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Sex and crime in DC


This page provides readers access to examples of the capital confluence of the promiscuous, prohibited, perplexing and political. This is nothing new. For example, during the Civil War there were 450 brothels in DC. Neither, however, is it insignificant. Part of the mythology of Washington is what might be called the Jim Lehrer Illusion, which is to say that all people in the capital do is sit around and rationally debate policy alternatives. In fact, Washington politics is also heavily driven by cowardice, blackmail, deceit, fear, loyalty to old buddies and even older bodies, cooptation, corruption, sex, and just plain crime. Journalists who pretend otherwise either don’t understand what is going on or are covering for someone.

The public often misunderstands the importance of Washington scandals, assuming them to be a simple dalliance, individual failing, or private offense. What makes both sex and crime in DC different, at least when those in power are involved, is that there is far more opportunity for blackmail and far more skill at covering things up.

The blackmail may be used by members of one branch of government against those of another, by lobbyists against members of Congress, by the police against whomever they wish, and by foreign powers. For example, one way to keep a congress member bought is for a lobbyist to provide him with high class prostitutes. And it is noteworthy that both the Israelis and Boris Yeltsin apparently knew about Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky before the American public did. The city’s ecology lends particular importance to gay sex simply because greater public antipathy makes it an even easier target for the blackmailer, witness the case a few years back when DC police officers were found to be running an extortion racket against those who visited gay bars.

Finally, the exposure of impropriety almost inevitably raises the issue of hypocrisy since the participating official often has inveighed against the discovered offense or attempted to ban, punish, or otherwise suppress the revealed practice. One of the more ironic examples was when, during the 1960s, a white southern senator was caught with a black prostitute. Said a civil rights leader, “Oh he’s just one of those sunup to sundown segregationists.” Washington is full of sunup to sundown moralists.

The ability to cover up scandal or crime is also much greater in Washington. This may be accomplished by relying on the social club rules of the federal city, through the aid of acquiescent journalists, by official spin or censorship, or by resort to the capital’s various law enforcement agencies, each one beholden for budget and top appointments to some federal department. For example, both the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney(who handles all DC crimes) are appointed by the president. The FBI, DEA, ATF, National Park police, the Secret Service, not to mention the Aqueduct, Zoo, and Metro police, all work for the president. And the Metropolitan Police Department is under the thumb of Congress, which approves its budget and exercises behind-the-scenes authority.

In short, there is far more politically related sex and crime in Washington then is generally reported, it is less competently investigated than is generally thought, and it is far easier to cover up than is generally appreciated.


RELIABLE SOURCE, WASH POST New stop on D.C.’s sex scandal tour: Room 871 at the Mayflower. The 83-year-old hotel has a long and storied history of fat-cat partying and other Washington excesses, but it never made headlines for horizontal high jinks until “Client 9” . . . There hasn’t been this much excitement since 1999, when Monica Lewinsky fought her way through throngs to (appropriately enough) the presidential suite, where she recounted her affair with Bill Clinton to congressional impeachment managers. The Mayflower was also Judith Campbell Exner’s home away from home when she trysted with John F. Kennedy at the White House. And yes, history buffs, it was the hotel’s Town & Country lounge where FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover lunched daily for 20 years alongside his live-in aide, Clyde Tolson.

The Mayflower now joins the list of Washington’s greatest bed-and-breakfasts: The Jefferson, where Clinton confidant Dick Morris sucked the toes of $200-an-hour call girl Sherry Rowlands; the former Vista (now Westin Washington) where Marion Barry was caught smoking crack as gal-pal Rasheeda Moore looked on; and the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, where Marv Albert bit the back of a female companion, Linda Tripp secretly taped Lewinsky talking about her affair, and Deborah Jeane Palfrey (a.k.a. the D.C. Madam) sent escorts for what she calls legal, non-sexual “dates.”

NY TIMES – “I think biologists could tell you this has something to do with natural selection – the person who acquires power becomes the alpha male,” said Tom Fiedler, who teaches a course in press and politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was involved in reporting Gary Hart’s notorious fling with Donna Rice in 1987 that terminated the senator’s presidential bid. . .

Dr. Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University, said that many politicians are what he calls Type T personalities, with T standing for thrill-seeking. “Politics is an uncertain business,” he said. “You’re at the whim of the electorate. There’s no tenure. It’s often hard to know what the criteria for success are. It’s either all or nothing – you either win or you lose. And so it inspires a risk-taking person to go into that line of work. But on the public side, they’re supposed to show stability and responsibility, and so this risky nature may show itself more on the private side.”. . .

Dr. Judy Kuriansky, an adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said that “sex and power are extremely connected, because they’re basically an expression of this huge energy that these people have.” Not uncommonly, she said, politicians speak out vigorously against the very behavior that they then indulge in, as is the case with Governor Spitzer. “You project wrong onto others that is symptomatic of your own behavior,” she said. “It’s called a defense mechanism. Basically, it’s unconscious.” Moreover, she added, “Even though Spitzer is a lawyer, when you get into a position of power, you think you’re above the law.”


ALBERT EISELE AND JEFF DUFOUR, HILL NEWS – When retiring Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) marked the end of his 38 years in the Senate on Nov. 16, he paid lavish tribute to his current colleagues but raised some doubts about the first group of senators he served with, in 1966. “I don’t leave with the idea that the Senate is not what it used to be in the sense of personnel,” he said in his farewell speech. “We have a way better group of senators. We had five drunks or six drunks when I came here. There is nobody drunk in the United States Senate [today].”

Hollings’s remarks caused former senators and Senate aides and journalists who covered the Senate at the time to speculate on just whom he was referring to. “There were two or three places senators could go to get a free drink, including the secretary of the Senate’s office,” recalled former Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.).

McCarthy, who came to the Senate from the House in 1959, identified Russell Long (D-La.), Thurston Morton (R-Ky.), Warren Magnuson (D-Wash.), James Eastland (D-Miss.), Harrison Williams (D-N.J.) and Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) as among those Hollings might have had in mind.

He said Long and Morton, who acquired the nickname “Thirsty,” often drank together, while Magnuson “sometimes came on the floor and was kind of vague as to where he was, and somebody said, ‘He walks from memory.'”


The New York Mafia has never been strong in DC. There have been several explanations for this. One is that DC was long too small a town to bother with. There are also unconfirmed reports that J Edgar Hoover struck some sort of deal with the Mafia to keep it out. William Garber, an attorney who represented several local crime figures, told a Washington Post reporter in the 1980s that “organized crime thought moving [into Washington] would just be pushing the FBI too far.”

On the other hand an investigative reporter, who moved to Washington after learning of a mob contract on his life in the 1970s tells us a different story. He said that federal agents suggested that he move to a neutral town – one in which the mobs shared turf with none of them dominant. They suggested Las Vegas, Miami and Washington.


US NEWS & WORLD REPORT, March 30, 1998: When Kathleen Willey dropped Nathan Landow’s name into her amended deposition for the Paula Jones case in February, shudders went through Vice President Al Gore’s camp – and not just because Willey had presented a credible account of hormones run amok in the Oval Office. For more than a decade, Landow, a 65-year-old multimillionaire Maryland developer, has served as Gore’s most enthusiastic fund-raiser. . . In Willey’s original January 11 deposition in the Jones case, she denied that anyone had tried to influence her deposition, and Landow’s name never came up. But a month later, in a written revision, Willey noted that she had “discussed” her deposition with Landow. In subsequent testimony before Starr’s grand jury, Willey has reportedly alleged that Landow tried to pressure her into recanting her story of sexual harassment at the hands of President Clinton. Through his lawyers, Landow has issued a vociferous denial that he made any attempt to influence Willey’s testimony. But sources close to Landow acknowledge that in October, weeks after Willey received a subpoena in the Jones case, Landow paid a private charter company to fly her–at her request–to his oceanside Maryland estate. According to Landow’s lawyer Joe Caldwell Jr., “The contact between Mr. Landow and Ms. Willey last fall was initiated by Ms. Willey.” . . . Over the past two decades, Landow has received more than his share of dings. A fund-raiser for Jimmy Carter, Landow was being considered for an ambassadorship to the Netherlands in 1977. But in January 1978, the Washington Post published a story linking Landow with Joe Nesline, a known associate of organized crime figures. The disclosure appeared to scuttle Landow’s ambassadorial aspirations, but not his party influence.

WASHINGTON POST, January 26, 1978: Two prominent Washington investors [Nathan Landow and Smith Bagley] with connections to the Carter administration were involved in a proposal to build a hotel and gambling casino in Atlantic City, with Washington gambling kingpin Joe Nesline as a consultant. Nesline’s involvement with the casino venture became known Jan 14 when federal and local police raided Nesline’s Bethesda apartment. . . FBI agents seized a file containing and memoranda spelling out a proposed $85 million deal involving Bagley and Landow… [It] was not the only gambling venture in which Nesline had been involved with Landow… Involved in the St. Marten venture were Landow and Edward Cellini, a brother of Dino Cellini, a former associate of organized crime figure Meyer Lansky… In November… [t]he party at [the] Landow home was observed by Montgomery County plainclothesmen, who took down license plate numbers of guests’ cars. Officers of the county’s organized crime section have had Landow under surveillance for nearly a year. They learned from Florida police that Landow had an interest in a now defunct corporation whose concealed owners allegedly included an identified member of the Carlo Gambino Mafia “family.” Secret Service agents who were at the party to protect the president’s son, questioned the Montgomery County plainclothesmen who explained their interest in Landow.

WASHINGTON POST, JANUARY 28, 1978: Smith Bagley, a prominent Washington investor with ties to the Carter administration, has accused The Washington Post of bias and unethical conduct in its coverage of an Atlantic City hotel casino proposal in which Bagley had participated . . . “Ever since Maxine Cheshire asked me for a $25,000 personal loan and I turned her down,” Bagley asserted, “I have felt my family and I have been under a magnifying glass with Washington Post eyes looking through it.” Cheshire has denied that such a loan was ever discussed. . . . Bradlee, Cheshire and assistant managing editor Harry M. Rosenfeld, who edited Cheshire’s story, all disputed Bagley’s allegations yesterday . . . Bagley, a Reynolds tobacco heir, was quoted as denying he had ever met or “heard of” Nesline. Landow, a multimillionaire builder, acknowledged knowing Nesline. Bagley could not be reached for further comment yesterday. One of his lawyers, Irvin B. Nathan, declined to comment. The accuracy of The Post’s account has not been disputed.

WASHINGTON POST, April 6, 1998: In 1978, The Washington Post printed a front-page story revealing that Landow had hired Joe Nesline, a Washington illegal-gambling kingpin, as a consultant in an unsuccessful effort to build a casino in Atlantic City. At the time, Landow admitted that Nesline was a friend but denied knowing about his friend’s criminal past. Now Landow says, “There were a lot of inaccuracies in that article.”


PAUL M. RODRIGUEZ AND GEORGE ARCHIBALD WASHINGTON TIMES, 1989: A homosexual prostitution ring is under investigation by federal and District authorities and includes among its clients key officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations, military officers, congressional aides and U.S. and foreign businessmen with close social ties to Washington’s political elite, documents obtained by The Washington Times reveal. One of the ring’s high-profile clients was so well-connected, in fact, that he could arrange a middle-of-the-night tour of the White House for his friends on Sunday, July 3, of last year. Among the six persons on the extraordinary 1 a.m. tour were two male prostitutes . . . Reporters for this newspaper examined hundreds of credit-card vouchers, drawn on both corporate and personal cards and made payable to the escort service operated by the homosexual ring . . . Among the client names contained in the vouchers – and identified by prostitutes and escort operators – are government officials, locally based U.S. military officers, businessmen, lawyers, bankers, congressional aides and other professionals . . .

KARLYN BARKER, WASHINGTON POST, JULY 24, 1990: The alleged leader of what authorities have called the largest male prostitution operation in the Washington area surrendered to federal agents yesterday and pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges that have been filed against him and three alleged accomplices. Henry W. Vinson, 29, of Williamson, W.Va., a coal miner’s son accused of setting up the homosexual escort service, was arraigned in U.S. District Court here yesterday afternoon after turning himself in to Secret Service agents . . . At a news conference after the arraignment, [U.S. Attorney Jay] Stephens said the investigation into the alleged prostitution ring “is concluded” and that the indictment, which was unsealed yesterday, focused on those who allegedly set up the ring rather than on clients who reportedly patronized it. Asked about earlier reports that some of those clients included high-level officials in the Reagan and Bush administrations, Stephens said the investigation had not revealed “additional conduct which suggests criminal conduct on behalf of other people.” . . . The Vinson case provoked additional notice after The Washington Times published reports last summer suggesting that the alleged prostitution ring had been patronized by government officials. The Times named as clients several low-level government employees and Craig J. Spence, a Washington lobbyist and party-giver who, the paper said, took friends and prostitutes on late-night tours of the White House. Spence was found dead in a Boston hotel room last fall, and authorities ruled his death a suicide.

TIMOTHY MAIER, INSIGHT, Oct. 20, 1997: Blackmail, lies and deceit may be the only fitting description of the 1993 Seattle Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, summit where dignitaries from 17 countries are reported to have been placed under electronic surveillance by American agents. As Insight first reported last month, the Clinton administration is said by intelligence and security specialists — who admitted being involved — to have bugged the conclave and then provided classified secrets to the Democratic National Committee. This in turn allegedly was used as bait to barter with potential big-buck donors for large contributions to the Democratic coffers, sources in and out of government claim. This week the story continued to develop with new twists and turns. Former officials of the National Security Council, or NSC, and high-level economic advisers tell Insight they remain deeply concerned that classified information may have been leaked for political purposes. “That would make it blackmail,” says a former senior-level Bush appointee who asked not to be identified because of an ongoing business relationship with the Clinton administration. “I find the story totally credible. I wouldn’t put it past this administration.” Insight also detailed in earlier reports a series of alleged criminal activities, including the procuring of boys to engage in sexual activities with diplomats; FBI agents accepting thousands of dollars of kickbacks; and, the most serious offense, the White House providing top-secret trade information to two West Coast law firms working off the books for the DNC . . . The FBI is believed to have bugged more than 300 locations, with electronic audio and video surveillance devices used to monitor 10,000 to 15,000 conversations — much of it real-time data that was bounced from satellites to the NSA. The monitoring stations usually were placed near a Secret Service perimeter or Naval Intelligence facilities. And many of the targets concerned large contracts with Vietnam, sources say . . . The boys are believed to have been 15 to 17 years old. As shocking as this may be, some say it’s routine. A former Bush economic adviser observes, “The sex? That’s done all the time. If a foreign diplomat wants a companion, the State Department provides it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or woman. They have a special fund set up for that.” Another former NSC official who requested anonymity says other countries also do it. “I was offered every sexual favor you can imagine. I turned it down all the time. After a while they left me alone and stopped offering me.”


“You don’ pull on Superman’s cape. You don’ spit into the wind. You don’ tug the mask off the Lone Ranger and, baby, you don’ mess with Odessa, okay? I may be old, and I may be ugly, but I ain’t dumb. That’s why I was the ‘Queen.'” – Odessa Madre

Courtland Milloy, in a wonderful 1980 Washington Post story, describes Odessa Madre this way: “Perhaps no other person has seen so much of the District’s narcotics, numbers and ‘tenderloin’ trade and is still alive to tell about it. According to one police affidavit filed in U.S. District Court here in 1975, ‘She practices a resourceful and shrewd form of circumspection that has enabled her to survive and thrive in her illegal activities over the past 40 years.’ After monitoring her activities with two court-ordered wiretaps, one police source was quoted in court records as saying that Madre frequently gave parties at her home and that /as a matter of course, Miss Madre set out a number of bowls of cocaine, heroin and marijuana for her guests’ pleasure.’ But she protested that decription in a recent interview: ‘Everybody knows I can’t stand them reefers.'”

By 1980, Madre had been picked up 30 times on 57 charges over a 48 year span, seven of them spent in a federal prison. She bought a Lincoln Continental when she got out and purchased a Cadillac Seville after serving a later three year sentence.

Madre grew up in a mixed neighborhood of blacks and Irish, the latter heavily populating the DC police force and, in the end, often looking out for their childhood friend. “Negroes and Irishmen got along real well,” Madre told Milloy. “They would fight amongst themselves, but we wouldn’t fight each other. If somebody outside Cowtown came to fight the Irish, the Negroes would chunk bricks at them. We were like a big happy family.” Writes Milloy: “Thus began a long and prosperous relationship with members of the Metropolitan Police Department. When Madre’s childhood friends grew up, they became captains, lieutenants and even superintendents in the police department, like their fathers. As the year passed and Madre became the notorious ‘Queen,’ many of her childhood buddies couldn’t forget that she had once been their compatriot in the ‘Great Rock Chunkin’ Wars’ against the Italian and German kids.”

At her peak in the 1940s, Madre was earning about $100,000 a year, and had at least six bawdy houses, bookmaking operations, and a headquarters at 2204 14th Street known as the Club Madre. Among the performers there were Moms Mabley, Count Basie and Nat King Cole.

Long time residents remember Madre walking into her club followed by her girls and sitting at a table with 12 long stemmed roses. They also recall that the girls got Sunday off and could be seen observed relaxing on the porch of Madre’s place.

In 1952 the Kefauver committee, targeting organized crime in DC, found a pattern of payoffs by local mobsters to the cops, funneled, it appeared, largely through Madre. Milloy notes that “Two sergeants testified they had been demoted and assigned to school-crossing duty because they had refused a payoff from Madre and had participated in the arrest of know gampblers – including her. The superior officer who demoted them was John Murphy, they testified. ‘Yeah, I knew him,’ Mandre said. ‘Grew up with him in Cowtown.’ There was also testimony from other policemen that Madre had paid police superintendent James Barrett $2,000 a month in ‘ice’ payments for nearly a year. ‘Somebody had to give ’em the money.'”

Madre’s own evalution of it all: “You say was it worth it? Child, you wonder does crime pay? I’ll tell you, yes. It pays a helluva lot of money. And money is something. I don’t care who you are, when you got money you can get a lot of doors open because there’s always some larcenous heart who’s gonna listen to you. “And when you show ’em that money . . . if you got a wad, honey, they’ll suck up to ya like you was a Tootsie Roll.”


THE 2000s


IN AN ABRUPT and somewhat tardy move, the Review finally started to pay attention to the Jeff Gannon story. We originally thought it nothing more than a case of some guy being paid to ask softball questions at a White House news conference, hardly more despicable than the far more common practice of reporters asking them for free. But then came the sex angle and the realization that the only remaining grounds for termination of public office in Washington are an illegal nannie or gay sex.

Since DC has a large and happily out gay community it may seem a bit odd that a straight eye for a gay guy could get into such trouble, but these acts are sometimes accompanied by less pleasant activities such as bribery for governmental favors or blackmail. Further, there have been persistent reports, as Wayne Madsen writes, of a GOP pedophile and male prostitution ring.

Sex and corrupt politics in DC is nothing new. For example, during the Civil War there were 450 brothels in the capital. Part of the mythology of Washington, however, is what might be called the Jim Lehrer Illusion, which is to say that all people in DC do is sit around and rationally debate policy alternatives. In fact, Washington politics is also heavily driven by cowardice, bribery, blackmail, deceit, fear, loyalty to old buddies and even older bodies, cooptation, sex, and just plain crime. Journalists who pretend otherwise either don’t understand what is going on or are covering for someone.

The public often misunderstands the importance of Washington scandals, assuming them to be a simple dalliance, individual failing, or private offense. What makes both sex and crime in DC different, at least when those in power are involved, is that there is far more opportunity for blackmail and far more skill at covering things up.

The blackmail may be used by members of one branch of government against those of another, by lobbyists against members of Congress, by the police against whomever they wish, and by foreign powers. For example, one way to keep a congress member bought is for a lobbyist to provide him with high class prostitutes. And it is noteworthy that both the Israelis and Boris Yeltsin apparently knew about Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky before the American public did.

The city’s ecology lends particular importance to gay sex simply because greater public antipathy makes it an even easier target for the blackmailer, witness the case a few years back when DC police officers were found to be running an extortion racket against those who visited gay bars.

Finally, the exposure of impropriety almost inevitably raises the issue of hypocrisy since the participating official often has inveighed against the discovered offense or attempted to ban, punish, or otherwise suppress the revealed practice. One of the more ironic examples was when, during the 1960s, a white southern senator was caught with a black prostitute. Said a civil rights leader, “Oh he’s just one of those sunup to sundown segregationists.” Washington is full of sunup to sundown moralists.

There is this quality to the tale of a gay plant at Bush news conferences. One wonders, for example, if in the wake the Gannon matter George Bush will now come out in favor a Sanctity in News Conferences amendment to the Constitution.

Further, the military subtext of Gannon’s site suggests similar ruminations. One might even speculate on the homoerotic themes of military service and behavior or even on war as the ultimate closeted gay sado-masochistic affair. If so, what a price the world has paid for its homophobia.

The ability to cover up scandal or crime is also much greater in Washington. This may be accomplished by relying on the social club rules of the federal city, through the aid of acquiescent journalists, by official spin or censorship, or by resort to the capital’s various law enforcement agencies, each one beholden for budget and top appointments to some federal department.

For example, both the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney (who handles all DC crimes) are appointed by the president. The FBI, DEA, National Park police and the Secret Service, not to mention the Aqueduct police, all work for the president. And the Metropolitan Police Department and the Capitol Police are under the thumb of Congress, which approves their budgets and exercises behind-the-scenes authority. There is not a single police agency within the boundaries of Washington that does not report to the politicians of Congress or the White House.

WAYNE MADSEN, ONLINE JOURNAL – Details are emerging that threaten to immerse the Bush administration in a major scandal. “Gannongate,” which is only now being mentioned by the mainstream news media, threatens to expose a potentially damaging GOP pedophile and male prostitution ring dating back to the 1980s and the administration of George H. W. Bush. James D. Guckert, using the name Jeff Gannon and possibly other aliases, was also running gay porn sites, one with a U.S. Marine Corps theme that solicited males for prostitution. . .

Gannon bypassed established Secret Service security controls, including a background check requiring a social security number, to obtain a White House press pass that identified him by an alias, an action seen by many seasoned Washington journalists as only being possible if he had favorable treatment from White House staff. . . One White House reporter expressed revulsion over the fact that it was [Ari] Fleischer who took away press credential from the late long-time White House correspondent Sarah McClendon and handed them to Gannon. . 

Gannongate is reminiscent of a huge political scandal that surfaced in Nebraska in 1989 when it was learned that Lawrence King, the head of Franklin Community Credit Union in Omaha and a rising African American star in the GOP (he sang the national anthem at George H. W. Bush’s 1988 nominating convention in New Orleans), was a kingpin, along with top Republicans in Nebraska and Washington, DC, including George H. W. Bush, in a child prostitution and pedophilia scandal. King was later convicted and jailed for fraud but pedophile and prostitution charges were never brought against him and other Nebraska Republican businessmen and politicians.

The scandal, investigated by Nebraska State Senator Loran Schmit, his assistant John DeCamp (a former GOP State Senator), State Senate Committee investigator Gary Caradori, and former CIA Director William Colby, reached the very top echelons of the George H. W. Bush administration and GOP. Child prostitutes from Boys Town and other orphanages in Nebraska as well as children procured from China were reportedly flown to Washington for sexcapades with Republican politicians. GOP lobbyist Craig Spence and a number of GOP officials in the administration and Congress were implicated in the scandal, including Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole’s liaison to the White House. Young male members of the military in Washington, DC were particularly sought after by the prostitution ring. During the early 1980s, a number of naval officers were implicated in a child pornography ring that extended from Oregon to the San Francisco Bay area and to Chicago and Washington, DC. The story about that ring was covered up by then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman.

The Nebraska pedophile scandal was similarly covered up on orders from the highest levels of power in the Bush White House. Caradori and his young son were killed in a suspicious plane crash in Illinois in 1990. Colby was found floating dead in the Chesapeake Bay, near his home, in 1996. Craig Spence allegedly committed suicide in 1989. Witnesses, many of whom were abused themselves, were intimidated and subsequently jailed in Nebraska and the investigation of the pedophile scandal eventually collapsed. . .

 JOHN ARAVOISIS, AMERICA BLOG – A news producer for a major network just told me that Gannon told the producer the US was going to attack Iraq four hours before President Bush announced it to the nation. According to the producer, Gannon specifically told them that in four hours the president was going to be making a speech to the nation announcing that the US was bombing Iraq. The producer told me they were surprised that Gannon, working with such a small news outfit, could have access to such information, but “what did you know, he was right,” the producer said today. The producer went on to say that Gannon often had correct scoops on major stories. . 



WAYNE MADSEN REPORT There was no mistake that when Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s phone records were made public by order of US Judge Gladys Kessler, shortly before she asked to be reassigned from the case, that Palfrey’s Pamela Martin & Associates escort agency had some very intriguing clientele. If one were to have mapped the phone numbers on Palfrey’s list, McLean, Virginia would have looked like the epicenter of an earthquake. McLean is the home to the CIA, Washington’s top politicians, and assorted foreign and domestic business movers and shakers who travel in and out of the CIA’s shadow. . .

As she left her Orlando condo for her mother’s home [shortly before her alleged suicide], Palfrey was noticed taking a few suitcases with a white paper file box. Palfrey told the [building] manager the box contained some important papers, possibly having to do with her escort business. . .

In fact, it is a certainty that one of the actual “corporate clients” of the PMA agency was the CIA itself. Palfrey’s escorts included college professors, a naval officer, a legal secretary for one of Washington’s top international law firms, essentially those who would be reliable to pick up needed intelligence from a designated target. PMA’s clients included as many foreign political and business leaders as American ones. It was the potential for blackmail and seeking favors that made PMA, in business for over 13 years, a favorite for the CIA. No other escort agency in the Washington area provided the top-level credentials possessed by PMA. For that reason, PMA was the agency of choice for the CIA. . .

On September 1, 2007, WMR reported: “WMR has learned that on August 31, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the indicted Pamela Martin & Associates proprietor, filed a ‘Motion for Pretrial Conference to Consider Matters Relating to classified information’ under the ‘Classified Information Procedures Act’ with the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. The purpose of the filing alerts the government that Palfrey’s defense will likely involved the disclosure of evidence and identities presently deemed ‘classified” by the U.S. government.'”

The CIPA is only invoked in cases when classified national security information must be revealed. It is now clear that Palfrey, who never admitted to this editor any links between her agency and the CIA, was a contractor for the spy agency. Palfrey’s citing of CIPA is an indication that she signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA stating that she would never reveal classified information as a result of her special relationship with the agency unless authorized to do so. Palfrey’s non-disclosure agreement would have resulted in her making no comment to the press about any relationship. However, it must be stated that Palfrey always insisted to this editor that it was quite possible that some of her employees may have had a relationship with U.S. intelligence but that she would not necessarily know that to be the case.

Palfrey was never comfortable with her court-appointed attorney Preston Burton. Burton once was a partner in the law office of Plato Cacheris in Washington. Cacheris’ name is synonymous in DC circles with CIA scandals, particularly those dealing in espionage. Burton’s resume of clients is a “Who’s Who” of the past two decades of spy scandals: the CIA’s Soviet spy Aldrich Ames, the FBI’s Soviet spy Robert Hanssen, Oliver North’s secretary Fawn Hall, Watergate convicted Attorney General John Mitchell, and Monica Lewinsky. Burton, himself, was involved in the defense of Ames, Hanssen, Lewinsky, as well as Ana Belen Montes, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst convicted of spying for Cuba.

The top CIA cases involved the US Eastern District of Virginia court in Alexandria, where Plato Cacheris’ brother, James Cacheris, serves as a senior judge. Known as the “rocket docket,” Plato and James Cacheris have overseen a number of espionage cases, including Ames, that saw quick pleas and lifetime prison sentences. Mention the name Cacheris in Washington, DC and CIA comes instantly to mind among those who know the game. Palfrey was obviously aware of the CIA’s past use of “rocket dockets” in Alexandria and Washington and the “exchange” of emails between U.S. Judge James Robertson, federal prosecutors William Cowden and Daniel Butler, and Burton on the weekend before Burton agreed to not call any defense witnesses and allow the case to be sent directly to the jury was a sure indication of outside interference in the case. Robertson, who replaced Kessler after she requested to be reassigned, promised to reveal the emails to the public, indicating he was legally required to do so. To date, to our knowledge, they have not been released. . .

There is another interesting postscript to the Palfrey case. Palfrey, after deciding to close down PMA and move to Europe, chose to buy an apartment in the former East Berlin. This editor discussed this with Palfrey and the consensus was that, for European prices, there were some good deals on real estate in eastern Berlin as the former Soviet sector has lagged behind in improving infrastructure. However, it was intriguing that Palfrey, who spent her time mostly in California and Florida, would have known about a good deal in East Berlin. Or did one of her agency handlers recommend it as the perfect place to get away from the “game” in Washington?



FEW DEATHS could cause as much relief in Washington as did the alleged suicide of DC Madam Deborah Jean Palfrey. One need only consider the rapid demise of Governor Eliot Spitzer after it was discovered he had used a similar escort service to realize that Palfrey was not welcomed by many of the capital’s powerful men as a living repository of their sexual habits.

We are not speaking of a small number. Palfrey estimated her business involved some 10,000 clients – most in and around the most powerful city in America.

This is not to say that Palfrey did not commit suicide, only that her name may be reasonably added to those whose cause of death can not be – and may never be – firmly determined.

She will not be the first such death in recent American politics. At least nine persons involved in some way with the Clintons also committed suicide under less than certain circumstances, most notably Vincent Foster. Nearly 30 others also suffered from Arkansas sudden death syndrome, but clearly at someone else’s hand.

What we do know about Palfrey is that her operation had some 10,000 male clients, and not one has been subject to legal prosecution. Two of the women involved, Jean Palfrey and Brandy Britton, both allegedly committed suicide and both by hanging. Palfrey indicated she didn’t know whether Britton killed herself, saying, “There are many, many family members who say this was not the case.” When radio host Alex Jones said to Palfrey in 2007, “And you’re not planning to commit suicide,” Palfrey responded, “And I’m not planning to commit suicide.”

There is no apparent logic for the massive legal assault on Palfrey. In fact, prostitution isn’t even a federal crime; she was charged under federal racketeering law. When her house was raided a year and a half ago, the swat squad went through everything but curiously ignored 46 boxes of information about her clients. Interestingly also, the attack began in earnest immediately after Palfrey had put her house on the market, closed her business, and transferred some money to Germany where she planned to retire. In fact, she was in Germany when US postal inspectors, pretending to be home buyers, illegally sought entrance into her house from a realtor without a warrant.

You add up the little pieces and it is clear that something much bigger than prostitution was involved. Was Palfrey being threatened because she had, in effect, decided to leave the mob taking along her many tales? Was she a bit player in some much larger blackmail operation? And did she end her life or did someone do it for her?

Our approach to such matters is to treat them as open cases. We do not presume a conspiracy, but neither do we accept the establishment’s approach of rushing to the conclusion most comfortable to itself. In this case, for example, there are some 10,000 members of the establishment with a vested interest in not examining the evidence too much.

We do know that the Palfrey case was one of the strangest prosecutions the capital has ever seen. Judges, prosecutors, the media and the political elite all seemed extraordinarily determined to put a cap on how much information the case revealed. So far, they have been quite successful.

AP The body of Deborah Jeane Palfrey was found in a shed near her mother’s home about 20 miles northwest of Tampa. Police said the 52-year-old Palfrey left at least two suicide notes and other writings to her family in a notebook, but they did not disclose their contents. Palfrey apparently hanged herself with nylon rope from the shed’s ceiling. Her mother discovered the body. . . Blanche Palfrey had no sign that her daughter was suicidal, and there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were involved, police Capt. Jeffrey Young said. . .

“I am sure as heck am not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years here, because I’m shy about bringing in the deputy secretary of whatever,” Palfrey told ABC last year when she released phone records that revealed some of her clients. “Not for a second. I’ll bring every last one of them in if necessary.”

Dan Moldea, a Washington writer who befriended Palfrey while considering writing a book about her, said she was cautiously optimistic about her trial, even when the case went before the jury. After the conviction, Moldea sent her an e-mail but didn’t hear back. A week later, he said, he sent another note entitled “A Concerned Friend” asking whether she was OK. Again, he didn’t hear back. After hearing of her death, he recalled a conversation over dinner last year when the subject of prison came up. “She said, ‘I am not going back to prison. I will commit suicide first,'” Moldea said.

TIME Palfrey contacted Moldea last year to provide her help writing a book. “She had done time once before [for prostitution],” Moldea recalls. “And it damn near killed her. She said there was enormous stress – it made her sick, she couldn’t take it, and she wasn’t going to let that happen to her again.” . . .

When a former employee of Palfrey’s, Brandy Britton, hanged herself before going to trial, Palfrey told the press, “I guess I’m made of something that Brandy Britton wasn’t made of.”

Palfrey’s trial, which concluded in mid-April with a conviction, is one of very few such cases prosecuted in the federal courts. Most prostitution violations are dealt with at the state or municipal level, and attract little publicity. In the Palfrey case, prosecutors obliged a string of obviously embarrassed clients and employees of the escort service to appear on the witness stand and testify under oath. Nearly all testified that they had engaged in sexual acts in exchange for money, a version of events that contradicted Palfrey’s claims that she had been running a high-end sexual fantasy service – and that any actual sexual activity was against the rules, and clearly stated when employees were hired. . 

It was Palfrey’s phone records that led to problems for prominent Washington figures once her prosecution got under way. She had thousands of pages, including 10,000 to 15,000 numbers of clients calling in to her California residence. Besides Sen. Vitter, others whose names appeared on those records included Randall Tobias, a senior State Department official in charge of foreign aid – who had publicly inveighed against prostitution and who quickly resigned after his name was made public. Harlan Ullman, a well-known military specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, was also identified.

According to Moldea, who last year examined Palfrey’s phone records and discovered the name of Vitter, a Republican, as a client of Palfrey’s escort service – Pamela Martin & Associates – the last time he saw Palfrey in person was less than week before her conviction on prostitution charges on April 15. “A friend and I met with Jeanne and we had a sushi lunch near the courtroom,” he said. “She was upbeat and hopeful. She felt the prosecution had not made the case and that she was going to walk. She was hopeful to the end.” But, when the jury came in with her conviction, she reportedly was taken aback. “When I heard that I knew that, for her, it was all over. There is no question in my mind that she took her own life.”

HUGH SPRUNT, CAS BB – [Palfrey] undertook a number of actions prior to her death that were not consistent with a despondent/depressed person contemplating suicide. . . She tried to get her hands on at least one stock investment (that was declining in value like many stocks these days) so she could sell it and reinvest the proceeds (The feds had seized her investments as security for her being able to pay any fine associated with her eventual criminal penalties that likely would include a lot of jail time). Her attorneys and at least some of the reporters who covered her story have stated that she didn’t appear suicidal to them

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, MARCH 2008 – One thing is clear about the so-called DC Madam aka Deborah Jeane Palfrey case: there is a stunning contrast between the lid being kept on the names of male clients in this matter and the interest of the media compared to the speed with which Eliot Spitzer name became notorious in a similar DC case. Admittedly the alleged charges for a prostitute in the DC Madam case were far less than in the Emperor operation, but both were sufficient to attract the police.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen reported a name in the DC Madam case that was even more famous than Spitzers’ but there has been no denial and no libel suit, not to mention a striking lack of curiosity by the Washington press. Our own best guess as to why the DC Madam client list is being handled so gingerly: the appearance on it of too many good news sources not to mention the possibility of a few well known. media types as well.

Madsen reported dozens of high profile clients as well as a gag by top executives on the ABC reporters who were allowed to see the telephone list, allegedly after pressure from the White House. The story, in any case, is bizarre to say the least:

DEBORAH JEANE PALFREY, JULY 2007 – During the period when the decision to take the records off the market was made, Senior Executive Producer Rhonda Schwartz for Brian Ross, of ABC News, in New York approached [attorney] Mr. Sibley and me about the records. Told ABC News “does not pay for information,” they nonetheless would incur in our circumstance the expense of culling the billing invoices for possible witnesses, leads and general information, which ultimately could be beneficial to my defense.

Having gotten estimates at the time for the cost to research and back-track telephone numbers, along with subsequent owner data (tens of thousands of dollars), we gladly accepted ABC’s offer of assistance. In return, ABC asked that they be given exclusivity regarding the first public interview with me and more importantly, all of the phone records for years 1993 to 2006.

While the laborious task of copying and transferring the enormous amount of data to ABC was ongoing, the government went to Judge Kessler and obtained the current restraining order prohibiting either my civil counsel, Mr. Sibley or me from further distribution of the records. The government’s justification for the temporary injunction was witness harassment and intimidation — having abandoned its prior rationalization, i.e. asset forfeiture. Consequently, ABC received only 80% of years 2002 thru 2006.

Contrary to popular belief, they never had a complete set of all 13 years. In the final analysis, it really didn’t matter whether ABC had 4 years or 13, their constant assurances and reassurances to Mr. Sibley and me that they could be trusted with my story — for the almost two months they researched 2002 to 2006 — fell flat on May 4, when the much hyped, sweep’s week 20/20 broadcast failed to deliver even one revelation; this despite, a major ad campaign blitz on the part of the network to the contrary. Both Mr. Sibley and I can attest to the fact — having been an integral part of the 7 1/2 week vetting process — that there were and are noteworthy names to be named, in the four years. Why ABC chose to jump ship seemingly at the eleventh hour would be pure speculation, here. The bottom line is that they did and by doing so, they did a tremendous disservice to the American people.. 

WAYNE MADSEN REPORT MAY 2007 – The corporate media still does not get it about the so-called “Washington Madam” case. Beyond just another titillating DC sex scandal, this affair involves the U.S. Attorneys firings, massive bribery involving military and homeland security contracts, and potential blackmail of high government officials. WMR can report that Disney and ABC executives spiked the Washington Madam story at the very last . . . The decision by Disney and ABC to kill the 20/20 story resulted in a shocked news staff at ABC News’ DeSales Street bureau across the street from the Mayflower Hotel, one of the rendezvous points for some Pamela Martin clients. Our sources stated that Ross, Schwartz, Rood, and others at ABC tried their best to get the story out but were overruled by senior executives at ABC in New York and Disney headquarters in Burbank, California who, in turn, were under heavy pressure from the Bush White House.

The Washington Madam case also involves criminal conspiracy and malfeasance within the Justice Department, Internal Revenue Service, and Postal Inspection Service. Palfrey’s case file was not opened until June 2004 after she had been in business for over a decade without any pressure from the government. After Baltimore Police Commissioner and later Maryland State Police Superintendent Ed Norris was charged in May 2004 with three criminal counts by US Attorney Thomas DiBiagio, the IRS opened a file on Palfrey the following month. It is clear that with Norris, a 20 year veteran of the New York Police Department, facing up to 30 years in prison, he entered into a plea bargain with DiBiagio. In return for his cooperation, which included Norris naming Pamela Martin as one of the recipients of Baltimore Police supplemental accounts money, he got six months in prison and six months home detention. Norris now hosts a radio show in Baltimore.

DiBiagio’s assistant US Attorney Jonathan Luna, who once worked at the Brooklyn District Attorneys’ office when a probe was being conducted of both Norris and his friend, former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, was on to Norris’ corruption in Baltimore. Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley appointed Norris as police commissioner but soon became disenchanted with his performance. After his relection as Governor in 2002, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich appointed Norris as Maryland State Police Superintendent. Luna was brutally murdered near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in December 2003.

DC CITY DESK, MAY 2007 The judge in the Jeanne Palfrey case has issued a temporary restraining order on Palfrey and her civil attorney to keep them from releasing more information about her clients to the news media. This strengthens suspicions that the judge and ABC News – which was given Palfrey’s records – may be trying to suppress some of these names, especially since one the names being circulated around town is an extremely high White House official. Basically, the problem is this: if Jean Palfrey committed a crime so did all her clients and they are not entitled to the protection they are being given. In the best of worlds, prostitution would not be a crime but under the circumstances there is only one honest choice in this matter: either drop the case or open the files. Otherwise it is fair to wonder whether there is a cover-up going on of criminal activity by prominent Washingtonians

NEWS 8, DC, MAY 2007 – A lawyer for alleged Washington madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey wants ABC News to disclose the identity of a federal prosecutor identified in a recent news report as a client of Palfrey’s escort service. In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Palfrey’s civil lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, contends that the Justice Department should compel ABC to disclose the prosecutor’s identity and whether he had any role in the Palfrey investigation. . .

BALTIMORE EXAMINER, MAY 2007 – A woman accused of running a Washington-area prostitution ring says former University of Maryland professor Brandy Britton worked for her. Britton told The Examiner before her death that she previously worked for an escort service called East Coast Elites, but she never mentioned Deborah Jeane Palfrey or her firm, Pamela Martin & Associates, during a series of interviews with this newspaper. . . Britton committed suicide in January, days before she was scheduled to stand trial on prostitution charges and be evicted from her $600,000 Ellicott City home. She faced up to a year in prison on each count, but Howard County prosecutors said that if convicted, she likely wouldn’t have served any time. Britton’s Howard County police file makes no mention of Palfrey or her escort service. Police said Britton was working alone when arrested in January 2006, and they have not connected her case to Palfrey. . . Although Britton said her clients included “police, lawyers and judges,” her notes don’t appear to include the names of prominent people. They contain many partial names and code names, including notes for appointments with men identified only as “Robert,” “Bernard” and “David.” Next to their names, she sometimes wrote the callers’ purported occupations, such as “Dr.” or “Accountant.” Britton was a former assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She resigned in 1999. . . . “I thought I would hate the job, and I’d just have to do it,” she said. “But I really liked it, and I made some really good friends, and I like men more than I ever did before. It’s a long story, but as a feminist it made me see things differently. They love their families and their kids. They’re good guys that really love their wives.”

ABC NEWS BLOTTER – MAY 2007 Some of the most in-demand women working for the “D.C. Madam” were in their 50s, according to the woman at the center of the scandal. “There was never an age limit. I hired women well into their 50s,” Deborah Jeane Palfrey told ABC News. “They were some of the most popular women on staff.”. . . From career professionals to graduate students, most women who came to Palfrey to work did so because they needed money — to pay off credit card debt, cover school loans or pay tuition fees, according to Palfrey. . . “Many of these girls were a lot of talk and no action — as most people seem to be from time to time,” Palfrey said. Many applicants would initially be very willing, but when they went on their first appointment “they just freeze and they think, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.'”. . . “It was very boring, mostly,” Palfrey told ABC News. “Very ‘Groundhog Day,’ the same thing over and over and over and over, and over. For me, anyway.”. . . For their part, the clients were typically decent to Palfrey’s women, she said. “I had many gals tell me that their boyfriends treated them, oh, just purely awful. And they would go to many of these appointments, and the man would have roses waiting for them. And nobody had ever given them roses before.”. . . “I think I empowered a lot of women. I got a lot of women through graduate school. I think the people that used the service were by and large quite pleased.”

CHANNEL 9 – MAY 2007 – A legal secretary at one of Washington’s most prominent and well-connected law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Houer & Feld LLP, has been suspended after telling her bosses she secretly worked at night for the escort service run by the so-called D.C. Madam, Jeane Palfrey. The woman both serviced clients and, at times, helped to run the business, Palfrey told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast on “20/20” Friday. The firm said it would not make her name public.

According to e-mails the woman sent to Palfrey on her Akin Gump account, she “enjoyed and even missed” the work she did at night for Palfrey, who has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a large scale prostitution ring. “Perhaps not the weekly grind, but was thinking that a day a week would be fun and spa money,” the legal secretary wrote to Palfrey last year, after Palfrey had closed her business and was considering whether to re-open it.

The Akin Gump secretary was described by Palfrey as an “absolutely lovely gal,” who was working as an escort “to go back to school and get her education, to finish her college degree.”

Considered one of the most powerful firms in Washington, Akin Gump partners make up a who’s who of Washington insiders, including Vernon Jordan, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and co-founder Robert Strauss, an adviser to numerous presidents.

CAROL D. LEONNIG, WASHINGTON POST MAY 2007 – A former client of the woman accused of being the D.C. madam is trying to block his name from being aired on an ABC News program about her escort business and the men who patronized it, saying publicity would amount to witness intimidation, ABC said yesterday. In a letter to ABC, Steven Salky, the man’s attorney, wrote that he has “reason to believe” that his client could be named tomorrow in a “20/20” report about an alleged prostitution ring run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, ABC said. Salky would not identify the man. The client expects to be a prosecution witness in Palfrey’s federal trial on racketeering charges, Salky told ABC. Identifying him would violate a court order barring harassment of potential witnesses, he said. . .

CHANNEL FOUR, DC APRIL 2007 – A woman charged with running a D.C.-area prostitution ring on made good on her threat to identify high-profile clients, naming a military strategist who developed the combat theories known as “shock and awe” as a regular customer in court papers. Harlan K. Ullman, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was named in court papers filed by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who is acting as her own lawyer. Ullman, in a brief telephone interview, declined comment on the claim. “The allegations are beneath the dignity of a comment,” he said. . . Palfrey said in her motion that Ullman “is only one of dozens of such officials” who will be exposed as she prepares her defense.

HENRY K LEE, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, APRIL 2007 – Palfrey’s business records include 46 pounds of phone bills of some 15,000 clients of her business, Pamela Martin and Associates, Sibley said. Palfrey originally threatened to sell those records to pay for her defense, but a judge barred her from doing so. Authorities said Palfrey’s alleged prostitution ring involved 132 college-educated women and generated more than $2 million.

SMOKING GUN, MARCH 2007 – Federal prosecutors want to gag an indicted former Washington, D.C. madam who has recently threatened to go public with details about her former customers. In a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court, investigators are seeking a protective order covering discovery material to be provided to Deborah Palfrey and her lawyers.

Palfrey, 50, was indicted last week on racketeering and money laundering charges stemming from her operation of the Pamela Martin & Associates escort service, which closed last summer after 13 years in business. In their motion, government lawyers claim that some discovery documents contain “personal information” about Palfrey’s former johns and prostitutes that is “sensitive.” . . 

According to the prosecution motion, while Palfrey and her lawyers would be able to use the discovery material to help prepare a defense, they would not be allowed to disclose the documents to anyone else (nor use the material for any other purposes). Palfrey, whose assets were frozen late last year, has recently floated the idea of selling her escort business’s phone records. She has also “made statements that could be considered veiled threats to cause embarrassment to former customers and employees,” according to the motion. . . .

Before closing her business, Palfrey operated a web site touting Pamela Martin & Associates as “the best adult agency around,” claiming that it had an “ongoing repeat clientele rate of 65-75%.” Palfrey’s site also advertised for escorts. Prospective hookers, she noted, had to be at least 23 years old with two or more years of college. And her $275-an-appointment employees had to be “weight proportionate to height.”

WASHINGTON POST – Ms. Palfreys business, which operated from 1993 to 2006, had 15,000 customers and a pool of 130 or so escorts, ranging in age from 23 to 55, who worked as independent contractors, she said in one court filing. “Best selection and availability before 9 p.m. each evening,” one advertisement she ran said. Over the six years before the business shut down, she collected more than $750,000 from the escorts, with whom she split fees for each call, federal officials said in court filings.

AMY SCHATZ, WALL STREET JOURNAL – ABC News reported on one of its blogs that men on the list include “a Bush administration economist, the head of a conservative think tank, a prominent CEO, several lobbyists and a handful of military officials.”

ABC NEWS BLOTTER – Even call girls get performance reviews, at least the ones who worked for Jeane Palfrey’s Washington, D.C., escort service. “Without being overtly vulgar, a pair of tits and an ass, without accompanying brains, sophistication, LOOKS and carriage, just won’t cut it in this business or at least, not with this particular agency!!” wrote Palfrey in a monthly newsletter sent to the women who worked for her. . . In a January 1994 newsletter, she wrote, “Congress is back in session. This always helps to boost business.” In another edition, she complained, “That damn Monday night football…ruines [sic] business every single Monday night!”. . . “Organization and efficiency need to be, No, must be the bedrock from which the on-call escort service operates,” reads one passage from 1993. In that particular article, Palfrey encouraged her employees (“girls,” as she called them) to invest in cellular phones. “Searching for pay phones in strange places and driving in circles when lost are extraordinarily exasperating and frustrating experiences, which need not be,” Palfrey counseled. . . In one issue, Palfrey even gave a product endorsement. “Victoria’s Secret,” she wrote, “is the only place a Pamela Martin girl shops.”



WASHINGTON POST – [Alleged madam Deborah] Palfrey’s flamboyant attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said Friday that he has been contacted by five lawyers recently, asking whether their clients’ names are on Palfrey’s list of 10,000 to 15,000 phone numbers. Some, Sibley said, have inquired about whether accommodations could be made to keep their identities private. ABC is expected to air a report on Palfrey and her clients on “20/20” on May 4, during sweeps.

More revelations are in the offing. Ross said the list includes the names of some “very prominent people,” as well as a number of women with “important and serious jobs” who had worked as escorts for the firm.

The disclosures have been made sparely and artfully. Two weeks ago, in court documents about calling former clients to testify on her behalf, Palfrey named Harlan K. Ullman, an academic whose main claim to fame was a scholarly paper he wrote more than a decade ago on the military strategy known as “shock and awe.” Responded Ullman: “It doesn’t deserve the dignity of a response.”

Sibley also filed notice that he intends to depose political consultant Dick Morris in a separate civil proceeding. Morris would not comment.



THINK PROGRESS – U.S. AID director Randall Tobias, who resigned yesterday upon admitting that he frequented a Washington escort service, oversaw a controversial policy advocated by the religious right that required any US-based group receiving anti-AIDS funds to take an anti-prostitution “loyalty oath.”

Aid groups bitterly opposed the policy, charging that it “was so broad – and applied even to their private funds – that it would obstruct their outreach to sex workers who are at high risk of transmitting the AIDS virus.” But President Bush wouldn’t budge. He signed a 2003 National Security Presidential Directive saying prostitution “and related activities” were “inherently harmful and dehumanizing.”

Several groups and countries had their funding cut due to the policy. Brazil lost $40 million for “one of its most successful anti-AIDS strategies, persuading sex workers to use condoms or other measures to stop spreading the disease.”

During an “Ask the White House” online chat in 2004, Tobias defended the policy, saying the U.S. was “partnering with communities” to begin “fighting sex trafficking and prostitution, while still serving victims of these activities.” Tobias added that he was overseeing several “highly successful” relationship programs “aimed at men and boys to help them develop healthy relationships with women.”

