What makes a long residence in Washington so bad for one”s temper is the horrible display of vanity, especially among the men. If ever, once, in all these forty years that I have known statesmen, I had met one solitary individual who thought, even at intervals, of anyone or anything but himself, I would forgive him as a sad example of human eccentricity, and say no word against him – Henry Adams 1902

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