SMOKING GUN – In a TSG interview, Palfrey admitted operating an escort firm, but claimed that her workers did not engage in “illegal sexual activities.” There are “a lot of erotic activities that one can do without participating in things that are illegal,” she claimed. Investigators contend that after Palfrey hires a prostitute, she sends the woman to a “screening” appointment where she is required to have sex “without payment” so as to ensure that the prospective hooker is not a law enforcement officer. Palfrey, who spoke to TSG from Germany, said that agents raiding her home would have found nothing since she did not keep computerized records and regularly shredded documents. Asked about the nature of her clientele, Palfrey called the identity of her johns a “salacious detail” of which she was unaware. “I never kept records,” she claimed. “I protected the client’s confidentiality. . . they trusted me.” But Palfrey did speculate that she may have come to the attention of federal agents because her operation had somehow intersected with a more high profile case, like that of convicted ex-congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Investigators are reportedly examining charges that a defense contractor provided hookers to Cunningham as part of an influence-peddling scheme. Palfrey did not claim a nexis between her escort service and Cunningham, but invoked the disgraced pol’s name while saying that she would wager that the basis for the federal probe of her business “had solely to do with some Duke Cunningham-type bigwig client that got caught up in something and started to say, ‘Do you know this?’ and ‘Do you know that?’ And that he might have been able to lead them to somebody.” Palfrey, who said she started her service in D.C. because “it’s a very liberal, sophisticated, cosmopolitan area,” advertised her company as featuring women “23 and older, with two or more years of college education, who either work and/or go to school in the daytime.” Palfrey told TSG that she shuttered her escort business in mid-August because her female employees were “driving me crazy. They were a pain in the ass to deal with.” She added, “It was just time to start a different life and do different things, move on.”|


2006 – Rep. Mark Foley resigns over sexually explicit e=mails to male pages

In April 2001, Rick Yannuzzi, the CIA’s deputy national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs, is found dead at his home in the Oakton VA area. Police call it a suicide. According to the Washington Post, “Yannuzzi’s apparent suicide caught colleagues by surprise and left them searching for possible explanations. Yannuzzi apparently left a suicide note in which he expressed love for his family but gave no explanation for taking his life, sources said.”


DEAN CALBREATH AND JERRY KAMMER, COPLEY NEWS SERVICE – Poway military contractor Brent Wilkes – whom Justice Department officials identify as the co-conspirator – has long been active in local political circles, serving as the San Diego County finance co-chairman of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign and the state finance co-chairman for President Bush. Wilkes has not been charged with a crime in the Cunningham case. . . . Wilkes’ story shows how gifts, favors and campaign contributions can be used to gain lucrative business from the government. Over the past 20 years, Wilkes has devoted much of his career to developing political contacts in Washington

Brent Wilkes, founder of ADCS Inc., is identified by officials as “co-conspirator No. 1” in the Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery case. Those who know Wilkes describe him as gregarious and ambitious, a person who can make friends easily and toss them aside just as quickly. . .

Wilkes made no bones about where his money was coming from. His jet-black Hummer bore a license plate reading MIPR ME – a reference to Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests, which authorize funds in the Pentagon.

Wilkes shared the benefits of his largesse with the politicians who helped him. He took Cunningham on several out-of-state trips on his corporate jet. Cunningham has produced no records showing that he paid for food, lodging or transportation while traveling to resorts with Wilkes, although he does have receipts for several campaign trips on Wilkes’ jet.

Wilkes also bought a small powerboat that he moored behind Cunningham’s yacht, the Kelly C, at the Capital Yacht Club in Washington, D.C. The boat was available for Cunningham’s use anytime Wilkes was not using it.

But what landed Wilkes in trouble with federal prosecutors was his gifts to Cunningham. According to Cunningham’s plea agreement, “Co-conspirator No. 1,” gave $525,000 to Cunningham on May 13, 2004, to pay off the second mortgage on Cunningham’s home in Rancho Santa Fe.

Co-conspirator No. 1 also gave $100,000 to Cunningham on May 1, 2000, which went into Cunningham’s personal accounts in San Diego and Washington, D.C. And he paid $11,116.50 to help pay Cunningham’s mortgage on the Kelly C.

The plea agreement charged that in return for the payments, Cunningham “used his public office and took other official action to influence U.S. Department of Defense personnel to award and execute government contracts.”

Wilkes befriended other legislators, too. He ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in Washington – first in the Watergate Hotel and then in the Westin Grand near Capitol Hill.


JUNE 2000

The handling of the 1997 Starbucks murder case continues to raise eyebrows. Why, of all the 301 slayings that took place in DC that same year, did only these three killings attract the attention not only of the FBI but of Attorney General Reno herself? Reno has overruled her own US Attorney and called for the death penalty in the case.

There are two reasonable explanations for the federal intrusion in the case. One is that the murders took place in Georgetown, home of some of the city’s most powerful residents. The second is that one of the victims was formerly a White House intern, Mary Caitrin Mahoney, allegedly familiar with some of the licentious activities occurring there.

While there is no concrete evidence that Mahoney was specifically targeted, the heavy involvement of the federal government in what it claims was a routine murder case inevitably raises questions. The appearance of Reno, the Miss Fixit of Clinton crime and corruption investigations, is even less reassuring. Reno squashed investigations into drug and gubernatorial payoff aspects of the Department of Agriculture case, has never bothered to go after Webb Hubbell for the taxes he owes, and has repeatedly undermined the work of special prosecutors and congressional investigators. And as Wllliam Safire rightfully notes, Reno’s Justice Department “wants none of the Clinton-Gore Asian funny-money traffickers such as John Huang, Pauline Kanchanalak and Charlie Trie to face punishment that might induce them to involve any of the famous recipients of China’s largess.” The accused in the case has recanted his confession, which was acquired after extensive interrogation.

[Questions have arisen about the circumstances under which Carl Derek Cooper confessed to the Starbucks slaying in which former White House intern Caitlin Mahoney and two other workers were killed. Cooper was questioned for many hours, denied being involved, then accused someone else, and then confessed, only to recant his confession after being released by suburban Prince George’s County police and returning to DC. Why this is not your average three-death murder is explained by Newsmax]

NEWSMAX: The same week Cooper recanted, new information emerged about Mahoney’s background and her possible ties to the Monica Lewinsky case. Author David M. Hoffman, who spent a year investigating Mahoney’s murder, tells Globe Magazine’s Tom Kuncl that the Starbucks massacre came just three days after Monica told Clinton she was going to tell her parents about their relationship. According to Monica Clinton reacted angrily, telling her, “It’s a crime to threaten the President.” Hoffman’s claim is corroborated by the Starr Report. “Monica took the threat seriously,” Hoffman told Globe, “telling Linda Tripp that she feared for both their lives if her affair with Clinton ever became public.” “I don’t want to wind up like Caity Mahoney,” Monica is rumored to have told friends.

MARCH 1999

Police have charged a single suspect in the 1997 gang-style slaying of three employees of a Georgetown Starbucks. The murders have attracted attention for a number of reasons:

— Being killed in Georgetown is considered more newsworthy by local media than being murdered in less elegant parts of town.

— In the contemporary gestalt, a murder at Starbucks creates some of the same horror as a murder in a church did in earlier times.

— One of the victims, Mary Caitrin Mahoney, was formerly an intern at the White House and Monica Lewinsky was reported to have told Linda Tripp that she didn’t want to end up like her.

Police say the killings were the result of a botched holdup. Certainly, the arrest came after a long and botched investigation. It was initially hampered by the decentralization of the homicide squad shortly before the murders. Police sources complained that the move by then Chief Larry Soulsby prevented the concentration of investigative effort vital in the critical hours immediately after such a crime. Soulsby later resigned in the wake of unrelated scandals. Subsequently a police informant in the case was killed while serving as part of a sting operation in a drug case.

The first detective on the Starbucks scene called it “one of the most difficult cases I’ve ever handled.” The murders took place after closing. It is not clear how the murderer(s) gained entrance. No money was taken and no neighbors heard the ten shots that were fired. As late as a day before the arrests, police were saying that there were two gunmen involved, but now they believe that suspect Carl Derek Cooper used two weapons in the attack.

If so, he did a lot of damage in a short period, killing three people — two with one bullet each and hitting Mahoney five times. Although Mahoney was reported to have been fleeing, she was struck in the face, neck and chest. Police say that Cooper — who has been previously convicted of robbery, car theft and gun and drug violations — used two guns in other crimes. The victims’ pockets were picked but a register and a safe filled with cash were left untouched.

An obituary in the Washington Blade, reported that Mahoney, 24, had been a founder of the Baltimore Lesbian Avengers. She founded a women’s issues discussion group at Towson State University, was a board member of the 31st Street Bookstore in Baltimore, and worked on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign as well as interning for the Clinton White House when he was newly elected.

The lawyer for suspect Cooper has complained that his client was questioned excessively without legal counsel.

THE 1990s


MICHAEL POWELL, SARI HORWITZ, TONI LOCY, WASHINGTON POST: November 30, 1997; A type of extortion scheme known crudely as “fairy shaking” led to the arrest of a D.C. police lieutenant and toppled the police chief of the nation’s capital. It’s quite simple as extortion goes: Trail a married man out of a gay sex club. Take his license plate number. And later threaten to expose him unless he pays hush money. The term “fairy shaking” needs no definition within certain circles of the D.C. police department: A few rogue cops have been doing it for years and getting away with it, several law enforcement sources said. And it stands at the center of the case against Lt. Jeffery S. Stowe, until recently the roommate of D.C. Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby . . . It’s common knowledge that men go to the clubs that line a secluded block in Southeast Washington — clubs such as the Follies Theater and La Cage — to relax, listen to music and have sex . . . In September, someone was watching for the most vulnerable among them. The observer noted which parked cars had baby seats and bore other evidence of the straight, married life. And he wrote down the license plate numbers. In the days that followed, three men who were married with children received anonymous letters saying they had been photographed at the gay sex clubs. The letters demanded $10,000 cash from each in exchange for keeping their secrets. This wasn’t your typical, everyday extortionist, authorities say. He knew the extortion game better than almost anyone in town. He was, according to an arrest affidavit, Lt. Jeffery S. Stowe, commander of a D.C. police unit that investigates extortion and other crimes. Within two hours of Stowe’s arrest last Tuesday, his best friend on the force resigned: Chief Soulsby.


There is an epidemic of strange celebrity deaths in Washington in the 1990s. Before the Vince Foster death, the last high level suicide had been Navy Secretary James Forrestal. Murders of well-known or well-placed people were rare.

– Although his death was officially labeled a suicide, many questions have arisen concerning the passing of Admiral Mike Boorda, Chief of U.S. Naval operations

– In 1996, former CIA Director William Colby died, allegedly in a boating accident, but the facts do not adequately support this theory. For example, the retired CIA head had left his home unlocked, his computer on, and a partly eaten dinner on the table. Colby had recently become an editor of Strategic Investment which was doing investigative reporting on the Vince Foster death.

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, PITTSBURGH, TRIBUNE-REVIEW – The body of “the Old Gray Man of the CIA,” William Colby, has been found in waters near his weekend home, but theories about his demise continue to thrive. Colby, who served as CIA director under Presidents Nixon and Ford, disappeared April 28. Maryland authorities found his body Monday morning after it washed ashore. This followed an intensive search of the Wimcoico River near Colby’s home in Rock Point, Md. Local police believe his body was lost in the cloudy waters of the Wicomico while canoeing, a favorite pastime of Colby’s. . . Last week, The New York Post’s irreverent Page Six raised concerns about Colby’s disappearance and apparent death with an article headlined “Conspiracy Crowd Snatches Colby.” “The theory among conspiracy-minded, cloak-and-dagger buffs is that Colby was assassinated so he wouldn’t spill any more agency secrets,” the gossip page began. Agency insiders reportedly resented Colby for talking to Congress about the “family jewels” – supposed illegal operations the agency conducted in the decades before Watergate. As a result, Colby lost the support of agency insiders and the Ford administration. President Ford fired Colby on Halloween 1975. Some theorists point to the similar circumstances surrounding the 1978 death of CIA deputy director John A. Paisley.

– There was also the little noted but third highest ranking alleged suicide of the period: John Millis, staff director of the Staff Director of the US House Select Committee on Intelligence who was found dead of a gunshot wound in a motel in Vienna, Virginia on June 3, 2000.

– That same month, a CIA intelligence analyst, John Muskopf, 28, was killed while walking with friends when a car drove up and someone inside shot him.

– In 1998, Sandy Hume, a Washington journalist, committed suicide in a seedy suburban motel. According to the Jerusalem Post, “the brilliant 28-year-old journalist” killed himself, “as the story goes,” over a homosexual affair with “a senior Republican [member of Congress and] confirmed supporter of Israel.”

– Investigative journalist Danny Casolaro allegedly committed suicide in a bathtub of a Martinsburg WV motel in 1991, but serious doubts have been raised concerning the incident.

– Former White House intern Mary Caitrin Mahoney was shot five times during the murder of three Starbucks employees in an execution-style slaying. No money was taken. An informant assisting police in case was murdered when sent by DC police into a botched drug sting. The handling of the 1997 Starbucks murder case continues to raise questions. Carl Derek Cooper pleaded guilty to the crimes in April 2000 after being threatened with the death penalty by Janet Reno.

– Washington attorney Paul Wilcher was found dead on a toilet in apartment. He was aid to be investigating various scandals including the October Surprise, the 1980 election campaign, drug and gun-running through Mena and the Waco assault. Was planning a TV documentary on his findings. He had delivered an extensive affidavit to Janet Reno three weeks before his death.

– Carlos Ghigliotti: 42, was found dead in his office just outside of Washington D.C. on April 28, 2000. Ghigliotti, a thermal imaging analyst hired by the House Government Reform Committee to review tape of the Waco siege, had said he determined the FBI fired shots during the incident. Ghigliotti said the tapes also confirm the Davidians fired repeatedly at FBI agents during the assault, which ended when flames raced through the compound.

FOUR CORNERS: The widow of a former top Australian intelligence officer has broken her silence about the controversial death of her husband in Washington two years ago. Sandra Jenkins is demanding a full public inquiry into the events leading up to the suicide of her husband Merv, whose body was found at his Arlington, Virginia, home on June 13, 1999, his 48th birthday. She believes her husband would be alive today if an Australian Government investigation into allegations against him had been better handled. Merv Jenkins was the Defence Intelligence Organisation’s senior man in Washington. A key part of his role was to liaise and swap information with American intelligence agencies such as the CIA. He came under investigation for allegedly passing AUSTEO (Australian Eyes Only) material to allies. At that time, early to mid 1999, the US was keen for intelligence on the Indonesia-controlled militias running rampant in East Timor before the independence vote. For Merv Jenkins, whose Washington civilian posting followed an impeccable record of military service, the investigation came as an extraordinary shock.


EDDIE DEAN, WASHINGTON CITY PAPER, JULY 30-AUG. 5, 1999: At the corner of Connecticut and R Streets, [Joyce] Chiang hopped out of the car. She said she was going to the Starbucks across the street. She’d sworn off coffee and caffeinated drinks a few years before, after her doctor warned her of an impending ulcer. What she wanted was a cup of hot herbal tea to take the chill off during the walk through Dupont Circle. She had plenty of time to make it back for her 9 p.m. phone call. No problem. I’ll be fine. Chiang stood on the corner in front of La Tomate restaurant. The car pulled away into the night. When a crime happens in Dupont Circle, authorities know where to look to find evidence: nearby Rock Creek. It has long been a favorite drop-off point for everything from guns to bodies. But it was alongside the Anacostia where a couple found Chiang’s INS identification card the next day. By then, Roger Chiang had figured that his sister had spent the night at a friend’s house-a common enough occurrence. When she didn’t come home Sunday night, though, he began to get worried. Monday afternoon, he phoned her office: She hadn’t reported to work, and nobody had heard from her. It was one thing for Joyce to spend the weekend away, but quite another for her to skip a work day without calling. Her friends told Roger they had no idea where she could be. The next day, he contacted authorities to report his sister as missing. FULL STORY

ALSO. . .

1996: Dick Morris, the chief political strategist for President Clinton, resigns when the Star publishes details of his relationship with Sherry Rowlands, a $200-an-hour prostitute – including his foot fetish.

1992 – Senator Bob Packwood is accused of harassing a large number of women

1990: the House reprimands Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, for – among other things – using his political influence to fix parking tickets for an intimate friend who was also a male prostitute and ran a homosexual whorehouse out of the Frank residence. Other members who got into trouble included Gary Studds of Massachusetts who seduced a young male House page and was censured by the House. Dan Crane of Illinois had sex with a female page, cried and begged forgiveness on the floor of the House and lost his next election.


THE 1980s


It has been sometimes alleged that J Edgar Hoover made a deal with the Italian Mafia to stay out of DC, although Meyer Lansky did have a few confederates including one of the best known restaurateurs in town. By the late 1980s, however, things are changing, as reported in 1987 by Nancy Lewis in the Washington Post: “Prosecutors say their first inkling that organized crime had discovered Washington as an attractive place to do business came about 15 years ago when an undercover investigation of the city’s biggest-ever drug gang led to the conviction here of two members of the Genovese crime family. The 300-member D.C. gang was headed by Lawrence W. (Slippery) Jackson, the son of a local minister, but the massive amounts of heroin it put on the streets came from the New York mob. Killings of rival gang members, a rarity in previous decades, became frequent as drug chieftains, adopting Mafia ways, battled for control of the city’s street corners. Since then, slowly but steadily, organized crime figures have been appearing around town.”

Wrote Lewis: “What’s going on? We never had these organized crime types in the past. We had gangsters but they were our gangsters: Capitol Hill’s Joe Nesline, the Warring brothers from Foggy Bottom, Roger “Whitetop” Simkins from Petworth, even Abe “Jewboy Dietz” Plisco from Georgetown by way of Richmond. They and a handful of others organized the criminal underworld here during Prohibition and controlled it for decades afterward Now FBI agents and prosecutors here talk about gangsters arriving from crime families in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York and Sicily, of mob “soldiers” and “associates,” of huge drug shipments, of pizza parlors vending cocaine along with the double-cheese and anchovies, of enforcers who break legs and boast of the number of people their friends have rubbed out. This is something new. In the past, “organized crime considered Washington a small town . . . and didn’t want to fool with it,” William Garber said recently. He is an attorney who defended several local minor crime figures and watched some of the more notorious trials when he first opened his law practice in the 1950s. He added that the conventional wisdom of the day was also that “organized crime thought moving {into Washington} would just be pushing the FBI too far.”

In later years, however, whatever Mafia influence there was seems to fade.

1987: Three weeks into his presidential campaign, a news team stakes out Gary Hart’s Washington house. The team will report that Hart has had a rendezvous with a young woman while his wife is away. A photo of the woman, Donna Rice, sitting on his lap near a yacht named “Monkey Business,” also surfaced and Hart’s campaign was sunk.

1985 Duke Zeibert and former Washington Bullets owner Arnold Heft plead guilty to gambling charges involving an all-male social club in Rockville known as the Progress Club.

1983 –GOP Illinois congressman Dan Crane is censured for having sex with a female page; Democratic Rep. Gary Studds is censured for having sex with a male one.

1980Rep. Dan Quayle goes on a Florida golfing vacation with seven other men and Paula Parkinson — an insurance lobbyist who later posed nude for Playboy. Parkinson describes Quayle as a husband on the make, but says she turned him down because she was already having an affair with another congressman. Marilyn Quayle says, “anybody who knows Dan Quayle knows he would rather play golf than have sex.”

THE 1970s


PATRICIA SULLIVAN, WASHINGTON POST – Betty Shingler Talmadge, 81, a well-known Washington socialite and businesswoman who testified against her newly divorced husband, the late Democratic Sen. Herman E. Talmadge, during a Senate ethics inquiry in the late 1970s, died May 7 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. . . She later ran for Congress, wrote two cookbooks and turned her home in Lovejoy, Ga., into an invitation-only restaurant. . .

But it was her testimony, under subpoena, before the Senate Ethics Committee in 1979 that put her in headlines, after 22 years in Washington. Bundles of $100 bills were kept in the pocket of an overcoat in the couple’s hall closet, she testified.

The money, unreported campaign donations and reimbursements for nonexistent office expenses, were used for the family’s living costs. Mrs. Talmadge testified that she took about a third of it, between $12,000 and $15,000, in January 1974 after a fight with her then-husband. She said she used it to supplement her $50-per-week allowance and turned over the remaining 77 $100 bills from the stash to the committee. She never knew the source of the funds, she said, declaring simply, “It was a way of life.”. . .

The divorce was one of a spate on Capitol Hill. Hers caught the public’s attention partly for the brutal way she learned of it — on a television news show. She countersued, charging cruel treatment and “habitual intoxication.” The divorce cost her at least a million dollars, according to contemporaneous accounts.

“As long as I rubbed the hams and made some money and asked no questions, it was a perfect little life. As soon as I started asking questions,” she said, laughing, to a Post reporter in 1978, “I became a little old menopausal, slightly crazy lady.”

NY TIMES – After her first cookbook appeared, The New York Times asked Mrs. Talmadge how she had found the nerve to slaughter her first pig. “Real easy, honey,” she replied. “I just thought, ‘You little male chauvinist, you,’ and I went to it.”

TPR – HERMAN TALMADGE was the son of Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge who campaigned with the pitch: “Y’all only got three friends in this world: the Lord God Almighty, the Sears Roebuck catalog, and Eugene Talmadge. And you can only vote for one of them.”

POLICE RAID THE HOME of numbers boss Roger “Whitetop” Simkins, only to find him bed ridden. They help him with his heart medicine while collecting 14 guns and gambling equipment.

In 1978 CIA official John A. Paisley is disappears. His empty boat is found near the Chesapeake Bay. A body with a shot in the head is found and officials declare it to be Paisley who had allegedly committed suicide. His wife, however, says the body is the wrong height to be her husband. He died of an apparent gunshot behind his ear. His body had been weighted with diving belts. Since no blood was found on the boat, authorities theorized Paisley first jumped into the water and then fired the shot into his head. However, murder was never ruled out in the case.

1976: Elizabeth Ray says she has been paid $14,000 a year in public funds by Ohio Rep. Wayne Hays, chairman of the House Administration Committee. “I can’t type, I can’t file, I can’t even answer the phone,” Ray tells the Washington Post. “Supposedly, I’m on the oversight committee,” she said. “But I call it the Out-of-Sight Committee.” Hays is 64; Ray is 27.

1974: Rep. Wilbur Mills is stopped by Washington police at 2 am for erratic drving. He is intoxicated and his face is scratched. A burlesque dancer known as “Fanne Fox, the Argentine Firecracker,” leaps out of the car and dives into the Tidal Basin. Her rescue is filmed by television reporter Larry Krebs. Mills is reelected but loses his chairmanship.

1973 – John Theodore Brown aka Jack Brown is indicted by a grand jury in New York. Brown flees but his codefendants are found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Brown is identified as an associate of the Tramunti family and an important link between the Italian mafia and DC black drug traffickers. According to Dan Moldea, Brown was the source of supply in at least 15 DC drug cases:

In early 1973 a meeting was held in Brookland to establish a black narcotics organization. Among those reportedly involved were a prominent restaurateur, a city official, and a banker, all familiar names in the city. Says Moldea: “By late 1973 there were rumors that the mob had decided to move back in, but the minorities were pretty solidly in control.”

THE 1960S

Joe Nesline, who grew up around 6th & Mass NE, became the king of local gambling, with three clubs and, in the late 1960s, a wig business on F Street believed to be a front for gambling and cocaine trafficking. He reportedly runs casinos in Cuba for Meyer Lansky and worked with the Genovese family in Europe. MORE ON NESLINE

1969 In the summer, several persons involved in criminal activity meet at various locations to discuss establishing a formal organization to control the distribution of narcotics in the DC area. The operation is modeled after La Cosa Nostra and members start to refer to it as the ‘Black Mafia.’ The total membership is between 50 and 75 and crimes will include extortion, murder, robbery and protection. Says crime expert Dan Moldea, “Persons involved in illegal or quasi-legal activities were asked to donate a specified amount of money to the group. In return for this money, the person was entitled to some form of protection in their day-to-day operations. Their employees would not be robbed by members of their organization; if their employees were robbed by non-members, the robbers were taken care of by the head group; they wanted any person disciplined, the head group arranged for this. If any arguments arose, or disputes occurred between Black Mafia members and investors, the arguments were mediated by the head group.” Joe Nesline is the reported contact with the New York mob.

THE 1950S 


GAMBLER’S BOOK – For all times, he is The Man. Sonny Reizner once called him, the Bobby Jones-Babe Ruth-Man O’War of the oddsmaking business. He exerted the single greatest influence on sports betting for a quarter of a century and provided the foundation for the industry today. . . His legendary self-effacing humor aside, Martin did what he did best for years in Las Vegas: set the numbers, a service we all but take for granted in this computer age. It wasn’t always so. This brilliant, modest, funny, funny man paved the way.

Martin first plied his trade by booking six-hit bets at Thomas Jefferson High School in East New York in Brooklyn, NY (pick three major league baseball players to get six hits cumulatively at 10-1 odds, later 6-1) graduating into football parlay cards like those issued by Gorham Press of Minneapolis fame. Martin remembers that, “I guess I was about 12 years old when I began making three-and four-team parlays, always dogs. I hit a few, running up a $600 bankroll. Sometimes I’d bet $5, a lot of money in the depression. I could have bought a whole block. . . Martin paid his way through New York University by selling parlay cards at a 25 percent commission while studying journalism and combined his knack for gambling by using out-of-town newspapers to get the inside “dope” on college basketball teams. . .

Martin quickly developed a reputation as a man who knew things, a “wise guy.” He did this by combing his out-of-town papers for information, and collecting files on every player and sport. He made out all right until the 1951 college basketball point-shaving scandals, when he was wiped out by those in on the fixes.

He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1952, recalling, “A bookmaker there hired me to advise him on fighters…”The bookmaker was Julius Silverman and Martin was dead broke. He made his living in D.C., working out of a building near the old State Department, surviving there until 1959 when Martin, Silverman and Meyer “Nutsy” Schwartz were arrested in the Foggy Bottom row house. Their organization had become the number one boxing book in the country when Martin and his two partners were arrested. They were each given 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison. Martin notes, “I failed to procure diplomatic immunity.” His shop shut the doors in 1962 with Robert Kennedy’s war on gambling in full swing.

Duke Ziebert, the famed Washington restaurateur came to Martin’s aid. Ziebert hired Edward Bennett Williams, renowned trial lawyer and later owner of the Washington Redskins, to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, using an invasion of privacy defense. Bennett bet Martin he’d sweep the judges, 9-0 in the Silverman vs. United States landmark case. Martin bet him 10-1 he wouldn’t. Martin was quite happy to pay him the $1,000 when each man was forced to pay a $5,000 fine but he escaped jail time after surveillance used to gather evidence was ruled illegal and a violation of the defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

Martin left Washington and moved around the country, first to Miami, then back to Washington. He says, “I got into a little trouble in Houston back in the early 60s. They claimed I was bookmaking I thought I was just having fun. A difference of opinion, I guess.” Seeking greener pastures, he eventually moved west in 1963 to become the official oddsmaker at Harry Gordon’s Churchill Downs Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas in 1967.

1952: Various local mobsters are called before the Senate District Subcommittee including Emmett Waring, numbers banker Abe Plisco, Roger “Whitetop” Simkins, who ran the numbers in downtown. Part of the testimony reveals the use of “ice,” or payoffs, to local cops. Simkins refuses to identify himself on the grounds that it might incriminate him.

THE 1920s and 1930s

“The Capital Underworld,” 1932: “Compared with New York and Chicago, Washington is not a wicked city. It experiences brief flashes of gang warfare which the local press tries to play up as important. It revels in the murder mysteries of Mary Baker, Navy Department clerk, and of Virginia McPherson, daughter-in-law of the assistant to the Secretary of War. It is baffled by the robbery of the Salvadorian Legation, accomplished as a larger consignment of Scotch whisky had arrived and was piled up in the rear garden. And it is horrified at the nocturnal operations of more than a hundred Negro degenerates who swooped down regularly upon the encamped Bonus Army as soon as it became dark. Compared with the big-time racketeering of New York and Chicago all of this probably is puerile and petty, but it plays an important and influential part in the life of the nation’s capital. Furthermore, Washington’s underworld has two or three distinctions of which in a modest sort of way it can really boast. One of these is the ease of securing immunity. The capital may witness few crimes, but in few cases is the culprit ever brought to justice. Another distinction is the complete and unrestrained freedom of the neighboring counties of Maryland, where an amazing White Slave traffic, operating through a chain of tea houses, furnishes recreation to capital residents. Finally, Washington probably boasts more small, independent bootleggers per capita than any other city in the country and has established a unique and universal system of liquor distribution. . . . Police occasionally interrupt these too-obvious law-breakers, but the great rank and file of bootleggers and petty criminals who ply their trade in the nation’s capital enjoy an immunity almost unsurpassed even in New York and Chicago. This is due to three factors. The first is the influence of Henry Mencken’s Free State of Maryland, which surrounds the District of Columbia on three sides. The second is the natural laziness of the capital police. The third is the prestige and pull exercised by so large a number of those enjoying official status, a factor which makes convictions difficult and disrupts police morale.”

 Izzy Einstein, the famous prohibition agent, keeps a record of how long it takes to get a drink in various cities. DC comes out badly. Not only does it take an hour (as opposed to 11 minutes in Pittsburgh and 17 in Atlanta) but he has to ask directions from a cop.

Emmitt “Little Man” Warring and his brothers Leo Paul and Charles “Rags” run the numbers in the late 1930s. According to a Washington Post article by Nancy Lewis [3/1/87], “Emmitt, the ninth of 10 children born to a Foggy Bottom barrel maker and his Irish immigrant wife, was the leader of the brothers’ numbers business. Before then, in Prohibition, Warring had run the Washington area’s version of “Thunder Road,” bringing rye and corn whiskey from Prince George’s County and southern Maryland stills to the city’s “liquor drops,” using Georgetown teen-agers who drove “high-powered touring cars” for $50 to $100 a trip. The Warrings’ shift from illegal booze to illegal numbers — which they preferred to call the “commission brokerage business” — was soon bringing in $2 million a year, and Emmitt’s “Little Man” moniker described only his 5-foot 4 1/2 inch stature . . . The brothers operated out of a third-floor room at 2423 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, but their domain was all of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, and by 1936 they had at least 56 employees – the number listed on their income tax returns.” The brothers are indicted on tax evasion charges in 1938, but the trial ends in a hung jury. The second trial ends in a mistrial after the judge reports that Emmitt Warring has offered a juror $600 and given whiskey to a US Marshal to pass to the jury. The third trial ends after two months, when all three brothers pleaded guilty. The business keeps on and is earning at least $7.5 million a year by the late 1940s.

Sam Smith, Progressive Review – There was a club on the edge of town owned by Jimmy LaFontaine. It was a club with standards, as Gaillard Hunt described in a Prohibition era novel:

Couldn’t sit here all night, tho. Have to do something, Do the usual thing — the best thing. Whatever happens eleven and ten is still twenty-one and aces still beat kings.

He slipped the bottle into his coat pocket and stood out in the street. Far down the street a taxi was coming. It slowed down as it got closer, then stopped. He got in and said, “Jimmy Lafontaine’s.”

About the time the taxi turned into Bladensburg road the whisky began to hit him. It made him less mad and the knot in his belly began to loosen, By the time they got to the place he was feeling almost good.

The doorman looked at him sharply, then shook his head. Peter tried to argue with him, but he only said, “You know the house rules. No one been drinking can get in.” He whistled to the taxi which was loitering in the drive and shut the door.

Peter got back in the taxi and. said, “Son of a. bitch. That guy’s idea of a drunk is same as Volstead’s. Let’s go back to town.”

The doorman was as famous as LaFontaine, as Shirley Povich described in a 1989 Washington Post article:

In the 1920s and ’30s there were also in Washington indoor sports such as dice-throwing, poker games, blackjack and track odds on the races everywhere. One temple of chance, located in Bladensburg, just across the District line, was known as “Jimmy’s;” it was impeccably conducted by the legendary Jimmy LaFontaine, who stood for no nonsense by anybody and was proud of a clientele that included many stylish Washington names.

At Jimmy’s a huge fellow named Josh Licarione frisked everybody at the door to help keep the peace. Licarione, it seems, had played football for a time at George Washington University. The story goes that after an especially heroic victory at Griffith Stadium, the president of GW was overjoyed enough to visit the team in the locker room and not only praised the gladiators but continued told them, “Any of you boys who are in the vicinity of my office, come in and pass the time of day with me.”

That was when Licarione said, “By the way, where is that school of yours?”

Povich was wrong about one thing: the club wasn’t over the city line; it was on it. I had sometimes heard that one advantage of this was that if, for example, a raid were pending from the Maryland side, LaFontaine would simply lock the Maryland gates, giving his customers time to evacuate through the DC entrance. But Tom Kelly, who covered the beat, tells me it wasn’t as complicated: if there were reports of illegal activities, the called police department would simply say (with at least 50% certainty) that it wasn’t in their jurisdiction.

A Washingtonian who grew up in Brookland remembers hearing about the club and its ten to twelve foot wooden walls. He says a relative who once one a lot of money at the club was driven home by Fontaine’s security people to make sure he made it safely.



In 1863 General Meade replaced General Hooker three days before the Battle of Gettysburg. Meade will only have a fort named after him, while Hooker lends his name to a whole synonym. The following is from a report by the Smithsonian Institution on archeological work done near the site of the National Museum of the American Indian:

“With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the sleepy town of Washington was dramatically transformed as its population swelled with newcomers. The new arrivals included many men who had signed up to fight for the Union. Throughout the war, thousands of soldiers were encamped throughout the city, either awaiting orders to fight, manning forts to protect the Union capital from Rebel attack, or languishing from disease or wounds in hospitals throughout the city. Along with the soldiers came government bureaucrats, freed and escaped slaves, businessmen, salesmen, and con men, as well as the camp followers and prostitutes who sought to profit from the increased demand for their services. The Army’s provost marshal, who kept a list of the city’s bawdy houses during the war ostensibly to keep them under surveillance, concluded that there were 450 registered houses in Washington in 1862. While some prostitutes worked in brothels, the majority probably plied their trade as streetwalkers. By 1863, the Evening Star newspaper estimated that Washington had about 5,000 prostitutes . . . When the war came to a close, Washington remained overcrowded, and its roads, parks, and the canal were in shambles as a result of four years of overuse and neglect. The area between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Mall, which is presently occupied by the Federal Triangle complex, had become an infamous crime-ridden neighborhood rife with the stench of the nearby canal, which had become little more than an open sewer. Known for its rampant prostitution, the area was widely referred to as Hooker’s Division, a wry double entendre. Indeed many of its occupants were “hookers,” a term for prostitutes used since the early nineteenth century. Furthermore, the region was reported to have been visited frequently by the troops in Union General Joseph Hooker’s division, which was encamped nearby.” MORE

1888: Tolls are lifted on the Aqueduct Bridge, providing easier access for Geogetowners to the disreputable pleasures of Rosslyn which included saloons, prostitution, gambling, chicken and bulldog fights, and two race tracks. Eventually, a reform movement will force these establishments out of Rosslyn, some of them moving to Georgetown. Jimmy LeFontaine, who ran a gambling house in Rosslyn becomes a prominent Georgetown citizen. Another waterfront merchant is said to control the local numbers.


Almost half of all prostitutes in DC have been found to be HIV-positive.

The Federal Triangle – bordered by Pennsylvania Ave., Constitution Ave., and 15th St – used to be known as “Murder Bay,” the most notorious neighborhood in DC. It was later called “Hooker’s Division” after the Civil War general responsible for the area.

In the Capitol Rotunda is a fresco called “The Apotheosis of Washington,” painted by Constantine Brumidi. It features 13 angels welcoming George Washington into heaven. The angels were alleged modeled on 13 local prostitutes.





NATIONAL ENQUIRER – A book reveals startling new details about 28-year-old Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique, who now awaits trial for Chandra’s murder.

Chandra was just 24 when she disappeared on May 1, 2001. Her body was found a year later in D.C.’s Rock Creek Park.

The hunt for her killer gripped America – fueled by the revelation that she’d been having a secret affair with former California Congressman Gary Condit. But it wasn’t until nearly eight years after the murder that illegal alien Guandique was indicted in the pretty young woman’s slaying. He is already serving a 10-year sentence for brutal knife attacks on two women in the same park.

“Detectives are confident Guandique is the guy – there is new forensic evidence that directly links him to Chandra’s murder,” said former Washington, D.C., homicide detective Rod Wheeler, who consulted on the case.

The book also provides new details about the married ex-congressman caught up in the case. While Gary Condit was never named a suspect by police, he came under intense media scrutiny and the revelation of the affair led to his loss in his bid for re-election in 2002.

The authors claim that the FBI did tests on Chandra’s underwear and found Condit’s DNA.

But when the focus of the investigation switched to Guandique, already jailed for the two other vicious knife attacks, detectives found a photo of Chandra – ripped from a magazine – in his cell and the chilling tattoo on his chest.

The detectives “noted the large tattoo of a naked woman with long black hair – and the similarities to Chandra,” says a source.

“They asked if that was ‘some sort of souvenir’ that reminded him of the murder. He smirked, and giggled, but didn’t answer.”


Washington Post – D.C. police and prosecutors said that they will charge a 27-year-old Salvadoran man with first-degree murder in the killing of Chandra Levy nearly eight years ago during a sexual assault along a desolate hiking trail deep in Rock Creek Park. Saying they had solved a case that transfixed the nation, authorities issued an arrest warrant for Ingmar Guandique, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for attacking two other women at knifepoint in the park around the time the 24-year-old federal government intern disappeared. . .

According to the affidavit, on May 1, 2001, the day Levy disappeared, another young woman walking in the park was accosted by a Hispanic man. The woman said she ran away and later left the country on a preplanned trip. A year later, still living abroad, she saw a photograph of Guandique in a newspaper when his name first surfaced as a possible suspect in the Levy case. The affidavit says the woman recognized him as the man she saw in the park the day Levy disappeared. . .

Late last year, detectives interviewed key witnesses, including one who said Guandique had written letters claiming responsibility for the killing. The witness became nervous and later during a phone conversation questioned Guandique about the alleged admission. “During this recorded conversation Guandique acknowledged that he had told [the witness] about the ‘girl who’s dead,’ ” the police affidavit said.

Another witness told police in November that he had known Guandique for many years and that Guandique boasted that he was a member of the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. He allegedly said that he was known in the gang as “Chuckie” — after a demonic doll from a series of horror movies — because he had a reputation for “killing and chopping up people.” Guandique allegedly told the witness that he had raped many women after lying in wait near a dirt path in the park, that he would tie them up and then sexually assault them. . .

Another witness, identified as “W11,” told police that Guandique confessed to killing Levy, but some of the details were different. . .

Levy Case

Levy had looked up the National Park Service headquarters – aka the Klingle Mansion – on the Internet as one of her last known acts in her Dupont Circle apartment. Her body was found about a mile north of the mansion, which is about three miles from her apartment.

Levy’s apartment was about four blocks from the former home of Joyce Chaing who had previously been found murdered in federal parkland in the capital. Chaing was last seen on an urban street corner in Dupont Circle.

Police did not search Levy’s apartment for nine days.

Her body was found about three weeks after her disappearance by a man walking his dog despite an extensive police search of the area nearby. They claimed they had not searched the part where the body was discovered because of its remoteness.

The sexual attacks in that area of Rock Creek Park stopped after Guandique was arrested.

MIKE WISE, SF CHRONICLE, 2007 – Although he is no longer an FBI agent, Brad Garrett still visits the steep, wooded hillside in a Washington, D.C., park where the skeletal remains of Chandra Levy, a federal intern from Modesto, Calif., were found five years ago this week, a year after she disappeared.

No one has been charged in the killing of the 24-year-old, whose disappearance generated enormous publicity after authorities revealed that she had been having a relationship with her married hometown congressman, Gary Condit. The Democrat was defeated in 2002 by his former aide, Dennis Cardoza.

“The key to cold cases is being creative,” Garrett, a private investigator and a consultant to ABC News, said in a phone interview. Until his mandatory retirement last year at the age of 58, Garrett was a high-profile agent who had solved some of the bureau’s most intractable cases — but not the Levy slaying.

“I go to Rock Creek Park sometimes, yeah, and go over the crime scene, over and over again,” he said. “What have I missed? The whole atmospherics is very important. It’s very frustrating that it’s not resolved. It’s troubling.”

On May 1, 2001, Levy used her computer in her apartment in the Dupont Circle area of northwest Washington to look up the National Park Service headquarters in Rock Creek Park, about a mile distant. She had recently completed an internship at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and planned to return to Modesto, according to her mother, Susan Levy. Friends and family became alarmed when Levy was not heard from, and a search began. It wasn’t until a year and three weeks later, on May 22, 2002, that her remains were found in the 1,700-acre park. .

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department lists the death as one of 6,000 cold cases. Since the intern’s disappearance, the case has been investigated by Detective Ralph Durant, a 37-year veteran of the department. In a phone interview, Durant said, “There are still persons of interest, yes, but we can’t tell you who they are. We still get phone calls and e-mails.”. .

Initially, media attention focused on Condit, the Modesto lawmaker 30 years Levy’s senior. Police have said repeatedly that they do not consider him a suspect. In the years since, Condit and his family have been embroiled in several lawsuits. He and his wife, Carolyn, sued American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, claiming they had been defamed by the supermarket tabloid. The suits were settled. No terms were disclosed. Condit also settled a suit against Vanity Fair magazine columnist Dominick Dunne.


ALLAN LENGEL, SARI HORWITZ WASHINGTON POST – Joe McCann, a private investigator who found one of Chandra Levy’s leg bones in Rock Creek Park this month, was happy to provide D.C. police detectives with details of the discovery. But during an interview at police headquarters, the detectives asked McCann if he would submit to a polygraph test and seemed to question the veracity of his story, according to sources familiar with the incident. McCann, a former D.C. homicide detective hired by the Levy family’s attorney, was insulted by the request — and declined. Yesterday, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said it is standard procedure in major cases to ask witnesses with crucial information to take a polygraph . . . But former law enforcement officials who know McCann said the polygraph request was insulting and a possible way to divert attention from the real question: Why didn’t D.C. police find the bone during an earlier search of that section of the park? “It’s not routine” to ask for a polygraph in instances such as McCann’s, said defense lawyer Louis H. Hennessey, who headed the D.C. police homicide unit in the mid-1990s. “I think they’re looking like fools and they’re trying to cast aspersions on other people.”

ROLL CALL – D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officials investigating the death of Washington intern Chandra Levy have interviewed a man serving a 10-year prison sentence for attacking two women in Rock Creek Park last year. D.C. Metro Police investigators have “talked to” Ingmar Guandeque, who was arrested in July 2001 after attacking two females (one in May and one in July) who were jogging along the Broad Branch trail in Rock Creek Park . . . A second official close to the Levy investigation said that while Guandeque was interviewed after Levy’s disappearance last year, investigators are now taking a closer look at him since the intern’s body was discovered. “Clearly there are some coincidences and links — just because of the proximity of where he [committed his crimes],” said a source close to the investigation.

. . . The first attack occurred in mid-May 2001, at 6:30 p.m., about two weeks after Levy disappeared. In that case, Guandeque came upon an unnamed female jogger, attacking her from behind while brandishing a knife. According to a press release issued Feb. 8 by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, the victim reported that Guandeque grabbed her around the neck and pulled her to the ground, where her portable radio fell off. She also reported that Guandeque bit her when she tried to push him away. Guandeque fled the scene of the crime, leaving the radio beside his victim.

On July 1, 2001, he attacked another female jogger at approximately 7:30 p.m., running up behind her as she reached the crest of a hill and grabbing her from behind. The woman struggled, and when Guandeque loosened his grip on her she managed to get away and report the incident to the U.S. Park Police, who located Guandeque and arrested him.

THERE REMAIN VARIOUS possibilities. For example, if, as some have alleged, there is a tie – either direct or coincidental – between this case and powerful individuals and their activities, there is a considerable probability that the case will never be solved or that a straw perpetrator will be charged with the crime. For example, some stories have suggested a connection with an S&M sex ring in which a number of well-known individuals are believed to have participated. As USA Today’s Tom Sequeri put it delicately, there are “dark aspects of this story that we can’t report yet.” This is the sort of thing that Washington is highly skilled at covering up and in this case there may be more than adequate motive, especially since the DC police were badly embarrassed in 1997 by revelations of the practice of “fairy shaking,” in which a cop followed a married man out of a gay sex club, got his license plate number, and later threatened to expose him unless he paid hush money . . . There also continue to be doubts about the handling of the last high profile DC murder, the Starbucks case in which the alleged perp confessed and then recanted. Added to the curiosities about the case was the fact that of all the 301 slayings that took place in DC in 1997, only these three killings attracted the attention not only of the FBI but of Attorney General Reno herself. Reno overruled her own US Attorney and called for the death penalty in the case. STARBUCKS CASE

EARLY RETURNS SUGGEST some confusion over whether the body was buried or not. The two Washington dailies divided on this crucial question:

WASHINGTON POST – Detectives believe the body was not in any kind of grave, but was simply left on the forest floor, where dirt and leaves eventually covered it, said law enforcement sources who spoke on condition that they not be identified. Police found “less of the body than more,” they said, possibly because of animals.

WASHINGTON TIMES – Even before the dental match was made, investigators felt strongly they had found the missing former intern: One of the items found near the remains was a gold ring engraved with the initials “C.L.” One law-enforcement source told The Washington Times the ring was found in a shallow grave with some of the remains. “The shallow grave would take away the self-inflicted wound theory,” the source said.

OTHER ISSUES: The Washington Post reports, “The skull, which was not complete, was cracked, although the cause was unclear. All the bones that were discovered were found within five yards of the skull.” Why was the skull cracked? . . . The just jogging theory is countered by the terrain. Writes the Washington Times: “Tansy Blumer, 59, who lives on Davenport Road about 100 yards west of where the body was found, said the two-lane, winding road is not a typical jogging path. ‘There are no sidewalks or shoulders,’ she said. ‘It’s not a big jogging area. You can walk on park trails, but they are difficult and not well-known trails, and they are definitely not for running.'”

THE WEEKLY GLOBE reports charges by James Robinson – attorney for one of Gary Condit’s ex-lovers – that Chandra Levy was killed on orders from two well known politicians – a governor and a former presidential candidate – who belonged to an alternative sex ring. Robinson alleges that “this story is bigger than Watergate” and that Levy was killed because she was ready to blow the whistle on the sex club. The Globe offers no evidence to support Robinson’s claim.


ALLAN LENGEL AND PETULA DVORAK, WASHINGTON POST: D.C. police escalated their dispute with Rep. Gary A. Condit and his attorney, dismissing the results of a privately administered polygraph as having “no investigative value” and suggesting that they still may need to talk to the congressman about his relationship with missing intern Chandra Levy. The FBI has reviewed the results of Condit’s polygraph but was unable to match specific questions to the graphs that show the congressman’s reaction, Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said in an interview. The results were presented in such a fashion that analysts had “no way of telling with certainty the results of each question,” Ramsey said.

ONE OF THE LEADS being investigated in the Chandra Levy case is that Levy was murdered by a professional hit man involved in the local gay S&M scene. Whether or not this proves to be the case, the mere possibility has created unusual problems on Capitol Hill and for the DC police. We hear that some big names on the Hill are extremely nervous at the moment – not because of the Levy mystery itself but because what such a solution might reveal. The MPD could also face possible blowback because of its involvement a few years back in a major gay blackmail scandal, perhaps involving some of the same players.

Make no mistake about it. This is a big case. One classic solution would be to declare it a suicide or to find someone – such as a criminal already facing a murder rap – to take the fall as part of a plea bargain. For example, at least two fairly recent alleged suicides quickly fell down the memory hole – those involving Sandy Hume and House Intelligence Committee staff director John Millis – despite reasonable unanswered questions. And, of course, there remains the big one: the unsolved death of Vince Foster.

WILLIAM WALKER, TORONTO STAR: Washington police also revealed they are investigating the possibility 24-year-old Chandra Levy may have been slain by a professional killer skilled in the disposal of bodies . . . Levy’s purse, wallet, personal identification and credit cards were all left in her apartment, along with a laptop computer and her packed bags prepared for a return trip home to attend her University of Southern California graduation ceremony. All that was missing from her apartment were her keys. Police found no signs of a struggle or forced entry and nothing was stolen. [Chief Charles] Ramsey confirmed that although Levy was last seen April 30, a search of her laptop computer revealed that she was on the Internet visiting travel Web sites the next day, on May 1, for about three hours up until 1 p.m. . . . [Levy family lawyer] Martin said his own investigation, conducted on behalf of the Levy family by two retired Washington homicide detectives, indicates the young woman went to meet someone she knew. “For some reason, Chandra appears to have been lured, called, or brought out of the apartment expecting to return,” Martin said.

JAMES RISEN & RAYMOND BONNER, NY TIMES: Washington police investigating the disappearance of the government intern Chandra Ann Levy have found no evidence that would link her case to other recent missing-person cases involving young women in the capital, law enforcement officials said today. In particular, investigators for the Metropolitan Police Department have reviewed two cases involving women whose bodies were recovered in the Washington area, Joyce Chiang and Christine M. Mirzayan. Ms. Chiang, a 28-year-old lawyer at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, disappeared in January 1999, after last being seen in the Dupont Circle area, a few blocks from where Ms. Levy, 24, lived. Her body was discovered three months later on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, but the authorities were never able to determine the cause of death. Ms. Mirzayan, a 28-year-old intern at the National Research Council in Washington, disappeared on Aug. 1, 1998. Her body was found in a wooded area near Georgetown University the next day. Her head had been crushed. No one has been arrested in either case. There are some striking similarities between those cases and the Levy one. All three women were Californians in their 20’s and had similar physical characteristics. Like Ms. Levy, Ms. Mirzayan was an intern, while Ms. Chiang lived in the same neighborhood as Ms. Levy. MORE

AS WE HAVE NOTED, the Chandra Levy disappearance case may be far more complicated that it first appeared. For example, there are now possible ties to a local gay S&M group. The story is being kept under wraps by news media lawyers – Newsweek and the Village Voice have both spiked articles – but this much can be told: A former Republican congressman wrote a lurid account for Newsmax, allegedly based on knowledgeable sources, that claimed Levy to have been the victim of a gay prostitute who has since returned to his native country. Newsmax quickly removed the story, but it has been the subject of intense media investigation since.

The Levy case has also revived interest in another woman’s disappearance two years ago, not far from Levy’s apartment. The Starbucks mentioned below, incidentally, is in the same block and across the street from the Review’s long-time former office. La Tomate serves as the Review’s conference room. The site is also near one of the numerous locations where Vince Foster case witness Patrick Knowlton found himself under overt surveillance – a technique used by intelligence agencies for intimidation – in the aftermath of his visit to Ft. Marcy Park.

TIMOTHY J. BURGER, NY DAILY NEWS: The Chandra Levy case isn’t the first brush with controversy for the Condit boys. Rep. Gary Condit’s two brothers, one a cop and one a convicted drug addict, have both had their share of problems. Sgt. Burl Condit, 55, was one of several officers who were caught up in a 1999 scandal involving the improper sale of old guns belonging to the Modesto Police Department. The officers were allowed to take one gun each under the condition they would eventually pay for them. Condit, however, took nine and there was no record he ever paid for them, according to a department investigation. Condit was never charged with wrongdoing. He later returned four of the guns, but said he no longer owned the other five weapons, The Modesto Bee reported . . . Burl Condit also was sued last year by a credit agency over a $2,300 cell phone bill and was ordered to pay, court records show. The youngest Condit brother, Darrell, 49, – labeled a drug addict by a judge in 1984 – has been in and out of jail since a 1979 forgery conviction in the Condits’ hometown of Tulsa, Okla., files show. He has since been nabbed on charges including theft, DUI, heroin and psilocybin possession and, in 1999 for smoking pot – while in jail. He also was charged with assaulting Modesto deputies in 1989 with a hammer handle. MORE

A short history of black Washington

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DC history: 19th century post Civil War


Georgetown and the city of Washington hold referendum on “negro suffrage.” In Georgetown. Only one out 700 some voters approves in Georgetown and only 35 voters approve in the city.

Evening Star: “While willing to grant the negro every right due him before the law, [Washingtonians] are not prepared to make a farce of the right of suffrage, by giving it to an ignorant mass of negroes, who know no more how to exercise it than the cattle in the field they so lately herded with.”

Walt Whitman publishes Drum Taps. Many of its poems recall his years as a Civil War nurse in Washington.

90 years before the Montgomery bus boycott Sojourner Truth integrates the city’s horse cars by simply ignoring a conductor’s order to move from the white section. The city’s streetcars will remain exempt from segregation.


Congress votes black male emanicipation except for those who served the Confederacy, paupers, and those convicted of an “infamous crime or offense.”


Blacks vote for the first time in the District. DC police stationed at polling places. Evening Star writes that the election put “to flight the fears of those who apprehended serious disturbances on the occasion of the first exercise of the right of franchise by the colored people.” . . . .”It is the first American law granting African-American men the right to vote. The amendment of voting practices in the nation’s capital stipulates that every male citizen of the city who is 21 years of age or over has the right to vote, except welfare or charity recipients, those under guardianship, men convicted of major crimes, or men who voluntarily sheltered Confederate troops or spies during the Civil War.” [DAILY BLEED]

Whites boycott the election resulting in one half of registered voters being black.

John F. Cook, a black Washingtonian, is named chair of the Republican Party.

The Freedman’s Bureau is helping to reshape the city, providing temporary housing for freed slaves, acquiring land and selling it to blacks, AND raising money for Hoawrd University and other educational institutions.

The Washington Nationals baseball team goes on a tour of the midwest that helps to increase the national popularity of the game. Spalding’s Baseball Guide credits the Nationals with ‘opening the eyes of the people’ to the game and their tour with intensifying “the passion for the game by stimulating the formation of clubs that wanted to achieve similar renown.’ During the tour the Nationals won “nine of ten games and outscored their opponents and outscored their opponents 735 to 146” according to a 2003 article in Washington History.

Len Spencer is born. He will later write Arkansas Traveler, the first song to sell a million recordws.


Two blacks are elected to the Common Council

Sayles J. Bowen, a Radical Republican, was elected mayor. He advocated the integration of white and colored school system, alarming even Republicans.

The first chairman of the board of trustees of the Colored Public Schools, William Syphax uses his office to organize the “Preparatory High School for Colored Youth,” the first secondary school in the city for blacks, in the basement of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church.


City passes a law against racial discrimination in places of entertainment expanding it the following year to include restaurants, bars, and hotels.

John Esputa forms the Colored American Opera Company, the city’sfirst professional opera troupe,


Seven blacks elected to the council.

Financial condition of the city is so bad that Mayor Bowen’s furniture is seized in a judgment against the municipality. Opposition Republicans united with Democrats to beat Bowen.


Alexander Shepherd and friends convince Congress to pass a territorial bill, merging all jurisdictions under a presidentially appointed governor and upper house, and an elected lower house. The new entity is called the District of Colombia. The Georgetown Courier complains about Grant’s appointments: “Not one old resident, nor a Democrat, nor a Catholic nor an Irishman, yet we have three darkies, Douglass, Gray and Hall, a German, two natives of Maine and one of Massachusetts.”

The post of non-voting delegate to Congress is created.

The city’s motto, “Justitia Omnibus” (Justice for All), is adopted.

Peak year for the C&O Canal. 850,000 tons of coal are moved by some of the over 500 boats plying the waterway. The canal has 74 lift locks to accommodate a rise of 605 feet, and 11 stone aqueducts spanning the major Potomac tributaries, 7 dams supplying water to the canal, hundreds of culverts carrying roads and streams beneath the canal, and a 3,117-foot tunnel carrying the canal through a large shale rock formation.

Black high school moves to the Stevens School

A free black, James Wormley, opens the Wormley Hotel at the corner of 15th & H NW, which quickly becomes popular among the city’s movers and shakers, especially for its turtle soup and Chesapeake Bay seafood. It has the first hotel elevator and the first hotel telephone in the city. In 1876 it will be where the disputed election of 1876 was resolved in what became known as the Wormley Agreement. Ironically, it is this agreement, which leads to the removal of federal troops from the south and the election of Rutherford Hayes marked the end of Reconstruction, but Wormley, in his defense, only provides the hall.


Boss Shepherd, who is engaged in massive public works projects, has a demolition crew destroy the Northern Liberties Market on Mt. Vernon Square in the middle of the night. Shepherd is entertaining the judge who might have halted the demolition at his home while the work is going on. The next day the corpse of a young boy and a butcher are found in the rubble.

Talent scout and Washington native Fred Gainsberg disocvers and records Enrico Caruso.


THE GERMAN LANGUAGE WASHINGTON JOURNAL, 1873 – From the point of view of principles, there’s nothing to be said against the demands of the colored population. The colored people are citizens, have the same political rights, can hold office, and travel in the same railroad cars and omnibusses with the whites, therefore their children should have the right to use the [same] public schools.

Eastern Market opens


The power of the Republican Party is broken and Democrats recover the South. Congress abolishes the territorial government replacing it with a temporary three-commissioner system.

NATIONAL VIEWS OF DCIn the early years, President Monroe called upon Congress to devise ways “to better adapt to the general principles of our system” without “infring[ing] the Constitution.” President Jackson urged Congress to treat the District like a Territory (“It was doubtless wise in the framers of our Constitution to place the people of this District under the jurisdiction of the general government, but to accomplish the objects they had in view it is not necessary that this people should be deprived of all the privileges of self-government.”)

By 1843, President Tyler articulated the view that District citizens were dependents who required “parental care” by “their legislature” (Congress). Over the next three decades, this view evolved to the District as “the grounds of the National Capital” (President Grant, 1874). At last, after local self-government had been withdrawn completely, President Hayes announced in 1877, “The capital of the United States belongs to the nation, and it is natural that the American people should take pride in the seat of their national government and desire it to be an ornament to the country.”

President Theodore Roosevelt added a new point (1902) — the District as a place to pass experimental laws, which might serve as a model for the states. And in 1910, President Taft articulated the idea that citizens who moved to the District lose their political rights: “The truth is this is a city governed by a popular body, to wit, the Congress of the United States, selected from the people of the United States who own Washington. The people who come here to live do so with the knowledge of the origin of the city and the restrictions, and therefore voluntarily give up the privilege of living in a city governed by popular vote . . . and must be content to subject themselves to the control of a body selected by all the people of all the nation.” Mark Richards


“The people of the District of Columbia are not the subjects of the people of the States, but free American citizens. Being in the latter condition when the Constitution was formed, no words used in that instrument could have been intended to deprive them of that character. If there is anything in the great principle of unalienable rights so emphatically insisted upon in our Declaration of Independence, they could neither make nor the United States accept a surrender of their liberties and become the subjects–in other words, the slaves–of their former fellow-citizens. If this be true–and it will scarcely be denied by anyone who has a correct idea of his own rights as an American citizen–the grant to Congress of exclusive jurisdiction in the District of Columbia can be interpreted, so far as respects the aggregate people of the United States, as meaning nothing more than to allow to Congress the controlling power necessary to afford a free and safe exercise of the functions assigned to the General Government by the Constitution. In all other respects the legislation of Congress should be adapted to their peculiar position and wants and be conformable with their deliberate opinions of their own interests.” — Inaugural address of William Henry Harrison


“The negroes came into this District from Virginia and from other places; I know dozens of them here now who flocked in from Alabama. They came in here and they took possession of a certain part of this District . . . and there was but one way to get out . . . and that was to deny the right of suffrage entirely to every human being in the District and have every office here controlled by appointment instead of by election . . . in order to get rid off this load of negro suffrage that was flooded upon them.” — Senator John Tyler Morgan, D-AL, 1890.


Washington’s first big-league baseball club completes 28 games, losing all but five of them, ending the season more than 40 games out of first place. – WP

In the wake of the financial panic of 1873, Uniontown founder John van Hook loses a large house he has built. The purchaser, breaking the all-white covenant, is Frederick Douglass.

The Washington Training School for Nurses, later the Capital City School of Nursing, the first such school in the District and one of the first ten professional nursing schools in the U.S is opened. It will operated until 1972.

The Organic Act of 1878 makes the three commissioner system permanent. It will last until 1967.

The C&P Company introduces telephone service to the city.

Edison secures patent for cylinder and disc records, founds Edison Speaking Phonograph Company. His original prototype and commercial production focuses on cylinder format. – Washington Area Music Assn

The first public high school – M Street High School – is opened, funded by the black community.


Boston Dry goods opens. Later becomes Woodward & Lothrop


Washington’s Chinese community numbers about 100

An American Association baseball team is formed but quits the league mid season after a 12-51 record.


There are about 15 black owned businesses in the U Street area

The city’s first department store – Woodward & Lothrop – is opened.

Six black Washingtonians are listed in the Social Register.

Emile Berliner, who moved to Washington from Germany in 1870, invents the gramophone and begins manufacturing flat records to replace the Edison cylinder. He also uses a listening dog as his trademark, eventually made famous by RCA. In 1901 he forms Victor Records.

DC gets its first electric streetcar just one year after the improvement had been introduced. It runs betweent 7th & NY Ave NW and 4th & T NE

Tolls are lifted on the Aqueduct Bridge, providing easier access to the disreputable pleasures of Rosslyn which included saloons, prostitution, gambling, chicken and bulldog fights, and two race tracks. Eventually, a reform movement will force these establishments out of Rosslyn, some of them moving to Georgetown. Jimmy LeFontaine, who ran a gambling house in Rosslyn becomes a prominent Georgetown citizen. Another waterfront merchant is said to control the local numbers.

The Washington Monument, designed by Robert Mills, opens to the public.

The city is completely blacked out by the Blizzard of ’88 or White Hurricane. Temperatures hit a record low of 10 degrees on March 6. A heavy wind blew the water out of the river leaving the low tide five feet less than normal.

Swampoodle Grounds, Washington, D.C., c. 1888. The Washington Nationals playing the Chicago White Stockings at the old Swampoodle Grounds (where part of Washington’s Union Station presently sits). The thin fellow behind the plate is said to be Connie Mack a.k.a Cornelious McGillicuddy who caught for the Nationals from 1886 through 1890. The pitcher hurling the ball to Mack is Hank O’Day.


The Columbia Phonograph Company, 709 G Street, NW, is started. In1893, Columbia will release the first dance records.

DC is hit by a massive flood. The C&O Canal, badly damaged, goes into receivership.


Black Washingtonians now own two steamboat companies, grocery stores, heat fuel companies, and the Adams Oil and Gas Development Company looking for oil in Oklahoma.

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is badly damaged by floods and the canal company goes into bankruptcy.

A Pennsylvania Avenue bridge connects Anacostia with the rest of the city. The Washington Star publishes a poem to celebrate the event: “Now we’re married. . .Never to part. . .Little Anacostia . . .Is my sweet heart.”

Rock Creek Park is formed.

Cable car service commences.


Lillian Evanti (Lillian Evans) is born. She will become a world famous opera star who debuts in France with the Paris Opera and performs in the US and 11 countries on three continents. A founder of the National Negro Opera Company.

The M Street High School is created.

There are now only 25 African-Americans on the city payroll.


Ford’s Theatre collapses, killing 22.

Al Jolson, son of an immigrants, moves to Washington with his family at age seven. He will grow up in DC.

Kate Smith is born. Grows up in Southwest.

Congress bans the use of overhead streetcar wires. Streetcars have to switch to third rail operation upon entering the central city.


More than 3,000 black familes own their homes in the city. Total assets of black Washingtonians is estimated at $17 million.

In July more than a thousand jobless workers, led by Charles “Hobo” Kelly camp in Washington. Among those in Kelley’s Hobo Army are Jack London and William “Big Bill” Haywood. On Aug 10 they are driven across the Potomac River by federal troops.

Jacob Coxey’s protest army of the poor reaches D.C.Coxey led a group of 500 unemployed workers from the midwest; he is arrested for trespassing on Capitol grounds

By 1894 more than 3,000 black families owned their own homes in the District. The total value of assets owned by black Washingtonians that year was estimated to be about $17 million. Some members of the city’s black upper classes maintained country houses in Virginia, employed servants, and held debutante balls for their daughters. Others sent their children to predominantly white boarding schools and colleges in New England. . . . In 1899, students at Washington’s one black high school scored higher than their white counterparts on citywide academic achievement tests. – City Journal

Congress orders that downtown Washington have no overhead wires. Law requires redesign of streetcars to use third rail when in the center city.


[Library of Congress]

Mary Church Terrell , Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Margaret Murray Washington, Fanny Jackson Coppin, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Charlotte Forten Grimké, & former slave Harriet Tubman meet in Washington to form the National Association of Colored Women.


Last horsecar service

Students at the black high school score higher than the city’s white students on citywide test.

Last cable car service

Duke Ellington is born.

Winter temerature falls to -15 degrees to a cold snap known as the “Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899”

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

DC History 20th century

Since the end of the Civil War more than 50,000 former slaves have moved into the city.

400 people, mostly black, inhabit Goat Alley, bounded by 6,7,L & M


The National Zoo, between 1902 and 1906, releases 18 black squirrels from Canada, which is where those black squirrels came from.

The District Building, 14th & Pennsylvania NW, becomes the official City Hall.

The lunchroom at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving is segregated.


Train wreck near Ft. Totten. 52 are killed.


Works begins on the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, a.k.a.the Washington National Cathedral.


Union station opens

The DC NAACP has over 1,000 members, the largest in the nation

Lorton Penitentiary opens as a model Progressive Era experiment in correctional facilities.

The Howard Theater opens, built with black capital and featuring black performs, about two decades before the Apollo in NYC begins offering black entertainment. It will feature such acts at Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan and Lionel Hampton.

First of 3,020 Japanese cherry trees are planted.

Mrs. Wilson complained to her husband that she has found black men working in government offices with white women and the president signs a law that segregates all federal workplaces. He also dismissed all appointed black in high positions. Elsewhere the city is segregated largely by custom – and illegally at that since it turned out years later than the 19th century civil rights laws had never been repealed. There were a few exceptions to the custom such as the Library of Congress, public libraries, streetcars, and Griffith Stadium.

Wilson writes, “We are handling the force of colored people who are now in the department in just the way they ought to be handled. We are trying – and be degrees succeeding – a plan of concentration and will not in any one bureau mix the two races.”

Booker T. Washington writes, “I have never seen the colored people [of Washington] so discouraged and so bitter.”

8,000 suffragettes march for the vote

The Q Street buffalo are finished by Alexander Phimister Proctor, to whom the great pianist, Ignace Jan Paderewski, said “I interpret; you create.” The seven foot tall beasts cost $30,000.

Alain Locke and T. Montgomery Gregory organized the Stylus Society at Howard University. The society publishes the literary magazine The Stylus, described as a “humble attempt of a number of Howard students to give encouragement to the literary aspirations…of their college associates and to offer them the opportunity of publishing their work.” Zora Neale Hurstonis one of the student contributors.

Carter G. Woodson starts The Journal of Negro History.

Dunbar High School opens.

A. Phillip Randolph and Chandler Owen, start The Messenger, a “magazine of scientific radicalism.” Considered by many the best radical magazine for blacks published during the Black Renaissance.

Singer Kate Smith is born.

DC suffers more casualties in World War I than three states.

Dunbar sent its graduates to the best colleges in America. From 1918 to 1923, for example, 15 students went on to graduate from Ivy League schools. In 1949 Dunbar sent one graduate each to Colby, Columbia, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Smith, and Yale. A total of five went to Bates and NYU. One hundred fifteen went to Howard University. Of the 310 students who graduated from Dunbar that year, 267 went to college, five joined the military, and only 37 went immediately to work. – City Journal

Race riots break out in Washington and 24 other cities. “The white mob – whose actions were triggered in large part by weeks of sensational newspaper accounts of alleged sex crimes by a “negro fiend” – unleashed a wave of violence that swept over the city for four days. Nine people were killed in brutal street fighting, and an estimated 30 more would die eventually from their wounds. More than 150 men, women and children were clubbed, beaten and shot.” – Washington Post

Clark Griffith buys the Washington Senators franchise.

There are 300 black owned businesses in Shaw

Among Dunbar High School teachers are four women Phds.

First bus lines in DC

President Taft opposes home rule, declaring that “The truth is this is a city governed by a popular body, to wit, the Congress of the United States, selected from the people of the United States who own Washington.”


There are 200 miles of streetcar lines (twice as much as Metro today) owned by two companies that extended as far as Laurel, Rockville, and Great Falls.

The Lincoln Theater opens, believed to be the largest black theater in the U.S.

January snowstorm brings 28 inches. On January 28 the roof collapses on the Knickerbocker Theater, occupied by 900 persons. 98 are crushed to death and another 158 are injured.

Jean Toomer’s first book, Cane, is published.

Ernie Pyle joins the staff of the Washington Daily News, owned by Scripps Howard for which he will later be a war correspondent.


Langston Hughes writes, “I arrived in Washington with only a sailor’s pea jacket protecting me from the winter’s winds. All my shirts were ragged and my trousers frayed. I am sure I did not look like a distinguished poet, when I walked up my cousin’s porch in Washington Negro society section, LeDroit Park.”

The Senators win the World Series

Kate Smith, who began singing in local churches at age eight, wins an amateur contest and three years later becomes a radio star.

The Howard Hilltop newspaper is started by Zora Neale Hurston and others.


40,000-60,000 members of the KKK demonstrate in DC.

Langston Hughes writes, “”I have a new job at a hotel. . . . The place I work is quite classy. There are European waiters and it caters largely to ambassadors and base-ball players and ladies who wear diamonds.” The hotel is the Wardman Park.

The Senators win the American League championship.

Izzy Einstein, the famous prohibition agent, keeps a record of how long it takes to get a drink in various cities. DC comes out badly. Not only does it take an hour (as opposed to 11 minutes in Pittsburgh and 17 in Atlanta) but he has to ask directions from a cop.


Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton records with Red Hot Peppers for Victor. Morton will wait tables at the Music Box until rediscovered in the 1930’s thanks to Alan Lomax’ recordings for the Library of Congress. – Washington Area Music Assn

Bohemian Caverns opens


Jimmy Rodgers, the father of country music, moves to DC.

Lillian Evanti, Washington born soprano, became the first black American opera singer to perform abroad (with Nice opera)


Howard Theatre holds amateur nights. Among the winners: Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstein, and Bill Kenny, later of the Ink Spots.

Photographer Addison Scurlock produces newsreels on African American activities for the Lichtman chain of theaters.


National Symphony is founded.

Chinatown is forced to move to make way for the Federal Triangle.

After stint as Evangelical revival house, Howard Theater is reopened by theater manager Shep Allen with Duke Ellington as first performer. Named for nearby Howard University, venue features Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, others. The Howard rivals New York’s Apollo Theater for level of top name performers. – Washington Area Music Assn


2,000 marchers from Father Cox’s Shantytown (another “Hooverville”) in Pittsburg arrive in Washington, D.C. Herbert Hoover forcibly evicts bonus marchers from their encampment. Two killed when U.S. Army attacks encampment of 20,000 World War I veterans gathered in Washington D.C. to demand their bonus benefit payments. As the flames destroy the shantytown, people stream into Maryland.


The Senators win the American League championship.

Pearl Baily debuts at the Jungle Inn on U Street. She is 15.


Arthur Godfrey launches his morning show on WJSV (later WTOP) Radio.


Ahmet Ertegun moves to DC at age 12. He will later found Atlantic Records

Washington Baritone Todd Duncan becomes the first person to play the part of “Porgy” in the Gershwin Opera “Porgy and Bess.” Duncan broke the color barrier in American Opera by insisting on integrated audiences during his performances. – Washington Area Music Assn


There are approximately 800 residents of Chinatown


Homestead Grays move to Washington, play at Griffith Stadium.


Blue Plains waste water treatment plant is completed, with a capacity of 130 million gallons per day


Alan Lomax records Jelly Roll Morton for Library of Congress.

Marvin Gaye is born. He will attend Cardozo High and sing with the Moonglows before leaving for Motown.

Work begins on the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle

Rev. Patsy Allen leads a group of Marshall Heights (then called ‘Shanty Town’) residents to petition Congress not to include their community in slum clearance or urban renewal. Congress agrees.

Marion Anderson performs to a crowd of 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial after being refused permission by the DAR to perform at Constitution Hall



Jorma Kaukonen is born. He will later be an original member of Jefferson Airplane and help to form Hot Tuna with the help of another Washingtonia, Jack Casady

Homestead Grays come to DC. Under deal with Clark Griffith, blacks were welcomed in the right field stands. He got 20% of the gross, plus concession revenues and a special charge for night games.

St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill burns in a five alarm blaze that brings 40 fire vehicles to the scene.


Civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph threatens to hold a mass march on Washington, leading to a presidential order requiring federal agencies and government contractors to observe anti-discrimination regulations. Roosevelt also appoints 40 blacks to high positions and integrates new federal buildings while leaving the old ones segregated.

National Airport opens


Satchel Paige plays at Griffth Stadium for the Homestead Grays against a white team.

Pearl Baily makes her first appearance at the Howard with the Sunset Royal Orchestra


Three Howard University students are arrested after refusing to pay a surcharge for hot chocolate at a United Cigar Store on Pennsylvania Ave.

Howard students conduct a sit-in at the Little Palace Cafeteria, 14th & U. Three days later is begins serving blacks.

The Washington Bears win the World Professional Basketball Tournament by beating the Oshkosh All Stars. Ammong the players for the Bears was William “Pop” Gates, who also played for the Harlem Renaisance and who is in the Hall of Fame.

Earliest reported pizza on a DC restaurant menu: Ciro’s and the Italian Village Restaurant, owned by Ciro Gallotti at 1304 G St. NW


Howard students stage a sit-in at the Thompson’s cafeteria at 11th & Pennsylvania Ave. Later that day they are served.

Jack Casady is born. He will later co-found Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.

Roy Clarks moves to DC at age 11. He will later play as house guitarist at the Famous Restaurant.

Peter Torkelson is born. As Peter Tork, he will become one of the original Monkees.


Capital Transit has the 3rd largest fleet of streetcars in the country including nearly 600 streamliners.

At her peak in the 1940s, local mob boss Odessa Madre is earning about $100,000 a year, and has at least six bawdy houses, bookmaking operations, and a headquarters at 2204 14th Street known as the Club Madre. Among the performers there were Moms Mabley, Count Basie and Nat King Cole.  MORE

DC suffers more casualties in World War II than four states.

By the end of the Second World War, the District contained a higher proportion of black college graduates than any other place in America, more than twice that of most cities. A survey conducted in 1950 found 92 black dentists, 181 black lawyers, and 211 black physicians practicing in Washington. – City Journal

The Homestead Grays win their ninth consecutive pennant. The team has also won three Negro World Series since 1937. By 1950, however, with major league baseball finally integrated, the team will be no more.


Ahmet Ertegun, son of Turkish ambassador to Washington, cofounds Atlantic Records with Herb Abramson. In 1948, Ertegun and Abramson hear 20 years-old Ruth Brown singing at Crystal Caverns club in Washington. Pivotal R&B label eventually records Brown, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Led Zeppelin, many others. – Washington Area Music Assn


The Orioles’ first single, ‘It’s Too Soon to Know’ goes to the top of the R&B charts hits 13 on the pop charts.

The Supreme Court rules against restrictive covenants, widely used in DC.

The Dupont Theater integrates but the National Theater closed rather than accept black patrons.


A trolley tunnel is built under Dupont Circle. It is meant to be the beginning of putting streetcars underground in downtown but it never catches on.

The Recreation Department opens two integrated playgrounds.


By most descriptions, the 1950s Senators are a loose and entertaining bunch, which probably helps take the sting out of their .416 winning percentage for the decade. About the only positive on-field accomplishment anyone seems to recall is an all-Cuban triple play (Ramos to Bécquer to José Valdivieslo) turned against Whitey Herzog of the Kansas City A’s. Though he still had to suffer through the mindless indignity of segregation at spring training in Florida, Julio Bécquer says life in Washington, D.C. was perfectly comfortable for dark-skinned ballplayers with Spanish accents. “We had no problems whatsoever,” he remembered. “None. Zero. I’d go anywhere. I’d do anything. I was well-liked.” layers who liked music could walk one block from Griffith Stadium and see some of the best jazz musicians and touring Cuban acts the 1950s had to offer. “I’d see everybody who was everybody at that time in jazz and big-band: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and all that sort of thing. Every week was some big name coming to Washington,” he said. . . ESPN


Thirty percent of the city’s blacks owned their own home, close to the white home ownership of 33%

Mary Church Terrell files suit against Thompson’s after being refused service at the 14th Street branch.

Famous black surgeon and blood plasma pioneer Dr. Charles Drew dies in an automobile accident. Thus began one of the city’s own urban legends – that Drew had been denied treatment at a hospital because of racial prejudice and bled to death. Write Urban Legends: “An excellent reference to refute the story is Charles Wynes’ biography, ‘Charles Richard Drew.’ He quotes the other doctors who were in the automobile accident with Drew, as well as a former student who happened to be at the hospital that night — all of whom are black, if that matters — as saying that the ‘turned away, bled to death’ story is completely false. They said that the treatment Drew received was perfectly adequate.’ Wynes quotes one of the doctors who was with Drew:

“Doctor Drew’s cause of death was that of a broken neck and complete blockage of the blood flow back to the heart. Immediately following the accident in which he was half thrown out of the car, and actually crushed to death by the car as it turned over the second time. The doctors who were were able to, got out of the car quickly and came to Doctor Drew’s rescue, but it was of no avail because even at that time, it was quite obvious that his chances of surviving were nil.”

Wynes also speculates that it may be a mutation of a myth concerning Bessie Smith’s death in 1937. She also died in a car crash in the South, and the myth circulated that she had died outside a “white’s only” hospital after being refused admittance. In fact, she was taken directly to a “black” hospital by the black ambulance driver – half a mile from the nearby “white” hospital – where she died from internal injuries.

And now the twist; “In her compelling chronicle of Drew’s life and death, Spencie Love shows that in a generic sense, the Drew legend is true: throughout the segregated era, African Americans were turned away at hospital doors, either because the hospitals were whites-only or because the “black beds” were full. Love describes the fate of a young black World War II veteran who died after being turned away from Duke Hospital following an auto accident that occurred in the same year and the same county as Drew’s.”

Arena Stage begins operations. It was called a stage rather than a theater to avoid a building code requirement of a fireproof curtain, which wouldn’t have worked in the round. It is one of the first regional theaters to produce its own plays. It will also be the first theater outside of New York to win a Tony and the first theater in DC to be integrated.

Last Homestead Grays game in DC. The integration of major league baseball a few years earlier had cut into the teams’ profits.

Washington census peaks at 802,178


The Clovers, a group formed at Armstrong High School, have the number one single on the R&B charts. They will later record ‘Love Potion Number Nine.’

Hecht’s opens its lunch counters to all customers after seven months of protests.

A 14-year-old boy by the name of Bob King gets a job at black formatted radio station WOOK. He will grow up and change his radio name to Wolfman Jack, one of the progenitors of rock ‘n’ roll.

The Kefauver committee, targeting organized crime in DC, finds a pattern of payoffs by local mobsters to the cops, funneled, it appeared, largely through local mob queen, Odessa Madre. In a 1980 Washington Post story, Courtland Milloy notes that “Two sergeants testified they had been demoted and assigned to school-crossing duty because they had refused a payoff from Madre and had participated in the arrest of know gampblers – including her. The superior officer who demoted them was John Murphy, they testified. ‘Yeah, I knew him,’ Mandre said. ‘Grew up with him in Cowtown.’ There was also testimony from other policemen that Madre had paid police superintendent James Barrett $2,000 a month in ‘ice’ payments for nearly a year. ‘Somebody had to give ’em the money.'”

President Harry Truman declares: “I strongly believe that the citizens of the District of Columbia are entitled to self-government . . . the right and the responsibility of free men. The denial of self-government does not befit the National Capital of the world’s largest and most powerful democracy. . . . [T]he structure of the District government has become so complicated, confused, and obsolete that a thorough reorganization cannot be further delayed.”


Mike Seeger persuades the 60-year-old family maid, Elizabeth Cotton, to record her song, “Freight Train,” which she wrote when she was 12. It becomes the number five hit in the UK.

Supreme Court rules that the city’s “lost” civil rights laws of the late 19th century are still valid and apply to public eating places.

Keter Betts moves to DC and becomes the city’s most ubiquitous and loved bassist. He wll play 25 years with Ella Fitzgerald.

Mickey Mantle hits the world’s longest home run off of the Senators’ Chuck Stobbs. The ball travels 565 feet

Langston Hughes is called to testify before Senator Joseph McCarthy. His testimony begins, “Poets who write mostly about love, roses, and moonlight, sunsets and snow must lead a very quiet life. Seldom, does their poetry get them into difficulties.”

A gay club opens at 1101 Kenyon St NW It will become the oldest continuously operating gay club in DC and one of the oldest black gay clubs in the US. It began as a private social club, probably at least as early as 1953 (some say perhaps as early as 1948). In 1957, it will open to the public and later become a center for gays and lesbians at Howard.

The DC Medical Association agrees to accept black doctors and the National Theater decides to accept black patrons, as do the leading hotels.


Justice William O.Douglas leads a group on a march along the C&O Canal to save the waterway from destruction.

Bolling v. Sharpe invalidates the use of racially separated educational facilities in DC. Because of DC’s colonial status, Browen V. Boad of Education does not apply here.

Senators play Philadelphia at Griffith Stadium. Attendance: 460.

Supreme Court upholds Southwest urban renewal, the largest such project at the time, which opens the way to much greater use of eminent domain across the nation. Five years later some 550 acres would be cleared. Only 300 families remained to be relocated. More than 20,000 people and 800 businesses had been kicked out to make way for the plan. Some 80% of the latter never went back into operation.



Bo Diddley hits the charts.

Florence Cornell, principal of the all white Adams elementary school suggests that her school and the all black Morgan school form the Adams-Morgan Better Neighbrhood Conference. The name stuck.

O. Roy Chalk buys the transit system and, finding that streetcars were more efficient than buses, tries to resist city pressure (pressed by the auto lobby) to convert the system. He even air conditions one streetcar, but city officials, the Senate District Committee and the Washington Post are adamant. By 1962 the era of streetcars has come to an end.


The Board of Education begins the track system, or ability grouping.

Formerly all white McKinley, Roosevelt, and Eastern High schools are already 50% black.


Marvin Gaye joins the Moonglows, who record such hits as “Sincerely” and “Most of All.”

Elizabeth Cotton records ‘Freight Train,’ a tune she wrote at 12, for her first LP.

Jimmy Dean starts the country’s first televised country TV show on WMAL-TV

Bo Diddley moves to DC


A federal court decides that since Ezra Pound is incurably, permanently insane, he can no longer be held for treason and can be set free. As he leaves St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, 13 years after being taken into custody, he reflects, “How did it go in the madhouse? Rather badly. But what other place could one live in America?”

Up to 17″ of snow falls in the Washington region.



Jimmy McPhail’s Bladensburg Road NE, “Melody Inn” becomes “Gold Room,” featuring Redd Foxx, Irene Reed, and many others. Other popular jazz venues of the era include Abart’s and Bohemian Caverns Washington Area Music Assn


Glen Echo, Friendship Heights & Georgia Avenue street car lines are abandoned

Guitaris Charlie Byrd moves to Washington after studying with Andre Segovia.

Georgetown University receives broadcast license for FM frequency 90.1; it is one of the first on the FM signal granted by the Federal Communications Commission in the D.C. area. SEE WGTB


The 23rd Amendment gives city residents the right to vote for president.

Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz record their “Jazz Samba” album in DC.

The Mattachine Society of Washington is founded The first DC gay activist group, Mattachine fights for civil rights on security clearances, job discrimination, and developed considerable legal expertise in fighting discrimination. Founders include Franklin E Kameny, Paul Kuntzler, Jack Nichols, Eva Freund, Lilli Vincenz and others.

Just after the 1961 season, new president Fidel Castro pulls the plug on Cuba’s 83-year-old professional baseball league, and announces that all revolutionary sports would be amateur. Two dozen of the island’s best current and future major-league players – some of whom play for the Washington Senators – are blocked temporarily by Castro’s government from flying off to spring training in the United States, and end up in Mexico scrambling after U.S. visas. Soon after they finally arrive, President John F. Kennedy launched the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. [ESPN]

The Senators of Washington – “first in war, first in peace, last in the American League” – pull up stakes after 60 inglorious years and relocate to Minnesota, where they became the Twins.


A new expansion baseball team takes the departed Senators’ name and stadium in 1962, and maintainthe city’s traditional position in the AL cellar. But the new team doesn’t replace the odd spectacle of the old Sens, who was a team full of mixed-race Cuban ballplayers laughing through the 1950s smack dab in the U.S. capital, while their mother country experienced coups, revolutions [ESPN]

The Country Gentlemen begin a seven year weekly stint at DC’s last country bar, the Shamrock in Georgetown.

Last street car pulls into Navy Yard carhouse ending 99 1/2 years of street railway service in DC


WWDC disc jockey named Carroll James starts playing a British recording of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,”brought to him by a Briitsh girlfriend. It gets a good reaction. Someone at WWDC sends tape to Chicago and the song is played there. Capitol decides to press a million copies of the record immediately, and to promote the group peforming the song: the Beatles.

Mississippi John Hurt moves to DC. He will become a regular at Ontario Place.

The Cellar Door opens at 34th and M Streets, NW


The Beatles first U.S. concert is held at Washington Colliseum.

DC residents cast their first vote for president.


We’ve got the finest public buildings in the world here in Washington; but our school buildings are shameful. We have the world’s greatest books in our archives; but the books in our schools are fourth-rate. It’s easy to get action here when there’s an explosion in Saigon or Caracas, but you can have an explosive situation a few hundred yards from the Capitol and key officials look the other way.


There are 2,100 elementary school children in Washington who attend school for only half a day for lack of space…. Public school enrollment is 90 per cent Negro. In 1954 the schools integrated, there was a noticeable migration of white families from the District to the suburbs…. Today the physical plant is decrepit. A third of all Washington school buildings are over 50 years old; the school-administration building is 97 years old. Only half of the elementary schools have room for libraries because children are crowded into every available bit of space, including basements. Two years ago there was one elementary school librarian in the entire system of more than 140,000 children. In 1941 Congress was asked to replace a junior high school known as ‘Horrible Hine,’ now 78 years old. The new building was completed this year. In 1948 Congress was asked to replace another junior high known as ‘Shameful Shaw.’ Congress still refuses funds, though there are 1,434 students in the 63-year old school, which has 1,167 capacity. Over the last 10 years Congress has granted millions of dollars to school systems all over the country for the education of children of Federal employees stationed in their areas…. It refused until this year, to provide any such funds for Washington, though Washington public schools carry about 30,000 children of Federal families stationed in the city.”


“Their (DC citizens) school system is at the mercy of people who may never spend a night in Washington. …[T]hose who are well-to-do and have influence outside the colony live well. The public schools are decaying. Public housing is inadequate. The municipal orphanage is a local scandal and the welfare program is designed to destroy the family that is destitute. By contrast, the police force is good…. In effect then, government in the District works for the benefit of the minority in the Northwest and the middle-class suburban commuters, whose Congressmen are usually entrenched in the ruling communities.”


The Ramsey Lewis Trio records ‘The In Crowd’ at the Bohemian Caverns.

Marion Barry moves to DC to head the local SNCC chapter.

Blues Alley opens and will soon become a favorite of jazz musicians around the country. Says Dizzy Gillsepie, “Now this is a jazz club.” It is the oldest continuing jazz supper club in the contry.

Julius Hobson successfully sues Superintendent Carl Hansen, the Board, and DC judges for unconstitutionally depriving the poor and black school children of equal education opportunities.Hansen resigns, appeals on his own behalf, loses appeal.

Lyndon Johnson supports DC home rule in his State of the Union address.

More than 100,000 Washingtonians stay off the buses to protest a fare hike in a boycott led by Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee head Marion Barry.


Ralph Rinzler founds the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife.

Ramsey Lewis’ hit album ‘The In Crowd’ is recorded live at the Bohemian Caverns.

Lyndon Johnson submitts a plan to Congress to reorganize the DC government with an appointed mayor and council. Congress approves. Lyndon Johnson names a mayor-commissioner and city council, telling them to act as thought they were elected.

Yippies, Diggers, anarchists & other high priests meet in Washington DC, Oct. 21-23, for “Exorcism of the Pentagon” to rid the world of the global evil spirit virus infecting all who work there. Psychedelic face paint and flowers stuck in barrels of guns result in 647 arrested. 50,000 people demonstrate against the war in Washington, D.C. – Daily Bleed


Bohemian Caverns closes

The worst riot in the nation broke out in DC, with 20,000 participants setting 30 new fires per hour. Mayor Walter Washington imposed a curfew and banned the sale of liquor and guns; Johnson sent 14,000 Army, Marine, and National Guard troops into DC to join DC’s 2,800-member police force. Twelve hundred building were burned and 7,600 were arrested. By Saturday, there were riots and looting in over one hundred cities. Later in 1968, Congress granted DC its first locally elected body in nearly a century, a Board of Education. – Mark David Richards

During the riots, Mayor Walter Washington was called to the office of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, where he was told to start shooting looters. Washington refused, saying that “you can replace material goods, but you can’t replace human beings.” Hoover then said, “Well, this conversation is over.” Replied Washington, “That all right, I was leaving anyway.”


Despite the riots, King’s Poor Peoples’ March begins led by successor Ralph Abernathy. 3,000 protestors erect a tented Resurrection City on the Mall.

Capital Beltway is completed.


DC gets to elect an 11-member Board of Education. 70% of registered voters go to polls in the first local election since the 1870s. 53 candidates run. Only Julius Hobson gets enough votes to win without a runoff. Marion Barry becomes president of the new board.

Roberta Flack is signed by Atlantic Records. She performs regularly at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill.

President Nixon says, “The District’s citizens should not be expected to pay taxes for a government which they have no part in choosing — or to bear the full burdens of citizenship without the full rights of citizens.”

The first issue of the Washington Blade, then called the Gay Blade, is published. It is a one-page newsletter copied on a mimeograph machine .


The Daughters of the American Revolution impose a ban against rock concerts at Constitution Hall after Sly & the Family Stone arrive five hours late and the crowd inflicts $1,000 worth of damage on the building.

Sam Smith writes the first article explaining how DC statehood could be achieved without a constitutional amendment.

Julius Hobson for delegate campaign launched. Beginning of the DC statehood movement.

New Year’s Eve: Ad hoc committee applies for status as a pro-statehood political party

First election for non-voting delegate

Prisoners at the DC Jail riot

The police riot of May 1971

During three days of May 1971 the DC police department literally ran amuck. In a searing report on the police department’s reaction to the anti-war Mayday protest, the American Civil Liberties wrote:

Between May 3 and May 5, more than 13,OOO people were arrested in Washington, D.C.– the largest mass arrest in our country’s history. The action was the government’s response to anti-war demonstrations, an important component of which was the announced intention of the Mayday Coalition,organizer of the demonstrations, to block Washington rush-hour traffic.

During this three-day period, normal police procedures were abandoned. Most of the 13,000 people arrested — including law-breakers caught while attempting to impede traffic, possible potential law-breakers, war protestors engaged in entirely legal demonstrations, uninvolved passers-by and spectators — were illegally detained, illegally charged, and deprived of their constitutional rights of due process, fair trial and assistance of counsel. The court system, unable to cope with this grandscale emergency caused by the police, was thrown into chaos.

During the Mayday police riot, people were beaten and arrested illegally, locked up by the thousands in makeshift holding pens with inadequate toilet facilities and food, or stuffed into drastically overcrowded cells. People on their way to work, patients going to see their doctor, students attending classes, reporters and lawyers were all caught up in the sweep arrests. Most of those stashed in the DC Jail exercise yard were without blankets throughout a night in which the temperatures fell below forty. And in the most symbolic display of contempt for the law, more than a thousand persons were arrested in front of the Capitol where they had assembled to hear speeches,including several from members of Congress. When Rep. Ronald Dellums tried to keep a policeman from arresting a member of his staff, saying, “Hey, that’s a member of my staff. Get your hands off of him. I’m a United States Congressman,” the policeman replied, “I don’t give a fuck who you are,” then hit Del1ums in the side with his nightstick and pushed him down some stairs.

It was the grimmest display of mass police power — not just selective brutality against a few — this city had seen. And it was a clear warning of the fearful danger inherent in Washington’s acceptance of police power as a form of government. The fact that neither the black chief executive, Walter Washington, nor the white liberal newspaper, the Washington Post, could summon up either the wisdom or the courage to denounce what Wilson and his men, acting under orders of the Justice Department, had done made the aftair all the more dismal. More and more the city was listening to sirens luring liberty onto the rocks of safety. — Sam Smith


A decade of litigation followed, focusing on arrests of 1,200 demonstrators on the east steps of the Capitol. In 1975, a federal jury concluded that the arrests violated the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech and assembly. In 1978, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that federal and city governments could be ordered to pay damages to those arrested. In August, 1981, the demonstrations received checks of $750 for the denial of free speech, and various payments for the amount of time spent in jail under false arrest, plus 6 percent interest.

WASHINGTON POST – On September 30, 1971, 14,460 fans shuffled into Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to bear witness to the end of the pastime in the nation’s capital. “The Star Spangled Banner never before sounded so much like a dirge,” wrote sports columnist Shirley Povich. He had nearly 50 years on the beat by that point and could deliver such a line with authority. . .By the top of the ninth, the home team actually led, 7-5, and was just two outs away from dying with surprising dignity. But the fans had a different mojo working that night.. . . Some of the fans had shown up with homemade banners they had draped from the upper deck, cursing [owner Bob] Short in sharp four-letter verbiage. When the stadium cops tore those down, the fans unfurled new ones. Eventually, the crowd began chanting: “We want Bob Short! We want Bob Short!” Povich was reminded of “the baying-fury sound of a lynch mob.”. . . Hundreds of people swarmed over the diamond and into the outfield, pulling up bases and stealing light bulbs from the scoreboards. The stadium announcer warned that the game would be forfeited if the melee continued . . . and no one seemed to care. So the teams left the dugouts and click-clacked away in their spikes toward the locker rooms, as the official scorer changed his book from 7-5 Senators to 9-0 Yankees — the traditional forfeit score.


The District government is currently employing 40.679 people, give or take a few hundred. That means one DC employee for every eighteen people, adult or child — or a considerably better ratio than that between student and teacher in the city’s public schools. Put another way, if Washington were a town of 10,000, and hired city workers at the same rate, it would have more than 500 people on the local payroll. Some 12,800 of these District workers are filling jobs that weren’t even in existence ten years ago. The District workforce has grown 46% since 1962. No other statistic can make that claim — except for the crime rate. — DC Gazette

Emmylou Harris begins regular gigs at Childe Harold in Dupont Circle and other Washington clubs including the Cellar Door where she had debuted at age 12.

Democrat Ronald Dellums and Republican Fred Schwengel introduce a DC statehood bill in the House of Representatives

Congress grants the District limited home rule including an elected mayor and city council

DC suffers more casualties in Vietnam War than ten states.

Bernice Johnson Reagn moves to DC and forms Sweet Honey in the Rock.


Western High School becomes the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts.

In May, voters approve a home rule charter and creation of advisory neighborhood commissions. In November, the first election under the home rule act of a mayor and city council takes place. The city approves home rule by 83%. Mostly white Ward 3 gives the measure 58%.

Lamba Rising, the city’s first gay book store, opens at 1724 20th Street NW in Dupont Circle. It later moved to 1625 Connecticut Avenue NW.

Police stop the car of Representative Wilbur Mills, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, at the Tidal Basin, finding him “intoxicated, scratched, and bleeding.” While questioning him, Annabel Battistella, a stripper who known as “Fanne Fox, the Argentine Firecracker,” jumps out of his car and leaps into the water. [DAILY BLEED]

Julius Hobson is elected to the Council-at-Large seat running on the Statehood Party ticket.


The Washington Post pressman’s strike begins

If you’re going to complain about the budget, you can just haul out the same complaints you made last year. Nothing much has changed. One of the things we’ve complained about in the past has been the enormous size of the DC government. . . DC spends $122 per capita on its local police force. The figures for [seven other comparable] cities run between $38 per head in Atlanta to $79 in Boston. If we spent the seven city average we would save $48 million . . . We would save $8 million if we spent only the seven city average [for fire protection] Spending at the seven city average would also produce saving of $20 million on highways, $24 million on sewage and sanitation and $4 million on recreation. The per capita expense to DC of these five city functions is $287, placing it first. If we spent the seven city average we would save ten percent of the city’s budget. — DC Gazette


First election of advisory neighborhood commissioners.

Metro opens with a 4.6 mile segment

Former Allende aide Orlando Letelier along with Ronni and Michael Moffitt – all with the Institute for Policy Studies – are killed as a bomb destroys their car at Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Avenue. Letelier had been targeted as part of Operation Condor, aimed at enemies of Chilean dictator Pinochet.


Citizens pass a Charter Amendment – proposed by Julius Hobson and pressed by the DC Statehood Party – establishing the right of initiative and referendum.

WPFW begins broadcasting

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington is founded.

12 gunmen burst into city hall, then known as the District Building, and two other buildings. They shoott and kill [WHUR reporter Maurice Williams] and injure several dozen others as they took 149 hostages, whom they held for 39 hours until surrendering to police. Among those injured was then-council member Marion Barry, – Washington Post


First leg of the Metro opens.
Congress approves a voting rights amendment, which fails after too few states approve it in the required sevent years.

Marion Barry is elected mayor.


Georgetown University’s hip radio station WGTB is closed by the university and sold to UDC for $1.


Citizens approve making DC the 51st state and the creation of a statehood constitutional convention. Only west of the park Ward 3 rejects the initiative.

Citizens approve a city-run lottery and daily numbers game.

The DC Gazette reports that the city was facing a real budget deficit of $246 million. It also reports that Arthur Anderson & Co. had found the city had accumulated a $284 million hidden deficit over the previous ten years. Sixty percent of this sum was incurred before home rule. The story continued: The auditors finally caught up with the game of fiscal musical chairs that Walter Washington and [budget director] Comer Coppie played so well: changing the dates when taxes were due, throwing accounts payable into the next fiscal year, not paying back bridge loans from the Treasury, switching from the accrual to the cash method of accounting for a one-time gain and so forth. As the city’s financial advisors, Lazard Frere & Co. put it in the genteel language of its trade, the city got in trouble, in part, by carrying over “prior year liabilities into subsequent years without adequate provisions of their payment.” To put it more bluntly, the city has, for a decade or more, been engaged in a sophisticated version of check-kiting and saying “the check’s in the mail.” That it has done so with impunity merely points to another way in which politicians and bureaucrats are different from the rest of us. The combined current and past deficit at this time added up to $530 million. Correcting for inflation that would be a deficit of over $900 million in 1995 dollars.

DC mob queen Odessa Madre has now been picked up 30 times on 57 charges over a 48 year span, seven of them spent in a federal prison. She bought a Lincoln Continental when she got out and purchased a Cadillac Seville after serving a later three year sentence. ODESSA MADRE

9:30 Club opens

Irish band U2’s first gig in U.S. at The Bayou. Legend differs as to whether U2 opens for Slickee Boys, or the other way around. – – Washington Area Music Assn


Death penalty is outlawed in the city.


The statehood constitutional convention approves a constitution for the state of New Columbia. The constitution is later ratified by DC voters.

The Vietnam War Memorial is dedicated.

An Air Florida plane crashes into the 14th Street Bridge shortly after takeoff


Citizens pass an initiative guarantee the right of the homeless to adequate overnight shelter.

Your taxes are about to go up again, thanks in part to the failure of the mayor and the council to deal with chronic budgetary problems in other than the most short-sighted way. It is, in the end, easier to squeeze more money out of the public and business than it is to look long and hard at these problems and do something about them . . . To be sure, in the early years of the Barry administration, there were serious and partially successful efforts to trim the bloated city government and improve efficiency, but in time Barry seems to have adopted the standard view of credit-card liberals: let my successor worry about it. Thus various deficits have mounted significantly even as the mayor was claiming to balance the books. . . [City Council finance chair] John Wilson has been attempting to introduce an element of rationality into budgetary planning but he is receiving precious little support. A recent article he wrote for the Washington Post sums up the matter well: “The District must begin to live within its means and to finance its future budgets with existing resources. I believe that this can be done but only if the city acts now to create a 3 to 5 year tax and spending plan that establishes firm budget priorities divorced from political expediency; reorganize city agencies along service-delivery lines that provide more workers in the field and fewer highly paid consultants, executives, deputy and special assistants; and commit the city to a policy of tax-competitiveness aimed at increasing rather than eroding the tax base.” — DC Gazette

Rhodes Tavern is demolished.


Proposed constitutional amendment granting DC a single vote in Congress fails.

Citizens pass a referendum approving the maintaining of rent control.


An initiative to require a refundable deposit on bottles is rejected after bottling companies make major contributions to local churches.

As usual, Barry plans to spend almost every dime he gets . . . And as usual, the budget assumes the perfection of nearly every that has happened before. Any budgetary changes that the council makes, and they will be minor, will concentrate on the $180 million in new spending rather than on the sacrosanct “budget base.” The concept of a budget base may seem a curious one to those in ordinary commerce but what it roughly translates into is “what you’ve got, you keep.” This makes the unions happy and tends to keep down the council’s curiosity about existing programs. It also leaves us with an ever more expensive government without any particular concern for questions of efficiency . . . Someone might want to ask how come the city can afford to spend nearly 25% of its snow removal budget on a consulting report on snow removal — and then lose the report. And what will a 25% increase in economic development funds do when previous expenditures have left us with fewer jobs for DC citizens than before we became a “city on the move?” . . . And if we are going to add 33% to the housing and community development budget what guarantees do we have that it won’t continue to produce more scandals than housing? And if the council authorizes $15 million for housing assistance how can we be sure that it gets spent — and for housing — and not have half of it show up paying off the corrections department’s over-spending as happened this year? There are lots of equally good questions to ask at budget time but most of them won’t be asked. The papers in the next few weeks will be full of stories about fights between the mayor and councilmembers over a few million here and a few million there. And when it is all over, only a few million will have changed places and another budget charade will have happily run its course. — DC Gazette

Washington National Cathedral completed 83 years after groundbreaking


Washington has worst summer on record for ozone pollution


Mitch Snyder, homeless advocate, commits suicide at 46 by hanging.

City Council repeals citizen initiative guarantee shelter for trhe homeless.

The Eva Cassidy Band starts playing local clubs including Blues Alley. Cassidy will release her album ‘Live at Blues Alley’ five months before her death at age 33.

Shirley Horn records with Miles Davis and the Marsalis brothers.

Jesse Jackson is elected shadow senator. He will move to Chicago before his term is over.

Mayor Marion Barry, about to run for reelection, is arrested in a drug bust and sent to prison. Barry runs as an independent for the city council but is beaten in the first time in his life by DC Statehooder Hilda Mason whose informal campaign slogan is, “Everyone’s grandmother against everyone’s boyfriend.”


Three days of rioting breaks out in latino Mt. Pleasant set off by a rookie police officer of a Salvadoran man who some witnesses say was staggering toward the officer with his hand raised holding a knife, yet he had just been arrested and handcuffed for drinking in public. A crowd of curious onlookers turn into a bottle- and rock-throwing mob. Police vehicles are set on fire, stores are looted, the police use tear gas. [Olivia Cadaval]

Sharon Pratt Dixon becomes mayor. She will oversee major deficits for which Marion Barry will be later blamed, along with his own.


Citizens pass an initiative to limit campaign contributions to $100 for major elections.

Initiative -ordered by Congress – to authorize the death penalty fails.


House rejects statehood for DC by a vote of 277 to 153


Citizens pass an initiative establishing term limit for elected officials.

Upon completion of his prison term, Marion Barry is reelected mayor for a fourth term.


Mary Chapin Carpenter picks up three Grammies for “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” inspired by energy-suppliment ad, and country album Come On Come On.

In January, Marion Barry takes office for a fourth term as Mayor following incarceration for drug charges. In April, President Clinton signs the law creating a presidentially appointed Financial Control Board and a mayor-appointed Chief Financial Officer who effectively strip Barry of his power. Home rule is eviscerated by Clinton and his congresional allies.

Woodward & Lothrop closes

Cellar Door Productions becomes top concert promotor in country


City Council repeals citizen initiative limiting campaign contribution. A federal judge rules the initiative unconstitutional.

Placido Domingo becomes artistic director of the Washington Opera.


DC permanently loses its public radio station as the city sells it to C-SPAN to cover a short-term deficit.


Citizens approve an initiative permiting use of marijuana by seriously ill persons on a physician’s approval. Congress refused to permit the law to be implemented.

The police department gets 183 muntain bikes

Anthony Williams elected mayor.


The city council becomes majority white

Shirley Horn wins a Grammy


Lorton Correctional Complex is closed.

The Pentagon is attacked. The attack, along with rumors of an attempted air attack on Capitol and explosions elsewhere in the city leads to widespread evacuation of downtown.

Sholl’s Cafeteria is closed after 74 years of providing inexpensive meals to residents and tourists.

D.C. General Hospital shuts down inpatient services.

City Council repeals initiative calling for term limits. This is the third time the council has repealed a citizen initiative.

Control board goes out of business.

Compiled by Mark Richards

1804: Council establishes 13-member School Board: 7 picked by the City Council, 6 by financial contributors.

1845: Council establishes 4 school districts, with 1 Board of Trustees with representatives from each District.

1858: Council redefines districts, provides for appointment of School Board with enlarged duties by Mayor.

1878: Congress sets up 19-member Board of Trustees of Public Schools, appointed by Commissioners.

1900: Congress sets up 7-member Board of Education appointed by Commissioners. Power to appoint 1 superintendent and 2 assistant superintendents.

1906: Congress sets up 9-member Board of Education, composed of DC residents appointed by the Supreme Court of DC. Appointees changed in 1936 to District Court of U.S. for DC, and again in 1948 to U.S. District Court for DC.

1954: Bolling v. Sharpe invalidated the use of racially separated educational facilities in DC.

1956: Board of Education embarks on the Track System (“ability grouping”).

1966-1967: Hobson v. Hansen — Julius Hobson sues Superintendent Carl Hansen, the Board, and DC judges for unconstitutionally depriving the poor and black school children of equal education opportunities. Board did not appeal on advice of Corporation Council. Hansen resigns, appeals on his own behalf, loses appeal. DC appointed Board of Education releases report on DC schools by Teachers College, Columbia University (“Passow Report”).

1968: Congress sets up 11-member elected Board of Education — 3 At-large, 1 per Ward. 70% registered voters go to polls for first election in which 53 candidates run. Power to appoint superintendent.

1976: DC Law 1-35, DC Public Postsecondary Education Reorganization Act amendments includes compensation of Board members; contracting and reprogramming powers.


Adrian Fenty is elected mayor


Major fires severely damage Eastern Market and the Georgetown Library within 12 hours of each other.

DC History through the Civil War


100,000,000 BC Dinosaurs hold most local power

66,000,000 BC Dinosaurs replaced by mammals such as the sabre tooth tiger

8,000,000 BC First signs of the Potomac River

8000 BC First Indians arrive in area

6000 BC Indians leave some projectile points lying around what will later become the American University campus.

Captain John Smith, entering the land of the Nacotchtanke, explores the Potomac River as far as Great Falls. Describes the Potomac as “frequented by otters, beavers, martens, and sables. Neither better fish, more plenty, nor more variety for small fish had any of us ever seen in a place. . .[The fish are] lying so thicke with their heads out of the water. . . neither better fish, nor more variety. . .had any of us ever seen in any place so swimming in the water.”

A party of whites raids the village of Nacotchtanke on the shores of the Anacostia. White settlement begins.

A visitor writes, “The Indians in one night commonly will catch thirty sturgeon in a place where the river is not above twelve fathoms broad. And as for deer, buffaloes, turkeys, the woods do swarm with them, and the soil is exceedingly fertile.”

Lord Baltimore grants a track of 1,000 acres to George Thompson in an area called Blew-Playne between Oxford Creek and the Eastern Branch (the Anacostia River)

Thomas Addison and James Stoddert obtain 3,000 acres between Rock Creek and the Potomac.

The original Indian tribes of the area have all been forced to leave


A survey marks the boundaries of Port Royal, one of about 15 estates deeded by lords Calvert of Maryland and comprising what would later be Washington.


Benjamin Banneker is born near Baltimore, Maryland in 1731; the only child of a free mulatto mother and African father, who had purchased his own freedom from slavery.

Georgetown is officially founded.


The Old Stone House, the oldest remaining house in DC, is constructed in Georgetown.


A January storm brings three feet of snow.


The Georgetown Presbyterian Church is founded. It is the oldest church in the area. “Stephen Bloomer Balch, a Revolutionary War soldier, established the church — then known as the Bridge Street Church and thought to be the first Presbyterian church in the District — in 1780. In 1782, the congregation moved into its first permanent building at what is now M and 30th streets in Northwest. Thomas Jefferson contributed $75 to enlarge the church in 1793, and as president in 1806 signed a congressional charter allowing the church to operate as a business.” WASH TIMES


Thomas Jefferson and James Madison suggest that Georgetown Maryland be the site of the future federal city.


A long cold winter leaves unbroken ice in the Potomac off Georgetown until March 15



PATRICK HENRY entertained strong suspicions that great dangers must result from the clause under consideration. . . Why demand a power which was not to be exercised? . . . [Congres has] a right, by this clause, to make a law that such a district shall be set apart for any purpose they please, and that any man who shall act contrary to their commands, within certain tell miles square, or any place they may select, and strongholds, shall be hanged without benefit of clergy. If they think any law necessary for their personal safety, after perpetrating the most tyrannical and oppressive deeds, cannot they make it by this sweeping clause? If it be necessary to provide, not only for this, but for any department or officer of Congress, does not this clause enable them to make a law for the purpose?. . . Is there any act, however atrocious, which they cannot do by virtue of this clause? Look at the use which has been made, in all parts of the world, of that human thing called power. Look at the predominant thirst of dominion which has invariably and uniformly prompted rulers to abuse their powers. Can you say that you will be safe when you give such unlimited powers, without any real responsibility? . . . Will not the members of Congress have the same passions which other rulers have had? . . .

I conjure you once more to remember the admonition of that sage man who told you that, when you give power, you know not what you give. I know the absolute necessity of an energetic government. But is it consistent with any principle of prudence or good policy to grant unlimited, unbounded authority, which is so totally unnecessary that gentlemen say it will never be exercised? But gentlemen say that we must make experiments. A wonderful and unheard-of experiment it will be, to give unlimited power unnecessarily! . . .
“Mr. George Mason thought that there were few clauses in the Constitution so dangerous as that which gave Congress exclusive power of legislation within ten miles square to augment the congressional powers. . . .What chance will poor men get, where Congress have the power of legislating in all cases whatever, and where judges and juries may be under their influence, and bound to support their operations? Even with juries the chance of justice may here be very small, as Congress have unlimited authority, legislative, executive, and judicial. . . Now, sir, if an attempt should be made to establish tyranny over the people, here are ten miles square where the greatest offender may meet protection. If any of their officers, or creatures, should attempt to oppress the people, or should actually perpetrate the blackest deed, he has nothing to do but get into the ten miles square. Why was this dangerous power given? . . .”


“If a federal town be necessary for the residence of congress and the public officers, it ought to be a small one, and the government of it fixed on republican and common law principles, carefully enumerated and established by the constitution. It is true, the states, when they shall cede places, may stipulate, that the laws and government of congress in them, shall always be formed on such principles; but it is easy to discern, that the stipulations of a state, or of the inhabitants of the place ceded, can be of but little avail against the power and gradual encroachments of the union. The principles ought to be established by the federal constitution, to which all the states are parties; but in no event can there be any need of so large a city and places for forts, etc. totally exempted from the laws and jurisdictions of the state governments.

“The city, and all the places in which the union shall have this exclusive jurisdiction, will be immediately under one entire government, that of the federal head; and be no part of any state, and consequently no part of the United States. . . Neither the laws of the states respecting taxes, the militia, crimes or property, will extend to them; nor is there a single stipulation in the constitution, that the inhabitants of this city, and these places, shall be governed by laws founded on principles of freedom. All questions, civil and criminal, arising on the laws of these places, which must be the laws of congress, must be decided in the federal courts. . .

“To avoid many of these intricacies and difficulties, and to avoid the undue and unnecessary extension of the federal judicial powers, it appears to me, that no federal districts ought to be allowed, and no federal city or town, except perhaps a small town, in which the government shall be republican, but in which congress shall have no jurisdiction over the inhabitants, but in common with the other inhabitants of the states. . .

“Such a city, or town, containing a hundred square miles, must soon be the great, the visible, and dazzling center, the mistress of fashions, and the fountain of politics. There may be a free or shackled press in this city, and the streams which may issue from it may overflow the country, and they will be poisonous or pure, as the fountain may be corrupt or not. But not to dwell on a subject that must give pain to the virtuous friends of freedom, I will only add, can a free and enlightened people create a common head so extensive, so prone to corruption and slavery, as this city probably will be, when they have it in their power to form one pure and chaste, frugal and republican.


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.

Congress votes to establish the capital somewhere along the Potomac River.

President Washington selects the site for a new capital a few miles upstream from his spread.

Georgetown merchant buys 150 acres of Port Royal, admitting in a letter that “yesterday I was violently seized with that dabolical, frenzical disorder which have raged with such fury and pity for some time over the Federal City.”


“Before he quit in February 1792, angry that the commissioners would control implementation of his plan, Pierre L’Enfant had told President Washington that the Potomac Valley lacked the resources both in men and materials to build a capital worthy of the nation.” – Bob Arnebeck


About 300 people are living in Washington.


In 1795 Georgetown enacted an ordinance banning the congregation of more than 5 slaves in public with punishment of 39 lashes for the slaves and a $13 fine for their masters. The ordinance also punished indentured servants who were principally Irish emigrants. When the well-to-do in the District of Columbia castigated the lower sort, they usually cursed the blacks and Irish in the same breath. George Walker, a Georgetown merchant turned Washington land speculator, who had emigrated from Scotland, placed a newspaper ad to warn “straggly white persons and negroes” away from his orchard off Maryland Avenue NE. – Bob Arnebeck


The capital is transferred from Philadelphia to Washington, a town with 10,000 whites, 800 free blacks, and 3200 slaves. Moving the government isn’t that hard, since it has only 126 employees. The new capital is described by Secretary of the Treasury Wolcott:

There are few houses in any one place, and most of them small, miserable huts, which present an awful contrast to the public buildings. The people are poor, and as far as I can judge, they live like fishes, by eating each other. You may look in almost any direction, over an extent of ground nearly as large a the city of New York, without seeing a fence or any object except brick-kilns and temporary huts for laborers.

Abigail Adams was no more flattering of the unfinished “President’s Palace,” of which she said, “We have not the least fence, yard, or other convience without, and the great unfinished audience-room I make a drying-room of, to hang the clothes in.” She writes of her arrival, “Woods are all you see, from Baltimore until you reach the city, which is only so in name. Here and there is a small cot, without a glass window, interspersed among the forests, through which you travel miles without seeing any human being. In the city there are buildings enough, if they were compact and finished, to accommodate Congress and those attached to it; but as they are, and scattered as they are, I see not great comfort for them.”

Washington has its first fire, in a house next to the War Office.

One of the early free blacks, Yarrow Mamout, a devout Muslim, earns enough from his hauling business to buy a house in Georgetown .

More than a quarter of DC is black and nearly 20% of the blacks are free.


Thomas Jefferson walks to the Capitol for his inauguration from his boarding house two blocks away. After the ceremony he walks back and stays at the boarding house for another two weeks until his presidential quarters are ready.

Washington has its second fire – in the Treasury Office. The Federalists had just lost office and Republicans accused them of trying to destroy records.

Washington gets a municipal charter and white male property owners get to elect a city council. The president appoints the mayor, Robert Brent. During the next decade, Brent will also hold positions of justice of the peace, judge of the orphan’s court, paymaster general of the Army, curator for Columbian Institutes, member of the school board, president of Patriotic Bank, and president of the Columbian Manufacturing Company.


The “Poor House,” an infirmary and workhouse for “the disorderly” is established between 6th & 7th on M NW

The Mayor of the city appoints a chimney sweep to clean all chimneys in the city.

Black Codes, regulating activities of “free” blacks in the manner of apartheid, are enacted, including fines for blacks out after ten pm, requirement that freedmen carry documents, fines for playing cards or dice, and forty lashes for slaves caught at disorderly meetings. Cash bonds are required.


An Act to Prevent Swine from Going At Large is passed in Washington. This act designates Massachusetts Avenue as the southernmost boundary beyond which pigs were allowed to roam. By the 1830s, the area is known as the “Northern Liberties,” a term commonly given to regions beyond the limits of the city.


Aletha Tanner purchases her own freedom in 1810, then goes on to free her older sister and five of her children, eventually helping 18 people become emancipated.

First sewer line installed


For the first time, the city government spends money on fire equipment.

First mayoral election ends in a tie. Daniel Rapine defeats Robert Brent in a coin toss.

Election was decided in part by inmates of the poorhouse who were taken to the polls where candidates paid a 25 cent poll tax in return for a vote.


Robert Brent again loses a tie race for mayor, decided by a coin toss

Congress amends the city charter to create a board of aldermen and a common council. These bodies will elect the mayor.

The White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia are torched by the British. At one point there are 20 fires going in the city.


Tobias Henson, a slave in the Anacostia area, purchases his freedom. He will later buy twenty-four acres and the freedom of his wife, two daughters, and five grandchildren. Writes Mary Halnon of the University of Virginia, “Henson added to his landholdings and by the 1870s his family was the principal landholder in the black community of Stantontown; they remained on the land until the 1940s, when the federal government condemned the community to build the Frederick Douglass public housing project. Another Anacostia slave, Alethia Browning Tanner, was able to purchase her freedom in 1810, paying almost a thousand dollars over the market value for a female slave; in the following decades she manumitted thirteen other family members.”



August 24 – Americans set fire to the Anacostia bridge to hinder the approach of British troops. The battle of Bladensburg begins at noon; the Americans are routed within hours. Dolly Madison leaves the White House with Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington. By 7:30 pm. the British are marching down Bladensburg Pike towards the Capitol. Around 8 pm the Americans set the Navy Yard on fire to prevent it from falling to the British. By 9 pm, British arsonists set fire to the Capitol. By 11 pm the White House is burning, followed by the Treasury Building. The next day, the War and State offices are burned and DC is hit by the worst wind storm in memory. The heavy rains help to put out the fires. The British leave town. According to the National Intelligencer, “No houses were half as much plundered by the enemy as by the knavish wretches about the town who profited from the general distress.” [Source: Al Kilbourne, Maret School]

Congress approves the direct election of a mayor.

Conditions established by city council for non-slave blacks to stay in the city, including that they “enter into bonds with two freehold sureties, in the penalty of $500, conditional on his or her good conduct, that they will not become chargeable to the Corporation (or wards of the city) for the space of twelve months; the bond to be renewed every year for three years. On failure to do this, he or she must depart the city or be committed to the workhouse not exceeding twelve months in any one imprisonment.” The number of slaves has doubled since 1800 but will start to decline. The number of free blacks will continue to grow.




President Andrew Jackson ends practice of presidential inaugurations being organized by local citizens.

President Andrew Jackson urges Congress to allow DC residents to elect a nonvoting delegate to that body “with the same privileges that are allowed to other territories of the United States.”


I deem it my duty again to call your attention to the condition of the District of Columbia. It was doubtless wise in the framers of our Constitution to place the people of this District under the jurisdiction of the general government, but to accomplish the objects they had in view it is not necessary that this people should be deprived of all the privileges of self-government. Independently of the difficulty of inducing the representatives of distant states to turn their attention to projects of laws which are not of the highest interest to their constituents, they are not individually, nor in Congress collectively, well qualified to legislate over the local concerns of this District. Consequently its interests are much neglected and the people are almost afraid to present their grievances, lest a body in which they are not represented and which feels little sympathy in their local relations should in its attempt to make laws for them do more harm than good. . . . . Is it not just to allow them at least a delegate to Congress, if not a local legislature, to make laws for the District, subject to the approval or rejection of Congress? I earnestly recommend the extension to them of every political right which their interests require and which may be compatible with the Constitution.

Construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal begins on the same day the first spade of dirt is turned for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The canal will be finished in 1850. The canal is the only one remaining from the 19th century with a working towpath.

MAYOR JOSEPH GALES, JR., Dec. 23, 1828: Whereas it has been too much the habit of idle and inconsiderate persons, on Christmas and New Year’s Day and Eve to indulge in firing off guns, pistols, squibs, and crackers, and burning of gun-powder in divers other ways, to the great annoyance of the peaceable inhabitants of this city, and to the manifest danger of their persons and property – all which practices, where they are not contrary to the express ordinances of the corporation, amount to “disorderly conduct,” and as such are punishable by law: Now, therefore, with a view to prevent such disorderly practices, I, Joseph Gales, jr. Mayor of Washington, do enjoin upon all Police Constables, Ward Commissioners, and others, whose duty it is to preserve peace and good order, to be diligent in the execution of their several duties, and to apprehend and bring to justice all persons so offending against the laws.


From 1837 to 1872, except during the Civil War, rail passengers to the south have to take a 6 mile steamship trip to Fredericksburg to board the Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac RR

It is “not uncommon to pull 4,000 shad or 300,000 herring in one seine haul. One haul of 450 rockfish with as average weight of sixty pounds was documented. Hundreds of sturgeon were captured on a single night near the US Arsenal in Washington” (Niles Weekly Register).


Congress bans anti-slavery literature in DC.

Beverly Snow, a free black restaurant owner, allegedly insults the wives and daughters of white Navy Yard mechanics. In the riot that follows, white mobs destroy the homes, churches, and schools of free blacks. In the wake of the riot, Congress increases the surety bonds for free blacks.

Businesses licenses are denied African-Americans for everything except driving carts and carriages.

Washington branch of the B&O RR opens with the local station at 2nd & Penna Ave NW (now the Mall)

January temperatures reach -16 degrees, It won’t again get that cold until 1899.


Congress prohibits dueling in District of Columbia.


Sitting in the Supreme Court chambers in the Capitol, Samuel FB Morse taps out “What hath God wrought” on his new invention, the telegraph. The message is received in Baltimore


In his inaugural address, William Henry Harrison says, “The people of the District of Columbia are not the subjects of the people of the States, but free American citizens. . . . The legislation of Congress should be adapted to their peculiar position and wants and be conformable with their deliberate opinions of their own interests.”


The Washington Infirmary is established at Judiciary Square.

The sewing machine is patented by John J. Greenough of Washington, DC

CHARLES DICKENS ON WASHINGTON: In 1842, just before Alexandria was retroceded, Charles Dickens arrived in DC from Philly by steamboat. In “American Notes for General Circulation” he described Washington as “the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva” because so many officials chewed tobacco and spit… on the walls, floors, everywhere. Here is more of what he wrote: “The hotel in which we live, is a long row of small houses fronting on the street, and opening at the back upon a common yard, in which hangs a great triangle. Whenever a servant is wanted, somebody beats on this triangle from one stroke up to seven, according to the number of the house in which his presence is required; and as all the servants are always being wanted, and none of them ever come, this enlivening engine is in full performance the whole day through. Clothes are drying in the same yard; female slaves, with cotton handkerchiefs twisted round their heads, are running to and fro on the hotel business; black waiters cross and recross with dishes in their hands; two great dogs are playing upon a mound of loose bricks in the centre of the little square; a pig is turning up his stomach to the sun, and grunting ‘that’s comfortable!’; and neither the men, nor the women, not the dogs, nor the pig, nor any created creature, takes the smallest notice of the triangle, which is tingling madly all the time. …


Alexandria and what is now Arlington are retroceded to Virginia. History of retrocession by Mark Richards


77 slaves sureptitously board the sailing vessel “Pearl” for a planned escape that will be aborted when the ship was captured 140 miles from Washington. In an interesting example of the conflicts involved in class and race, a free black hack driver reputedly blew the whistle on the Pearl – angry that one of the slave women aboard had refused his hand in marriage. He was allegedly also angry at others who had tipped him insufficiently when he drove them to the pie

The number of elected posts is expanded to include a board of assessors, surveyor, tax collector and registrar.


Becomes illegal to bring slaves into the city for sale but slaves owned by District families can still be sold.

The C&O Canal finally reaches Cumberland, MD, at a cost of $11 million


A white woman, Myrtilla Miner opens a school to teach black women to be teachers.

Washington gets its first Chinese resident.

Fire at the Library of Congress destroys about two-thirds of its 55,000 volume collection including two thirds of the private collection of Thomas Jefferson

The B&O opens a railroad station on New Jersey Avenue at C NW.


John Philip Sousa is born in DC. Educated in the city’s schools he will become conducted of the US Marine Band for 12 years and of his own band for 39 years.

A white-only settlement, Uniontown, is established east of the river near Nichols Avenue and Good Hope Road. Banned are “negroes, mulattoes, pigs, or soap boiling.”

Five citizens are killed and fifteen are wounded in a election day riot started by members of the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party. Their candidate loses by a handful of votes. The rioters are aided by thugs from the Baltimore firefighter’s gang known as the Plug Uglies. The riot was suppressed by US Marines following an order from the Navy Secretary to have all Marines at headquarters “report forthwith, at the City Hall.”

The whole place looks run up at night. . . and it is impossible to remove the impression that, when Congress is over, the whole place is taken down, and packed up again till wanted. – London journalist Edward Dicey


New aqueduct brings water to city.

The National Base-Ball Club is organized.


HENRY ADAMS, THE EDUCATION OF HENRY ADAMS – 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 has an air of social instability and incompleteness that went far to support the right of secession in theory as in facts; 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 chiefly hostile, so far as it made itself felt. John Adams was better off in Philadelphia is 1776 than his great-grandson Henry in 1860 in Washington


In the period April 9-27, 1861, 3019 local men enlisted to protect the capital. By December 1, 1861, the District had 2823 3-month men in service, of whom 1000 who had enlisted for the duration of the war. After the war, the Grand Army of the Republic published figures that DC had furnished a total 16,534 men, of whom 290 died. This figure included 1,353 sailors and marines, 3,269 ‘colored troops,’ and 11,912 soldiers. – Carlton Fletcher

Metropolitan Police Department is formed. Up to then the city had only an auxiliary watch with one captain and 15 cops. President Lincoln sends a member of the board of commissioners to New York City to find out how it’s done.



Emancipation of DC’s remaining 3,200 slaves.

Separate white and black public schools established.

Horsecar service begins with a line between the Capitol and the State Department.

Louisia May Alcott begins working as a nurse at Union Hospital, treating Civil War soldiers. She contracts typhoid from which she never fully recovers.

Henry Cooke obtains a charter for the construction of a streetcar system.

Following Union defeats, Washington becomes a sick bay for some 20,000 wounded soldiers. By the end of the war there will be 50 military hospitals in the city. Patients were cared for in the Capitol and on the south lawn of the White House. Georgetown College and St. Elizabeth’s are also used. Angel Price has written, “It has been estimated that the hospitals killed as many as they saved.” According to one estimate, the fatality rate for amputees is 26%. The wounded are brought to the hospitals by ambulance drivers whom one surgeon describes as “the most vulgar, ignorant, and profane men I ever came in contact with.” PHOTO OF ARMORY HOSPITAL WITH CAPITOL IN BACKGROUND. WASHINGTON’S CIVIL WAR HOSPITALS


DC forms a paid fire department.

Forget the Alamo;
Remember Ft. Stevens

One of the crucial – but little known – confrontations of the Civil War took place within the city itself. Were it not for Union reinforcements arriving in the nick of time, the whole history of the Civil War might have turned out differently.

In the summer of 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early pushed his way towards Maryland with 20,000 men. General Wallace, a Union recruit trainer in Baltimore, found himself faced with an invasion but was uncertain whether the target was Washington or Baltimore. Wallace chose Frederick, MD, to make his stand, with the help of troops sent by train from Baltimore. With only 6,000 troops to defend six miles of river, he found himself overwhelmed. On the afternoon of July 9, the Union force left some 1,800 casualties and retreated to Baltimore. The confederates lost 1,300 men.

Though his own force was battered, Early knew the immense coup that capturing Washington would be. Further he probably knew that Washington had only about 9,000 regular troops to guard the whole city, Grant having removed some 14,000 soldiers to help him battle Lee around Richmond and Petersburg. Early sent out sorties on July 11 toward Ft. Stevens, located at the north end of Washington. They found a battlement protected only by home guards, clerks, and recovering soldiers literally rousted from their hospital beds to help defend the city. a ragtag force of 2,300.

By light of the next day, however, Early found the fort manned by regular troops, reinforcements who had arrived from Virginia and who repulsed Early’s sorties. By the end of the day, Early was in full retreat. There had been 874 casualties.

Among the spectators for the two days were Abraham Lincoln and his wife. One Ohio soldier would remember, “Lincoln got to the fort ahead of us. He was quiet and grave. He mounted the parapet so he could see better, and I saw him there in full view of the Johnnies, watching them and what went on inside. You can imagine what a target he made with tall form and stovepipe hat.”

Lincoln became the only president ever to have come under direct fire and, according to legend, was told by a young soldier named Oliver Wendell Holmes [r] to “get down, you damn fool.” Another story has a colonel telling Lincoln, “Please come down to a safe place. If you do not, it will be my duty to call a file of men and make you.” Lincoln replied, “And you would be quite right, my boy. You are in command of this fort. I should be the last man to set an example of disobedience.”

The Union force held and Early gave up his invasion of Maryland and DC and returned to the upper Potomac at a crossing known as White’s Ford, which would later become the home-port of perhaps the world’s only ferry whose bridge consisted of an overstuffed armchair on the same deck as the cars. It was called the “Jubal Early.”

Early admitted to his staff that “We didn’t take Washington, but we scared Abe Lincoln like Hell.”


DC Almanac Q-Z


Quicksilver Times was one of the Washington’s alternative newspapers in the 1960s. The following is from Angus Mackenzie’s Secrets: The CIA’s War At Home

ANGUS MACKENZIE One of Ober’s top agents, who excelled at analyzing divisions between political camps, was Chicago-born Salvatore John Ferrera, a diminutive young man with black hair, black eyes, and (according to his girlfriend of the time) a frightfully nervous stomach. He was recruited by the CIA while studying political science at Loyola University in Chicago. From his studies, he developed an ability to navigate the ideological, strategic, and tactical differences of the antiwar groups in the United States and abroad. Only a few bare facts of Ferrera’s story as a domestic spy have surfaced, lines here and there in scattered news reports. The full story is still classified as secret, but what is now known provides a noteworthy illustration of Ober’s operation at work.

Ferrera’s first assignment was to infiltrate a group of antiwar activists who were setting out to publish a tabloid newspaper in Washington, D.C. Their leader was Terrence “Terry” Becker Jr., a former college newspaper editor and former Newhouse News Service reporter. Becker was struggling to assemble the first issue of Quicksilver Times when Ferrera walked up the stairs of a recently rented white clapboard house that was to serve the group as both home and office. With Ferrera was a friend, William Blum, who introduced Ferrera to Becker. Blum was an old hand in Washington’s dissident circles. He had recently resigned from the State Department and in 1967 helped found the Washington Free Press. Becker welcomed Ferrera as Blum’s buddy, and Ferrera offered to help Becker with the task at hand: building frames for light tables. Once finished, they inserted the bulbs and got down to the business of pasting together the first issue of Quicksilver Times.

Ober was kept well informed about Quicksilver and hundreds of newspapers like it. According to CIA officer Louis Dube, Ober soon learned that Quicksilver was “just making it financially” and that the newspaper “was not receiving outside financial help, foreign or domestic.” Again, however, despite the lack of any evidence of foreign funding, Ober kept investigating. At Quicksilver, Ferrera made himself indispensable as a writer and photographer. His articles and photographs appeared in nearly every issue, in more than thirty issues altogether. After writing one piece under his own name — on June 16,1969, in the first issue of the paper — he assumed a pseudonym, Sal Torey.

Ferrera made an ideal domestic CIA operative: young and hip-looking, with a working vocabulary of the Left. . . One of Ferrera’s early targets was Karl Hess. An influential conservative Republican, Hess had headed the party’s platform committee in 1960 and 1964 for Barry Goldwater, but by the late 1960s he had strayed from his party into the ranks of antiwar radicalism. He was editing a libertarian-anarchist newsletter, The Libertarian, and was about to launch a new publication, Repress, intended to document the growing repression of liberty in the United States. Hess was especially interested in uncovering police espionage and surveillance. Repress was never published, but Ferrera spent quite a lot of time working on it, all the while reporting back to Ober about Hess’s activities.

Ferrera also sent Ober reports on the Youth International Party, better known as the Yippies. When the U.S. Justice Department indicted Yippie leaders Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman and other antiwar activists for conspiring to cross state lines to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the Quicksilver staff got parade permits for a protest march in front of the Justice Department. The subsequent “Chicago Eight” trial turned into a major courtroom confrontation between the Nixon administration and the antiwar movement. (The case became known as the “Chicago Seven” after defendant Bobby Seale was removed and tried separately.) Ferrera befriended the defendants and interviewed their lawyers, William Kunstler and Leonard Wingless, providing the CIA with inside intelligence about the most important political trial of the era. Ferrera’s pose as a newsman allowed him to ask questions, take notes, and photograph his targets, and his pose as a friend of the movement let him insinuate himself into meetings where antiwar actions and legal strategies were planned.

Ober and FBI counterintelligence chief William Sullivan employed one special agent, Samuel Popish, just to carry thousands of daily reports by hand between FBI and CIA headquarters, and at least seven FBI informants were deployed around Becker, Ferrera, and Blum at Quicksilver. New volunteers at Quicksilver’s staff meetings sowed opposition to the paper’s founders, which led to a shutdown of the newspaper at a critical moment. Several of the super-militant newcomers took control of the Quicksilver office and literally hurled Becker’s allies out the door and down the stairs. A white female supporter of Becker was called a white racist by the black leader among the newcomers, who threw her to the floor and hit her in the face. Becker’s allies did manage to get some of their production equipment out of the building, including their homemade light tables, and moved everything to another apartment building, but publication had to be suspended just as Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia. The answering protests were a high-water mark of the antiwar movement. College students conducted a nationwide strike at more than three hundred campuses, but Quicksilver was unable to print one word on the action.

In an FBI report about Quicksilver, since declassified, the FBI special agent in charge assured headquarters that he was continuing to use his agents to create dissension within protest groups. In his words, he was “continuing attempts to develop plans to utilize sources to promote political differences in New Left organizations.” He also reported that he was planning to produce a newsletter to counter Quicksilver.

On May 8, 1970, Quicksilver Times resumed publishing and Salvatore Ferrera sent Ober several reports on the reconstituted newspaper commune. Terry Becker had been shaken by the earlier influx of disruptive volunteers. Because of the democratic form of Quicksilver meetings, meetings, the newcomers had each been accorded one vote and so were able to overthrow him. But now Becker was beginning to suspect this had been a government-directed coup, and he took steps to tighten his control of the paper and keep out dissenters. Becker would no longer accept people who simply showed up on his doorstep, posing as helpers. As it turned out, Ferrera also was eased out, even though Becker had no inkling that Ferrera was a CIA agent. “We collectivized at that point,” Becker says. “If you worked on the paper, you had to live in the house. No outside income. If you had outside income, you pooled it. No outside jobs. The paper paid everybody’s bills. We were criticized for being too closed, but it was the only way to avoid a repetition of what had happened.”

Ferrera wrote that the collective was so tense and introspective he found it difficult to tolerate: “No male or female chauvinism is tolerated. Both sexes at the Quicksilver collective assist in all aspects of the commune. There is . . . plenty of sex and this causes problems.” Ferrera reported that one woman was spending less time with the father of her child and more with another man. Ferrera told Ober that he could not imagine living so close to the people he was spying on, day in and day out. “He wouldn’t even consider staying there,” a CIA agent later reported.




EDWARD IWATA, USA TODAY – Federal regulators filed civil charges against former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines and two other former executives, accusing them of manipulating Fannie Mae’s earnings to jack up their bonuses. In a complaint with an administrative law judge, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight detailed 101 charges from 1998 to 2004 against Raines, former chief financial officer Timothy Howard and former controller Leanne Spencer, who all resigned in 2003 as the Fannie Mae scandal worsened.

OFHEO is seeking $100 million in penalties and $115 million in return of bonuses. The regulator also seeks the return of legal fees, and to bar the former executives from any future business with Fannie Mae. . . Fannie Mae was run by Harvard University graduate Raines, former budget director in the Clinton administration and one of the first black CEOs of a major corporation.

[It is worth noting that this is a bigger scandal than the Washington Teachers Union one or anything that happened during the Marion Barry administration.]


KATHLEEN DAY WASHINGTON POST, 2006 – Fannie Mae engaged in “extensive financial fraud” over six years by doctoring earnings so executives could collect hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, federal officials said yesterday in a report that portrayed a company determined to play by its own rules. . . They portray the District-based mortgage funding giant — a linchpin of the nation’s housing market — as governed by a weak board of directors, which failed to install basic internal controls and instead let itself be dominated and left uninformed by chief executive Franklin Raines and Chief Financial Officer J. Timothy Howard, who both were later ousted.



ALTHOUGH FRANKLIN RAINES was one of those Washington figures who could do no wrong in the media’s eyes – especially the Washington Post – he has plenty to account for, and not just about Fannie Mae. The capital colony of DC was a major victim of the dubious activities of Raines and his institution.

RAINES’ NAME has long been associated with a local combine that hopes to take over Washington’s new baseball team now that the half-billion dollar scandal known as the stadium deal is complete. The proposed purchasers can now boast two partners who have run into serious problems, the other being Nixon aide and Jew-hunter, Fred Malek. A press account reported some time back: “Malek and Kimsey’s Washington Baseball Club LLC took form 3 1/2 years ago when attorneys Stephen W. Porter, on behalf of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, and Paul M. Wolff, as chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission’s baseball committee, approached Malek. He recruited Kimsey, Joseph E. Robert Jr., whose company deals internationally in commercial real estate, and Fannie Mae chairman and CEO Franklin Raines. According to papers filed with the city, Malek, Kimsey and Robert own equal equity in 85 percent of WBC. Raines, Wolff and Porter own five percent each. . .”

HERE’S ANOTHER little known sidelight to Raines:

GREG PIERCE, WASHINGTON TIMES, OCT 23 – Donations from 23 executives of mortgage buyer Fannie Mae helped New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer raise more campaign funds than any of his colleagues in the past quarter, Bloomberg News reports, citing disclosure forms. Mr. Schumer raised $1.7 million in the three months ending Sept. 30 and has $18 million cash on hand for his 2004 re-election campaign, forms filed with the Federal Election Commission show. As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Mr. Schumer is helping to write legislation that affects Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. mortgage buyer, and rival Freddie Mac. A bill designed to strengthen the government-chartered companies’ regulation by shifting their oversight from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Treasury Department is stalled in Congress. Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines and Chief Financial Officer J. Timothy Howard, with 21 colleagues, gave a combined $13,750 to Mr. Schumer from July through the past month. Mr. Raines gave $1,000 to Mr. Schumer on July 18, the day after the banking committee held hearings on the company’s regulation, FEC records show.

OF COURSE RAINES is small potatoes compared with the leader of the ball team combine, Malek, who has also had his troubles with the SEC:

WASHINGTON TIMES – Prospective baseball team owner Fred Malek and his District-based investment firm, Thayer Capital Partners, yesterday received $250,000 in fines as part of a settlement with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to resolve a series of fraud charges involving the Connecticut state pension plan. The SEC said Malek and his firm did not disclose the 1998 hiring of a consultant, William A. DiBella, to assist with the investment of $75 million from the Connecticut Retirement and Trust Funds into a private equity fund managed by Thayer. Such hirings must be disclosed by SEC rule to original fund investors, in this case the Connecticut pension plan. Malek received a $100,000 fine and Thayer a $150,000 fine.

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, AUG 2004 – Frederick V. Malek, the man behind the DC baseball bid, was an active member of the Nixon combine, serving among other things as deputy director of CREEP, the aptly named and notorious Committee to Reelect the President. In 1988, Bush chose him to run the Republican Convention but he later had to resign from the campaign after it was learned that he had compiled a list of Jews in the Labor Department as part of a Nixon investigation of a “Jewish cabal.” As Nixon’s special assistant for personnel, he also was charged with finding ways to use the federal civil service to help Nixon get reelected, for which he was later censured by the Senate Watergate Committee. As the Post reported in 1991, “In a number of memos, some of which he later repudiated, Malek proposed organizing the White House staff and ‘politically reliable’ officials throughout the federal government down to the sub-agency level.” Among his 1972 memos was this choice bit: “All major grants and construction decisions for the next fiscal year were reviewed prior to the finalization of the budgets to ensure to the extent possible they impacted on politically beneficial areas.”On August 16, 1971, a memo was drafted at the White House, headed “Dealing with Our Political Enemies. It read in part: “This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active their opposition to the administration. Stated a bit more bluntly – how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”One of the agencies to be used in this manner was the IRS. One of its targets, Pentagon whistleblower Ernest Fitzgerald, would later write, “The agreed-on solution was to lay down the (illegal) law to IRS chief Johnnie Walters. From now on he was to cooperate with White House hatchet man Fred Malek to ‘make personnel changes to make IRS responsive to the President’ and was to take on discreet political action and investigations himself.” The plan didn’t work so well with Fitzgerald; his audit showed an overpayment of $1,835.46.Malek also served on the board of the DC-based Palmer National Bank, a private bank with an even more private history. It board included a number of other familiar GOP names and a man known as the “godfather” of the dirty Texas S&Ls. PNB served as banker to the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty in its fund-raising efforts on behalf of Oliver North’s gun-running operations in Nicaragua and Iran.Malek has continued to do well, turning up as an advisor to the Carlyle Group, a sort of fiscal home away from home (especially in defense matters) for the well connected In 1990, George W. Bush was asked by Carlyle Group to serve on the board of directors of Caterair, one of the nation’s largest airline catering services which it had acquired in 1989. The offer was arranged by Malek.

MARC FISHER WASHINGTON POST JAN 5, 2002 – If either Washington or Northern Virginia is ever to get a team – downtown is where sports teams generate the best economic kick, but beggars can’t be choosers -we must take four quick steps. . . 3. Get rid of Fred Malek, the main moneyman behind the Washington Baseball Club, the District’s ownership group. Malek has the advantages of being hugely rich and hugely connected in both business and politics, including having been co-owner of the Texas Rangers along with President Bush. But Malek is also the guy who did Dick Nixon’s anti-Semitic bidding back in 1971, when the unimpeached co-conspirator ordered up a list of members of the “Jewish cabal” who worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Malek, the good soldier, produced the list, and soon enough, some of those Jews found themselves transferred. Malek says that he’s no anti-Semite and that he actually refused Nixon’s first few requests to produce the list. Maybe in his book that’s backbone, but he has no business representing this city in any capacity.

AMAZINGLY, during the current furor over the stadium deal, we have not seen a single media mention that future beneficiaries include two individuals – Raines and Malek – who have such troubled records.

WHAT IS ALSO NOT widely known was Raines’ role in stripping DC of much of its limited home rule powers during the heavily hyped financial crisis of the 90s, which in fact was about the same in real dollars as what the city faced when it first got home rule in 1974. Clinton administration official Raines was at the heart of such schemes as cutting off the city’s control over its own prisoners and ripping off its pension fund balance to make the federal budget look a few billion dollars better.

DC NEWS SERVICE, 1997 – President Clinton is proposing a financing scheme for DC that would replace a formula based on the equities of the city’s relations with the federal government with one based on major and permanent dependency. The Clinton plan would remove the possibility that the city could gain true self-government again and certainly not statehood. It proposes that DC ever more be a financial ward of the national government.Demonstrating that no humiliation is too great to bear provided they are not stripped of their salaries and token status, many elected DC officials are lining up behind the scheme.Two of these plans — the tax haven scheme and the latest White House proposal — bear the imprint of Franklin Raines, now the president’s budget director but formerly head of Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae is the city’s biggest deadbeat thanks to an enormous congressional tax exemption. Raines is close to [DC Delegate] Eleanor Holmes Norton who is already cheering the federal takeover plan.Under the current system, the federal government makes an annual payment that theoretically reflects the cost of services provided by the city and revenues lost due to the federal presence. In 1993 the city estimated this cost to be nearly $2 billion dollars a year. The actual federal payment is one-third that amount and a smaller percentage of the city’s revenues that at the beginning of home rule.Because the federal payment is a payment in lieu of taxes rather than a subsidy for servitude, it could easily survive even the granting of statehood. The Clinton scheme, on the other hand, would do away with the federal payment and replace it with a hodgepodge collection of federal takeovers of local functions. The IRS would collect local taxes, the feds would maintain the local road system and the Justice Department would be put in charge of the courts and prisons. Felons would be sentenced under federal guidelines and the convicted would be sent — in a manner reminiscent of Soviet penal practices — to federal installations that might be a couple of thousand of miles away from families and friends.

[Only the prison change actually occurred – TPR]

DC NEWS SERVICE, 1998 – Clinton and [Alice] Rivlin’s successor, Franklin Raines, ripped off funds contributed to the DC pension fund in order to create the impression that the federal government had taken over responsibility for this fund. In fact, the feds will spend nothing until they have drained existing contributions down to zero. After that the city is at the mercy of a Congress and a White House that once also promised that Social Security would never be touched and that home rule was forever. . .Not surprisingly, the Clinton plan is being pushed by the erstwhile vice chair of the city’s biggest tax deadbeat: Fannie Mae, whose congressional exemption from local taxation costs the city several hundred million a year. Clinton’s budget director Franklin Raines, while running Fannie Mae, perfected a scheme for stifling protests against his firm by spreading charitable donations around the city with special attention to those organizations that might make formidable opponents of FM’s tax exemption. Raines was also the unofficial budget advisor to the fiscally disastrous [Mayor] Sharon Pratt Kelly, whose one term was harder on the city’s finances than all the Barry administrations combined.THE NATION’S DEFENSES COME LATERWe will protect your purchasing power — Budget director Franklin Raines to a meeting of high-level Pentagon officials.


WASHINGTON POST, SEP 26 – There are signs the gilt-edged resumes, and political futures, of three former Fannie executives have already been tarnished, because of findings they profited from manipulation of financial results in 1998. Former Fannie Mae chief James A. Johnson, who holds a top post in the Democratic presidential campaign and headed the Kennedy Center and the Brookings Institution; Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence M. Small, who was Fannie Mae’s chief operating officer; and Washington lawyer Jamie Gorelick, a former Fannie vice chairman, who has served as deputy attorney general, the Pentagon’s top lawyer and a member of the 9-11 commission, joined Raines and Howard in receiving sizable bonuses that year. Regulators allege they were paid after the company improperly deferred other expenses.

Johnson, who headed the vice presidential selection process for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), could be the first to feel the fallout. Democratic Party insiders say that Johnson is no longer considered the leading candidate for treasury secretary in a potential Kerry administration. His role as leader of Kerry’s transition planning for the White House might also be in jeopardy unless the regulators’ allegations are convincingly disputed, they add. “It strikes me those are the most likely outcomes for Johnson,” said a senior economic adviser to Kerry, who sought to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals within the campaign. Johnson declined to respond to requests for a comment.

Small’s mention in the OFHEO report is another in a series of personal missteps that have come to light recently. Earlier this year a federal judge sentenced him to two years’ probation and 100 hours of community service for the purchase and possession of 206 art objects made with the feathers of protected species. As the director of the nation’s largest complex of museums, Small was also ordered to write a public letter of apology and explanation for his actions. Small, who was Fannie’s chief operating officer for eight years, declined to comment on the regulators’ report.

Gorelick has told friends that she would seriously consider an offer some day to serve as defense secretary, an aspiration that could be harder to achieve if OFHEO’s allegations pan out. In an interview, she said, “I have no desire to go back into government in the near term.” She added that she had “knocked herself out” on the 9/11 commission and for the time being is “very happy” working as a D.C.-based partner of the law firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr. At the same time, Gorelick might be spared because, unlike many of the other former or current officers, her responsibilities at Fannie did not specifically include financial matters.

Raines is in the most difficult predicament. In the wake of the regulators’ study, Fannie’s stock fell 13.4 percent in three days More than any other time in its 36-year history, the District-based company with 4,100 employees in the area finds itself under the microscope. Besides the board-ordered independent internal probe by Rudman, the Securities and Exchange Commission has begun an informal inquiry. Members of Congress have promised to look into the matter. And OFHEO has hired Stanley Sporkin, a former federal judge and senior SEC enforcement official, to help them in the continuing examination of Fannie Mae. Raines, budget director in the Clinton White House and chair last year of the Business Roundtable’s committee on good corporate governance, now finds himself being criticized by regulators for permitting a corporate culture that made the accounting problems possible.


Louise Franklin Ramirez, born in 1905, who took part in her last anti-war demonstration February 2003 at the age of 97. Her activism began at the age of 12 when she helped to raise money for Armenian children. In 1946 she wrote Harry Truman warning him of the dangers of atomic power and in her 80s she was gassed while taking part in a demonstration on behalf of an American Indian tribe.

She was born in DC, attended DC Central High and graduated from Wilson Normal School in 1927 with a teaching degree. She received her Bachelor’s degree from DC Teachers College in 1936, and her Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1943. Franklin Ramirez did postgraduate work at Georgetown University, George Washington University, the University of Chicago (where she studied under Bruno Bettelheim), The University of Virginia, Catholic University, and the University of California at Berkeley. She also studied two summers in Mexico under the radical educator Ivan Illich. She taught in the DC school system until the mid 1940s.

But she is best remembered for her endless activism which included being arrested dozens of times for nonviolent acts of conscience, including at the Nevada Nuclear Test site at age 91. Louise’s most recent arrest was at the Supreme Court in 2000 at age 94 against the death penalty.


Joe Rauh died on September 3, 1992, at the age of 81. For more than half a century, he devoted his life to the fulfillment of the Constitution’s great promise of equal justice and freedom for all. No one has ever fought harder or longer for the rights of minorities the disadvantaged and the underdog. Joe Rauh’s lifetime of work in the public interest began immediately following his graduation at the top of his class from Harvard Law School and his service as a Supreme Court clerk to Justices Cardozo and Frankfurter. Joe then joined the Roosevelt Administration, where he played an important role in America’s mobilizations at the beginning of World War II, until he joined the Army as a commissioned officer in the Pacific. Following the War, Joe entered private law practice with the conviction that “the legal profession affords those who will take it, the opportunity to work in the public interest and the joy that comes with such work.” Promptly seizing that opportunity with both fists, Joe was elected as a delegate to the 1948 Democratic National Convention, where he drafted the civil rights plank of the Party’s platform for Hubert Humphrey. The concepts embodied in that plank became the foundation for all of the human rights and equal protection laws that have since been enacted.

From that time forward, Joe was on the front line as a leader in all of the historic battles to enact those laws and ensure their enforcement. With Clarence Mitchell, Joe represented the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in all the major congressional civil rights battles. He also served for years on the Board of the NAACP and as General Council to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Joe’s view of the legal profession never changed: that it should, “Place public interest above private gain”; that its tools should be used “for progress and equality above the defense of the status quo;” and that its guiding principle should be to “make the law a vehicle for righting social wrongs and not perpetuating them.”

For Joe, the law was just such a calling. No one has ever held himself to a higher professional code or lived life more in keeping with it. Nor has any lawyer bestowed greater honor on his profession. Selflessly and wholeheartedly, Joe practiced law as an instrument of beneficent change, whether seeking justice for minorities, women, senior citizens and children; defending individual liberties against the encroachments of McCarthyism; fighting for union democracy or vindicating other infringements of basic human rights. In these historic battles, Joe appeared before the Supreme Court 16 times during the course of his 40 years of public interest law practice. But Joe did not limit his public interest work to court battles. He fought for equal justice in legislation, in the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominees, in labor unions and in the Democratic Party. – From a letter signed by 25 prominent Americans proposing Rauh be given the American Medal of Freedom



During the 1920’s and 30’s J. Edgar Hoover used to send a G-man over to pick up his favorite chicken sandwich. Bess Truman swore by Reeves’ tantalizing strawberry pie in 1940’s and early 50’s.Lady Bird and Lynda Bird Johnson made wedding plans over tomato surprises in the 60’s.

Reeves Restaurant and Bakery, was established in 1886, and originally located at 1209 F. Street, N.W. Today it is AT 1306 G NW but remains a Washington institution as well as a strategic source of chocolate chip cookies. Originally opening as a grocery store, Reeves then changed to a teahouse, and finally transformed into its current status as full service restaurant and bakery.

Reeves was illuminated with Tiffany lamps and chandeliers above a 100 – foot long cherry wood counter. After closing its doors due to fire Reeves reopened its doors in 1985 only to fall victim to downtown development in 1988. Loyal and some life long customers showed up by the hundreds to say goodbye and savor their final tasty morsels. The original Reeves building was demolished later that year. Reeves was reopened in 1992 two blocks from its old location. The bakery closed in 2007

ROCCO ZAPPONE, WASH POST Frumpy, dumpy old RFK Stadium was, next to my boyhood home, the dearest place in the world to me. I knew every crack in the ramps leading up to Section 516, and no place felt more comfortable. . .

RFK is no Ebbets Field. No one will ever call it a “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark,” John Updike’s classic description of Fenway Park, though many people thought RFK was quite beautiful at the time it opened. In its current state, though, with its wonderful physical and technological limitations, a game there can be something more than the delivery system for merchandising and promotions that it is at the retro parks. Its blessedly narrow concourses allow for minimal pushing of souvenirs and food, while the low-tech scoreboard permits relatively little between-innings foolishness — and what there is I can tune out completely by sitting in one of the pathetic old public address system’s marvelous dead spots. The overall effect is the opposite of slick. . .

Saturday games at RFK were supposed to be played in the afternoon. Through 1968, Saturday games started at 1:30. They were relaxed, intimate affairs with the upper deck closed. Because my father worked on Saturdays, my mother would take me to those Senators games. My mother didn’t claim to be a big fan, but she was curious about this interest that had taken over my life and eager to share it with me. . .

With my father and uncle, I observed how men interacted with each other when there were no women around, and I made my own tentative attempts to imitate them. Saturday afternoons with my mother involved no initiatory rites; they were just about baseball. Mom could tell that nothing made me happier than a day at the ballpark, and we rarely missed a Saturday game, although it meant she would get a late start on our Saturday night dinner, steak pizzaiola, a labor-intensive dish.

After buying the Senators between the 1968 and 1969 seasons, Robert Short proceeded to end Saturday afternoon games. So, I hated him long before he moved our team. I hated him before his trades wrecked the franchise. I hated him before the Senators had played a single game under his ownership. . . .

Under the Short regime, general admission was restricted to the upper deck outfield seats. While we occasionally broke down and paid Short’s price for seats in the now-reserved 516, we were general admission people, and we usually followed the other lost souls to those awful seats in the outfield, where you couldn’t see most home runs or warning-track plays by the outfielders. Those seats made us feel like second-class citizens. What’s more, Short posted ushers, sentry-like, at the foul poles to make sure you didn’t give yourself an unauthorized seating upgrade. It was the beginning of the kind of rigid stratification now found in the retro parks.
Thinking back on the Short era forced me to acknowledge to myself just how sad the last two years of the Senators had been. We paid exorbitant prices for bad seats to see a pitiful ballclub with an owner we despised, and lived under the constant threat of losing our team. Nevertheless, the Senators were still our team, and when their departure hit the news, none of that softened the blow.


JEFF CLABAUGH, WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL – Riggs traces its history back to 1836 when its predecessor opened as a brokerage house, an early form of banks in the United States. By 1840, businessmen William Wilson Corcoran and George Washington Riggs formed a partnership called Corcoran & Riggs and began offering depository and checking services. Its first presidential customer was Democrat John Tyler, who opened at account at Corcoran & Riggs in 1842.
The bank invested heavily in railroads and land and by the mid-1840s had moved its headquarters to buildings across the street from the U.S. Treasury. Riggs also served as the sole federal depository in Washington.
In 1847, the bank loaned the U.S. government $16 million for the Mexican War and covered the loan by selling bonds to financial companies in London.
Corcoran left the bank in 1854 to devote his life to charitable causes, most notably the establishment of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which had as its nucleus Corcoran’s own art collection. Subsequently, the bank became known as Riggs & Co.
Shortly before the start of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln opened an account at Riggs, just weeks after Confederate president Jefferson Davis closed his account there. Riggs also supplied $7 million in gold bullion to the government for the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1868.
[Unnoted is that Corcoran was a southern sympathizer who spent the war years in England just to be on the safe side]



CULTURAL TOURISM DC – Beverly Snow was one of a number of black entrepreneurs who owned businesses in the downtown area. His success was evidence of the strength of Washington’s free black population. One of the sparks for the riot may have been an assault by an enslaved man against Anna Maria Thornton, wife of William Thornton, white architect of the U.S. Capitol. Snow may also have been a target because it was alleged that he spoke disrespectfully about the wives and daughters of white Navy Yard mechanics (working men). One historian suggests that rioters associated Snow with his regular patrons, the wealthy white men who wielded considerable power over the white working classes. Whatever the reason, Snow was forced to flee as an angry white mob took over and ransacked his restaurant. White mobs also attacked school houses and other structures associated with the free black population.



ANDREW ZONDERMAN – The peak of Maryland’s Know-Nothing gang violence was the election riot of 1857. The riot started on election morning when one of the fire company gangs, the Plug Uglies, took the early morning train from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The Plug Uglies chose a few polling places to intimidate voters and beat up immigrants especially Irishmen. A few voters stood up against the gang and fought back; some local Know-Nothings joined the gang’s destruction at the polls. The mayor, who was walking a few blocks away, arrived with a group of policemen and tried to calm the mob. President Buchanan was told of the situation. He called for soldiers to quell the disturbance, but was told that there were only around 100 marines that could be summoned fast enough. The next closest force was an artillery company at Fort McHenry. The marines assembled and marched to the riot, where they were surprised to find a group of teenagers and men standing around an old cannon loaded with debris aimed at them. The commander of the marines stood right in front of the cannon and ordered the mob not to fire. The marines then formed three sides of a rectangle and fired on the crowd. The mob pulled back but did not retreat. After the volley the marines quickly fixed their bayonets and charged the mob. The Plug Uglies ran to the train station where there was a train waiting with the marines close on their heels. After the Plug Uglies left, the polls were set up again and by early afternoon voting has resumed.

S J ACKERMAN describes the Plug Ugly riot in the August 2001 edition of American History. He summarizes it thus:

The riot occurred on an Election Day, at Mount Vernon Square, when there was extreme tension between the American Party and the immigrated Catholics. The American party was a anti-foreigner and anti-Catholic Party that became popular in the United States after only one year of being formed. The American party (AKA “know nothings) referred to their opposition as “anti-Americans.”

At 9:30 in the morning on Election Day, voters spotted an angry mob of people armed with guns, knives, awls, and slingshots. The mob was formed to scare off non-supporters of the American party. Violence broke out after a member of the Plug Uglies, a gang hired by the American party, asked an Irishman if he had any citizenship papers on him, and the man replied “No, but I have a brick in my pocket.” Finally, the party’s candidate for assessor called off the mob because they were beginning to scare their supporters. As the Plug Uglies walked the streets, residents began to come from their homes armed and ready to fight.

The Mayor Magruder called in troops to help control the riot. He explained to the voters that he was calling troops in to protect the voters, not to harm them. The plugs threatened the mayor and voters with a cannon they had, and placed nails, rocks and bullets into the cannon. The Plug Uglies became threatened by the marines, and fled Washington. The rest of the day was peaceful, however 5 people died and 15 were wounded.

STEVE ACKERMAN, VOICE OF THE HILL – Pelted by bricks and sniper fire, the Marines lost discipline when corporal was hit in the jaw with a musket ball, but Tyler managed to stop their retaliatory fire. Then [Marine Commandant] Henderson signaled that it was time take the cannon. Infuriated at the assault on their beloved “Old Man,” the Marines charged with bayonets and took the cannon. Tyler formed them into a phalanx to sweep the intersection with gunfire.

Northern Liberties Market was a shambles of sheds on present Mount Vernon Square. At the southeast corner, the Plugs placed the cannon, loaded with shrapnel, trained on the polls across 7th Street. Affecting an old-man act, Henderson maneuvered his way toward the fieldpiece, slipping in front of its barrel just as the Marine column marched into range. There he stayed until his men were out of danger and in position. His belly to the muzzle, armed only with an umbrella, Henderson cautioned the Plugs-with noteworthy understatement-“Now, boys, I would think twice before firing on the Marines.” . . . All hell broke loose. Three Plugs fired at him. “I don’t know whether to consider it a compliment or not,” he later quipped. Another thrust a pistol into his face and pulled the trigger. MORE


PETER PERLE, WASHINGTON POST – Nobody knows precisely how or where it started, but on a steamy Saturday night, July 19, 1919, the word began to spread among the saloons and pool halls of downtown Washington, where crowds of soldiers, sailors and Marines freshly home from the Great War were taking weekend liberty. A black suspect, questioned in an attempted sexual assault on a white woman, had been released by the Metropolitan Police. The woman was the wife of a Navy man. So the booze-fueled mutterings about revenge flowed quickly among hundreds of men in uniform, white men who were having trouble finding jobs in a crowded, sweltering capital. . . The rampage by about 400 whites initially drew only scattered resistance in the black community, and the police were nowhere to be seen. When the Metropolitan Police Department finally arrived in force, its white officers arrested more blacks than whites, sending a clear signal about their sympathies.

It was only the beginning. The white mob – whose actions were triggered in large part by weeks of sensational newspaper accounts of alleged sex crimes by a “negro fiend” – unleashed a wave of violence that swept over the city for four days. Nine people were killed in brutal street fighting, and an estimated 30 more would die eventually from their wounds. More than 150 men, women and children were clubbed, beaten and shot by mobs of both races. Several Marine guards and six D.C. policemen were shot, two fatally. . .

The Washington riot was one of more than 20 that took place that summer. With rioting in Chicago, Omaha, Knoxville, Tenn., Charleston, S.C., and other cities, the bloody interval came to be known as “the Red Summer.” Unlike virtually all the disturbances that preceded it – in which white-on-black violence dominated – the Washington riot of 1919 was distinguished by strong, organized and armed black resistance, foreshadowing the civil rights struggles later in the century. . .




OLIVIA CADAVAL, EL TIEMPO – In the Latino community of Washington, D.C., the 5 de mayo has become a commemoration of civil resistance. The celebrated battle date coincides with the 1991 disturbances, or riots as some would argue, starting in the Latino neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant. The incident that set off the disturbances was the shooting by a rooky police officer of a Salvadoran man who some witnesses say was staggering toward the officer with his hand raised holding a knife, yet he had just been arrested and handcuffed for drinking in public. A crowd of curious onlookers turned into a bottle- and rock-throwing mob. Police vehicles were set on fire, stores were looted, the police used tear gas and the Immigration and Naturalization service was reported to be on the scene, ‘assisting’ the police. . .

The incident clearly touched a nerve in old and new neighborhood residents who remember the sixties, or who can associate this experience with the Central American turmoil, or who resent the rapidly growing immigrant population, or who live in day-to-day marginality hassled by the police. The Latino community leaders actively challenged the city. They formed the Latino Civil Rights Task, they involved the National Council of La Raza and the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, and the the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. [They] did not miss the significance of the Mexican 5 de mayo, where a ragtag militia resisted an the army of an empire to commemorate civil resistance.


LA Times – When he started the Museum of African Art in 1964, Robbins had never been to Africa, never worked in a museum, never been involved with the arts and never raised money.

His vision of a museum of African art for Washington grew out of a trip he took in the early 1960s, when he was a cultural attache with the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, Germany. He and Sen. S.I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.) were visiting Hamburg one day and strolled into an antique shop where a collection of African sculptures caught Robbins’ eye. He bought 32 pieces. . .

Six years later, he heard that a former Capitol Hill home of Frederick Douglass, the 19th-century abolitionist icon, was on the market. Robbins raised $13,000 — his first foray into fundraising — and took out a $35,000 mortgage to buy the house, where he put his pieces on display as the Museum of African Art. Later he purchased other houses on the block — nine in all — as his collection grew. . .

“With little money, through the largesse of friends and collectors, and an undeterred dream, Robbins established what would become one of the world’s preeminent museums for exhibiting, collecting and preserving African art,” said Sharon Patton, director of the National Museum of African Art, in a statement.

“He has a handsome facial structure, decorated with a Mephistophelean beard and enough black hair to show he’s an artiste,” Sarah Booth Conroy observed in the Washington Post in 1979. “He is a hunchback, not that it’s kept him from piloting planes, skiing or collecting a number of ‘longtime relationships’ with women.”. . .

Initially, he had to confront resentment against a white man running a black museum. He had a ready answer: “I make no apologies for being white. You don’t have to be Chinese to appreciate ancient ceramics, and you don’t have to be a fish to be an ichthyologist.”


GULLBUY NEW SOUND REVIEW – Root Boy Slim (real name Foster Mackenzie III) graduated from Yale in 1977. Later that same year he debuted his Sex Change Band in DC and the following year, Warner Brothers released his debut album. While never really garnering more than “novelty act” status nationally (due to repeated spins by Dr. Demento), Root Boy Slim had a fiercely loyal (and large) cult following in the DC area. Mackenzie passed away – suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 47.



Though the story is probably apocraphal, john Quincy Adams is supposed to have been the first President to give an interview to a woman. Adams had repeatedly refused requests for an interview with Anne Royall, the first female professional journalist in the U.S., so she took a different approach to accomplish her goal. She learned that Adams liked to skinny-dip in the Potomac River almost every morning around 5 a.m., so she went to the river, gathered his clothes, and sat on them until he answered all of her questions.


NIH – Established in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, St. Elizabeths Hospital has had a distinguished history in the treatment of the mentally ill. The Hospital’s early mission, as defined by its founder, the leading mental health reformer Dorothea Dix, was to provide the “most humane care and enlightened curative treatment of the insane of the Army, Navy, and District of Columbia.” During the Civil War, wounded soldiers treated here were reluctant to admit that they were in an insane asylum, and said they were at St. Elizabeths, the colonial name of the land where the Hospital is located. Congress officially changed the Hospital’s name to St. Elizabeths in 1916. By the 1940s, the Hospital complex covering an area of over 300 acres housed 7,000 patients. It was the first and only federal mental facility with a national scope.

In 1987, the federal government transferred the hospital operations to the DC Department of Mental Health, while retaining ownership of the western campus. The original 1850s building has been designated a National Historic Landmark, but it is not in use because of its state of disrepair. On the grounds of St. Elizabeths, there is also a Civil War cemetery where 300 Union and Confederate soldiers who died here are buried. The Hospital complex is located on a hill in southeast Washington, overlooking the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. However, it is closed to the public.

ANGELA VALDEZ, CITY PAPER, 2007 In 1987, the federal government foisted the struggling [St Elizabeth’s] hospital upon the District of Columbia. As compensation for the $120 million yearly cost of running the facility (offset by a declining federal contribution), the feds promised to bequeath to the city the rights to more than 150 acres of the western campus, which could be a valuable parcel in the blooming business of redevelopment. The land was supposed to change hands in 1991. But the feds managed to hold onto the property through a series of land swaps. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to move there in 2011.

The 1987 hand-over marked the beginning of a dark period for St. Elizabeths’. Because of a court order requiring a move toward community care, the patient population had plummeted from highs reaching 8,000 in the ’60s to fewer than 1,000 in the late ’80s. With dwindling funds, the District could barely pay to maintain the crumbling campus. Five different commissioners helmed the faltering system before the hospital went into receivership from 1997 until 2001.

WIKIPEDIA – The hospital, founded by Congress in 1852, largely as the result of the efforts of Dorothea Dix, a pioneering advocate for people living with mental illnesses. It opened in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, and rose to prominence during the Civil War as it was converted temporarily into a hospital for wounded soldiers. In 1916, its name was officially changed to St. Elizabeths, the colonial-era name for the tract of land on which the hospital was built. The hospital had been casually known by this name since the time of the Civil War, when-in their letters home to loved ones-patients of army hospitals temporarily located on the grounds were reluctant to refer to the institution by its full title.

It is speculated that St. Elizabeths has treated over 125,000 patients, though an exact number is not known due to poor recordkeeping. Additionally, thousands of patients are believed to be buried in unmarked graves across the campus, but, again, records for the individuals buried in the graves have been lost. More than 15,000 known autopsies were performed at St. Elizabeths between 1884 and 1982, and a collection of over 1,400 brains preserved in formaldehyde, 5,000 photographs of brains, and 100,000 slides of brain tissue was maintained by the hospital until it was transferred to a museum in 1986. In addition to the mental health patients buried on the campus, several hundred Civil War soldiers are interred there as well.

At its peak, the St. Elizabeths campus housed 7,000 patients and employed 4,000 people. Beginning in the 1950s, however, large institutions such as St. Elizabeths were being criticized for hindering the treatment of patients. Community-based healthcare, which included local outpatient facilities and drug therapy, was seen as a more effective means of allowing patients to live near-normal lives. The patient population of St. Elizabeths steadily declined.

By 1996, only 850 patients remained at the hospital, and years of neglect had become apparent; equipment and medicine shortages occurred frequently, and the heating system was broken for weeks at a time. By 2002, all remaining patients on the western campus were transferred to other facilities. Although it continues to operate, it does so on a far smaller scale than it once did.

The campus of St. Elizabeths sits on bluffs overlooking the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers in the southeast quadrant of Washington. . . It has many important buildings, foremost among them the Center Building, designed according to the principles of the Kirkbride Plan by Thomas U. Walter (1804-1887), who is perhaps better known as the primary architect of the expansion of the U.S. Capitol that was begun in 1851.

THE HOSPITAL’S EARLY MISSION, as defined by its founder, the leading mental health reformer Dorothea Dix, was to provide the “most humane care and enlightened curative treatment of the insane of the Army, Navy, and District of Columbia.” During the Civil War, wounded soldiers treated here were reluctant to admit that they were in an insane asylum, and said they were at St. Elizabeths, the colonial name of the land where the Hospital is located. Congress officially changed the Hospital’s name to St. Elizabeths in 1916.















SAM SMITH, WHY BOTHER? – In the wake of the Civil War, this area north of Washington’s downtown — originally occupied by both whites and blacks — experienced a building boom. With Jim Crow and the coming of the streetcar, whites moved beyond the center city and blacks increasingly found themselves isolated. Until the modern civil rights movement and desegregation, this African-American community was shut out without a vote, without economic power, without access, and without any real hope that any of this would change.

Its response was remarkable. For example, in 1886 there were only about 15 black businesses in the area. By 1920, with segregation in full fury, there were more than 300.

Every aspect of the community followed suit. Among the institutions created within these few square miles was a building and loan association, a savings bank, the only good hotel in the Washington where blacks could stay, the first full-service black YMCA in the country, the Howard Theatre and two first rate movie palaces.

There were the Odd Fellows, the True Reformers, and the Prince Hall Lodge. There were churches and religious organizations, a summer camp, a photography club that produced a number of professional photographers, settlement houses, and the Washington Urban League.

Denied access to white schools, the community created a self-sufficient educational system good enough to attract suburban African-Americans students as well as teachers from all over the country. And just to the north, Howard University became the intellectual center of black America. You might have run into Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, or Duke Ellington, all of whom made the U Street area their home before moving to New York.

This was a proud community. “We had everything we needed,” recalls one older resident. “And we felt good about it. Our churches, our schools, banks, department stores, food stores. And we did very well.”

The community shared responsibility for its children. A typical story went like this: “There was no family my family didn’t know or that didn’t know me. I couldn’t go three blocks without people knowing exactly where I had been and everything I did on the way. It wasn’t just the schools. We learned from everyone. We learned as much from Aunt So-and-So down the street, who was not even related to us.”

All this occurred while black Washingtonians were being subjected to extraordinary economic obstacles and being socially and politically ostracized. If there ever was a culture entitled to despair and apathy it was black America under segregation.

Yet not only did these African-Americans develop self-sufficiency, they did so without taking their eyes off the prize. Among the other people you might have found on U Street were Thurgood Marshall and Charles Houston, laying the groundwork for the modern civil rights movement.

Years later, while serving on a NAACP task force on police and justice, I would go to a large hall in the organization’s headquarters on U Street — at the same address that was on the 1940s flyers calling for civil rights protests. In that hall, except for the addition of a few plaques, nothing much has changed over the decades. We only needed two tables pushed together so there was plenty of room for the ghosts of those who once sat around such tables asking the same questions, seeking the same solutions, striving for some way for decency to get a foothold. Basic legal strategies for the civil rights movement were planned along this street. Did perhaps Thurgood Marshall or Clarence Mitchell once sit at one end of this hall and also wonder what to do next? Just the question lent courage.

With the end of segregation, as free choice replaced a community of necessity, the area around U Street began to change. The black residents dispersed. Eventually the street would become better known for its crime, drugs, and as the birthplace of the 1968 riots. The older residents would remember the former neighborhood with a mixture of pain and pride — not unlike the ambivalence found in veterans recalling a war. None would voluntarily return to either segregation or the battlefield but many would know that some of their own best moments of courage, skill, and heart had come when the times were at their worst. Some of the people in this community were only a couple of generations away from slavery, some had come from Washington’s early free black community. But whatever their provenance, they had learned to become self-sufficient in fact and spirit even as they battled to end the injustices that required them to be so.


From an interview
with Alexander “Boss” Shepherd
uncovered by Mark Richards

Now Governor, what about the charges that there was fraud in the contracts for these improvements and in some of the improvements themselves?

Every such charge is a mistake or a lie. As for me, I have a wife and six babies in the house here. I don’t purpose that my children shall ever have to acknowledge their father a thief. In point of fact there was no stealing, in my belief, by anybody. Notwithstanding the reckless charges made, no one accusing me has put his finger on a single specific fraud. For three years all the papers relating to the work in every part of the district passed through my hands. I frequently examined more than one thousand papers a day. Thus I kept myself familiar with every detail. In that way I was able to prevent fraud or theft, and to choke scandals which were not kept alive by sheer falsehood….

In former years, when the railroad tracks ran right across Pennsylvania avenue in front of the iron fence which surrounded the old Capitol Park, I had seen the approach to the Capitol blockaded repeatedly by cattle trains, so that carriages full of people in waiting occupied a whole square. So, one night, I organized a gang of men and tore up the track. I did that without authority of law, but it was the right thing to do, and the nuisance would not otherwise have been removed. With similar disregard of red tape I did away with the wretched old market building which stood in the center of what is now Mount Vernon square, at the junction of Seventh Street and Massachusetts Avenue….

The damned old shed was so hideous that it had to come down, and I so notified the proper authorities. They immediately engaged counsel and arranged for an injunction the next day. I heard of this in season and got a friend to take the old judge then in the city out for a drive. I told him to return late. The judge went with my friend. While they were away I pulled the market down.”



COPPER CANYON – Batopilas is considered the “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” because of it’s historic past and present beauty. . . The silver mines of Batopilas were some of the richest in Mexico. In the 18th and 19th century both Spaniards and Mexicans gained great wealth out of the area. American John Robinson purchased an old claim in 1861 which turned out to have a large, hidden vein. He decided to sell the claim to fellow American Alexander Shepherd for $600,000 US in 1880.

Alexander Shepherd was the last mayor of Washington, D.C. and had been ousted under unproven corruption charges. Once Shepherd moved his family to Batopilas, he filed over 350 mining claims and formed the Batopilas Mining Company. His mines became some of the wealthiest in the world at their peak.

Noting the difficulty and time (over eight days) of transporting the silver ore to Chihuahua, Shepherd opened his own facilities and foundry along the river at his Hacienda San Miguel. Over 20 million ounces of silver were extracted from the mines, and this great wealth allowed Shepherd to bring cultural events and technological advances to this once sleepy town. Batopilas was the second city in Mexico to have electricity. His hydroelectric works provide the towns power still and he also built an aqueduct which is still in use today. So famous for it’s wealth were Shepherd’s mines that Pancho Villa once robbed a mule shipment of $40,000 US in silver bars.

Alexander Shepherd died in 1902, leaving the mines to his sons who ceased operation in 1920, although other miners would later try unsuccessfully to restart the old mines.


[From a discussion on the DC History bulletin board]

FRED JORDAN, WOODBERRY FOREST SCHOOL, VA – As a secondary school teacher, a student of mine asked today whether Washington D.C. had ever had any political bosses along the lines of William Marcy Tweed or George Washington Plunkitt in New York or James Michael Curly in Boston. I had to confess my ignorance, coupled with the speculation that since the system of local government which Tweed and his like dominated was largely absent in the federal city, bosses like him would not have appeared. (One might, I suppose, consider the Congress to have been dominated by its own political bosses at the time, thus making someone like Marc Hanna the de facto “boss” of Washington D.C., but that struck us all as a bit of a stretch.) However, I thought it worth the time to pass his question on to the list. Can anyone help me out here?

KATE MASUR – The most famous, and maybe the only, “boss” in Washington’s history was Alexander Shepherd. He was a contemporary of Tweed’s, and many people compared the two men. In fact, a lot of Washingtonians who didn’t like Shepherd claimed he was WORSE than Tweed. Shepherd was basically run out of town after he spent gobs of money on municipal improvements and was embroiled in a corruption scandal. Then his reputation was revived at the end of the 19th century, when people began to believe that he had been a visionary urban planner and point out that he had never actually been convicted of any wrongdoing.

MICHAEL WASSERMAN – I agree with what Kate Masur wrote on this subject. For clarity, though, I think it is important add that before the so-called “Territorial” government, residents of the cities of Georgetown and Washington each elected their own local governments, including the legislative and executive branches, without federal involvement. While those municipal governments did not have quite as large powers as the 1871 government were given, they were still significant. The 1871 Act abolished all the local governments of the District and devolved somewhat expanded powers upon officials who mainly appointed by the President. It is something of misnomer to refer to the 1871 Government as “Territorial”–the act establishing the 1871 Government does not contain the word “Territorial” and the word was in fact stricken from an earlier draft of the bill. Moreover, as enacted, the law gave the new government powers that were substantially more limited, as well as divided among more boards and officials, than in the case of real Territorial governments.

SAM SMITH – Like so many things with DC, we are underrated on our bosses. . . .Alexander Shepherd was in many ways in the 19th century urban political tradition of Tweed and Plunkett et al. . . . A big difference, however, was the lack of a new immigrant population from which to draw his base. Further, the Shepherd period was of minimal democratic opportunity and thus the relation between the citizen and the boss was quite different.

But the spirit and many of the techniques were the same, including public works helping both one’s friends and the city, and a populist appeal that did not go well in elite circles. At least one paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, thought Tweed and his gang were ‘stupid sneak thieves’ next to Shepherd.

Here’s something I wrote about it some years back for the City Paper:

SAM SMITH, CITY PAPER – DC’s territorial government was short-lived, but misconceptions about its nature thrive to this day. Many of these center on the powerful Board of Public Works. This body was not part of the territorial government at all, but a separate entity reporting directly to Congress. Its chair was actually the governor, but Henry Cooke was not interested enough to attend meetings, so power devolved on the vice chair, the famous Alexander Shepherd who functioned as CEO. Shepherd, the single most interesting political figure in DC history, had an instinctive flair for the use of power, with or without the law to back him up. With a combination of style, chutzpah, political instinct, decisiveness, charm, friendship with President Grant, amorality and arrogance, he would become the father of modern Washington planting thousands of trees, laying miles of sewers and paving more miles of streets over them.

Governor Cooke had the title but lacked the inclination to compete. A joke at the time said the governor was like a sheep because he was led around by “A. Shepherd.” Boss Shepherd’s persuasive skills were such that upon being called to account by the president of a railroad whose tracks on the Mall had been torn up one night by 200 of Shepherd’s men, he left the meeting with an offer to become the line’s vice president. His cunning was such that when he heard reports of a planned injunction against the removal of what he called a “wretched old market building” on Mt. Vernon Square, he got a friend to take the one judge currently in the city out for a long ride in the country while the Boss accomplished his mission. He not only makes Marion Barry’s later efforts at urban manipulation seem amateurish, he with at the top of American city bosses. As the Cincinnati Enquirer of the time put it: “Boss Tweed and his gang, to whom Shepherd’s enemies are so given to comparing him, were vulgar villians [sic], stupid sneak thieves, by the side of this remarkable man.”

Cooke eventually resigned as governor and Shepherd took his place. Shortly thereafter, in 1874, Congress replaced the territorial government with a system of absolute non-democratic control under three appointed commissioners.

Once again, the proximate cause of this change involved the coalescing of issues of purse and prejudice. To be sure, the city had run up a cost overrun of $13 million — Shepherd said he assumed the federal government would take care of it — and the national financial panic of 1873 had put everyone on edge. But Shepherd had also demonstrated the considerable nascent political clout of black Washingtonians with a referendum on the right of the territorial government to issue bonds. The vote wasn’t necessary — the courts had already given the territory authority — but Shepherd encouraged the referendum anyway. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, to the displeasure of the city’s white property owners. Just to be on the safe side, according to later recollections by the boss’s own secretary, blacks were brought in from Prince George’s County to add to the tally. The secretary said that despite their ignorance of the issues involved, the seconded voters had done the city a great service. “The darkies were always good friends of mine,” Shepherd boasted to the New York World.

The local white establishment, however, felt otherwise and while only a few — such as the Georgetown newspaper — would say so publicly, many felt that loss of enfranchisement was a necessary price to pay for what a southern senator would later describe as getting “rid of this load of negro suffrage that was flooding in.”

Incidentally, Shepherd, according to Nelson Rimensyder, wrote the president of Howard in 1871: “I am lopposed to any discrimination on account of race or color in the schools or elsewhere.” And in 1877, Frederick Douglass said in a speech, “I want to thank Governor Shepherd for the fair way in which he treated the colored race when he was in a position to help them.”

ALAN LESSOFF, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HISTORY ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY- In 2002, I published a profile of Shepherd. . . I also tried to clear up a few myths, for example why Shepherd’s reputation recovered so quickly when his program was so wracked by influence peddling and reckless, unaccountable management and how he ended up managing silver mines in Mexico. It is flat untrue that he fled there. He went to Mexico in 1880, temporarily he imagined, in an effort to rebuild his fortune after going bankrupt in DC real estate in November 1876, well over two years after his ouster as territorial governor. Until he left, he remained visible and active in DC politics. He and his supporters felt that he had nothing to be ashamed of, let alone flee from — on the contrary. He was never seriously threatened with indictment, even in the so-called Safe Burglary Conspiracy of 1874, which got his associate and Grant’s aide Orville Babcock indicted, though never convicted.

Political scientists have long debated what defines a “boss” by comparison to other sorts of politicians. I have always argued that Shepherd was not really a boss in the political science sense of the term, since the term implies, in my view, someone who is primarily a politician, when Shepherd was a promoter and developer whose ambitions for Washington’s physical embellishment led him into city and national politics. More important, the term “boss” implies a power-broker with a base in ward-level electoral politics, and the whole point of the territorial government Shepherd helped to devise and mainly ran was to free public works, his main interest, from electoral pressures, especially at the neighborhood level. I think from a political science perspective Marion Barry would count more as a boss than Shepherd, since Barry devoted enormous attention to using DC jobs, services, and contracts to building a reliable electoral base. That’s more typical boss behavior. For Shepherd, public works were the main show, and his electoral manipulations were meant to facilitate them. . .

On the other hand, the impulse to develop a disciplined model of the urban boss and of machine politics is a product of political science from the early-twentieth century. In the 1870s “boss” was a loosely used political epithet that implied widespread influence peddling and cronyism, generally through the vehicle of party. Shepherd certainly qualified on that score. In my book I attempted with mixed success to trace the proportion of projects under the Board of Public Works that went to close associates; I came up with 20% as a very low figure, a great deal, considering the huge scale of Shepherd’s Comprehensive Plan improvements and the fact that they drew contractors from around the country. Partisan politics and Republican factionalism largely explains the application of the term, “boss” to Shepherd, since Democrats were gleeful to have a chance to distract attention from Tweed, in his period the prototype of urban boss, while anti-Grant Republicans wanted to emphasize what they perceived as the irresponsibility, crudeness, and corruption that flourished within Grant’s circle. . .

In sum, I would not try to explain Shepherd to students as an example of boss politics, because that, I believe, distracts from the urban, fiscal, governmental, and racial issues that produced him and encouraged his methods. “Boss” makes him a figure of a colorful past, but the recent experience of DC’s default and the Control Board emphasizes how the structural problems that Shepherd attempted to overcome through bullying and influence peddling remain very much alive.


Improvements by Boss Shepherd’s Board of Public Works

– 260 miles of road grade; 118 paved
– 3,800 gas lamps installed
– 50,000 trees planted.
– 215 miles of sidewalk paved
– 123 miles of sewers installed
– 34 miles of water mains installed
– 39 miles of gas mains installed

Cost overrun on projects: 320%
Cost overrun on Metro construction: 400%

Amount spent by city on capital improvements 1802-1871 – $13,000,000
Amount spend by Congress on capital improvements 1802-1871 – $2,000,000

Governor Shepherd supported and advocated laws that prohibited
discrimination in places of public accommodation. These laws were never
codified and later governments ignored them until their rediscovery in the
1950s when they were used as the basis for a major desegregation case.

Shepherd also opposed the segregation of public schools, but Congress
insisted on it. Said Shepherd, “I am opposed to any discrimination account
of race or color in the schools or elsewhere.” He also supported equality
for women.

[Nelson Rymensnyder: Governor Alexander Robey Shepherd]




Here are some slang or local expressions believed to be unique to DC or to have been invented here:

– ANCs
– ‘Bama, an uneducated, southern black immigrant to city
– Break camp – to leave
– Bumpin’ – terrific
– Bustin’ loose – having a great time, acting crazy
– Ceevees i.e. CVS
– Chocolate City
– Crackin’ – Moving on someone to get to know them better
– Freak – stepping out or partying
– Go-go
– East or West of the Park
– Feather duster – name given local legistlators in the late 19th century
– Foggy Bottom (also sometimes called Froggy Bottom)
– Park
– Hill
– Hill rat
– Hittin’ and holdin’ – right or perfect
– Home fool (for home rule)
– Hooker (named after Civil War general whose responsibility included the red light district)
– Humiture
– Ig – to ignore someone so they know it
– Let’s get small – let’s get down
– Love boat: marijuana laced with PCP
– Zone system
– Go Go
– Good to go – approved, ready for action
– GS
– Murder Bay
– Near and Far NE, SE or SW
– Numb to the max – full blast
– The plan
– Research and destroy
– Safe – all right
– Slug – someone who commutes from Northern Virginia to Arlington or Washington by accepting rides to predetermined points from strangers who want to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes on congested highways. Slug can also be used as a verb.
– Swampoodle (neighborhood near Union Station)
– Technique someone (invented by public housing activist Lucille Goodwin in the 1960s)
– Thrown down – get down
– What’s up like that?
– Yoke i.e. mugged


RUBY L. BAILEY, DETROIT FREE PRESS – In all, 400 Africans held in slavery made up roughly half of the workforce that built the White House and the Capitol. . . During the construction, enslaved Africans lived in shanties and huts on G and F streets, today major downtown streets. veryone worked from dawn until dusk, everyday except Sunday. Instead of pay, enslaved blacks received a blanket and cornmeal, which was used to make bread, historians said.


Description used by strangers who don’t know DC history. See “Swamp” for more.



SLUGS DO NOT TALK. This is not completely true, because there are times when conversation is acceptable, but normally slugs must wait for drivers to initiate it; otherwise, there is no talking. One note about this rule. Even though it may sound impolite not to initiate conversation, there are some good reasons why this rule exists. The driver (and sometimes the slug) isn’t interested in getting to know the other person. On the contrary, all that is wanted is a quiet ride home. For many riders, it’s a chance to think, sleep, or read the paper. For the driver, it may be the only chance to listen to the news or relax to his or her own music. The last thing both riders and drivers want is to feel obligated to carry on a 30-minute conversation.



CELL PHONES – Slugs, do not carry on a conversation while commuting. The very short, “Hey, I’m on my way” is okay, but do not have a long conversation about what you did last weekend!

THE LINE DOES NOT LEAVE A WOMAN STANDING ALONE. Call it chivalry or simply thoughtfulness towards the safety of others, but this rule has certainly helped many women feel safer.



SLUGS SHOULD NEVER TAKE A RIDE OUT OF TURN. Slugs have the right to pass or forfeit a ride if they do not like a particular car

NO “BODY SNATCHING.” If the line of cars picking up slugs is too long, many times drivers will cruise the commuter parking lots, attempting to pick up slugs walking to the line.

DRIVERS SHOULD NOT “STOP SHORT.” Stopping short happens when the driver decides not to take the slug all the way to the agreed-upon destination.

SEAT BELTS – It’s understood that both drivers and passengers should buckle-up.



PATRICIA SULLIVAN, WASHINGTON POST – John Carlton “Butch” Snipes, 71, the unofficial “mayor of U Street” who for three decades owned and operated businesses on what was once the commercial hub of black Washington, died of cancer June 23 on his way home from Washington Hospital Center. A stocky, well-dressed man who looked like the haberdasher he was, Mr. Snipes spent his entire life, except for a stint in the Army, living and working in the Shaw neighborhood near U Street. He caught the 40-cent afternoon shows at the Howard Theater as a schoolboy and rubbed elbows with the black cognoscenti — Thurgood Marshall, Miles Davis, Satchel Paige, Stokely Carmichael — on the busy sidewalks of the Black Broadway during the era of segregation. . . Mr. Snipes experienced the 1968 riots that devastated Shaw and the subsequent middle-class abandonment of the area. He started his own business near the Lincoln Theatre in 1969, a deli and convenience store that lasted more than 13 years. He also owned and operated a jeans store, then Snipes Shirt Shop, which sold custom-made menswear.

During a time when drug dealers invaded the area and Metrorail construction tore up the streets, Mr. Snipes sponsored canned food drives for the needy, supported the Boys Club, volunteered at schools, coached athletic teams and founded and served as president of the Shaw Business and Professional Association. Somewhere along the way, people began calling him “the mayor of U Street.”. . . After he retired in 1997, the outgoing and loquacious Mr. Snipes often made appearances during historic tours of the Shaw area.


THOMAS V. DIBACCO, WASHINGTON TIMES – The blizzard in March 1888 marred a Washington weekend, with Sunday as the focal point. . . The 1888 storm was swift. By midnight it was over. . . A heavy northwest wind dropped the temperature to 20 degrees, and the scene moved one writer to write: “Ice-laden trees … looked like huge ghosts as they waved their withered branches violently in the wind. A more cheerless night could not have been imagined.” Everything seemed to come down. First, the electric wires, leaving Pennsylvania Avenue “as dark as a suburban street.” Then the telegraph lines snapped, crackled and popped, especially on B Street, from Sixth to Ninth streets. . . Associated Press stories could not be transmitted, and testy reporters got the cold shoulder from telegraph employees. Said one, “If you have been outside, you know as much about the weather as we do.” . . . The only train from New York City that made it to Washington was a record 12 hours late.

1910 – City commissioners estimate that it will take 12,000 men to clear away a 3 inch snowfall from an estimated 550 miles of paved sidewalks.

1917 – City commissioners estimate that it will take 50,115 men and 19,162 horse teams to clear a six inch snowfall. The Street Cleaning Department has 350 men and 90 teams.

1922 – As more than two feet of snow fell on the city, collapsing the roof of the Knickerbocker theatre at 18th and Columbia Road during the performance of a George M Cohan comedy. The Washington Post reported:

“Only this is known: There was applause and laughter following a particularly clever comedy situation- There was a crash that struck terror into the hearts a-trill with merriment There was a gust of wind, a rushing of air that blew open the closed doors of the theater – and then, after one concerted groan, there was silence – and Crandall’s Knickerbocker theater, previously the temple of mirth, had been transformed into a tomb.”

WASHINGTON POST, 1979 – The greatest snowstorm in more than half a century left the Washington area smothered under almost two feet of snow yesterday — a magnificent white menace that virtually imprisoned the city and sent road crews battling to reopen streets for this morning’s commuters. A total of 18.7 inches of snow fell Sunday and early yesterday — the greatest single snowfall since a 28-inch storm collapsed the roof of the Knickbocker Theater in January 1922. Wind-blown drifts piled up to three and four feet deep in the District and to six and seven feet in the suburbs, covering familiar landmarks in a white blanket. The storm came on top of additional snow already on the ground, bringing the total accumulation to 23.6 inches. . .

The near blizzard, its ferocity miscalculated by stunned forecasters, triggered mammoth disruptions. National, Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International airports all were closed. Amtrak trains limped in hours late. Metro abandoned city bus service early yesterday, and Metro trains never ran at all.

Hospitals were short staffed. Some were running low on food and other supplies. Cars were marooned, turning to shapeless white hulks on the streets. Police and other emergency vehicles could not answer some emergency calls, and had great difficulty answering others.
Food stores were jammed with customers stocking up. Looting of some liquor and grocery stores was reported in both Prince George’s County and Northeast Washington. D.C. police had made five arrests by mid-afternoon. . .

A massive snowball fight involving some 500 people erupted at Dupont Circle. It ended on a sour note, however, when a truck driver confronted the crowd, complaining that members of the crowd had smashed his windshield with snowballs loaded with stones or other weights. Police arrived and dispersed the crowd. . .

Mayor Marion Barry was in Florida on vacation yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

MILTON COLEMAN, WASHINGTON POST, February 22, 1979 – Mayor Marion Barry sat casually in the back seat as his chauffeured black sedan rambled along the streets of northwest Washington yesterday to the clumpety-clump accompaniment of the tire chains on the rear wheels. Barry stared straight ahead. He rarely looked down the occasional snow-clogged side streets. He appeared to hardly notice the truck in front whose rear end wigwagged in the slippery slush. He did not glance at the occasional pedestrians who lined up at downtown street corners to tiptoe along the narrow footpaths through the banks of snow. The mayor is not dealing with this snow problem personally. He said he is confident that the chore is being capably handled by his two right-hand men — city administrator Elijah B. Rogers and general assistant Ivanhoe Donaldson. It is not a job for the city’s elected leader.

“What’s to lead? It’s not a crisis,” Barry said. “That’s why you’ve got all these staff people around. “There are more important things for me to worry about than snow — housing, (the) supplemental budget. When you have a good team, you don’t have to get involved in everything. . . If people got as excited about the housing problem and about unemployment as they did about snow, maybe we’d get something done. This is going to go away in some days.”. . .

What about the people who could not dig out their cars, or tried digging once only to have the cars plowed back in? the mayor was asked. How would they get to work? “Take a bus,” he said gruffly. The buses were not running in the morning. “They can walk.”


1. Jan. 27-28, 1922 – 28.0 inches
2. Feb 11-13, 1899 – 20.5 inches
3. Feb. 18-19, 1979 – 18.7 inches
4. Feb. 5-6, 2010 – 17.8 inchees
5. Jan. 6-8, 1996 – 17.1 inches
6 Feb. 15-18, 2003 – 16.7 inches
7. Feb. 11-12, 1983 – 16.6 inches
8. Feb. 15-16, 1958 – 14.4 inches
9. Feb. 7, 1936 – 14.4 inches
10. Feb. 16-18, 1900 – 14.3 inches
11. Jan. 29-30, 1966 – 13.8 inches

A HISTORY OF DC SNOW MANAGEMENT in Washington History, Spring/Summer 1996


FIRST CHURCH SHELTER – Mitch Snyder invested nearly twenty years of his life in an effort to draw public attention to the iniquitous distribution of resources in our society and the devastating human consequences of that distribution. . .Snyder, when asked how one could make a contribution to the elimination of destitution, would quickly suggest that the person quit what ever it was that they were doing at the time and become part of the work being done with, and on behalf of the poor, at the Washington, D.C. based, Community for Creative Non-Violence of which he was a member. . .

Snyder’s singular commitment to the nation’s poor and homeless put him on a collision course with then President Ronald Reagan. Snyder and CCNV gained access to an abandoned, federal building, eight blocks from the Capitol and used it for what was intended to be a temporary, winter shelter for the homeless. When CCNV and those homeless staying at the shelter refused to leave in the spring, a confrontation lasting nearly a year began. It culminated with Snyder engaging in a fast which he declared would be “until death” or until the federal government agreed to provide sufficient funding to operate a shelter in the nation’s capital that would be model for the rest of America.

Snyder’s fast lasted over fifty days. The public sympathy resulting from it convinced President Reagan to approve funding for the shelter Snyder and CCNV demanded.

The story of that confrontation was eventually produced as a made for T.V. movie, Samaritans: The Mitch Snyder Story, in the Spring of 1986. . .

In October of 1989 the movement that Snyder helped create brought over 140,000 people to Washington to demand increased federal support for affordable housing.

Less than a year after that march on Washington Snyder was dead. He committed suicide in July of 1990.

Most agree that Snyder took his life because of a string of defeats-locally in D.C. and nationally-which left him depressed and disillusioned about the prospects for success for the movement he helped create and guided.


[Here are a few of the groups of people, businesses, and other institutions that have been chased from DC thanks to city policies, along with some of their causes]

CHILDREN – Declining quality of schools and recreation combined with gentrification.

DOWNTOWN SMALL BUSINESSES – City zoning and planning policies stripped downtown of a varied commercial district.

MODERATE PRICED HOTELS – The city government was long disinterested in hotels, especially the cheaper ones, and weighted its planning towards office structures that could replace them, even though the hotels made far more economic sense. Metro also encouraged these hotels to move out of town.

TOURISTS – They followed the cheaper hotels out of town.

BUSINESSES – Metro, although touted as an economic boon, actually helped the city lose businesses which could relocate on cheaper land in the suburbs and still have easy access to downtown.

GENERAL POPULATION – Metro also encouraged the general depopulation of the city since you could use it when you wanted, but at less cost, by moving to the suburbs.

CHINATOWN – In the process of being eradicated thanks to the development around the MCI center.

CHURCHES – Being forced out due to inadequate parking caused by nearby overdevelopment.


MAGGIE HALL, HILL RAG – Capitol Hill is getting a new “top cop.” [Andrew Solberg] has a degree in theology, a master’s in philosophy, is a big fan of Aristotle and his idea of a good read is Greek poetry. . . Turns out he was a late entrant into the police force because he was busy bumming-out in Mexico, Guatemala and earning a dollar as a New Orleans-based deck-hand on a Mississippi tug. Broke and wandering what to do with his life he arrived in DC with $40 in his pocket and promptly had his beat-up old van clamped and towed. . . Spent a year, as a high school student in Bologna, Italy, followed by a season playing basketball for Moscow University, and then traveled in India.

Next month, Inspector Solberg celebrates his first year at the First District sub-station, opposite Marion Park, on E Street, SE. Because he refuses to spend much time behind his desk, he’s become a familiar figure on the Hill. . . Every Wednesday morning he’s on special-duty. He reads to fourth graders at the Friendship Edison Charter School, on Potomac Avenue, SE. Currently the book is Alex Hailey’s classic Roots. . .

He confesses that he and the kids, are not making a lot of progress, in the reading department that is. Much of the hour is spent chatting, as he pauses often to ask the children what they think of what they’ve just heard. They express their views and in so doing open-up to him. He listens, he talks, they have a giggle and exchange knowing nods. He believes what he’s doing is an investment in the future. . .

After his gig on the mighty Mississippi, he decided that the fire service was his future. But the city was not hiring. So he switched his attention to the police department. But it was no-go there too. Not because it didn’t need officers – but because he was “medically unfit.” Strange jargon, for a strange “condition” that initially got him barred from the force. Solberg was too tall! At 6’8″, he exceeded the cut-off height by three inches.

He set about changing the archaic, bizarre, peculiar-to-DC, law. He wrote to every member of the City Council, pointing out the stupidity of the situation. He recalls: “I told them: you know what, I could be a police officer if I was gay, Jewish, left-handed, Hindu, or whatever. But you’re discriminating against me because I am tall. There’s no purpose to this law. In the end they said I was right. But it was a convoluted process.” It was 1987 before Solberg was allowed into the police academy. . .

Raised in Urbana, Illinois, Solberg’s father lectured in American history, his mother taught fifth grade, his older sister is an art historian in Italy and his younger sister a criminal-defense lawyer. . .

He got a degree in religion from Haverford College, a liberal arts college outside Philadelphia. With no burning ambition in any special direction he went to New Orleans, simply because he had a pal there he could crash with. . .


OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS – After the heartbreaking death of his son Willie, Abraham Lincoln and his family fled the gloom that hung over the White House, moving into a small cottage outside Washington, on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home, a residence for disabled military veterans. In Lincoln’s Sanctuary, historian Matthew Pinsker offers a portrait of Lincoln’s stay in this cottage and tells the story of the president’s growth. Lincoln lived at the Soldiers’ Home for a quarter of his presidency, and for nearly half of the critical year of 1862, but most Americans (including many scholars) have not heard of the place. Indeed, this is the first volume to specifically connect this early “summer White House” to key wartime developments, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the firing of McClellan, the evolution of Lincoln’s “Father Abraham” image, the election of 1864, and the assassination conspiracy. Through a series of striking vignettes, the reader discovers a more accessible Lincoln, demonstrating what one visitor to the Soldiers’ Home described as his remarkable “elasticity of spirits.” At his secluded cottage, the president complained to his closest aides, recited poetry to his friends, reconnected with his wife and family, conducted secret meetings with his political enemies, and narrowly avoided assassination attempts. Perhaps most important, he forged key friendships that helped renew his flagging spirits. The cottage became a refuge from the pressures of the White House, a place of tranquility where Lincoln could refresh his mind.


WASHINGTON POST – The Source Theatre Company, which provided a home for experimental plays and fledging artists for more than 28 years, has ceased operations and agreed to sell its building. Source had been struggling financially for several years and has received almost $1 million in public funds. . . In 1977, Source was one of the first arts groups to move back to the 14th Street corridor. . . In its active years, Source produced five plays a season. It created the annual Washington Theatre Festival, which has developed more than 700 plays since 1981. . . Over the years, Source was nominated for 30 Helen Hayes Awards. 2/06



SAM SMITH, MULTITUDES – I was sent to interview a woman who was refusing to move out of her house in the Southwest urban renewal area. Hundreds of acres had been leveled around her and still she clung on like a survivor of the Dresden carpet bombing. The project, the largest in the nation, had begun in April 1954 and five years later some 550 acres had been cleared. Only 300 families remained to be relocated. More than 20,000 people and 800 businesses had been kicked out to make way for the plan. Some 80% of the latter never went back into operation.

The design was hailed by planners and liberals; a 1955 report for the District was titled No Slums in Ten Years. Not everyone was so sanguine, however. In a 1959 report of the National Conference of Catholic Charities, the Rt. Rev. Msg. John O’Grady said, “It is sad. It is not urban renewal; it is a means of making a few people rich. Instead of improving housing conditions, it is shifting people around from one slum to another.”

The Supreme Court disagreed. In 1954 it had upheld the underlying law and in a decision written by none other than William O. Douglas, declared:

It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled . . . The experts concluded that if the community were to be healthy, if it were not to revert again to a blighted or slum area, as though possessed by a congenital disease, the area must be planned as a whole.

JUDY COLEMAN, DCIST – Berman v. Parker, challenging this slum-clearing initiative, reached the Supreme Court in 1954, nine years after the plan was announced. A black storeowner in the area challenged the action as unconstitutional. The claim, though, was not related to racism or equal protection violations. Instead, the plaintiff sued because slum-clearing didn’t pass muster as a “public use” under the Fifth Amendment. We all want pretty neighborhoods, the plaintiff argued, but you have to show something more to take my property.

The court rejected this argument and, in doing so, blew the door wide open for future uses of eminent domain. As long as the government could show that it was improving the public welfare, it could use the hammer of eminent domain to nail just about any land it wanted. . .

Further, the court found it plausible, as many policymakers did at the time, that the problem of urban blight could be solved by nothing short of a total redesign. “Public use,” under the Fifth Amendment meant a “public purpose,” which in turn meant just about anything government wanted to do.




BIRD: The thrush

American Beauty Rose

TREE: The scarlet oak






We have established a swamp police squad whose job it will be to reduce the epidemic of press mentions of Washington once having been a swamp-filled town. The first violator apprehended by this squad is Ann Gerhart of the Washington Post who, in the course of a crudely chipper Style article on Bush’s war against the civil services, describes its founding in 1883 adding that it “built Washington, helping to transform a swampy, mosquito-infested river town into a colossus of power.”

Not only is there no evidence that the 19th century civil service drained any swamps or sprayed DDT within them, the swamps didn’t even exist. Those places were marshes, typical of river shorelines, and precisely the sort of setting people who call Washington “swampy” pay large sums of money to put their weekend condo next to or contribute to environmental groups to save elsewhere around the country.

These legends seem to be promulgated mainly by those who believe that Washington did’t amount to much until they got here. We also suspect that those from New York City are heavily to blame, having to find something derogatory about Washington once it got some bagel shops. Our position has always been that a city that has to brag about its bagels doesn’t have much going for it.

For the record, one way you tell a swamp from a marsh is that the former has trees as in Pogo’s Okeefenoke Swamp. There was nothing like that in DC. – The Review, 2/05


The neighborhood was called Swampoodle and the Irish who lived there apparently picked the name because they thought they were living in a swamp but the Irish didn’t have any swamps in the homeland and so can be forgiven. In fact, it was just a bit marshy around the Tiber Creek.

As Richard Layman has described it in the Voice of the Hill: “The area was first settled in the 1850s by immigrants fleeing the Irish potato famine. Sketches of Swampoodle in its earliest days show a collection of modest frame houses. There were stretches of common land where cows, goats, and horses were pastured, despite city prohibitions against roaming animals, and the pound master was not a welcome visitor to the neighborhood. Proximity to the B&O Railroad that ran nearby had advantages for new immigrants and low-skilled residents. Short-term, piecemeal work could be readily obtained from both the railroad and freight-related businesses in the area. . .

“Swampoodle developed a reputation as a rough neighborhood with harddrinking inhabitants, gangs of unruly boys, and an unsavory nightlife. Civil War soldiers were supposedly warned away from the gamblers and loose women who resided there. But John Clagget Proctor concludes that the area ‘was not as black as it was painted,’ as evidenced by the city leaders who grew up in Swampoodle.”




MATT SCHUDEL WASHINGTON POST – From the age of 5 until he was out of college, Washington was [Billy] Taylor’s home. His father was a dentist, his mother a teacher, and everyone in his extended family played music. A piano student by 7, he was especially taken with the jazz his Uncle Bob would play. “He introduced me to Fats Waller,” Taylor recalls, “and he introduced me to the music of Art Tatum. The first time I heard Tatum, I just couldn’t believe anyone could play that beautifully, that cleanly and with that much vigor. It was just an enormous way of playing the piano.”

At 13, Taylor played his first professional date at the Republic Gardens on U Street . . .
At Dunbar High School, he played saxophone and piano. His high school music teacher, Henry Grant, who had taught Duke Ellington 20 years earlier, lived across from the Taylor family on Fairmont Street NW and became something of a model for what Taylor would do on larger scale. . . Saxophonist and flutist Frank Wess, who was a year behind Taylor at Dunbar, often played with him in those early days. . . Wess recalls all-night jam sessions at an upstairs after-hours spot at Seventh and T called Freddy Woods’s Footlight Club. “All the windows were painted black,” he says, “so you wouldn’t know if it was day or night.”

MATT SCHUDEL WASHINGTON POST – We thought he could go on forever. For decades he has been the public face of jazz, the man with the high-beam smile and big, black-framed glasses who could speak in a tirelessly eloquent voice about the joy of jazz. And when Dr. Billy Taylor wasn’t talking about jazz, he was playing it, as a pianist who had shared the stage with almost everyone who has ever mattered in the long history of jazz.

If not exactly youthful — even as a kid, he was a model of professionalism and sober responsibility — Taylor seemed to resist the passing of time like the ageless standards he’s always loved to play. But in December 2001, he awoke one morning unable to blink. He has been working his way back ever since, recovering from the stroke that affected the right side of his body, including the right hand that once danced across the keys like Astaire.

Less than a year after he was stricken, Taylor was performing again, relying mostly on his mighty left hand. . . Today, he still speaks in his familiar torrent of words, his handshake is solid and, to judge from a few arpeggios and chords he played on an electronic keyboard in his room at the Watergate Hotel, much of the old dexterity in his right hand has returned. But at 83, he’s finally let the word “retirement” creep into his vocabulary. On Thursday at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, after 70 years on the bandstand, Billy Taylor is giving his farewell concert. 2/05


DC ART NEWS – Thomas, who lived most of her life (and taught art to children for many years) in DC, didn’t even have her first solo show until she was 68 years old, and still managed to fit in retrospectives at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and what was then called the National Museum of American Art, and then became the first African American woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. She died in 1978, and many of the Thomas’ paintings in the Hirshhorn collection were gifted to the museum after her death.


In January and February 1950, Mary Church Terrell, a human rights activist in her late eighties; Rev. W. H. Jernigan, pastor of Mt. Carmel Church; Geneva Brown, treasurer of the United Cafeteria and Restaurant Workers Union; David Scull, member of the Society of Friends; Rev. Arthur Fletcher Elmes, pastor of the People’s Congregational Church; and Essie Thompson, United Cafeteria and Restaurant Workers Union went to the Thompson’s Restaurant, at 725-14th Street, NW, to eat. They were refused service. No surprise. In fact, they counted on it. They were all members of the Coordinating Committee For the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws. The CCEAD was organized in 1949, spearheaded by Annie Stein, to bring to the attention of the public and city officials the local 1872 and 1873 laws that made discrimination in public places in Washington, D.C., illegal. The “lost laws,” as they were known, had been removed at the turn of the twentieth century, after Reconstruction ended and racism escalated in Washington, D.C. Once rediscovered in the 1940s, CCEAD sought to have the laws reinstated.

Joseph Forer and David Rein, National Lawyers Guild and CCEAD members who had an adjacent office at 711-14th Street, NW, filed the case. (Charles Hamilton Houston, whom Thurgood Marshall called “Mr. Civil Rights,” was one of the additional signers to the case.) After a loss in the Municipal Court, the case was taken to the Municipal Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals and finally to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Thompson’s Restaurant case was in litigation for three years. Between 1950 and 1953, CCEAD members continued their direct action campaign, including picketing the Hecht Co., at 7th and F streets, NW, in 1951. On Monday 8 June 1953, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1872 and 1873 laws were still valid, declaring that segregation in public places was illegal. The Supreme Court decision was a major victory for the CCEAD and the city.


According to legend, an Indian village on the Virginia side of the Potomac was under siege by other tribes and had run out of food. The three sons of the chief went out fishing in the Potomac but were attacked and killed in full view of the village. Three young women who loved the brothers – all daughters of a shaman – decided to use their father’s powers against the enemy. They got on a raft to cross the river but the current was too strong and they were forced downstream. Confronting their failure, they shouted a curse saying no one could ever cross the river at this point again – and then leaped into the river to join their lovers. That night there was a wild storm and the next morning three large boulders appeared in the river where they had drowned.

The rocks became known as the Three Sisters. Police report that many have died at this location and old timers report hearing mournful cries during storms.

In 1972, a storm swept away the framework of a freeway bridge that was being built at this location over the strong objection of local activists who finally won their case in court. The Three Sisters Bridge was never finished, further evidence that the curse is still in effect.

[Source: City of Magnificent Intentions]






BEN SISARIO, NY TIMES Robert Reed, who played keyboards in Trouble Funk, one of the definitive groups of go-go music – a raucous, high-intensity dance style that flourished in the 1970s and early ’80s – died in Arlington, Va. He was 50 . . . The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his brother Taylor, who played trumpet in the band.

Go-go grew out of the dance clubs of Washington in the 1970s, when live bands competed with disco D.J.’s for gigs and dancers’ attention. As pioneered by Chuck Brown, the bands kept a taut, midtempo beat for marathon sets and threaded steady rhythms through the breaks between songs, so that dancers never had a chance to sit down.

Influenced by Sly Stone, the Ohio Players and other leading funk bands of the era, Trouble Funk had a playful, futuristic style that brought go-go closer to the rap sound . . . Mr. Reed, whose stage name was Syke Dyke, toyed with his keyboards to create flashy electronic noises that could resemble science-fiction sound effects. Tony Fisher, Mr. Reed’s childhood friend who was called Big Tony, played bass and acted as the “talker,” sing-speaking repetitive, call-and-response phrases to whip up both band (“Hey, fellas, do you want to take time out to get close to the ladies?”) and crowd (“Get on up!”).

Early on Trouble Funk was adopted by tastemaking D.J.’s like Afrika Bambaataa, who played its records alongside rap and electronic tracks. The group worked with ’80s rap stars like Kurtis Blow, and certain Trouble Funk songs have become among the most sampled sounds in hip-hop history, used by LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Boogie Down Productions and Will Smith, among many others.

Trouble Funk’s first album, “Drop the Bomb,” was issued in 1982 on Sugar Hill Records, the New York label that dominated early hip-hop. Along with other groups like E.U. and Rare Essence, Trouble Funk outlasted disco, and for a time in the ’80s, go-go was poised to become a mainstream hit. The group toured the globe and was signed to Island Records, home of Bob Marley and U2.

TROUSER PRESS Trouble Funk belongs to Washington DC’s go-go scene. Go-go is a throwback to percussive, endless-groove funk that sacrifices structure, production and slickness for loose feeling and community involvement. The bands – basically fluid rhythm sections with a few added frills – do their thing while the musicians and audience yell a whole lot of nonsense (like “Let’s get small, y’all” or “Drop the bomb!”) The funk is solidly Southern, with a strong James Brown flavor and tons of sloppy percussion. In no other North American music does the cowbell play such a major role.

Chuck Brown, father of go-go, developed it from drum breakdowns which he used in clubs to link Top 40 covers. Not surprisingly, he found people were grooving more on these bridges than the songs. Go-go has grown concurrently (though not as popularly) with hip-hop, and offers a spirited group alternative to beatbox isolationism



AFRICAN ATLANTIC GENEOLOGICAL SOCIETY – In 1865, Sojourner was in court. . . . pressing assault charges against John C. Weeden, a conductor on the public horse-drawn streetcars, of Washington, DC. A precursor of Rosa Parks, Sojourner was the first to conduct a “ride- in.” It was during one of her attempts to ride a streetcar, in Washington, DC that the conductor, Mr. Weeden, “seized her with such violence as to injure her shoulder.” Confident that justice would prevail, Truth promptly sued him, and won. In all, she conducted six “ride-ins.” She usually rode alone, but on two occasions she was accompanied by white, female abolitionists; one was Laura Haviland, the other was Josephine Griffing. In one instance, a conductor told Sojourner to get off the car, or he would throw her off. To which she proudly and forcefully responded, that she was neither a Marylander nor a Virginian, but “from the Empire State of New York” and he could throw her off, if he dared. Two conductors were fired, for their mistreatment of her, and her persistence encouraged other African Americans to ride the streetcars, thereby leading to the demise of the “Jim Crow” cars in Washington.

[Washington’s streetcars remained among the few unsegregated public places in the city before the civil rights movement]

DC INDYMEDIA – In 1865, one year after visiting President Abraham Lincoln in the White House, Sojourner Truth worked to desegregate the horse car system in Washington, D.C. It was during one of her attempts to ride a horse drawn streetcar in Washington, DC that the conductor “seized her with such violence as to injure her shoulder.” Confident that justice would prevail, Truth promptly sued him, and won. In all, she conducted six “ride-ins.” She usually rode alone, but on two occasions she was accompanied by white, female abolitionists; one was Laura Haviland, the other was Josephine Griffing. In one instance, a conductor told Sojourner to get off the car, or he would throw her off. To which she proudly and forcefully responded, that she was neither a Marylander nor a Virginian, but “from the Empire State of New York” and he could throw her off, if he dared. Two conductors were fired, for their mistreatment of her, and her persistence encouraged other African Americans to ride the streetcars, thereby leading to the demise of the “Jim Crow” cars in Washington. Washington’s streetcars remained among the few unsegregated public places in the city before the civil rights movement.


IN 2006 ESQUIRE named Capitol Hill’s Tune Inn one of the Best Bars in America. . . THOSE DARK TREES: When I lived in Washington, DC, I was a regular – insofar as I could be during law school – at a bar known as the Tune Inn. The Tune Inn was a classic fifties era bar [with] walls covered in taxidermied animals, a jukebox that played both kinds of music (country and western. . . It was also one of the hangouts of the Marines from the I Street Barracks, the men and women responsible for a lot of the security at the Capitol and the White House. . . They were also inveterate scrappers, the sort of men who would, on a monthly basis, turn the Tune Inn into a den of violence that I found particularly amusing. Amidst the chaos of “jarheads” fighting, I would sit at the bar, chatting with the bartender (another New Jersey native, although, as a Mets fan, he was of questionable character), careful to make sure I didn’t spill one ounce of barley and hops. . . I once took a friend of mine, a sociologist working for the Federal Elections Commission, to the Tune Inn. He was a delicate fellow, a Fulbright Scholar and former NCAA fencer. . . The sociologist looked around the bar, at the “high-‘n’-tight” haircuts and steely eyes, and asked if I was trying to kill him. . . MARYANN HAGGERTY, WASHINGTON POST – There are eight mounted deer heads on the walls of the tiny Tune Inn — and, more important, two mounted deer butts. The butts are a lot more emblematic of this raucous neighborhood joint. . . An historical note: This is where James Carville and Mary Matalin went on their first date. They left quickly. . . AMERICAN SOCIETY OF NEWSPAPER EDITORS – A business copy editor said she consistently runs into people from the Post at the Tune Inn. . .


DAVID PITTS, USIA – One day, in the early 1930’s, a black woman of slight build and iron will, got mad. Her husband, Berthea Tucker, lost his job as a Pullman porter because of her role in organizing his railroad union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the nation’s first black union. She marched into his boss’s office, banged on the table, and commanded, “You put my husband back on his job, or I’ll be back.” Next day, her husband was back on the trains.

Not many women, especially black women, did things like that in the 1930’s. But Rosina Tucker was hardly ordinary. . . In 1982, after decades of laboring in anonymity, Tucker became a celebrity. At the age of 100, she narrated the award-winning, PBS documentary, “Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle.” The film chronicled the story of the Pullman porters’ struggle to form a union. . .

Tucker often recalled that in the early days, “we would have to act in secret because if the management found out, they would fire people. That’s why, in one sense, it was easier for the wives to do the work. That’s how I got involved.” She traveled widely, recruiting members for the union at railroad centers all over the country. She said that she, and the other organizers, were determined to change the conditions under which Pullman porters then worked — “long hours, low pay, and zero job security.”

“But it wasn’t only the pay and hours that were bad,” Tucker remembered. “Pullman porters were all black. They were called ‘George’ and could be fired just for not smiling frequently and not looking happy.”

Progress was slow, but in 1937 the effort paid off. The Pullman company recognized the union and signed an agreement, the first ever between a large U.S. corporation and a black union. In September 1938, the union wives established the International Ladies Auxiliary. Tucker became its first secretary-treasurer.

In those days, the efforts of the women were not always welcomed, even by their husbands. “The role of women in the struggle has not been appreciated until recently, because too often the efforts of women were discounted and not seen as important. It is hard even to document what the women did,” said Paul Wagoner, the producer of the television documentary on the Brotherhood.

The formation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was important historically not only for the railroad porters, but also for all African Americans, Wagoner added. “The union laid the foundation for the modern civil rights movement. The importance of the Brotherhood was that it proved blacks could organize, and it gave all black people hope. The civil rights movement (of the 1960’s) would probably have happened without the Brotherhood. But it would have been more difficult.” . . .

he knew many of the great civil rights leaders of our time, including A. Philip Randolph whom she remembers “as a determined, but quiet man,” Mary McLeod Bethune, “a great speaker, but not very personable,” and E.D. Nixon, “who deserves more credit than he gets for helping to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott.”

Rosina Tucker was born in 1882, on 4th Street in northwest Washington, less than two decades after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves. The daughter of former slaves who had nine children in all, she said her parents “never talked to us about their days as slaves. Very few former slaves talked about it. I overheard them talking to each other. But they didn’t discuss it with the children.”

One story Tucker overheard her father telling involved the meager amounts of food he was given as a slave, even on special occasions. “On Thanksgiving, he and the other slaves were not allowed to have any turkey, but they were allowed to chew on the string with which the turkey was tied,” she said. Tucker’s mother, however, fared better. “She worked in the master’s house and took the food she needed when nobody was looking.” . . .

Nevertheless, her memories of her childhood were “mostly happy.” Her father, who learned to play the organ, “passed on his love of music to us. I became a church organist at the age of 12.” . . .

In 1902, when Tucker was 20, blacks effectively were prevented from voting in Virginia, the state where her parents had been reared in slavery. For more than five decades until well into the mid-twentieth century, segregation would become a way of life throughout the former Confederacy.

Tucker remembers it “as a sobering experience. The new century brought crushing new burdens for us, instead of freedom and equality.” But she recalled that she felt insulated, to a degree, by her close-knit family and because she lived in Washington, where, even then, there was a sizable black population. “The block on which we lived was fully integrated — more so than today. While we didn’t run in and out of each other’s houses, there was a certain amount of respect between the races,” in the capital city, she said.

“But life got harder immediately you left Washington,” she remembered. “You could get on the streetcar in Washington, and they couldn’t ask you to move to a Jim Crow section. But once you got to Alexandria (in Virginia), they told you to go to a Jim Crow car.” . . .


RIGHT ON RHYTHM – For 18 years, Washington DC has been treated to the rich baritone voice of Nap “Don’t Forget the Blues” Turner on Pacifica Radio’s WPFW, 89.3 FM. An institution within the DC jazz and blues scene, Nap has been performing in the area for over 50 years. Nap moved to D.C. with his family from West Virginia in 1943 when he was 12 years old. Although he came from a family of shoemakers, he knew early on that it was music that would be his consuming passion. Sneaking out of the house so he could hang out around the clubs that featured bebop along 14th and U Streets, he was inspired to become a musician by the likes of Slam Stewart and Oscar Pettiford. At age 14, Nap built himself a home-made bass from a five gallon Pepsi cola syrup can, a five foot wood floorboard and a clothesline and started playing. He and his friends would go into the listening booth of one of the record shops along 7th and T Streets, to check out the latest hits, actually sticking a matchbook in the turntable to slow it down so they could hear each instrument’s part. Then they would hurry across the street to one of the clubs to practice what they heard. Still playing his homemade bass, Nap turned pro. As a young man in the 50’s, working and hanging around 7th and T, Nap jammed with the likes of Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons,and Webster Young. He also saw Percy Mayfield for the first time. But music quickly led Nap into the fast lane. Being hip, playing music, doing and dealing drugs, he was hooked on the hard stuff before he was out of his teens. No one, not even Charlie Parker, could convince Nap he was headed for trouble. When Nap met “Bird, ” he told him, “stay away from the drugs, they’re just no good.” In Nap’s words, “Back then, that was like water off of a ducks back.” . . . Back in D.C. in the early sixties, an arrest and conviction lead to three years of confinement at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and his first formal instruction in music. While hospitalized, Nap was allowed to work with the featured bassist of the National Symphony Orchestra as part of his treatment. . . While in jail, Nap often sang to himself what was later to become his signature song, Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love.” During the 60’s the call for acoustic bass players ebbed with the rise in popularity of the Hammond B3 Organ. Nap credits singer Mary Jefferson with encouraging him to come forward as a singer. Her words were something like, “you’ve got a good voice, use it. Oh and keep the f**** hat, you look good in it.”

MARC FISHER, WASHINGTON POST One night in 1953, Charlie Parker was playing the Club Kavakos at Eighth and H streets NE, and Turner and a Washington cabbie who served as Parker’s chauffeur in town tagged along. The doorman informed the legendary saxophonist that his black companions were not permitted to enter the segregated club. “Parker said, ‘If they can’t come, I don’t play,’ ” said Muhammad. “So they let Nap come in and sit close to the kitchen and listen to Bird.”


DC PRESERVATION LEAGUE – Most Endangered Places for 2002: Uline Arena (Washington Coliseum) Between 2nd & 3rd and L & M Streets, NE. It was built in 1941 and operated by Miguel L. “Uncle Mike” Uline for the Washington Lions of the Eastern Hockey League. The building would seat 9,000 people. This concrete vaulted building was the site of the Beatle’s first North American performance and also noted as the home of Go-Go music where noted local musicians such as Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk and Rare Essence performed. Political rallies and speeches were a tradition in the Arena including a rally staged by Fight for Freedom, Inc. in support of the US involvement in WWII a month before Pearl Harbor and a speech by Nation of Islam Founder Elijah Muhammad in 1959. Since its construction in 1941, the arena, later known as the Washington Coliseum, has been a place for figure skating, jazz, wrestling, ballet, basketball, Washington’s Go-Go music style, midget auto racing, rock, hockey, karate, politics, tennis, boxing, and Indian ragas.

MIKE LIVINGSTON, WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 2001 – At first, Uline sold tickets only to white patrons — except for boxing matches. A 1943 editorial in the Washington Tribune called for a boycott of a school athletic fair at the arena: “If Mr. Griffith [proprietor of the Redskins’ and Senators’ home stadium] “will not permit colored to play against white teams, at least he does permit them to sit where their money entitles them, whereas Mr. Uline will not permit them to sit anywhere at the ice shows. He denies Negroes admission completely.” The arena remained segregated until January 1948, despite pickets and boycotts. . . Ironically, Uline once suspended his official racism because a rival venue wouldn’t suspend its own. Just a few weeks after the Uline Ice Arena opened, Paul Robeson was scheduled to perform in April 1941 at Constitution Hall during a benefit for the Washington Committee for Aid to China. But the Daughters of the American Revolution canceled the event. However, Cornelia Pinchot, wife of Gifford Pinchot, who served as chief forester for President Theodore Roosevelt, negotiated a deal with Uline. She told the Washington Tribune, “not only will colored people be welcome at the concert but there will be no discrimination in the seating arrangement.” The segregated venue did launch the career of the first National Basketball Association coach to work with African-American players. . . Red Auerbach

The political arena Racial politics returned to the arena in 1959, when Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad gave a speech to a crowd he estimated at “well over 10,000.” The seating capacity for the floor was around 9,000. Muhammad told his followers: “Never in the history of human evil have so many asked for a just pittance, so loud, so long and received in return so little, if anything at all. … You have not received justice from any quarter. As prophesied, you, my fellow black men, are as sheep among wolves… .”

In September 1944, the War Hospitality Committee set up 572 cots on the floor to provide affordable lodgings — 50 cents a night — for soldiers passing through Washington. . . In May 1971, the arena was used as a holding cell for many of the 12,000 people arrested during protests of the Vietnam War. . . The Woody Herman Orchestra and the Ink Spots played there during World War II. Charlie Parker and a 10-piece band split a $1,200 fee as headliners in 1951. Later, Ravi Shankar, the Rolling Stones and even the Scots Guards bagpipers made the arena the D.C. stop on their tours. . . Bob Dylan played the Uline Arena in 1967, and a photo from the concert appeared the following year on the cover of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits. . .

Rock concerts at the arena were banned later in 1967 after a riot broke out at a Temptations concert. Five people were injured, six were arrested, and “roaming bands of youth broke 33 windows in nine stores, four car windows, and one window in the Coliseum,” according to the Washington Afro-American.

CHARLES GLENDENNING – When I was 12 years old, my parents took me to the old Uline Arena in an area of Washington, D.C. that now looks like the streets of Srebrenica – post ethnic cleansing. Sol Hurok had brought the Royal Marines and the Highland Fusiliers to town. I sat in slack-jawed awe in the spot lit darkness of that arena and watched commandos rappel from the ceiling, James Bond’s Aston Martin firing blanks from the front grille while doing donuts in the center of the arena and the pomp and flash of Her Majesty’s Own Royal Marine brass band.


Union Station – Opened on October 27, 1907 and completed in 1908, Union Station is considered to be one of the finest examples of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. Architect Daniel Burnham designed the bulding. . .

At the time it was built, the station covered more ground than any other building in the United States and was the largest train station in the world. The total area occupied by the station and the terminal zone was originally about 200 acres and included 75 miles of tracks. In fact, if put on its side, the Washington Monument could lay within the confines of the Station’s concourse.

Seventy pounds of 22-karat gold leaf adorned the 96-foot barrel-vaulted, coffered ceilings. The cost was monumental as well – $125 million for the station and its approaches.

At various times it employed a staff of over 5,000 people and provided such amenities as a bowling alley, mortuary, baker, butcher, YMCA, hotel, ice house, liquor store, Turkish baths, first-class restaurant, nursery, police station and a silver-monogramming shop.

As train travel was the mode of transportation for even U.S. Presidents in the early 1900s, a presidential suite was added to Union Station (now B. Smith’s Restaurant). Over the years many dignitaries were officially welcomed here. The last president to use the presidential suite was President Eisenhower. . .

The advent of air travel led to a decline in railroad passengers, and Union Station began to fall into disuse. In 1968, in anticipation of the Bicentennial, the decision was made to transform the Station into the National Visitor Center. The ill-fated project opened in 1976 but failed to draw sufficient crowds to sustain its operation, and was closed in 1978.

Following three years of renovation at a cost of $160 million, Union Station reopened on September 29, 1988. In addition to over 130 unique shops and restaurants, Union Station is the hub for Amtrak’s headquarters and executive offices.

Today, Union Station is still the most visited destination in the nation’s Capitol with over 32 million visitors a year.

Joe Korner Net – On the night of January 14, 1953, Train #173, T, left Boston on time for its scheduled arrival at Washington Union Station, 459 miles and 9-1/2 hours away. This was one of many trains bringing people to Washington for Eisenhower’s first inauguration.

A minor brake problem was corrected after the scheduled station stop at Providence, RI. . .

The train was about 56 minutes late due to the inspections, but the engineer made up about 11 minutes on the run into New Haven. There, the diesel engines were changed for electrics and the trainline brakes again checked. Everything seemed in order. . .

The train arrived at Pennsylvania Station, New York only 38 minutes late. The brakes had been used 14 times between New Haven and New York with no recurring trouble.

At Pennsylvania Station, GG-1 class electric locomotive #4876 replaced the New Haven electric for the remaining trip to Washington. The new engineer was Harry W. Bower, who was not told the reason the train was late, but did make the prescribed terminal brakes checks before moving the train.

The Federal made stops at Philadelphia and Wilmington with a total of 14 more brake applications with no problems. . . After clearing the Baltimore Yard Limits, Engineer Bower notched the controller up to 80 MPH for the run into Washington. He had no reason to apply the brakes until the train reached signal #1339 about 2 miles from Union Station.

Bower shut the controller and applied a 17 pound brake this should have slowed the train considerably, but did not. He then realized that the train could not be stopped in time. He dropped sand and put the brakes into emergency. This should have brought the train to a jarring halt, but did not.

All of the members of the operating crew realized the train was in trouble, but could do nothing about it. Bower stayed at his post and held the horn valve open to warn everyone away from track 16, where the Federal was due to stop.

Bower knew that the engine brakes and maybe those on the first car had applied, but the other 15 cars were pushing them.

The train director at K Tower at the entrance to Union Station called the station master and said “There’s a runaway coming at you on track 16 – get the hell outa there!” The train smashed through the station master’s office behind the end of track 16. . .

The clock in the Station Master’s office stopped at 8:38AM – the FEDERAL was only 18 minutes late.

Because of the quick action of a few railroaders and a little luck, no one was killed and only 87 were injured. Property damage was estimated at $1 million.

By 7:00 AM the next day all of the cars were removed from the station, leaving only #4876 in the baggage room. A temporary floor was built over the engine and the station was open as usual within 72 hours of the accident.

After the inauguration, #4876 was cut into a number of pieces and shipped to the Pennsylvania’s engine shop in Altoona, Pa. and was rebuilt and placed back into service.


The seeds of higher education for the District were planted in 1851 when Myrtilla Miner founded a school for colored girls. In 1879, Miner Normal School became a part of the public school system. Similarly, Washington Normal School, established in 1873, as a school for white girls, was renamed Wilson Normal School in 1913. In 1929, by an act of Congress, both schools became four- year teachers colleges, Miner Teachers College and Wilson Teachers College, and the only institutions of public higher education in the city.

Years later, after the long awaited Supreme Court desegregation decision, the two colleges united in 1955 to form the District of Columbia Teachers College. However, for many residents who did not wish to become teachers or who were both black and poor, the opportunity for advanced technical training or study for liberal arts degree was an unattainable goal. Years of persistent lobbying for comprehensive public higher education by District residents and others caused President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, to appoint a commission to study the Districts needs. The commission’s report stimulated congressional action. Under the leadership of Senate Wayne Morse and Congressman Ancher Nelson, two schools were established; Federal City College and Washington Technical Institute.

There were so many applications for admission to Federal City College that students were selected by lottery. The Washington Technical Institute received its accreditation in 1971 and Federal City College in 1974. In 1969, the District of Columbia Teachers College, the city’s oldest teacher training institution, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Board of Higher Education. In 1974, the Board established a joint administrative support system and placed the District of Columbia Teachers College and Federal City College under a single president. After Congress granted limited home rule to the District of Columbia, a new law provided for the consolidation of the three schools in 1975. [UDC]

BY 1974, however, the increasingly political leadership of the city began pressing for the presumed prestige of a university rather than a mere college and so FCC, Washington Technical Institute and Washington Teachers’ College were combined into the University of DC. But big state universities seek out politically connected fund raisers rather than educators as leaders and the early spirit of FCC disappeared as a succession of presidents fumbled with the new creation. The university really suffered in the 1990s, after the federal takeover of the city. A third of the faculty was cut, enrollment drastically reduced, 56 degree programs eliminated and the university’s radio station sold in a sweetheart deal to CSPAN.




In the wake of the Civil War, the area north of downtown experienced a building boom. Originally occupied by both whites and blacks, with Jim Crow and the coming of the streetcar, whites increasingly moved beyond the center city and blacks increasingly found themselves isolated. Until the modern civil rights movement and desegregation, this African-American community was shut out without a vote, without economic power, without access, and without any real hope that any of this would change.

Its response was remarkable. For example, in 1886 there were only about 15 black businesses in the area. By 1920, with segregation in full fury, there were more than 300. Every aspect of the community followed suit. Among the institutions created within these few square miles was a building and loan association, a savings bank, the only good hotel in the Washington where blacks could stay, the first full-service black YMCA in the country, the Howard Theater (opened with black capital twenty years before Harlem’s Apollo was converted to black performances) and two first rate movie palaces. Pearl Baily called U Street the “Black Broadway.”

There were the Odd Fellows, the True Reformers, and the Prince Hall Lodge. There were churches and religious organizations, a summer camp, a photography club that produced a number of professional photographers, an indoor swimming pool, settlement houses, and the Washington Urban League.

Denied access to white schools, the community created a self-sufficient educational system good enough to attract suburban African-Americans students as well as teachers from all over the country. Jazz musician Billy Taylor recalls five teachers at Dunbar High School who had doctorates. And just to the north, Howard University became the intellectual center of black America. At the movies or on the street, you might have run into Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, or Duke Ellington, all of whom made the U Street area their home before moving to New York. Locke once wrote an article declaring Washington to be “Negro heaven.”

This was a proud community. “We had everything we needed,” recalls one older resident. “And we felt good about it. Our churches, our schools, banks, department stores, food stores. And we did very well.”

The community shared responsibility for its children. One of the most familiar stories went like this: “There was no family my family didn’t know or that didn’t know me. I couldn’t go three blocks without people knowing exactly where I had been and everything I did on the way. It wasn’t just the schools. We learned from everyone. We learned as much from Aunt So-and-So down the street, who was not even related to us.”

Then came what city councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis, daughter of Dr. Charles Drew, called the “paradox of integration.” New choices opened for the residents of Uptown and as residents moved to take advantage of them the neighborhood went into decline. The riots of 1968, which began in here, hastened the disintegration until, recalls Virginia Ali, her restaurant, Ben’s Chili Bowl, supplied about the only light to the street at night. In recent years, this has changed dramatically and U Street is once again one of the hippest places in town.





Washington Post, 2009 – The Washington Blade, the weekly newspaper that chronicled the coming-out of the capital’s gay community, was born amid the idealism of 1960s street protests. Monday, the paper died, victim of the unforgiving realities of the nation’s sagging newspaper industry. . . .

Last month, the Blade celebrated its 40th anniversary at a swanky downtown Washington party. The paper’s nearly two-dozen employees arrived at their downtown offices Monday to start a new work week, only to be ordered to clear out their desks by mid-afternoon.

Steven Myers, co-president of the paper’s owner, Atlanta-based Window Media, said the company also ceased operations at its other gay-oriented publications, which include the Southern Voice newspaper and David magazine in Atlanta, and the South Florida Blade and 411 magazine in Florida. . .

“It’s a shock. I’m almost speechless, really,” said Lou Chibbaro Jr., a Blade reporter who has written for the newspaper since 1976, covering the full arc of the country’s gay-rights movement, from early marches through the rise of AIDS and on to the latest battles over legalizing same-sex marriage.

The Blade, born in an era when most gays lived in the closet, grew in size and stature as Washington’s gay population blossomed and became more politically active and influential. Chibbaro, who wrote his first front-page story for the Blade under a pseudonym at a time when publicly stating one’s sexual orientation could be dangerous, felt the change in dramatic fashion this year, when, while covering a presidential news conference on health-care policy, he was directed to a seat in the front row.

The Blade’s closing comes at a moment of extraordinary optimism for many gays in Washington. The big story Chibbaro and the paper’s other writers have been covering is the bill supported by nearly all of the D.C. Council’s members that would legalize same-sex marriage in the city. . .

This week’s edition of the free weekly, which had a circulation of 23,000, won’t be published. The Blade’s Web site, which reported about 250,000 visitors a month, went dark Monday morning.


NATIONAL TRUST – In 1806, the first public hospital in Washington was established in a square between 6th and 7th Streets, and M and N Streets, NW. Called Washington Infirmary, it provided for “the poor, disabled, and infirm persons.” In 1842, Congress authorized the conversion of the old jail in the Judiciary Square into a hospital for disabled seamen and soldiers and the insane. Two years later, however, Congress decided that the building was not suitable for that purpose and assigned it to the medical faculty of Columbian College (later became George Washington University). Also named Washington Infirmary, this hospital became the city’s first teaching hospital as well as the city’s first general hospital. At the beginning of the Civil War, Washington Infirmary was taken over by the military, and it received the first war casualties in May 1861. But the facility burned to the ground in November 1861 and was later replaced by the Judiciary Square Hospital


SAM SMITH – OF ALL THE POLITICIANS with whom I have disagreed, Walter Washington was among my favorites. I was not alone. Walter could walk into a room in which two-thirds of the people were angry about something and before leaving he would have reversed the odds. He once told me that he thought he and I wanted the same things but had just gone about it different ways.

Walter was part of a generation of black Washingtonians who had created a community filled with the grace, decency, and honor so lacking in the one from which they were excluded. In Walter Washington’s case this was reflected in charm that left him with few serious enemies but also courage, as when he told J. Edgar Hoover that, no, he would not shoot looters during the 1968 riots. It was apparent as well in the sort of integrity that tipped me to the possibility that he might not win reelection. Coming out of the crowded basement hall at the Washington Hotel where the mayor had launched his campaign, I noticed a row of double-parked expensive cars, many with his bumper sticker. . . and each with a parking ticket.

Later in that campaign – in which Washington was challenged by Sterling Tucker and Marion Barry – I ran into at a community event. “I want you know, Walter, that I’m telling people that if they can’t vote for Marion, they should vote for you,” I told the mayor. He responded, “I know you are, Sam. I don’t mind taking seconds.” I would never hear a politician ever say anything close to that again.



VOICE OF THE HILL – The Division boasts more than 25,000 books and other printed materials ranging from a relatively new acquisition, “Deaf Girls Rule,” a photographic essay of the 1999 champion Gallaudet University women’s basketball team to a rare antique book from 1866, “The Etiquette of Washington,” to several crudely bound self-published books by local authors. Washingtoniana’s rich and comprehensive archives are well known among the community of Washington historians, but the general public maybe unaware of the collection’s impressive scope. . . The Division’s extensive collection of maps dates back to 1887 and gives researchers a glimpse into the origins of their homes and neighborhoods. The building smells a lot older than its 31 years. The lack of climate control and musty odor aside, the library offers a gem on the third floor. Visitors should bypass the one working elevator, which is unnervingly slow, and dash up the stairs where history awaits them.


MARC FISHER, WASHINGTON POST – Jazz 90 was a radio rarity, a place where deejays chose their own music, where personal taste meant more than audience testing, where you didn’t need a perfect voice to be an announcer, just an infectious love for the music. “People built their collections based on what I played,” said Whitmore John, who kept nightbirds company on his midnight-to-6 shift for 11 years. “Students at Howard University would call me at 2 a.m. and talk about the music they were transcribing for the university band.”. . . Even as the Federal Communications Commission approved the sale this week, FCC Chairman Reed Hundt worried that the loss of Jazz 90 — in the most expensive transaction ever for a public station — could presage a dramatic reduction in the number of public radio stations around the country.


WASH POST, 2007 – Jake Einstein, a colorful radio innovator who launched the Washington area’s first alternative rock station, WHFS-FM, which left a lasting mark on the region’s music scene in the 1970s and 1980s, died Sept. 12 at his home in Potomac from emphysema and complications from an aneurysm. He was 90. . . In 1971, WHFS — then broadcasting at 102.3 FM — became Washington’s first 24-hour rock station and quickly blossomed into a cultural force. Mr. Einstein gave his young DJs freedom to broadcast whatever they wanted, and for the next 12 years WHFS was at the center of Washington’s progressive music scene, attracting a loyal following of students, musicians and young urbanites. It was the first local station to play such bands as REM, U2, Simple Minds, Depeche Mode and the Cure. It furthered the careers of then-undiscovered stars Bruce Springsteen, George Thorogood and Emmylou Harris, who sometimes showed up at the studio. WHFS played the records of many local groups as well, including Tru Fax & the Insaniacs, the Bad Brains and Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band. . . The station’s rock-and-roll DJs — who included Mr. Einstein’s sons David and Damian as well as Tom Grooms, Adele Abrams and Josh, Cerphe and Weasel — became known for their shrewd and esoteric musical selections drawn from the station’s 20,000-volume record library. They explored the byways of rock, blues, jazz, reggae and even classical music but seldom included tunes from the Top 40.


In 1960, Georgetown University received the broadcast license for FM frequency 90.1; it was one of the first on the FM signal granted by the Federal Communications Commission in the D.C. area. Throughout the ’60s, from the basement of Copley Hall, the station broadcasted on a five-mile radius and played regular religious programs and top-40 music. By 1970 however, the focus of the station had radically shifted to left-wing politics and music, blasting the Nixon administration instead of broadcasting Masses and pumping Frank Zappa instead of Tony Bennett. This alteration in programming gained a large following in the D.C. area especially in the Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle areas. But the staff’s rampant drug use and on-air language caused considerable tension between the administration and the station. The rift grew larger in 1974 when the station hired out space on American University’s radio tower, increasing its wattage to 6,000 and widening it’s broadcasting radius to 50 miles, all without toning down the content. Although the station was temporarily shut down twice in the ’70s, it was not put out of commission until 1979 when then-University President Timothy Healy, S.J. washed his hands of the station and donated Georgetown’s tower and broadcasting license to the newly established University of the District of Columbia for $1. UDC eventually sold that license in 1997 to C-SPAN Radio for $13 million.



DON ROUSE – In the 50s, Whelan led the band at one of the most popular jazz venues in DC, the Bayou. “Wild Bill” Whelan and his Dixie Six were locally famous and packed the place nightly. . .

In the 1940s Whelan was one of a group of kids at Western High (now Duke Ellington School of the Arts) in DC who turned to playing jazz. Fellow students who went on to play locally were Wally Garner, Charlie Howze, Larry Eanet, Jimmy Hamilton, Walt Coombs, Walt Gifford, and more. They wereready jamming in the band practice rooms at Western.

Whelan’s first long term successful venue was at the Charles Hotel (Willis Conover emceed). The Charles proved to be a venue so popular that the band outgrew it, leading Whelan to gravitate to the cavernous ancient warehouse on the Georgetown waterfront that eventually bore the name “The Bayou” (its name and ownership got changed after a murder there). . .

One night at the Charles, Bill recalled, a pianist sat down and played during intermission. Ever gregarious, Bill went over to him and said, “You know, you sound good. Keep it up, and I think you’ll make it.” Shortly after, Duke Ellington, the pianist, was introduced to the audience. Later Duke went over to Bill, smiled, and said, “So, do you really think I’ll make it?”.




Architect John Wiebenson died the way he lived – helping somebody and fixing something. He had gone to Martha’s Table to check out a fumed filled space below an old auto garage planned as part of the organization’s expansion. The fire department said later that only 16% of the air down there was oxygen, not enough to keep someone alive. In fact, for several hours the only people who went in wore gas masks and hazmat clothing.

But Wiebenson was not easy to dissuade once he decided something needed to be done. And he had imported to this capital of risk aversion some of the casual affection for adventure of the Colorado in which he had been raised. Wieb, as everyone called him, simply did what he thought had to be done.


Which is one reason there was housing for Resurrection City in the 1960s and the Old Post Office is still on Pennsylvania Avenue and some of the niftiest maps of DC were published and Bread for the City got a new headquarters.

Wieb was also one that tiny party of architects who really understand that buildings are meant to serve people and not the other way around. He also understood that one of the ways this happened was with spaces that made you happy. Joanne Leonard wrote in the Washington Post, “With cutout paper letters stuck to the window of his Connecticut Avenue office, John Wiebenson identifies himself and his partner, Kendall Dorman, as ‘basic’ architects.”

I knew that office well because for 23 years I was a subtenant in a back room at ridiculously low rent. It was a complicated arrangement because while I was Wieb’s tenant, he was my cartoonist, and I had the only fax machine on the floor. And the only bathroom. Wieb created for the DC Gazette (now the Progressive Review) the first urban planning comic strip in the country, Archihorse, a subtle blend of his professional and geographic background.

One of the things I noticed along the way was how comfortable Wieb was with something that either bores or baffles some architects – the details of making your dreams actually function. There was just no conflict in Wieb’s mind between imagination and results. It had to be different and it had to work.

His house was right around the corner on S Street where he lived with Abigail – his wife, anchor to windward, enthusiast, calmer down, brightener up, and head of Lowell School – plus three sons striving to outdo their father in independence, competence, and humor. They lived in an anarchistic mélange of styles, but mostly in a place that, while lacking the look, still somehow had the feel of a western cabin that you had just entered after a long ride in the snow.

It was there that Wieb had presided over Wild Man Nights, Friday meals at which he and his young sons would prepare and eat a meal without any utensils or normal table manners, picking up steaks in their hands and smashing baked potatoes with their fists while reading and discussing the latest comic books. Like most of what Wieb did or built, Wild Man Nights had several primary characteristics: they were different, they were fun, and they worked.

What you have read here over the years has been deeply affected by my proximity to this remarkable man who loved freedom and common sense and helped me to cling on to them. I hope I can still do it without his encouragement and laughter. – SAM SMITH, OCT 2003




Sam Smith, 2008 – One of the Wilson Building’s more honorable moments in its one hundred years currently being celebrated was the time in the late 1980s it was used as an emergency homeless shelter.

Tom Sherwood, then with the Post, described the situation in 1988:

When D.C. officials temporarily opened the District Building to the homeless during last week’s bitter cold weather, the compassionate move made national news. Mayor Marion Barry stood before television cameras last Tuesday and said, ‘While it’s cold, a warm building is better than a grate.’

Behind the scenes, however, the move came close to creating a public relations nightmare because city officials, citing logistical problems, later told advocates for the homeless that the building would be open only one night.

Advocate for the homeless Mitch Snyder threatened promptly to ‘march on the District Building’ in protest the next day, according to one city official. Barry then ordered aides to keep the building open two more nights-long enough to indicate that the symbolic move to help the homeless was also meaningful. . .

Aides to the mayor confirmed yesterday that some officials were concerned that the crowd of homeless people-about 50 to 60 each night-had created access problems for the officials who use the building. The District Building houses the mayor’s office, the D.C. Council and other high-level city offices.

“There were some concerns raised about the continued use of the building,” said John C. White, the mayor’s press secretary, “but the mayor overrode that because the mayor thought it was important . . . that the homeless were afforded shelter at the seat of government.”. . .

Homeless persons and families who cannot get into the city’s regular shelters, which often are full, are being taken to the Randall School at First and I streets SW, a converted school building used for government offices that can accommodate up to 200 persons, Streeter said. A bus has been stationed outside the District Building from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. each night to take homeless people to other shelters.

Barry opened the public buildings to the homeless after the council enacted emergency legislation introduced by Council Chairman David A. Clarke, who had proposed that the city use the expansive D.C. Armory near RFK Stadium. Although Barry and his aides had initially been critical of Clarke’s idea, they moved quickly to have the mayor sign the bill and then take credit for opening up the city’s principal public building.

I can’t recall how many nights the District Building was used, but I do remember the stunning sight of the long first floor corridor off of 13 1/2 Street filled with bunks that were set up late in the day and removed the next morning. It wasn’t enough, but one can’t imagine Fenty or the current council doing anything remotely similar.

The beds came back the next winter and that was the end of it, as reported by the Post on Christmas Day, 1989:

The District Building will no longer be used as a women’s shelter, the result of a Superior Court judge’s order last week, city officials said. The building, which had been used to provide beds for 54 women, was closed as a shelter beginning last night.

Sue Marshall, the mayor’s coordinator for homeless services, said the women will be moved to the Crummel School shelter in Northeast Washington. She said the trailers at Crummel meet the standards of an eight-month-old court order decreeing that the District improve conditions in its shelters. Last Thursday, Superior Court Judge Harriet R. Taylor ruled that the city has ignored the order and should be fined $30,000 a day, beginning tomorrow.

Sam Smith, Mutlitudes – Before long, I knew Washington and its environs like a cab driver and could quickly compute such arcane calculations as the shortest route from the White House to a six alarm fire in Upper Marlboro. I also knew every press room in town.

My favorite was at the District Building, which one entered through swinging doors reminiscent of a frontier bar. Inside were three desks, a center table and a worn-out sofa. The stuffing was coming out of the sofa and the covering was greasy and black from years of resting heads. After Watergate, a sign was posted above the press room sofa. It read, “Carl Bernstein slept here.”

The desks belonged to the three dailies. The Post and the Star desk were manned by men who looked much like other Washington journalists. Their suits were due two weeks ago at the cleaners, cuffs worn and pockets pulled out of shape by too many stenographer’s notebooks and too many news releases stuffed into them. The Daily News reporter had spent his morning and early afternoons in the District Building for more years than anyone including the gray-haired elevator operator at the end of the long hall could remember. Nothing frightened, surprised, upset or bewildered this man. Like a vintage bar room piano player, there were no new tunes in life. And if there were, he could fake them.

Much of the time the News man played solitaire. When his companions weren’t busy he would silently amble over to the center table, clear away the scrap paper and news releases and deal three hands.

The pale green walls had accumulated a half century of miscellany, written with bold copy pencils and fine pens, in illegible script and distinct printing. There were quotations from city officials of things they wished they hadn’t said. Clichés, malapropisms and by the telephone there were numbers running in every direction. Sometimes the numbers had a name beside them but most often there was nothing but the exchange and the digits. Not even the News man could have told you what more than a half dozen of them signified. They were the grave markers of stories long dead.


Washington Post – It was the total experience of being in a large urban department store — the impressive main aisle that ran from the G Street entrance to the F Street entrance. I remember the always crowded area by the row of elevators, the very cool Down Under section that connected the two buildings when Metro came to town in 1976; the stamp and coin department and the large, luminous chandeliers above the endless perfume, makeup and jewelry areas on the first floor.

One Saturday a month, my mom, sister and I would go in from our house in Silver Spring and meet my aunt for a fabulous lunch in the full-service restaurant upstairs in the South building. I remember the potato skin appetizer, the French onion soup, the Reuben sandwich and the glorious hot fudge sundae we were allowed for dessert. On special occasions, my grandmother would treat us to the special chocolate fudge cake only available at Woodies.

It wasn’t just the food. It was everything about this grand department store. I spent hours in the book section in the North building. It had a portrait studio, where the three of us kids went to have a surprise portrait taken for my parents’ anniversary present. It had great clothes and reasonable prices; a whole sewing and fabric section; a food and bakery section; and a cool toy department.

At Christmastime, to stand on the steps looking down at the G Street entrance and see the beautifully decorated store was breathtaking. It was always a treat to see the windows decorated with puppets and all the holiday trimmings. When we were very young, my brother, sister and I would shop in Santa’s Secret Shop to purchase the finest Christmas presents a dollar or two could buy us. For my family and me, Woodward and Lothrop is at the center of our memories of our downtown experience. — Michelle Brennan, Ellicott City


Washington Post – WPFW is the fifth station of Pacifica Radio, a progressive network founded in 1949 by maverick broadcaster Lewis Hill. WPFW began in 1977, in a very modest facility – a single room, divided into four segments. WPFW’s Blues man Nap Turner recalls the day he first came to the station. He was surprised to find that such a “big sound” was coming out of a corner where the turntables rested on crates.

From the beginning, WPFW has been the voice for alternative programming in the Washington metropolitan area. Since its inception, volunteerism has been at the heart of WPFW. Our own Von Martin, a volunteer, was the first voice to sign the station on a quarter of a century ago. Von began his first broadcast with Duke Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” and we’ve been the “Jazz Messenger” ever since.




During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Yenching Palace was one of the meeting sites of the personal intermediary of President John F. Kennedy and the Emissary of the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev. It was at the last of these meetings held at the Yenching Palace that final terms were agreed upon which ended the crisis and avoided war. The ABC television hour-long documentary, “The Cuban Crisis,” was filmed and narrated by reporter John Scali (later ambassador to the UN) at the Yenching Palace. Then, in 1971, when President Nixon initiated rapprochement discussions between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, the Yenching Palace was chosen for diplomatic and social exchanges between Secretary of State Kissinger and representatives of the Chinese delegation


MATT SCHUDEL, WASHINGTON POST – For almost 40 years, [Harry P] Zitelman owned and operated Bassin’s with his brother and sister, transforming it from a delicatessen serving sandwiches and hot dogs to a seven-room restaurant that became a Washington institution. As the colorful frontman, Mr. Zitelman presided over a varied clientele of politicians, journalists, government workers and actors from nearby theaters. The sprawling restaurant complex, which had four entrances, curved around the corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW and was within two blocks of the White House, the District Building, three newspaper offices and the National Press Club. . . Bassin’s didn’t offer the most challenging cuisine — corned beef sandwiches remained a staple throughout its 37-year reign — but it had a certain bustling panache, much of it supplied by Mr. Zitelman’s open-armed presence.

In 1959, he launched a determined effort to get sidewalk cafes approved by a skeptical D.C. government. Naysayers said that food served al fresco would be contaminated by grime and attract vermin. But, after more than two years, Mr. Zitelman won his victory. When he opened his sidewalk cafe Aug. 8, 1961, Washington instantly acquired a more sophisticated air, as more than 500 would-be boulevardiers crowded Bassin’s outdoor tables.

A year later, Mr. Zitelman persuaded the city’s alcohol control board to relax its Depression-era laws prohibiting the drinking of “any alcoholic beverage in any city street.”

DC Almanac P


MARY KAY RICKS– On the evening of April 15, 1848, 77 slaves quietly slipped away from their quarters in Washington City, Georgetown and Alexandria. In a light rain, they walked through the unpaved and mostly unlit streets of Washington to the Pearl, a 54-ton, bay-craft schooner waiting in the Potomac River. The runaways had worked in homes, boardinghouses and hotels. Most were enslaved descendants of Africans brought to the Tidewater area on Liverpool slave ships to be sold to tobacco planters in Maryland and Virginia.

Two days before departure, three white men brought the Pearl to a secluded spot near the Seventh Street wharf. Daniel Drayton (shown to the left), who chartered the small schooner for $100, later wrote in his memoirs that he always believed in the nobility of the cause although he was paid for his services. Drayton was in charge of arranging for the “cargo.” Capt. Edward Sayres, owner of the Pearl, was in charge of the ship and its one-man crew, a young sailor and cook named Chester English.

To reach freedom, the Pearl would have to travel undetected more than 100 miles down the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, then another 120 miles up the bay, across the Delaware Canal and along the Delaware River to New Jersey, a free state.

Close to midnight, the Pearl embarked in a light fog and moved little more than half a mile before the wind died. With the ship unable to go forward, the terrified passengers knew that they could not turn back. At daybreak on Sunday, with the Pearl just past Alexandria, the wind picked up. The ship was uncomfortably close to homes in which families abandoned by the 77 slaves were waking, startled to find no fires, no breakfast and no servants. Capt. Sayres opened his sails to speed south toward Point Lookout near the mouth of the Potomac. As the ship began to make good time, the passengers sang religious songs and listened to the young people read from Scripture. The older slaves probably could not read.

Not long after the Pearl reached Point Lookout, a powerful northwesterly squall arose, cutting off access to the bay. Drayton argued fiercely to take the ship south into the nearby Atlantic, but Sayres refused, saying his small craft could not handle rough seas. Instead, Sayres dropped anchor in a small cove called Cornfield Harbor, and Drayton suggested that everyone sleep.

Back in Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria that morning — as church bells heralded services and fire bells rang an alarm at the slave escape — authorities assembled a posse that headed for the usual country roads. Runaways were hardly uncommon; newspaper ads featuring an icon of a black man with a pole over his shoulder were routine. However, the scope of this escape was beyond anyone’s imagination. According to Washingtonian Vincent DeForest of the National Park Service, it was the single largest known escape attempt by enslaved Americans.

Meanwhile, a pursuing posse encountered a cab driver named Judson Diggs, who traded in information and goods. He knew about the escape and directed pursuers toward the river. Constables and civilians jumped aboard the Salem, a steamboat owned by the prosperous Dodge family of Georgetown, who reportedly owned slaves on the Pearl. The Dodges owned the only tobacco warehouses that remain today at the foot of Wisconsin Avenue.

The Salem steamed south and almost abandoned pursuit before discovering the Pearl in Cornfield Harbor. Several of the unarmed slaves rose to fight the boarding party, but Drayton persuaded them to surrender. The crew members were taken from the ship and interrogated. English, the young mate and cook, wept in fear. He argued persuasively that he believed that the 77 runaways were on a pleasure cruise, perhaps a picnic. He was later released.

On Tuesday, the Pearl was towed back to Washington. When it passed the wharves at Alexandria, the slaves were displayed in chains to angry whites. More crowds awaited them in Washington.



[Pennsylvania Avenue doesn’t look the way it was planned to look. The older buildings between the Capitol and the White House were saved not because of politicians, planners, or the major media — all of whom wanted to level the historic street. Rather they were saved by the efforts of citizens such as architect (and DC Gazette cartoonist) John Wiebenson and those in Don’t Tear It Down. In 1970, the Gazette described the situation.]

There are worse things happening to the city than in the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan, but few of them involve affronts to so many varieties of good sense as does the scheme to create a monumental connecting link between Capitol Hill and the White House. The Pennsylvania Avenue Plan is an outage against the District’s poor, a hoax on scores of small businessmen, a raid on the city’s tax base, a blow against governmental economy and an aesthetic abortion. Any one of these should be enough to condemn the project; together they raise the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan to the level of great symbolism, an image reflecting the gargantuan folly of a nation that has turned its back on its intrinsic needs in order to build hollow, futile monuments to a decaying culture . . .

[The National Capitol Planning Commission has voted to approve the razing of the old Post Office building] with the exception of the clock tower, which shall be encased in some suitably inappropriate structure. Stand and gaze at the building for a few minutes and then look at what is around it. What other city in the world with pretensions of greatness would destroy such a building?

The Willard Hotel will have to go also. And that, perhaps, is even worse than the destruction of the Post Office building . . . Carl Sandburg once remarked that “the Willard Hotel more justly could be called the center of Washington than either the Capitol or the White House or the State Department.” It is doomed by the presumptuous, pretentious architects of the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan . . . The Franklin School at 13th & K is scheduled to be sold by the District government . . . The magnificent old Evening Star Building at 11th & Penna. Ave. NW is scheduled to be torn down to make complete the plan. The National Bank of Washington, the Occidental Building and the National Theater are also marked for destruction. . . .

Since Pennsylvania is suppose to become a “monumental” boulevard, the plan is to make E Street a submerged expressway, drawing traffic off the avenue and carrying six lanes of traffic towards 14th St., where a crossing would occur in a tunnel under the proposed National Square, thus, perhaps, providing Washington with its first monumental underground traffic jam.

Walk up 14th Street and take look at the National Press Building. In testimony before the Senate on the Pennsylvania Ave. Plan there occurred this exchange between a Mr. Childs of the General Services Administration and Senator Bible:

CHILDS: [The National Press Building] was built prior to the advent and air-conditioning and the installation of air-conditioning.

BIBLE: Would you have to tear it down to modernize it, to bring air-conditioning in, to bring it into the 20th century?

CHILDS: It is usually more economical to do it.

BIBLE: Tear it down. Okay.

. . . These are dismal times, a period of our history that we shall hopefully pass safely through. There may not be much that we can do to hasten the process, but we can at least do ourselves and our country the simple favor of not memorializing our contemporary idiocies in marble and concrete along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Pension Fund


1998: While major local media shrug it off, Clinton’s raid on the DC pension fund attracted the attention of the major Wall Street newspaper, Investor’s Business Daily. IBD notes that the pension fund was raided so Clinton could come up with $1.1 billion for his teacher-hiring plan. That way he didn’t have to offset the new spending with cuts elsewhere.

IBD gives this summary:

— The fund contained $4.2 billion in assets, but its unfunded liabilities topped $4.8 billion. The problems started in 1980, when Washington was given home rule.

— President Carter deferred refunding the pension plan’s $2.06 billion unfunded liability until his second term, which never came.

— Congress never made good on Carter’s IOU, leaving the plan permanently underfunded.

— If the $2.06 billion had remained in the fund and been invested in the stock market, it would have grown to $5.5 billion, assuming a six percent rate of return — more than covering the current unfunded liability.

— Despite being hobbled, the district board ran the plan well enough that if it had been fully funded in 1980, the plan would now be overfunded by at least $1.35 billion.

Concludes IBD, “Thus, critics charge, the president and Congress did in one fell swoop what city officials couldn’t do in 17 years: turn the pension system into a financial wreck. And while borrowing from the fund may help the White House with its short-term spending plans, it could harm thousands of teachers and cost taxpayers as much as $25 billion because of the fund’s lost potential earnings.”

Perkins, Norval

YVONNE SHINHOSTER LAMB, WASHINGTON POST – Norval E. Perkins, a jazz aficionado whose earlier career in the D.C. government sounded several chaotic notes when he was chief officer of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, died July 21 [2006] of cancer at his home in Washington. He was 84. Mr. Perkins had a career as a geodetic researcher with the U.S. Army Map Service and was a jazz columnist before overseeing the District’s elections process from 1970 to 1976. . . He helped develop the first mail-in registration for the District. During his tenure, however, it seemed the city’s elections were constantly mired in problems. One year, it took 12 days to count ballots; another year, ballots toppled off trucks; in other years, computers went missing. In 1976, elections board members decided to reorganize and eliminate Mr. Perkins’s job rather than fire him. He appealed to the U.S. Civil Service Commission and was reinstated with back pay. . . Mr. Perkins was born in Chicago and grew up in Philadelphia with an early love of music. As a young boy, he collected jazz and classical music albums. He would sometimes sneak out of the house to frequent clubs with his stepsister, Carmen McRae, who became a well-known jazz singer.

SAM SMITH, MULTITUDES – My career as an ANC commissioner got off to a rocky start. It was reported in the Washington Post that I had won my race for advisory neighborhood commisioner by 179 to 112, for a total of 291 votes, the highest turnout in the city. In fact, I won by 168 to 37, meaning a total turnout of 205, one of the highest but not the highest. And I almost won by only 103 to 100.
On election night, after spending most of the day at the polls, I decided to go down to the Sheraton Park Hotel and watch the count. Kathy said to me, “Don’t you think you’re taking this a little too seriously?” But she was holding a Sunday school teachers’ meeting and I figured that if she was going to be tied up with the spiritual, I could attend to the temporal a while longer.

So I drove down to the Sheraton Park, took a couple of escalators to the catacombs where the count was underway and chatted distractedly with some of the other candidates who were also waiting for word of victory or defeat. Finally the sheet with the morning results for my district — familiarly known in those parts as 3CO7 — turned up. My opponent had slaughtered me 75 to 11 in the morning count.
Since I had counted some 35 people coming to the polls before two PM whom I had personally encouraged to vote, I was apparently on the way to one of the most humiliating defeats imaginable. At least two dozen people had smiled pleasantly at me, murmured encouragement and then gone in and voted for my opponent. I had — with flyers, coffees and telephone calls — organized the neighborhood against me. My opponent had barely campaigned. Harold Stassen never had it so bad.

I found Norval Perkins, the affable head of the Board of Elections. and tried to explain why a candidate with only 13% of the vote wanted a recount. He was noncommittal but added my district to his growing list of requested recounts.

Meanwhile I found the table where the evening ballots were being counted. Something was wrong. I had won the evening count 93 to 26. I checked each ballot. It was true.

I found Norval again. He tried to soothe me: “Maybe, Sam, you just have more evening friends than morning friends.”


Gordon Peterson has 37 years of experience covering news in the nation’s capital..He is a news anchor, reporter, writer, and producer whose documentary work has taken him to Northern Ireland, Israel, South Africa, Nicaragua, El Salvador, France, Rome, Cambodia, and Kuwait. He has several Emmy Awards for writing and producing documentaries and series. He is currently an anchor for Channel 7


“Doc” Eisenberg was a pharmacist. He bought Pearson’s Pharmacy from “old man” Paul Pearson on December 3, 1933, the same day he married Sarah. Doc told his new wife that they were going to Wisconsin for their honeymoon. They did . . . to Wisconsin Avenue. . .

Prohibition had just ended and he wanted to sell liquor in the pharmacy. To get a liquor license he had to borrow $50.00 from his friend, liquor dealer Milton Kronheim, another man who was also to become an institution in the Washington DC liquor business.

Doc was a unique liquor dealer. The Times Herald and the Evening Star. A full page ad asked “IS THIS MY CITY?” which editorialized about crime in Washington after an employee was mugged. “OLD AGE” featured a full page picture of his mother crocheting an afghan “THE FUTURE” pondered the cost of living and taxes in the year 2000 . . . not one of these social issue ads included a single liquor brand or a single price . . . just a signature at the bottom . . . Plain Old Pearson’s.

Doc loved the excitement he created. Everyone in Washington waited for Plain Old Pearson’s “One Hour One Cent Sales” and they lined up on Wisconsin and around Calvert Street to get a quart of Old Crow for a penny. One of Doc’s greatest coups was a feature in Time Magazine that reported on Pearson’s New York Stock Exchange Liquor Board which posted EVERY price of EVERY liquor brand in EVERY major store in the city.

And one of his greatest accomplishments involved a legal battle with Schenley Industries, a liquor titan at the time, which refused to sell Dubonnet to him because he sold it at a discount. Doc became one of the first clients of the law firm, Arnold and Porter (when it was Arnold, Porter and Fortas), which took the case and won . . . the beginning of the end of “so called” fair trade pricing.



What it Means

Any scout car, scooter, motorcycle, paddy wagon or footman available to take radio assignments, which are also known as “radio runs” or “runs”.

A request by a patrol officer to be held out-of-service, i.e., “Scout 66, Dispatcher, hold me out at 300 Indiana Avenue for a 10-7 Edward.) This means the officer wants to have lunch at that location, as the E-Edward means “eat,” ergo, out-of-service to eat. Or “Scout 66, Dispatcher, hold me out at 300 Indiana Avenue for a 10-7 R-Robert.” This means the patrol officer has to use the rest-room.

“Any Unit About Clear”
If all units are out-of-service on assignments, the dispatcher will ask this question to determine if a unit or units are finished with an assignment so they can take another assignment.

“No Report, 10-8”
“10-8” is the code for “back-in-service” (as in “Clear” of an assignment and ready to take another one.) “No Report” means that the situation that the unit handled does not require that a report be taken.

Designates a one-man unit.

Designates a two-man unit.

“On the Scene”
Assigned Units are required to inform the dispatcher when they arrive on the scene. The dispatcher then encodes this information into the computer system and starts the time check clock for that particular unit.

“Time Check”
When an officer is given an assignment, he/she has 30 minutes to handle that assignment. The dispatcher’s computer times each assignment. If the officer does not return to service in that time, the dispatcher will ask the officer if he/she needs a “time check.” This will allow the officer an additional 30 minutes. Depending on the assignment, this can be done for several hours.

“Both Units are Held”
As in “Both Units are held out-of-service.”

“KLG 610 Testing to Scout 67”
FCC requires that each dispatcher give this test to an out-of-service unit every hour on the hour. Each radio zone has its own coding, i.e., KLG 611, KLG 612, etc. The police unit which is the recipient of this “test” responds by saying: “Scout 67 10-99 (or 10-4) to KLG 610 (etc.), Dispatcher.”

As in, “I copy (understand) your transmission.

This means that an officer is in trouble and needs immediate back-up at his location. The officer gives his location, followed by “10-33”.

This is the code for a traffic accident. If it is with injuries, it is a 10-50 I-IDA.

This is the code for a bomb-threat.

APB Online



The Capital Underworld, 1932 – “Compared with New York and Chicago, Washington is not a wicked city. It experiences brief flashes of gang warfare which the local press tries to play up as important. It revels in the murder mysteries of Mary Baker, Navy Department clerk, and of Virginia McPherson, daughter-in-law of the assistant to the Secretary of War. It is baffled by the robbery of the Salvadorian Legation, accomplished as a larger consignment of Scotch whisky had arrived and was piled up in the rear garden. And it is horrified at the nocturnal operations of more than a hundred Negro degenerates who swooped down regularly upon the encamped Bonus Army as soon as it became dark. Compared with the big-time racketeering of New York and Chicago all of this probably is puerile and petty, but it plays an important and influential part in the life of the nation’s capital. Furthermore, Washington’s underworld has two or three distinctions of which in a modest sort of way it can really boast. One of these is the ease of securing immunity. The capital may witness few crimes, but in few cases is the culprit ever brought to justice. Another distinction is the complete and unrestrained freedom of the neighboring counties of Maryland, where an amazing White Slave traffic, operating through a chain of tea houses, furnishes recreation to capital residents. Finally, Washington probably boasts more small, independent bootleggers per capita than any other city in the country and has established a unique and universal system of liquor distribution. . . . Police occasionally interrupt these too-obvious law-breakers, but the great rank and file of bootleggers and petty criminals who ply their trade in the nation’s capital enjoy an immunity almost unsurpassed even in New York and Chicago. This is due to three factors. The first is the influence of Henry Mencken’s Free State of Maryland, which surrounds the District of Columbia on three sides. The second is the natural laziness of the capital police. The third is the prestige and pull exercised by so large a number of those enjoying official status, a factor which makes convictions difficult and disrupts police morale.”

Izzy Einstein, the famous prohibition agent, keeps a record of how long it takes to get a drink in various cities. DC comes out badly. Not only does it take an hour (as opposed to 11 minutes in Pittsburgh and 17 in Atlanta) but he has to ask directions from a cop.

Emmitt “Little Man” Warring and his brothers Leo Paul and Charles “Rags” run the numbers in the late 1930s. According to a Washington Post article by Nancy Lewis [3/1/87], “Emmitt, the ninth of 10 children born to a Foggy Bottom barrel maker and his Irish immigrant wife, was the leader of the brothers’ numbers business. Before then, in Prohibition, Warring had run the Washington area’s version of “Thunder Road,” bringing rye and corn whiskey from Prince George’s County and southern Maryland stills to the city’s “liquor drops,” using Georgetown teen-agers who drove “high-powered touring cars” for $50 to $100 a trip. The Warrings’ shift from illegal booze to illegal numbers — which they preferred to call the “commission brokerage business” — was soon bringing in $2 million a year, and Emmitt’s “Little Man” moniker described only his 5-foot 4 1/2 inch stature . . . The brothers operated out of a third-floor room at 2423 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, but their domain was all of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, and by 1936 they had at least 56 employees – the number listed on their income tax returns.” The brothers are indicted on tax evasion charges in 1938, but the trial ends in a hung jury. The second trial ends in a mistrial after the judge reports that Emmitt Warring has offered a juror $600 and given whiskey to a US Marshal to pass to the jury. The third trial ends after two months, when all three brothers pleaded guilty. The business keeps on and is earning at least $7.5 million a year by the late 1940s.

Progressive Review – There was a club on the edge of town owned by Jimmy LaFontaine. It was a club with standards, as Gaillard Hunt described in a Prohibition era novel:

Couldn’t sit here all night, tho. Have to do something, Do the usual thing — the best thing. Whatever happens eleven and ten is still twenty-one and aces still beat kings.

He slipped the bottle into his coat pocket and stood out in the street. Far down the street a taxi was coming. It slowed down as it got closer, then stopped. He got in and said, “Jimmy Lafontaine’s.”

About the time the taxi turned into Bladensburg road the whisky began to hit him. It made him less mad and the knot in his belly began to loosen, By the time they got to the place he was feeling almost good.

The doorman looked at him sharply, then shook his head. Peter tried to argue with him, but he only said, “You know the house rules. No one been drinking can get in.” He whistled to the taxi which was loitering in the drive and shut the door.

Peter got back in the taxi and. said, “Son of a. bitch. That guy’s idea of a drunk is same as Volstead’s. Let’s go back to town.”

The doorman was as famous as LaFontaine, as Shirley Povich described in a 1989 Washington Post article:
In the 1920s and ’30s there were also in Washington indoor sports such as dice-throwing, poker games, blackjack and track odds on the races everywhere. One temple of chance, located in Bladensburg, just across the District line, was known as “Jimmy’s;” it was impeccably conducted by the legendary Jimmy LaFontaine, who stood for no nonsense by anybody and was proud of a clientele that included many stylish Washington names.

At Jimmy’s a huge fellow named Josh Licarione frisked everybody at the door to help keep the peace. Licarione, it seems, had played football for a time at George Washington University. The story goes that after an especially heroic victory at Griffith Stadium, the president of GW was overjoyed enough to visit the team in the locker room and not only praised the gladiators but continued told them, “Any of you boys who are in the vicinity of my office, come in and pass the time of day with me.” That was when Licarione said, “By the way, where is that school of yours?”

Povich was wrong about one thing: the club wasn’t over the city line; it was on it. We had sometimes heard that one advantage of this was that if, for example, a raid were pending from the Maryland side, LaFontaine would simply lock the Maryland gates, giving his customers time to evacuate through the DC entrance. But Tom Kelly, who covered the beat, tells us it wasn’t as complicated: if there were reports of illegal activities, the called police department would simply say (with at least 50% certainty) that it wasn’t in their jurisdiction.

A Washingtonian who grew up in Brookland remembers hearing about the club and its ten to twelve foot wooden walls. He says a relative who once won a lot of money at the club was driven home by Fontaine’s security people to make sure he made it safely.


Adam Bernstein Washington Post – Starting in 1958, [Robert] Prosky began an affiliation with Washington’s Arena Stage that transformed him over 23 seasons and 130 roles from a struggling actor to one of the most versatile and prolific performers in a top regional theater.

He jokingly attributed his success to his paunch and prematurely gray hair, telling The Washington Post, “This hair and this gut are the two reasons I got started as an actor. I could play men 50 when I was 30, maybe 25. I could always play the funny fat man.”

He also excelled in drama and at one point called on memories of his father, a Philadelphia butcher with a seventh-grade education, for his interpretation of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”. . .

He once told The Post he turned down the role of a bartender on “Cheers” and was grateful not to have been a part of the hit comedy because “doing the same role for 6 1/2 years” sent a chill down his spine. . .

Looking back on his career, Mr. Prosky told The Post: “Survival is of utmost importance for an actor in this society. I remember doing a commercial with Arena actors Terrence Currier and Mark Hammer. We played bugs in tights and leotards, with wings pinned on our backs and a sequined number on our fronts. We were the price of the television set and we did a tap dance. When my eldest son saw it, he said, ‘Dad, do we need the money that badly?’. . . “At the time, I recall, I was performing Willy Loman in the evenings.”


In 1863 General Meade replaced General Hooker three days before the Battle of Gettysburg. Meade will only have a fort named after him, while Hooker lends his name to a whole synonym. The following is from a report by the Smithsonian Institution on archeological work done near the site of the National Museum of the American Indian:

“With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the sleepy town of Washington was dramatically transformed as its population swelled with newcomers. The new arrivals included many men who had signed up to fight for the Union. Throughout the war, thousands of soldiers were encamped throughout the city, either awaiting orders to fight, manning forts to protect the Union capital from Rebel attack, or languishing from disease or wounds in hospitals throughout the city. Along with the soldiers came government bureaucrats, freed and escaped slaves, businessmen, salesmen, and con men, as well as the camp followers and prostitutes who sought to profit from the increased demand for their services. The Army’s provost marshal, who kept a list of the city’s bawdy houses during the war ostensibly to keep them under surveillance, concluded that there were 450 registered houses in Washington in 1862. While some prostitutes worked in brothels, the majority probably plied their trade as streetwalkers. By 1863, the Evening Star newspaper estimated that Washington had about 5,000 prostitutes . . . When the war came to a close, Washington remained overcrowded, and its roads, parks, and the canal were in shambles as a result of four years of overuse and neglect. The area between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Mall, which is presently occupied by the Federal Triangle complex, had become an infamous crime-ridden neighborhood rife with the stench of the nearby canal, which had become little more than an open sewer. Known for its rampant prostitution, the area was widely referred to as Hooker’s Division, a wry double entendre. Indeed many of its occupants were “hookers,” a term for prostitutes used since the early nineteenth century. Furthermore, the region was reported to have been visited frequently by the troops in Union General Joseph Hooker’s division, which was encamped nearby.” MORE


Where your laws are made  — and broken

Spare a moment from the grim phalanxes of local cops to notice something important about Washington in April: it is quite beautiful. This month and the one that follows are, in fact, those in which the natural and the made city are most at odds with one another. Spare a moment also for a walk by the Potomac River or in Rock Creek Park. It will remind you of what a world without phalanxes of international bankers and local cops might be like.

Spare a moment from macro politics to observe an oft-ignored fact. The oppressed lands are not only on other continents, but under your feet. DC is a colony in the precise meaning of the term, all the more so because so few seem to notice. It is especially nice, albeit rare, when those who come here to cure the sins of the world include our menial status among them.

This town is filled with pompous and silly people who believe being somber is the same as being serious. Not taking them as seriously as they take themselves throws them, as they would say, off their game. People who attend World Bank and IMF conferences are even sillier, because they sit in limousine-created traffic jams for forty minutes in order to travel a distance they could have walked in twenty. In fact, in recent years DC has been disrupted been far more by IMF limousines than by any other form of demonstration. No one in the limousines has ever been arrested for disrupting traffic.

Otherwise, DC has handled demonstrations pretty well with the glaring exception of a May Day protest in the early 1970s when 12,000 people were locked up in what was the greatest abuse of police power in a single day in American history. Mayor Walter Washington refused federal demands that he shoot looters during the 1968 riots and Marion Barry’s administration had few gripes with many of the demonstrations and the official response reflected that. Barry also had an emergency management team that kept its cool and helped the feds keep theirs. Now it’s different. The federal government has resumed control of the city and the mayor and city council are little more than colonial aparatchiks with about as much power over city’s direction as an Amtrak engineer has over the direction a train. Further, not the mayor, not the police chief, nor the emergency planning director has ever faced a major protest demonstration in this city. And, despite incessant talk about good management, competence is in short supply these days. During the Barry years, things the mayor wanted to get done got done right; those he didn’t care about didn’t. These days what the mayor wants doesn’t seem to matter all that much.

Not everyone who acts like a young Republican is one. A lot of them are young Democrats. A lot of the others are young journalists.

Don’t expect the oppressed peoples of DC to rise up in the name of global justice. The last time any sizable number of locals took part in a demonstration was in the 1960s — over a rise in the bus fare. This town filled with people — black and white — who have done better than their friends and relatives back home, have spent a lifetime gaining some respect and aren’t about to risk it for something as nebulous as global justice.

Older Washingtonians also remember the 1968 riots, which isn’t that hard to do since there are still plenty of scars. Trashing property in DC can bring back some bad memories.

This is a 60% black city undergoing socio-economic cleansing. One suburban county has so many black former DC residents that it is known here as Ward 9. But it’s no joke. Here are just a few of things that have happened since the federal government took over in the mid-nineties: huge budget cuts of which 60% of the burden fell on the poor; closing of four of the city’s ten health clinics; slashing the number of public health workers; cutting the budget for libraries, city funded day care centers, welfare benefits, and homeless shelters; creation of a tax-subsidized private “charter” school system; dismantling the city’s public university including a massive cut in faculty, destruction of the athletic program and elimination of normal university services; selling the city’s public radio station to C-SPAN; transferring prisoners to private gulags hundreds of miles away; a presidential rip-off of the city’s pension funds to help balance the federal budget; loss of a regular federal payment for the first time in a century; a dramatic increase in the number of lock-ups including for traffic stops; and the subjugating of the elected school board to an appointed board of trustees.

This is a black city whose roots go back many generations; ten percent of its black population was free even in the early 19th century. During the early years of this century, DC was the intellectual and cultural hub of black America, including influential Howard University; the city was what the Harlem renaissance was before there was Harlem. You can get a feel for this story by visiting the U Street strip of bars and restaurants, once Washington’s “black Broadway,” and now (along with omni-ethnic Adams Morgan) a favored evening destination.

This is a bi-racial city — actually the first city of the new south although it never got the credit — which has handled its ethnic problems better than many places. Part of the reason is that it is too small a city to deal for long with abstractions like race and class. Within five minutes the discussion gets down to personalities. We all know the SOBs and that they come in all colors.

There is a progressive media in Washington but if you hold more than two events at the same time they may not all be covered. If we were spotted owls instead of progressive journalists you wouldn’t be allowed to build within ten miles of our favorite bars.

There is a mainstream media in Washington but if you hold even one event it probably won’t show up because it has already written the story, and you’re not in it. The only investigative reporting in town is done by actors in bad TV shows. When mainstream reporters say that they “cover” a beat, they really mean it.

The publisher of the Washington Post, Donald Graham, is pround that he was once a DC cop. Which may why his paper sometimes reads like an FOP newsletter when discussing the police. It spends much of the rest of the time quoting the aforementioned pompous and silly people or having its own writers say things these people will like, such as words like “gravitas” and “appropriate.”

DC is a good place for blacks, women, and gays but a terrible place for progressive ideas. Which illustrates the limits of identity politics.

The city does have a progressive tradition but it is being socio-economically cleansed along with everything else. It lives on in such places as the newly merged DC Statehood and DC Green parties as well as in the young and black Umoja Party (which got ballot status the first it tried). The bi-racial DC Statehood Party held public office for much of its 30 years and back in the early 1970s not only supported statehood but neighborhood housing banks, public ownership of key commercial strips, proportional representation, low-rent facilities in new for small businesses, stalls for artisans, craftsmen and other small operators, the construction of public markets, a national guaranteed income, ownership of liquor stores by neighborhood cooperatives, legalization of gambling, prostitution, marijuana use and drug addiction; free abortions on demand; cooperative control of cable television; youth representation on legislative and other governing councils; creation of an equal service commission to ensure equal distribution of public services; neighborhood participation in the selection of police officials; and an ecological commission with the power to halt or alter projects and practices detrimental to the environment. This was during a time when some folks also tried to grow trout in Adams-Morgan basements. During a brownout, however, all the trout died.

As for weather, the advice of Mark Twain remains the best, “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.”

Finally, two things to remember. The first is from the late blues singer Leadbelly, “It’s a bourgeois town.” The second is from the late blues DJ, ‘Bama Washington: “Ninety percent of the people in DC spend ninety percent of their time bragging about how great they are, but they can’t brag and move at the same time, so while they’re standing there talking, you just slip on by.” — April, 2000

Exercising Your Rights  Of Political Protest  In Washington, DC

Prepared by the Washington, DC Chapter
of the National Lawyers Guild
for the 2000 World Bank/IMF Demonstrations

The Washington, DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has prepared this document to give general legal information to people seeking to press progressive political issues in Washington, DC. The information is intended to assist people who have already independently decided to engage in civil disobedience.

WORKING DRAFT as of 3/31/00 — subject to later changes and additions.

1. Introduction

Washington, DC has a long and full history of political protest. Police and other authorities here are probably more accustomed to demonstrations than in any other city. Still, overreactions are not unknown. We have had a great deal of success in securing permits for demonstrators who want a legal event and in negotiating with police and prosecutors in a reasonable way when demonstrators decide to engage in civil disobedience. The police often try to intimidate protestors into not exercising their First Amendment rights, and arrests are sometimes rougher than necessary.

These materials are offered as a way of disseminating information to anyone considering a demonstration in Washington, DC. They are prepared in preparation for the IMF and World Bank meeting in April, 2000, but we have tried to provide a range of materials that will be useful for most any protest. We try to mention political concerns and choices as they arise, but please keep in mind that often there is a big difference between politics and law. We try to help you understand the legal process to some degree so you can make informed choices, but the most important thing is for you to think through everything ahead of time and decide what you want to do in any given situation before it happens.

2. Important disclaimer — do not skim!

The following overview is not meant to be exhaustive, nor is it intended to substitute for personal legal advice. Each person contemplating exercising his/her political rights in a public forum needs to understand that he/she may have special legal problems. For instance, someone who is on probation or parole for some other offense (perhaps, but not necessarily, political) may have particular legal problems that cannot be covered in this hand-out. Additionally, people who are not U.S. citizens may encounter special legal problems; we do have a section that discusses this topic, but it is by no means exhaustive. Similarly, if there are warrants out for your arrest, you need to be very careful about your contacts with the police — an arrest here will likely lead to your extradition to whatever jurisdiction wants you. Finally, juveniles under the age of eighteen are dealt with differently than adults. The advice in this manual is geared towards adults.

If you need personal legal advice, you should consult with a lawyer on an individual basis. If you have any doubts about whether you have special circumstances, seek legal assistance.

Additionally, there is a difference between what you are legally entitled to do in a theoretical sense, and what the police on a particular occasion are going to let you do. The police act under the orders of their commanders, who in turn get their orders from others higher up in the government. Accordingly, whether or not a particular police action violates your constitutional rights in an abstract sense (e.g. an order to clear the area), the order may be enforced because someone in control (e.g. a Secret Service officer for the President) orders it.

In such circumstances, remember that the police carry automatic weapons, clubs, tear gas, pepper spray, and other lethal weapons. They are trained in crowd control, are often in good physical shape, may have beat people up in the past, and regularly arrest people and book them into the jail. Personal safety is therefore paramount. Think about it before you insist on vindicating your rights.

3. Special considerations for non-citizens

All applicants for admission to the United States have to satisfy the immigration officer who inspects them at the border to see that they are admissible to the United States “beyond a doubt.” This requires satisfying both the documentary and substantive requirements. Except for Canadians, most people need a passport and a visa. It is generally permissible to travel to the U.S. as a “visitor for pleasure,” for “legitimate activities of a recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment and activities of a fraternal, social or service nature.” Employment is not permitted even where the only remuneration is room, board and pocket change.

All applicants for admission, including those with visas, can be interrogated at the border about their admissibility. A friendly attitude will improve your chances for admission. The most common reason for refusal is vagueness about the purpose and duration of your itinerary, or a lack of firm ties to your home country (like residence, job, family, property) that would convince the officer you will return home within the time allowed.

Confessions of prior illegal activity, like drug use, or past criminal record will also lead to refusal of admission, as would announcing plans to violate the law in the U.S. Even evidence that raises a suspicion in the mind of the officer may be enough, as the burden of proof is on the applicant. Thus a van full of picket signs, banners, and leaflets will likely lead to refusal of admission — perhaps without a legal basis, but a remedy might come too late to accomplish the visitors’ purpose to participate in legal expressions of opinion at a specific event in the U.S. In this regard, it is important not to lie to an immigration officer about your purposes in the United States. Lying to gain admission to the U.S. may lead to very serious sanctions.

The Supreme Court has recently held that the government may target non-citizens because of their lawful First Amendment activities. A conviction in the United States for protest activities can have serious consequences for non-citizens, including deportation or exclusion the next time the person wants to enter the United States. It can also harm your chances of obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident status or citizenship. In short, we believe that all activists need to recognize that the US government is very hostile to non-citizens, who are particularly vulnerable and should be extremely cautious.

If you have further questions or specific concerns in regards to immigration, you should speak with an immigration lawyer. There is also a great deal of information compiled by the National Immigration Law Center,, and especially /removcrimindex.htm

4. Minors

People under the age of 18 years are treated differently than adults. Those who are obviously under the age of 18 are usually separated from the adults upon arrest. Juveniles are often released at the arrest site or processing facility. Police may be gentler with juveniles but there are no guarantees.

If the youth is not going to be picked up by a parent or legal guardian, he or she may be able to use a permission slip stating that he or she is not a runaway, that he or she has parental permission to be at the demonstration and providing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of one or two people who can pick up the youth. Obviously, this will take some advance planning and is not a legally binding guarantee of the youth’s release. The officer may still require a legal guardian to be present. Make sure that a parent or guardian may be reached by telephone for contact by the officer or the legal support person.

Juveniles who are charged with crimes usually (with the exception of serious offenses) are charged in juvenile court. Juvenile court differs from adult court because juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial. In many (but not all) cases, the sentences are not as severe as in adult court. All juveniles have the right to a lawyer just as any adult has that right.

5. DC Is Different

For some reason, many activists coming to Washington for the first time have heard about the many different police forces we have here and are concerned about that factor. There is no reason to be. You will see a broader variety of uniforms here than in other cities, but that¹s about all there is to it. Here is what to expect.

The Metropolitan Police Department is the primary city police force, responsible for the public streets and non-federal buildings. Most of the parks, monuments, and the grounds surrounding some federal buildings are protected by the United States Park Police. Federal Protective Services, through the General Services Administration, protects federal buildings for agencies that do not have their own police forces, although many do. A Washington protestor is likely to encounter Metro Police, US Park Police, US Capitol Police, Uniformed Secret Service, Defense Protective Services, and the FBI. There are many more, too numerous to list. Although they all have defined jurisdictions, during a protest the lines will blur. Officers can and will make arrests even outside their primary area of responsibility. Processing can be done at any number of local or federal facilities. Charges are usually possible under the DC Code or under federal laws. Trials for charges under the DC Code and even for many minor federal charges are conducted in the DC courts, although serious federal crimes can be tried in the US District Court. In other words, it is entirely possible to be arrested by a Park Police officer, taken to a Metro district to be processed, charged with a federal crime, and tried in the DC courts.

Strange as this may seem at first, it really is nothing to be concerned about. Attorneys and legal observers trained by the National Lawyers Guild and the National Conference of Black Lawyers will be on site, documenting what jurisdictions are making the arrests and trying to find out where protestors are being taken. Additionally, the designated support person in your affinity group should make contact with the legal team after the others are arrested. And you should have an outside support telephone number written on your arm so you can let someone know where you are. With an action the size of A16, we can expect lots of jurisdictions and processing facilities to be involved. The bottom line is that arrests will be conducted by people with the physical ability to do so, regardless of jurisdictional niceities, and prosecutors will decide how to charge you. We will work with whatever specifics work themselves out in the end.

6. A Few Common Charges Resulting From Protest Activities

The promise of capitalism is choice, and the police and prosecutors have the resources to select from a vast menu of criminal charges. The same action often can result in very mild or severe charges, at the discretion of the prosecutor. We cannot know in advance what route they will take. However, here are some of the most common charges arising from protest activities that we expect to see again. Remember that the fines and jail time listed are the maximum possible penalty for each offense. The judge has the discretion to give any sentence up to the maximum — and we can never predict what each judge will do.

A. DC Charges

Incommoding. This is blocking vehicle or pedestrian traffic on the streets, sidewalks, and other walkways. This is by far the most common charge we see when protestors sit down in the street. Sidewalks are trickier because you generally have a right to engage in free speech activities on the public sidewalks; but if you so clog them that no one else can use the sidewalks, you might be charged with incommoding. Maximum penalty is a $250 fine and/or 90 days in jail. DC Code § 22-1107. The charge of disorderly conduct is essentially the same. DC Code § 22-1121.

Failure to obey a Police Officer. Often called “failure to disperse,” this charge is possible when the police decide to close a street or clear a path and you refuse to move. The order they give you must be “lawful,” which means that if the police issue an unconstitutional order, there is no offense in ignoring it. But police authority is very broad and we won¹t know if the order was unconstitutional until trial. If the order turns out to have been lawful and you failed to obey it, you can be fined $100-$1,000. DC Muni. Reg. §§ 18-2000.2 & 2000.10.

Unlawful entry on property (trespassing). Remaining on private property after being told to leave is punishable by a fine up to $100 and/or up to 6 months in jail. For government buildings and the surrounding land, there must be some reason that you have been asked to leave, such as to prevent disruption or to maintain security. DC Code § 22-3102.

Resisting or interfering with a police officer is a violation of the same law as assault on a police officer (below). You may not stand in the path of an officer (especially if they are trying to make an arrest) or pull away from them or help another person to pull away from an officer trying to make an arrest. In addition to violating this law (which is quite serious in itself — up to 5 years), you may be charged with aiding and abetting (below). Resisting arrest is unlawful even if the officer has no rightful basis for arresting you.

Failure to appear. If you have ever been arrested before and did not come to court when instructed to do so, there is a possibility that a warrant will have been issued for your arrest for “failure to appear.” Outstanding warrants of this kind from other parts of the country may or may not show up during processing, depending on how thoroughly the jurisdiction where you were arrested has sought the assistance of other jurisdictions. It is best, and probably likeliest, to assume that the authorities here will know if you skipped a court date anywhere else in the country. Failure to appear for a DC court date is a separate offense, so beyond the penalties for whatever you were first arrested for, you can be fined up to the maximum for that offense, and/or an additional 180 days in jail. DC Code § 22-1110(3)-(4).

False statement. This can come up with forms you are asked to complete before being released. If you put something untrue on a form that says making a false statement is punishable by criminal penalties, you can be fined $1,000 and/or be sentenced to 180 days in jail. DC Code § 22-2514.

The following charges are inconsistent with compliance with the Nonviolence Code of Conduct that everyone involved in the A16 action has agreed to follow. We therefore do not expect to see these, but mention them in case of overcharging by the police.

All participants in this particular action are asked to agree to these action guidelines. Having this basic agreement allows people from many backgrounds, movements, and beliefs to work together. They are not philosophical or political requirements or judgments about the validity of some tactics over others. These guidelines are basic agreements that create a basis for trust so that we can work together for this action and know what to expect from each other. 1) We will use no violence, physical or verbal, towards any person 2) We will carry no weapons 3) We will not bring or use any alcohol or illegal drugs 4) We will not destroy property

Assault on a Police Officer. Any unwanted touching of a police officer is an assault. Touching anything they are holding (nightstick, bullhorn, etc.) is the same as touching the officer. Same for throwing anything at an officer, even if you only accidentally hit them. This is a serious offense, a felony, with a possible $5,000 fine and/or 5 years in prison. DC Code § 22-505.

Destruction of property. Less than $250 in damage is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and/or 180 days in jail. More than $250 in damage is a felony, with a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and/or 10 years in prison. DC Code § 22-403. Even if there is no “destruction,” there is a separate crime of defacing public or private property. DC Code § 22-3112.1.

Also, you should know that these charges exist, although it would be very unusual to see them brought against protestors:

Kidnapping. It is possible to be convicted of kidnapping for confining someone against their will, even without transporting them anywhere. Be very careful about blocking all the exits of hotels and offices. It is an extremely serious offense — you can be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Aiding and Abetting. We have not seen this charge used much, but it is possible that if you help someone commit a crime, you can be charged even if you do not take any actions personally. If you assist them before the crime is committed, you can be charged with the same offense. DC Code § 22-105. If you assist the person after they have committed the crime, you can receive a penalty up to half of the maximum they are subject to. DC Code § 22-106.

Conspiracy. Similar to aiding and abetting, when two or more people work together to do something illegal, they can both be charged with the additional offense of conspiracy. Maximum punishment is a $10,000 fine and/or 5 years in prison. DC Code § 22-105a.

Unlawful assembly; profane and indecent language. Most jurisdictions have laws like this on the books. As applied to political protest and speech, they are generally unconstitutional and unenforceable. Only individuals in the crowd who become violent or threatening can be convicted under this law. Maximum punishment is $250 fine or 90 days in jail. DC Code § 22-1107.

Obstruction of justice. Interfering with a police officer is illegal. Please see resisting or interfering with a police officer above, as the conduct described there is a serious crime. However, bad television has confused some people as to what “obstruction of justice” means. It is not illegal to tell someone being arrested to keep quiet, to ask for a lawyer, etc. It only becomes obstruction of justice if you threaten a witness, intending to intimidate them into refusing to testify truthfully, or if you destroy evidence. DC Code § 22-722(a) & 723. You never have to talk to the police. Sometimes a prosecutor might be able to subpoena you, but then you will have an official document ordering you to answer questions, and you will have time to get legal assistance before doing so. Absent an arrest, you do not even have to identify yourself to the police.

B. Possible federal charges

Finally, there are various federal laws that might come into play in a city like Washington. Demonstrations in most parks in this city are regulated by 36 C.F.R. § 7.96(g), which specifies when permits are required and what types of activity are prohibited. Violating any of those rules is punishable by fines and up to six months in jail, under 36 C.F.R. § 1.3.

Destruction of federal property is a serious crime. If you do anything less than $1,000 in damage it is punishable by a fine and/or up to 1 year in prison; more serious damage can lead to up to 10 years in prison.

Assault on a foreign official (maximum 3 years for simple assault and up to 10 years if a weapon is used; 18 U.S.C. § 112(a)) and intimidation or harassment of a foreign official (up to 6 months in jail; 18 U.S.C. § 112(b)) protect the person, accommodation, and car of any “official guest.”

Assaulting, resisting or impeding a federal official is similar to the DC laws discussed above, except there are maximum punishments of 1 to 10 years, depending on whether a weapon was used. 18 U.S.C. § 111.

Finally, the constitutional limitations and exceptions for violating the rules or regulations of a federal building (maximum 30 days and/or a $50 fine) are the same as the similar charges under DC laws listed above.

7. Know ahead of time what your rights are and how you plan to react to the threat of arrest

This is one of those personal political decisions we mentioned. You have to make a decision about whether you are prepared to be arrested. Do you see being arrested as part of a political statement that you are committed to making? Would you prefer not to be arrested but are willing if the police try to prevent you from expressing your political views? What are you going to do when the police start arresting protestors?

Read the other materials, talk with other activists, attend trainings, and decide what you believe now. On the street in the thick of a demonstration is not the time to consider these sorts of major personal political choices for the first time. Here are a few legal tips to keep in mind as well.

When a police officer states that you are under arrest, it is serious. Do not run away — this is a separate crime. Resistance (even of the passive variety) could lead to other charges.

DEMAND TO SPEAK TO A LAWYER! Ask to talk to one immediately if you are being questioned by the police or if you are at all confused by what the authorities are doing. In any case, you may not be given access to a lawyer, but demanding one will often make the cops stop bothering you.

Upon arrest, do not say anything to the police except “I want to remain silent. I want to speak to an attorney.” Anything else that is said to the police may be recorded, turned, twisted and manipulated to make you look guilty. Do not say anything to the police. You have a constitutional right to remain silent and to have a lawyer –exercise this right.

If you decide not to give your name and address to the police, as a practical matter you will likely be held in jail pending trial, booked as a “John/Jane Doe.” Giving your name may allow you to either be released on your own recognizance or post bail, but doing either of these will be difficult if you refuse to give your name. CAUTION: It may be the crime of false statement to give a phony name to the police.

Similarly, if you are asked to waive any rights — i.e. consent to a search of your person or car — do not agree to anything without consulting with a lawyer first. Tell the officer that you are not consenting to anything and want to speak to a lawyer immediately. Do not sign anything until you talk to a lawyer.

On the other hand, if you feel you are being physically mistreated (i.e. handcuffs on too tight), you should inform the arresting officer of that fact and ask him or her to note your complaint in his/her report. Request that the arresting officer identify him or herself to you, and ask to speak to a commanding officer if the situation is not rectified.

Resist the temptation to try to argue with the police or convince the officer of the error of his or her ways. This will likely only annoy the officer, and can also be used against you at trial.

Two other bits of information:

— The police do not have to say anything to you upon arrest, including telling you your “rights” or what you are being arrested for.

— Absent an arrest situation, if a police officer approaches you (on the street, for instance) and asks you to identify yourself, you do not have to do so. There is no requirement generally that individuals identify themselves to police officers or carry identification cards (except while driving). If this happens to you, politely decline to identify yourself and ask the officer if you are under arrest or if you are free to leave. If he/she responds that you are free to leave, do so.

8. What happens when you are arrested

As we mentioned above, in DC you might be arrested by any number of police forces, federal and local. There are also many processing facilities, again both federal and local, and who arrests you does not necessarily indicate where you will be processed.

During processing, you will be asked for identification. If you provide it, the police will check for any outstanding warrants for your arrest. At some point, the police and prosecutors will decide which of the following options to exercise. If you refuse to give your name, their options are limited to releasing you without charge or booking you into jail (as Jane/John Doe).

Release without charge

In some cases, the police will arrest demonstrators, transport them away from the scene of the protest (sometimes many miles away), get personal information, and then release them onto the street without charge. This might occur if the police are unsure if any crime was really committed and just wanted to clear the area. Prosecutors may then be consulted to see what, if any, charges will be filed. The prosecutors can then take anywhere from a few days to a few months to decide to file charges against you.

If this happens to you, you will be asked to give an address — giving a false address is a separate crime. If the prosecutors decide to charge you later, they will likely mail notice of your court date to the address you give the police. If notice is mailed to a bad address, it will be returned and you won’t get notice of the court date. A warrant for your arrest will then issue.

Citation release (“cite out”)

Sometimes, the police will write you a citation to return to court and release you from custody. This option will not be used if you do not give the police your name and address. Also, you are obliged by law to sign the citation, acknowledging only that you received it and promise to appear in court in the future. You are not waiving any rights or admitting guilt by signing the ticket. If you do not sign the citation, you will be booked into jail.

Again, giving a false address can lead to further charges. The ticket should have information on the back about how to find out when the court date is. While officers are required to file citations within 48 hours, they don’t always do so and it may require several phone calls to find out when court will be.

Post and forfeit

DC has the option of “post and forfeit,” where you pay (“post”) a set amount of money (a small amount) and forfeit the right to ever get the money back. You are then released, and you never have to return to court. It is not the same as a guilty plea, and does not become part of your record. It is not a criminal conviction. It is considered an administrative adjudication of your arrest, and is akin to receiving and paying a traffic ticket. If this option appeals to you, you may want to have at least $50 in cash. (In certain circumstances, you can post a small amount of money and request a court hearing to determine the outcome of the arrest. We do not expect this option to be available however on April 16.)

Booked into jail

Finally, the police can decide to hold you. Jails in DC are crowded, and you can be held at Central Holding, any of the six Metro Police District Headquarters, various federal facilities, or an ad hoc facility such as Andrews Air Force Base if the number arrested and held is very large.

If held in jail, you must be brought before a judge within 48 hours, at which time the prosecutor must state why you are being held and provide a very small amount of evidence to show that there is a sound basis for thinking you may have violated the law.

What to expect at arraignment

Prepared October 20002 by Justice & Solidarity Collective

An arraignment is a very simple and short process. It is where you are formally charged with a criminal offense, enter a plea, may get assigned a lawyer, and set a trial date. The prosecutor (in DC this person is called the corporation counsel, although a US Attorney may also prosecute your case) is the person who decides what will you be charged with, not the police. The prosecutor considers the recommendation of the police but may decide to change the charge(s) the police recommended or add or reduce the number of charges. So, what the police told you your charges were may or may not be what you are actually charged with at your arraignment. The arraignment charges are the charges which you will be tried on . Or, the prosecution may decide not to charge you at all or (no paper you) before your arraignment.

Most criminal defendants plead not guilty. There are a number of reasons for you to plead not guilty, too.

1) Many people are arrested unlawfully (without having broken the law). Even if you broke a law, it may have been an unjust law that is worth challenging. Just because someone passes a law or gives an order doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have the right to do something. Think about those who challenged segregation laws and the women who had abortions when it was outlawed!

2) Even if you did “break the law” the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to the fact finder (judge or jury) that you did – you don’t have to prove that you didn’t commit the crime. Even if you are found guilty there is no penalty for entering a not guilty plea.

3) Usually you negotiate with the prosecution to get something, such as reduced charges or a lesser sentence, in exchange for entering a guilty plea – there will be plenty of opportunities to do this during the course of your case. If you choose not to enter a plea and remain silent (for example, to protest that you were silenced during the demonstration) or enter a creative plea (such as, “I plea for the right to expresses dissent!”) the Judge will enter a not guilty plea for you.

4) The DC Superior Court is not ordinarily set up to take guilty pleas at the arraignment stage. So, if you are interested in entering a guilty plea, you must let the Collective or your lawyer know as soon as possible so that they can make the necessary arrangements to try to make that happen.

You may or may not have a court-appointed lawyer at your arraignment. In DC, you are entitled to a lawyer only if your charge(s) carry a jail sentence of more than six months – the charges of failure to obey and parading without permit do not carry any jail time. So, you do not have the right to a lawyer paid for by the State. You, however, are free to hire a lawyer, or try to get a lawyer to represent you pro-bono (free) or lo-bono (at a reduced rate). The collective has extremely limited resources and cannot provide a criminal lawyer for anyone. If you are interested in hiring a lawyer we can put you in touch with one, however, you probably don’t need one at the arraignment stage.

Because it is such a simple process you can do it yourself (DIY!). The Judge will call the case, and the Clerk will read off the charges: The person responding (again, either the Lawyer or the pro-se defendant) – you, will say, “Laura Lawyer, representing Donna Defendant, who is present. We will waive a further formal reading of the Information, enter a plea of not guilty, would request a trial date of _______, and would ask that Donna Defendant remain on her personal recognizance.”

If you do have a lawyer you will be asked to stand behind her and she will do most of the talking. However, if she says something you don’t like be sure to tell her before the arraignment is over. One unobstructive way of doing this is asking the Judge for a moment to confer with counsel.

The prosecution may try to convince the Judge to take other actions at your arraignment – such as banning you from going within five blocks of the World Bank. You should feel free to object to anything the prosecution suggests and offer your reasons for doing so (ex: “I was no where near the World Bank at the time of my arrest, I go to school in that area, need to drive by it to get to work, have a constitutional right to free speech, etc.”)

Because you were all released pending your arraignment and are going to show up for the arraignment there is little to no chance the Judge will require you to pay bail or hold you until your trial.

For the specific charges and the penalties they carry see the protest manual – parading without a permit, which is not in the manual, carries a maximum fine of $50. When looking at the charges and penalties remember that the maximum penalty that is listed – you may very well get a lesser penalty if found guilty.

Please keep in touch with each other and with us. Let us know what happened, who is your lawyer, and what happened at your arraignment and if you have another court date! We recognize that the demo’s not over to you’re all out of the judicial system.


DC INDY MEDIA – Here are a few pieces of info that may help some people be safer. Many of you know this stuff, but some do not, and some can use a reminder. I don’t wish to dissuade anyone from doing anything (e.g. using a megaphone), I’d just like to give people a heads up as to some of the patterns we have witnessed at previous events. Police tend to videotape and photograph the crowd as well as individuals, randomly as well as targeting those who look ‘radical’, people who are vocal, hold a megaphone, flags, hand out literature, wear black, etc. Filming is done by officers in uniform, plainclothes, hidden cameras, mounted cameras (signposts etc.), cameras on rooftops and in windows of buildings (great to view large crowds from above).

Mass demos are generally infiltrated by a large number of plainclothes officers. Some plainclothes agents film, but most probably just watch and relay info. You may notice some people wearing what looks like walkman earphones. (These may not be walkman earphones). The best undercovers are the ones who fit in totally, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you know where all the undercovers are. Some people enjoy exposing undercovers, but this is unwise if you are not totally certain.

Having undercovers and filming of protesters serves a number of purposes for the police, including:

1) info gathering and database building – profiling of activists (regardless of criminality or legality) 2) intimidation and criminalization of dissent 3) identification of people targeted for arrest

If police target someone for arrest, they will usually wait until they can “safely” make the arrest. This usually means when the person is apart from the bulk of the crowd, on the periphery, maybe sitting down or having a drink. Until this time, they may assign an officer(s) to tail the target. Then when it is “safe” comes the “snatch squad” – often plainclothes officers who grab and arrest the person(s). There is usually backup nearby, be it vans pulling up, or riot cops coming from around the building, etc. Sometimes the “snatch” is done by officers in riot gear (e.g. the police line opens up and the snatch squad busts through. They encircle and arrest the target who was at the front of the crowd near the police lines.

Some main things used by police in identification

1) shirt/jacket 2) mask/bandana 3) shoes 4) bags/backpack

People have, when targeted in the past, changed clothes and masks only to be identified by their shoes or backpack. To avoid “snatch squad” arrests and others being picked off at the fringes, a useful tactic is to link arms with the people on either side of you (in lines/rows). This isn’t particularly effective if it is just 2 people linked together, but if most, or all people are linked together, it will make it next to impossible for snatch squads.

Linking arms is probably not a bad habit to get into, especially when the situation is tense or the cops are nearby. If everyone is linked up it is more difficult for the cops to make arrests. Linking arms also sets an example for others.

By extension, the less spread out a crowd is, the safer it is. People at the front can slow down a little, and those at the back can hurry up. When the crowd spreads out the police can bust through and divide the group into two parts

Banners are also useful to protect the edges, the back, and the front of a march. If you are arrested, however, do not despair. You are taking one for the team. . . Though they may threaten you with all sorts of horrendous charges, the vast majority of protest-related charges are dropped, dismissed, or found not guilty. The main reason for this is that police tend to arrest people just to clear the streets, not because they committed a crime. 9/02


Washington D.C. is known worldwide as the home of the beloved US President, miles of national monuments, and throngs of politicians. But perhaps lesser known is D.C.’s status as an epicenter of essential American musical movements, including the hardcore scene that emerged in the late 70s. View 10 documentary videos online or as a video podcast. Experience 10 text message tours


INDIANA STORY – In 1919 Pyle enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington. He left the university in 1923, just short of finishing a degree in journalism, to accept a reporter’s job at the LaPorte Herald. A few months later, lured by an offer of an extra $2.50 per week, Pyle joined the staff of the Washington (D.C.) Daily News, part of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain. On July 25, 1925, Pyle married Minnesota native Geraldine Siebolds. By 1926 the Pyles had quit their jobs to barnstorm around the country, traveling 9,000 miles in just 10 weeks. Pyle returned to the Washington Daily News in 1927 and began the country’s first-ever daily aviation column. He was the newspaper’s managing editor for three years before becoming a roving columnist for Scripps-Howard. In the next six years, he crossed the continent some 35 times.

Pyle journeyed to England in 1940 to report on the Battle of Britain. Witnessing a German fire-bombing raid on London, he wrote that it was “the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known.” A book of his experiences during this time, Ernie Pyle in England, was published in 1941. A year later he began covering America’s involvement in the war, reporting on Allied operations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. The columns he wrote based on his experiences during these campaigns are contained in the books Here is Your War and Brave Men. Although Pyle’s columns covered almost every branch of the service–from quartermaster troops to pilots–he saved his highest praise and devotion for the common foot soldier. “I love the infantry because they are the underdogs,” he wrote. “They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can’t be won without.” . . .

Weary from his work in Europe, Pyle grudgingly accepted what was to be his last assignment, covering the action in the Pacific with the Navy and Marines. He rationalized his acceptance, noting, “What can a guy do? I know millions of others who are reluctant too, and they can’t even get home.” The infantrymen who received Pyle’s body after his death found in his pockets a draft of a column he intended to release when the war in Europe ended. In that column Pyle wrote that he would not soon forget “the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world. “Dead men by mass production–in one country after another–month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer. Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous. Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them.”

DC Almanac K-O


MICHAEL HUFFINGTON, WASHINGTON POST – [Franklin Kameny] launched Washington’s gay rights movement in the early 1960s with no backing other than his own brains and lung power. He declared his homosexuality a God-given blessing. He provided legal assistance to gay servicemen and women. He insisted that gay people speak for themselves and resist being pathologized by psychiatrists and entrapped by police. To each battle he brought the sharp, critical eye of a Harvard-trained scientist.

He co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington in 1961 and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance in 1971. He led the first gay protest at the White House in 1965, fought employment discrimination in federal government service and helped persuade the American Psychological Association to stop classifying homosexuality as an illness in 1973. . .

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS – Banned from federal employment in 1957 solely because he was homosexual, Franklin Edward Kameny became an angry archivist. Not only did the Harvard Ph.D. astronomer protest his firing from the U.S. Army Map Service, but he also became the central figure in the confrontation against the federal government’s policies barring the employment of gays and lesbians, particularly in positions linked to national security. And Kameny saved every piece of paper documenting that struggle.

A self-described “pack rat,” Kameny collected thousands of pages of letters, government correspondence, testimony, photographs and other memorabilia. The collection is perhaps the most complete record of the gay-rights movement in America.

Kameny’s archives [now in the Library of Congress] document his own biography and his struggle to retain his civil service status after federal personnel officials found out he was gay; Kameny’s assistance to other individuals in similar situations; the early decades of the Mattachine Society of Washington, an early gay-rights organization; and the broader gay-rights movement, such as a national campaign to modify the American Psychiatric Association’s view that homosexuality was a manifestation of mental illness.

Kamany was fired in response to his 1957 arrest on charges of homosexuality and in compliance with a 1953 executive order banning homosexuals from the U.S. Army. His dossier entered FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s files for “sexual deviants.”

Because the federal government had cost him his job, Kameny sued the government in federal court. He lost and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1961 refused to hear his case.

So Kameny formed the Mattachine Society of Washington, and began an organized campaign against federal employment laws he believed were unfair to gay men and lesbians. He stated his views in newsletters he sent to members of Congress and to the president, in position papers and in testimony before Congress.

Kameny waged a long campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association to change its equation of homosexuality with mental illness. Dudley Clendinen, a former New York Times columnist and co-author of “Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America,” has told about a 1971 spring meeting of the association in the Shoreham Hotel off Connecticut Avenue. Thirty men ran up the aisle and hustled the guest speaker off the stage. Kameny, who was sitting in the front row, grabbed the microphone. “Psychiatry is the enemy incarnate,” roared the small man with the deep, booming voice.

Kameny carried picket signs in front of the White House and various federal agencies, ran for public office, and corresponded regularly with the U.S. Civil Service Commission.

On Feb. 25, 1966, U.S. Civil Service Commission Chairman John W. Macy Jr. responded in a letter addressed to the Mattachine Society. He made clear the commission’s position: “Persons about whom there is evidence that they have engaged in or solicited others to engage in homosexual or sexually perverted acts with them, without evidence of rehabilitation, are not suitable for Federal employment.”

Ever-persistent in his effort to have the rules changed, Kameny prevailed. One day in June 1975 he received a phone call from the Office of General Counsel at the Civil Service Commission: “The government has decided to change its policy to suit you,” Kameny was informed.

Kameny was subsequently invited to the commission to review its employment policy.


ADAM BERNSTEIN, WASHINGTON POST – The Key’s midnight weekend viewings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) also brought in a steady audience. For years, “Rocky Horror” ticket buyers lined up in garish makeup and costumes, the customary attire to celebrate the cult film. French entertainer Yves Montand flew in from France to promote “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring.” Waters, the Baltimore-born filmmaker, came with his transvestite star Divine to the premiere of “Polyester” (1981), which was accompanied by a klieg light show. That caused some trouble. “We had traffic blocked on Wisconsin Avenue for two hours,” [owner David] Levy said. “And we got a call from National Airport telling us the lights were disturbing the airplanes coming in. Howard Stern was the DJ at [radio station DC] 101, and they did a live remote. And no one cared about Stern. Everyone was gaga for Divine and Waters.” . . . Both theaters were casualties of home video, rising real estate prices in tony Georgetown and competition from larger, corporately owned theaters for booking rights.




LOUIE ESTRADA WASHINGTON POST – Larry Krebs, 81, one of Washington’s last old-school gumshoe newshounds who was perhaps best known for being the only cameraman at the Tidal Basin the night a powerful congressman and a striptease artist landed in hot water, died Feb. 11 2004 at Sibley Memorial Hospital of complications after a stroke. He was a Washington resident. For more than a half-century, Mr. Krebs roamed the city streets as a television cameraman and radio reporter covering the night police beat for WMAL-AM radio and WJLA (Channel 7). He became an institution among the police officers and firefighters whom he befriended and the reporters of competitive media outlets he often scooped. . . He kept three police scanners humming next to the driver’s seat of his two-door 1976 Pontiac, which he habitually parked at a gas station on Wisconsin Avenue until he was off to the next story. In the trunk of his car were tape recorders, radios, more scanners, road flares and other equipment that he freely lent to police officers and firefighters. He also provided them with a thermos of coffee and boxes of doughnuts, said John Matthews, news director at WMAL.

JOSH MANKIEWICZ, NBC – Because of the hours he kept, Larry knew just about every cop in town, which frequently comes in handy when mayhem is your beat… Dawn was breaking in the nation’s capital, but it had been an unusually bloodless evening, and Larry had nothing to show for a night of cruising the streets. Just then, he heard on the scanner that the DC police had fished a floater out of the Potomac. Larry floored it, but he was too far away. He arrived at the scene seconds after the cops had dragged the body out of the water and onto the bank.

When Larry saw that, he practically began to weep. He told the cops how he was kicking himself, how he was all the way out on the outskirts of town when he got the call, how he ran all those red lights getting there, how he hadn’t shot any worthwhile film all night. Acccording to legend, Larry clutched his hands over his bald head as if he were in terrible pain. It may have been an act, but it worked.

The cops looked at Larry. The cops looked at each other. The cops looked at the sodden corpse at their feet. Then, without a word, they scooped up the body and threw it back into the Potomac. Larry whipped out his film camera and shot some grainy black and white film of the dramatic scene as DC’s Finest waded into the river and brought the body up onto the bank. We probably led with it at 6.

The last time I saw Larry was after I had been gone from Washington for several years. I had returned to visit my parents, and one day when I pulled into a gas station to fill up Dad’s car before I headed to the airport, I realized the station I had chosen had obviously just been robbed. A police cruiser was parked under the canopy, and two officers were interviewing the owner. Knowing this would take some time, I turned to leave, and suddenly before me stood Larry, in his black raincoat and matching hat.

“Josh, it was a Mutt and Jeff team,” said Larry, as if we’d spoken earlier that day and not five or six years ago. “The big one is six-four, two-twenty. The other guy’s smaller, maybe five-eight. The gun’s a nickel-plated thirty-eight.”


GARY GRIFFITH, WEST END GUIDE – Larry La, the owner of Meiwah, the upscale Chinese restaurant at 1200 New Hampshire Avenue in the West End, seems to know everyone. . . Half the U.S. Senate, including Hillary Clinton, seem to be here on the walls, shaking hands with La. “I’m a news junkie,” La says. “I can recognize about 90 members of the Senate by sight.”

Ethnically Chinese, but born in Vietnam, La came to the United States as a refugee in 1980. “You remember the Boat People?” he asks. “I was one of them.” He learned English in the small town of Erwin, Tennessee, and studied business administration at East Tennessee State University. . .

A businessman, not a cook, his first restaurant was the popular City Lights of China on Connecticut Avenue in Dupont Circle, which he opened in 1987. Located in a basement (one review said its decor looked like a bathroom), it wasn’t much to look at, but the food was cheap and good, and the place had a following.

La’s first major brush with celebrity came there, in 1994, when Mick Jagger and his entourage went to the restaurant while they were in town for the beginning of their world tour. La sold City Lights in 1998 and opened Meiwah in February 2000. In Chinese, Mei means America and Wah, China.


GOLF COURSE SPECIALISTS – Langston Golf Course is significant for its symbolic association with the development and desegregation of public golfing and recreational facilities in the greater Washington, D.C. area and with the growth of golf as a popular recreational and professional sport for African Americans. It served as a focal point for efforts to encourage the development of golfing facilities for African American players during the first half of the 20th century, and subsequently, to ensure equal access to, and equal quality of recreational facilities operated by the National Park Service. Langston is the home course of the Royal Golf Club and the Wake Robin Golf Club, the nation’s first golf clubs for African American men and women, respectively. Among the many famous Americans that have played at Langston Golf Course are Joe Louis, Duke Ellington, and a host of other prominent individuals from the public and private sectors.

The seeds of discontent that forced Langston Golf Course into being can be traced at least back to the late 1880s when golf had a resurgence in the U.S. A new type of golf club emerged here; the private golf and country club as opposed to the public links found in Scotland. This had the interesting effect of producing many excellent black golfers who learned the game by caddying at these clubs and playing on Mondays when these clubs were traditionally closed so the ‘help’ could play golf. These caddies became teachers of the game to many white players, but had no place to play regularly.

The first American born golf professional was an Afro-American, John Shippen, born in Washington, D.C. (in the Hillsdale section of Anacostia) in 1879. John moved with his missionary parents to the Shinnecock Indian reservation on Long Island, New York. Young John Shippen was hired to help construct a new golf course next to the reservation around 1890. The newly formed United States Golf Association selected the Shinnecock Hills golf course as the site for the second U.S. Open. In between he served as golf instructor for the Citizens Golf Club in Washington, D.C. from 1921 to 1927. He was involved in the formation of the Capital City Golf Club along with his brother, Cyrus.

This club, which became the Royal Golf Club in 1930, pushed for a golf course for the black population in the District. A small, very unsatisfactory course was built in the area of the Lincoln Memorial, known as the “dust bowl.” Several attempts by club members at playing the East Potomac Park golf course were met with very negative results. Golfers from the men’s Royal golf club and the newly formed Wake Robin women’s golf club persuaded the Secretary of Interior, Harold Ickes, to “have constructed specifically for people of color” by the National Park Service the only golf course built with federal funds for this purpose. Langston Golf Course (named for John Mercer Langston, the first Afro-American to serve in the U.S. Congress for the state of Virginia ) opened its first nine holes in 1939 to great fanfare. When the golf course opened there were some 5,209 golf facilities in the United States; fewer than 20 were open to Blacks. Langston was built on a landfill, probably also a first. Unfortunately, the landfill operation continued until the second nine was built in the early 50’s and opened in 1954. The landfill has caused many problems over the years and continues to do so.


SAM SMITH, JUNE 2003 – Last weekend my lawyer, George la Roche, crossed over. I say ‘my lawyer’ despite the fact he only handled one case for me and I was just one of 20 clients in the matter. But when a guy sues Bill Clinton and the U.S. Congress for you and the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, the attorney-client relationship gets pretty close.

George also taught philosophy for awhile, so when I was writing my book “Why Bother?” – in which I practiced some philosophy without a license – I ran it by George first and he told me just what was right and wrong. I could see he had been a good teacher, too and I wondered how many people get a lawyer and a philosopher in one package?

George had a rare blend of precision and passion. As the circumstances required, he could make you stop and think about it or stop thinking about it and actually do something.

The law suit was an example of the latter. George had discovered a new legal approach to the disgrace of our national capital’s colonial status and he went looking for some representative clients to press the case. Which is how I found myself in a marvelously variegated collection of plaintiffs suing the president and the Congress for a little common decency.

Because the case involved reapportioning the Congress, it was heard by a special three judge court, before whom George laid out a problem that no one had noticed before: approximately one-third of the land area of the United States is owned and administered by the United States under the same section of the Constitution that controls the District of Columbia. Only the residents of DC, one of 10,000 federal enclaves, are denied fully citizenship. Congress might have exclusive jurisdiction over such enclaves but that did not give it the right to discriminate against some of them. Argued LaRoche:

“When you look at the map you will see in Florida, in the panhandle of Florida, a place called Eglin Air Force Base. Eglin Air Force Base is a federal enclave. You can fit ten Districts of Columbia inside Eglin Air Force Base. At the height of the Vietnam war close to 150,000 people lived in Eglin Air Force Base, and they were not citizens of the state of Florida. They had no right to vote for anyone. Now the people who live there, if they choose, can be citizens of Florida. Under a federal statute they can keep their home state citizenship, but they are citizens of states one way or the other.

“Now, the federal government clearly has an interest in Eglin Air Force Base. They do very, very critical testing of weaponry there. The federal government has an interest in [the National Institutes of Health enclave.] They test for diseases there that threaten the entire country. But what interests does the federal government have in the church of [plaintiff] Anita O’Bryan, which is located six blocks from the Capitol? What interests does the federal government have in the living room of [plaintiff] Laurie Murray?

“One of the plaintiffs, Rehane Jenkins, lives on Southern Avenue. He can throw a hat across the street into Maryland where people have full rights of citizenship. If you were not familiar with the neighborhood and you were standing on this street and didn’t know where you were and somebody said, ‘the District of Columbia is on one side of you and Maryland is on the other,’ you couldn’t tell which side would be which.

“The federal government has no interests in saying Rehane Jenkins has no rights of citizenship, but the people who live 30 yards away can vote for members of Congress, can vote for governor of Maryland, can run for Congress, and can run for state government. Rehane Jenkins can run across the street to Maryland but he cannot run for congress.

“Our case presents the challenge that Congress can no longer maintain this status quo. The Congress must withdraw its hands from the District of Columbia, to free the District of Columbia to go wither it may.

“Now, by my reading of the Constitution there are two alternatives. The District of Columbia could become a state or it could become part of a state. Either of those would remove the problems that are presented in [our case].

“Those are both dramatically, pervasively, thoroughly fundamentally political questions. It is for the citizens of the District of Columbia to decide which of those alternatives they choose. But this court can decide one much more critical and initial thing. Can the status quo be maintained? We have shown the court in uncontroverted evidence that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever, much less a compelling governmental reason, for Congress to maintain the status quo. It must be restrained and its instruments which restrain it must be removed from the District.”

After George spoke, the judges had all of four questions, not one of them hostile.

But George was not the only lawyer in the federal courtroom that day, for the entire liberal legal establishment of the capital colony had not only declined to help in his case, key members had rushed to concoct a competing case that sought nothing more than representation in Congress – practically speaking one member of the House. It was a terribly weak case – essentially saying the current situation wasn’t fair, which was true enough but not much of a legal argument. Further, even if it were successful DC would still remain a colony.

The judges had conveniently combined the two cases. Further, someone had called the police and said our supporters were going to cause a disturbance. I walked into the courthouse that morning past a row of cops who looked like they were expecting the Black Bloc to show up and instead just got a few hundred local citizens coming to find out whether the American justice system would finally apply to them. With me was a black minister, the Reverend Graylan Hagler. As we walked past the cops and through the doors, a US Marshal approached. “Can I help you?” Graylan said we were looking for the cafeteria. The marshall pointed the way and then said, “Reverend, I’ve been to your church. In fact one of my men is on your vestry. Let’s go bless him.” The pair disappeared, and I headed for the coffee and my co-plaintiffs. We were shortly joined by the marshal who shook hands with everyone and asked if he could help. In such offbeat ways do the real politics of a colony sometimes reveal themselves: a bunch of liberal lawyers upstairs undermining freedom in the courtroom while a US Marshall downstairs in the cafeteria tries to give it a hand.

George did his best, but the court eventually ruled 2 to 1 against both cases. It took an inordinate amount of time doing so, suggesting that the judges had been thoroughly boggled by George’s arguments. They finally figured out what to do: they addressed only the trivialities of the representation case and said nothing at all about ours.

George took the matter to the Supreme Court, which – again because of the reapportionment of Congress issue – had to consider the matter, but not necessarily hear it. The Court turned us down as well. In a last note to one of the plaintiffs, Lea Adams, he wrote:

“The fight isn’t over yet, but I’m in no condition to take the lead right now. . . I got into this sort of work because of a deep religious conviction that it was my ‘calling’ and I will continue to answer that call until no voice is left in my throat and no wiggle is left in my typing fingers.”


UNIVERSITY OF MD ALUMNI ASSN – Munro Leaf, author and illustrator of dozens of children’s books, [who spent his childhoos in DC] is best remembered for his signature character, Ferdinand, the Spanish bull who preferred smelling flowers to fighting in a ring in Spain. One Sunday afternoon in 1935, Leaf decided to write a children’s story so that his close friend Robert Lawson (a relatively unknown illustrator) could show his talents. In less than one hour, Leaf composed the beloved 800-word story as it stands today, nearly 60 years later.

When published by Viking in 1936 as The Story of Ferdinand, the book sparked controversy. With the Spanish Civil War waging, political critics charged it was a satirical attack on aggression. In Germany, Hitler order the book burned while fellow dictator Stalin granted it privileged status as the only non-communist children’s book allowed in Poland. And India’s spiritual leader Ghandi called it his favorite book. In spite of the notoriety, the nation embraced the peaceable bull.

That same year, Leaf published his second most popular book, Manners Can Be Fun, illustrated with the notorious “watchbird” stick figures who observe the behavior of boys and girls. Since Leaf’s death in 1976 at age 71, Ferdinand continues to charm children worldwide as the simple story is retold in more than 60 language translations.


DC EXPRESS – In 1976, a car bombing in Sheridan Circle killed Allende’s foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, and Ronni Moffitt, his American assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies. Moffitt’s husband, Michael, survived the explosion. A small monument on the southeast side of the circle marks the spot where the two were killed. From the Transnational Institute’s Letelier archive on the car bombing:

“As the car passes the Chilean embassy, there is a buzzing sound inside. Then a flash. A tremendous explosion. Michael finds himself, dazed, outside the car as it crashes to a halt, colliding with a VW illegally parked in front of the Irish embassy. He assists his wife, Ronni, her face blackened. She walks a few steps. He assumes she is safe. Orlando is pinned under the car. Michael tries to pull the wreckage from him. The Executive Protection Service direct traffic. Michael sees that Orlando’s legs have been severed. He appears barely conscious and in great pain. More police and ambulances arrive. Much confusion ensues. A nurse is assisting Ronni. At the hospital Orlando dies quickly. Ronni’s carotid artery has been severed and she drowns in her own blood 20 minutes after Orlando dies.”


ADAM BERNSTEIN, WASHINGTON POST – S. David Levy, 67, who helped found the Biograph Theatre and was co-owner of the Key Theatre, which kept alternative cinema alive in Washington for decades, died Sept. 15 at Washington Hospital Center. He had chronic leukemia for more than 20 years. . . With his four partners, including two lawyers, he founded the Biograph at 2819 M St. NW in what was once an auto salesroom. The Biograph’s focus on classic and foreign films, often shown in repertory, made the business an instant favorite for cinephiles. For years, it was one of the few places where they could find films by Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. The old Circle Theater was the only competition. . .

Mr. Levy, who handled booking at the Biograph, began scouting for an opportunity to work for himself. In late 1973, he and his wife bought the Key, a one-screen theater at 1222 Wisconsin Ave. NW. They eventually expanded the Key to four screens to show classics, early films by John Waters and first-run foreign fare. . .

The Key’s midnight weekend viewings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) also brought in a steady audience. For years, “Rocky Horror” ticket buyers lined up in garish makeup and costumes, the customary attire to celebrate the cult film. French entertainer Yves Montand flew in from France to promote “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring.”

Waters, the Baltimore-born filmmaker, came with his transvestite star Divine to the premiere of “Polyester” (1981), which was accompanied by a klieg light show. That caused some trouble.

“We had traffic blocked on Wisconsin Avenue for two hours,” Mr. Levy said. “And we got a call from National Airport telling us the lights were disturbing the airplanes coming in. Howard Stern was the DJ at [radio station DC] 101, and they did a live remote. And no one cared about Stern. Everyone was gaga for Divine and Waters.” . . .

Both theaters were casualties of home video, rising real estate prices in tony Georgetown and competition from larger, corporately owned theaters for booking rights.

Mr. Levy also cited media influence, especially Washington Post editors who he said rarely seemed interested in what he was showing. “You have to fight to get covered,” he said. “If you can’t get the ink, it’s hard to get people to come to the movies.”


SINCLAIR LEWIS spent some time in DC after college as he described: “I drifted for two years after college as a journalist, as a newspaper reporter in Iowa and in San Francisco, as – incredibly – a junior editor on a magazine for teachers of the deaf, in Washington, D.C. The magazine was supported by Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. What I did not know about teaching the deaf would have included the entire subject, but that did not vastly matter, as my position was so insignificant that it included typing hundreds of letters every week begging for funds for the magazine and, on days when the Negro janitress did not appear, sweeping out the office.”

BROTHERS JUDD – Sinclair Lewis was the great liberal critic of small town, bourgeois Middle America. His novels demonstrated the small-minded conformity of the conservative folk of the Midwest, content to wallow in smug self-righteous ignorance. . . The satire extends not just to the town folk of Gopher Prairie, but to the city folk of Washington too. Thus, when Carol Kennicott decides to return home, I did not see it as necessarily a surrender. She notes several times that no one in Washington cares about her, the way the townspeople back in Minnesota did. This seems to me to be the fundamental dilemma that Lewis sets up: Main Street requires conformity to tradition and social standards in exchange for recognition, respect and love from one’s neighbors, the City offers freedom and individuality precisely because there’s no one there who cares about you or what you do.

MONKEY NOTES – Carol finds employment in the Bureau of War Risk Insurance in Washington. It is not very elevating work but she feels that her contact with the anxieties of men and women all over the country was a part of vast affairs. She realizes that she can do the office work and her housework as well. She also feels that without interference housework, took very little time. She enjoys looking at the buildings in Washington. . .

Vida’s letter helps her to make the acquaintance of the Tincomb Methodist Church members. She finds the church to be another Main Street with the Sunday school, Sunday service and the church suppers of scalloped potatoes and gingerbread. They give advice just as the matrons did back home. Carol considers joining the militant suffrage organization and going to jail.

Guy Pollock’s cousin who is a temporary Army Captain takes Carol to tea dances. He introduces her to the secretary of a congressman. Through her Carol gets to meet commanders, newspapermen, fiscal experts and a teacher who knows the people in the suffrage movement headquarters. Through her, Carol gets the task of addressing envelopes of the suffrage movement and the friendly women include her in their group. They sometimes get mobbed and arrested. They also take dancing lessons and go for picnics and discuss politics when they are free. . .

She finds the young girls in Washington more fashionable and more knowledgeable than she was at their age. She admires the men who are very easy going and confidant. They accept the company of women naturally, without the embarrassed banter as the men did in Gopher Prairie.

She finds a group of ladies who think and feel like her. They too consider towns like Gopher Prairie to be boring and make a comfortable living in Washington. They even find time to read. Through them she learns about many prairie towns and realizes that in comparison Gopher Prairie appeared to be more colorful and intellectual.

Carol revels in the freedom she experiences in Washington. She finds housework to be less tedious when she is not interrupted. She enjoys free Sundays and also the freedom of not having to give an account to Kennicott At last she feels that she is “no longer one-half of a marriage but the whole of a human being”. She also discovers that the world outside Gopher Prairie did not need her inspiration. She finds her work of filing correspondence and dictating letters to be monotonous.

The buildings of Washington are beautiful and she loves walking past them trying to imagine the people they housed. She realizes that Gopher Prairie lacked this element of mystery. In her free time she finds Negro shanties turned into studios and marble houses with butlers and limousines. Her days pass very swiftly. In the midst of the big city she finds people seeking their own kind and bonding to retain their small town ideas intact. The members of the Tincomb Church are suspicious of flippant newspapermen and infidel scientists. She finds the same dullness of Gopher Prairie in many people of Washington. . . She is also lucky enough to find many people who do not confirm to the small town ideas. She considers herself to be fortunate to be in the company of the suffrage movement activists.


REGINA LEE, AP – [A] “trombone shout band,” similar to a gospel brass band, has staked out sidewalks across the District of Columbia for more than two decades. Noise complaints forced it to move from Georgetown to various street corners in Dupont Circle. The 32 musicians are from the United House of Prayer for All People in Northwest. A rotating group of about a dozen plays south of Dupont Circle in Northwest Washington each Monday, Tuesday and Friday night this summer. Though the members call their musical talent a “God-given gift,” few spectators realize the band’s religious mission. . . The sound of the Lively Stones has been compared to New Orleans jazz, but band members call it a unique and spontaneous mix of gospel, jazz, reggae and blues. . .


DC LIBRARY – Alain Locke played an influential role in identifying, nurturing, and publishing the works of young black artists during the New Negro Movement. His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront. Ernest Mason explains that “much of the creative work of the period was guided by the ideal of the New Negro which signified a range of ethical ideals that often emphasized and intensified a higher sense of group and social cohesiveness. . . The writers. . . literally expected liberation. . . from their work and were perhaps the first group of Afro-American writers to believe that art could radically transform the artist and attitudes of other human beings.” . . .

Alain LeRoy Locke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the only child of Pliny Ishmael Locke and Mary Hawkins Locke. . . After graduating from Harvard, he studied for three years (1907-1910) at Oxford University in England as the first black Rhodes Scholar. Upon his graduation from Oxford, he spent one year pursing advanced work in philosophy at the University of Berlin.

Alain Locke began his career at Howard University in 1912 as an Assistant Professor of English and Philosophy. His tenure was briefly broken in 1916 when he left to pursue his doctorate degree at Harvard University, eventually receiving that degree in 1918. Locke returned to Howard University in 1918 as Professor of Philosophy and remained at the University until he retired in 1952.

Locke’s involvement with the Renaissance touched a number of areas. Not only was he involved with the visual arts and literature, but he was directly involved with the theatre movement through his association with the Theatre Arts Monthly, the Howard University Players . . .


PETER SEFTON has a wonderful website memorializing DC’s lost of vanishing vintage buildings. Particularly striking are the photos of some of the buildings lost just last year. . . MAIN PAGE. . . DISAPPEARING DISTRICT. . . WHERE DC DRANK. . . BILLIE HOLIDAY IN DC


WIKIPEDIA – Ian MacKaye (b. April 16, 1962) is an American musician, probably best known as the singer for the highly influential bands Minor Threat, Embrace and Fugazi, and as one of the founders and owners (with drummer and artist Jeff Nelson) of Dischord Records, a Washington, D.C.-based hardcore label. . . MacKaye grew up in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington and listened to mainstream hard rock before discovering punk music in 1976 when he saw The Cramps perform at nearby Georgetown University. . .

The song “Straight Edge” was written by MacKaye for his band, Minor Threat, and was released in 1981 on Minor Threat’s self-titled EP. It was a song that described a life free of the “drugs” part of the “sex, drugs and rock’n roll” banner originating as a rebellion in the 1960s – smoking, drinking, and drug use – to what wasn’t socially tolerated previously. It began to influence youth culture as Minor Threat gained popularity through numerous live shows and through sales of the song on their EP. Although to MacKaye the song did not represent a philosophy or a movement, over time people adopted the philosophy of the song and many bands began to label themselves straight edge, founding the straight edge movement.



COURTLAND MILLOY, WASHINGTON POST, 1980 – The doorbell rang. Odessa Madre, 73, creaked slowly to the foyer and parked her walking stick at the door.

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Madre, I’m prepared to make you an offer,” he said. He was young and well-dressed. He carried a calculator and a Polaroid camera. He wanted the house. “Seventy-five thousand dollars — cash,” he offered for her spacious five-bedroom home in Northwest Washington.

“Please, come in. Have somep’n t’ eat,” the frail grandmotherly woman said kindly. Odessa Madre had just been released from prison and she was too tired to haggle much about money. Besides, she had left her teeth upstairs.

In the kitchen she mashed a panload of Jiffy muffins into two bowls of “stew.” She served one bowl to the real estate man. Then, to his obvious discomfort, she slid the other bowl across the floor to Hero, her dog.

“Now,” she said with a mischievous, toothless grin, “did you say $150,000 — or did you think I was born yesterday?”

It was vintage Madre — the disarming charming setup and biting quick wit that had made her one of the most prosperous and flamboyant hustlers who ever operated in the shadows of the nation’s Capitol.

“You don’ pull on Superman’s cape. You don’ spit into the wind,” Madre recited deftly. “You don’ tug the mask off the Lone Ranger and, baby, you don’ mess with Odessa, okay?” With that, the real estate man was gone.

“I may be old, and I may be ugly, but I ain’t dumb,” she said. “That’s why I was the ‘Queen.'”

Having spent much of her life in and out of Washington’s courtrooms and prisons for the last 48 years, Odessa Madre was finally back home — and singing. That was the one thing that the 1952 Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce — headed by Sen. Estes Defauver — was unable to get her to do.

She had started at age 17, first swearing off men and calling herself a “black widow,” then spinning a web of jill joints, bawdy houses and numbers banks that eventually passed for “organized crime,” albeit in a down-home sort of way. She became the self-described queen of Washington’s underworld. . .

According to one police affidavit filed in U.S. District Court here in 1975, “She practices a resourceful and shrewd form of circumspection that has enabled her to survive and thrive in her illegal activities over the past 40 years.”. . .

Her arrest record dates back to 1932. She has been picked up 30 times on 57 charges since then, including a narcotics violation for which she spent seven years at the Federal Reformantory for Women in Alderson, W.Va.

When she was released from Alderson in 1968, she bought a $10,800 Lincoln Continental with “MADRE) license plates. Then, in 1977, she was again sentenced to prison for operating a $3,000-a-day numbers racket.

Released only a few months ago, she went out and bought a $21,000 Cadillac Seville — Pierre Cardin edition. . .

” In the close-knit neighborhood blacks and Irish played checkers for hours on end, exchanging laundry and midwives, and talking cows. Virtually all the Irishmen in Cowtown were city policemen — riding horses, walking and bicycling the beats of the District.

Odessa played with their children, friends like Tom Sweeney, Mac Mahoney, Pat O’Shea and James Barrett. And they would do battle together with the Italian and German children who lived on the other side of Georgia Avenue.

“Negroes and Irishmen got along real well,” Madre recalled. “They would fight amongst themselves, but we wouldn’t fight each other. If somebody outside Cowtown came to fight the Iris, the Negroes would chunk bricks at them. We were like a big happy family.”

Thus began a long and prosperous relationship with members of the Metropolitan Police Department. When Madre’s childhood friends grew up, they became captains, lieutenants and even superintendents in the police department, like their fathers. As the year passed and Madre became the notorious “Queen,” many of her childhood buddies couldn’t forget that she had once been their compatriot in the “Great Rock Chunkin’ Wars” against the Italian and German kids. . .

She was also friendly with the destitute of the Shaw neighborhood. Small kids playing on the street near her house often would be rewarded with cash for “being good children.” When the “boosters” — shoplifters — stopped by her house to sell their booty, she would sometimes put in a special order for children’s clothes. When the boosters returned, she had the clothes wrapped and sent out as gifts.



NAFEESA SYEED, GEORGETOWN HOYA – Unlike other eminent black Georgetown residents, such as scientist Benjamin Banneker and mathematician Thomas Fuller, the story of this once-famous former slave goes virtually untold. . . [Yarrow] Mamout was brought to the United States by way of the African slave trade. Some sources say Guinea was his homeland. Because he may have used a lunar calendar to count his age, he told [painter Charles Willson] Peale that he was 134 years old when they met in 1819, which meant he would have likely arrived at the Annapolis, Md., slave port at age 35.

Peale conferred with the widow of Mamout’s owner, known only as “Mr. Bell,” who said that a Captain Dow brought Mamout from Africa when he was about 14 years old. . . The widow remembered Mamout as always “an industrious hard working man” who had loyally served them for years at their plantation on the banks of the Potomac. According to David Warden, who wrote “A Chorographical and Statistical Description of the District of Columbia” in 1816 – a document in the Peabody collection – the young Mamout was “the best swimmer ever seen on the Potomac.”

When Bell decided to build a spacious house in Georgetown, he told Mamout that if he diligently made all the bricks he would be granted his freedom. After arduous work, Mamout made all the bricks. But his owner died before construction of the house began. In spite of this, Bell’s widow, “knowing the design of her husband,” decided to honor her husband’s word. . .

Working various roles, he managed to save $100, which he “considered a fortune” according to Warden. He entrusted the money to a merchant, who later died, and with no written claim he lost it all. Again, he toiled. By day he labored for fixed wages, and by night he weaved nets and baskets to sell. Again, he saved $100 within a few years. Again, he entrusted the money to a Georgetown merchant, who later went bankrupt. Again, he lost all that he accrued. He was steadfast.

Working different jobs and selling goods from a cart, he amassed another fortune, this time of $200. A friend described the banking system, and he signed on as one of the first shareholders of the Columbia Bank. Finally, his money and status were secure. . . Today the National Park Service’s tour of black Georgetown has his house location listed as site No. 9, along the block 3330-3332 of Dent Place.



The Historic Washington list has been discussing the city’s hidden manufacturing past. A few selections:

– The Washington Post was located at 13th & E Sts NW

– Ford built an automobile assembly plant on Pennsylvania Ave in 1915 This allowed for quicker delivery of automobiles in the spring and reduced potential for damage in shipping. [Matthew Gilmore]

– My favorite is the old White Cross bakery in the 600 block of S Street, NW that at one time in the 1940s produced 100,000 Hostess Cakes a day. The building remains (vacant since 1988), and is often incorrectly referred to as the Wonder bread factory. . . According to a Washington Star article on August 9, 1953, the 17 major bakeries in Washington provided jobs for 3,000 workers and were considered the largest processing industry in the city at the time. Washington residents then enjoyed approximately 300,000 pounds of bread each day. [Paul K Williams]

– DC’s first major manufacturing concern was the Columbia Foundry, established by Henry Foxall at the foot of Foundry Branch in Georgetown in 1800. [Jane Donovan]

– The former importance of printing (the GPO and private), which is a form of manufacturing. Don’t forget newspaper printing by the dailies.

– Breweries

– The Navy Yard [Sam Smith]

– Fleischmann’s yeast was manufactured on the 300 block of F Street NE. And steel for a time on the Potomac, to support the gun factories at the Navy Yard. . . . Cars were manufactured by the Donohoe Family on the 200 block of PA Ave. SE. [Richard Layman]

– “Business men of Washington, from the small merchant to the big capitalist, were enthusiastic over the future manufacturing possibilities of the District, when they read in The Post yesterday of the proposed establishment of the $5,000,000 plant of the Firth Sterling Steel Company, the largest private industrial concern ever located at the National Capital.” [Washington Post, Dec 24, 1905]

“As early as 1830, an omnibus line ran between Georgetown and the Navy Yard, connecting the city’s two waterfront communities. This east-west route through the city provided transportation for residents, particularly workers heading to the shipbuilding and later ordnance manufacturing center at the Navy Yard – the city’s largest employer throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.” – [Historic Preservation Review Board]



DC GAZETTE, NOVEMBER 22, 1970 – The Public Safety Committee of the [DC] City Council held two days of hearings this month to hear scientific and public testimony about marijuana. Most of what it heard was expectable: scientifically, marijuana is a mild conscious-altering drug; it is not addictive, nor does it lead to the use of addicting drugs; it has been known and used and studied for literally thousands of years, and no physiological damage whatsoever has been discovered; instances of adverse mental effects from its use are extremely rare.

Most significant to the council’s hearing — and to a good number of kids who are in prison on pot convictions — was the fact, reiterated by Surgeon General Jesse L. Steinfeld, that “in the case of marijuana, legal penalties were originally assigned with total disregard for medical and scientific evidence of the properties of the drug or its effects. I know of no clearer instance in which the punishment for infraction of the law is more harmful than the crime.” . . .

[Activist Petey] Greene “testified” on behalf of his grandmother, whose opinions on marijuana are based on practical experience. She once told her grandson to quit: “Petey, you gotta stop smoking those reefers because they make you too hungry, and I can’t buy all that extra food. Later, on comparing its effects with those of alcohol, “She said she’d rather me smoke reefers and just sit and smile at people than drink that old wine and come in throwing chairs around. ” . . .

The testimony of representatives of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was notable for its meekness. Although the narcs still refer to marijuana as a killer drug before high school audiences, and still try to imply that pot inevitably and immediately leads to heroin, and still pass out 1930’s posters of marijuana as the Grim Reaper — they backed off under Council questioning. The narc’s Dr. Milton Joffe even allowed that although “legalizing simply for hedonistic purposes” was not warranted, “I’m not against pleasure. . .

Judge Charles Halleck recommended more realistic penalties, since present laws tend to cause the community “to lose faith in the entire system of justice.” James H. Heller of the National Capital Area Civil Liberties Union called for the legalization of pot. He said he saw no reason that it should be treated any different from alcohol. (He admitted to having tried grass once, “but it didn’t have any effect.” “Maybe you just didn’t know how to smoke it,” Councilwoman Polly Shackleton consoled him) . . .

Terry Becker, a Quicksilver Times reporter, surprised everyone by calling for more stringent penalties and stricter enforcement. Becker wanted “everyone to turn on everyone to get busted;” it would hasten the revolution, he said . . .

Noting that Surgeon General Steinfeld had referred to the famous Alice B. Toklas marijuana or hash brownies but claimed the recipe was not to be found Alice’s cookbook, [the Council’s Republican chairman] Hahn opened the second day of hearings by setting the record straight. You will find the recipe on page 273 of Alice B. Toklas, announced Hahn, and having fulfilled his public responsibility, he ordered the proceedings to proceed.



MICHAEL WASSERMAN, DC HISTORY NET – Based on my review of the statute applicable between 1901 and 1925, it seems to me that the reason was the combination of (1) the slight requirements for obtaining a marriage license; (2) the absence of any waiting period or residency requirement; (3) the apparent validity under D.C. law of even an unlicensed marriage; (4) the rather small penalty imposed on the officiant of an unlicensed marriage (up to a $500 fine, no possibility of jail); (5) the apparent absence of any penalty on the parties to an unlicensed marriage; (6) the low age of consent for a valid marriage (16 for males and 14 for females); (7) the absence of any requirement for witnesses. . .

Section 1291 specified the requirements for obtaining a license from the clerk of the court. All that was needed was for the parties to answer under oath a series of questions regarding their identity and capacity to marry each other: ages, consanguinity, prior marriage, parental consent if under age (21 for men, 18 for women). If the questions are answered correctly, the clerk must issue a license.

Section 1288 allowed marriages to be celebrated by any “minister of the gospel”–who needn’t be a resident of the District–“authorized by any justice of the supreme court of the District of Columbia,” which was the trial court with general jurisdiction. The 1904 amendment made provision for members of religious societies “which does not by its custom require the intervention of a minister for celebration of marriages.”

There doesn’t seem to have even been a requirement that the marriage be witnessed by anyone other than the officiant.

Moreover, if the boy were between 16 and 21 or the girl between 14 and 18, but didn’t have parental consent, they could still get married without a license as long as they found a “minister of the gospel” (previously authorized by a justice) who was willing to run the risk of a $500 fine, imposed by section 1290. (Of course, the minister was likely to be the only resident of the District who witnessed the “crime,” although even that wasn’t necessarily so.)

Sections 1283 and 1284 specify which marriages are absolutely void or merely voidable after judicial decree. Neither includes the absence of a license. Only purported marriages involving incest or bigamy were absolutely ineffectual. Marriages could be judicially declared void based only on mental or physical incapacity (i.e., inability to consent to or consummate a marriage) or if consent of a party was obtained by fraud. The fourth paragraph of section 1284 (added in 1902) specifically declares the age of consent to marriage to be 16 for males and 14 for females, and makes marriages in which one party is under age voidable at the suit of the party.

Section 1290 is the only section dealing with the consequence of the absence of a license. It provided: “No person authorized hereby to celebrate the rites of marriage shall do so in any case without first having delivered to him a license therefor addressed to him issued from the clerk’s office …, under a penalty of not more than five hundred dollars, in the discretion of the court, to be recovered upon information in the police court of the District.” In fact, it may have been possible for anyone to “celebrate” a valid marriage, because section 1289 provides that anyone without proper authorization under section 1288 was subject merely to a $500 fine as well. It does not address whether the marriage so celebrated was or was not otherwise valid.

So, if you wanted to get married quickly and with a minimum of fuss — and questions, D.C. was the place to be.

WILLIAM WRIGHT – Thanks to all of you who had information about what would have made DC the East Coast version of Las Vegas, and some additional research confirmed most of the suggestions you made. Though there were couples from Pennsylvania and elsewhere, including New York, the majority of those coming here seemed to be from Virginia; there was even what the Post called the “Cupid Special,” a train from Richmond that arrived every spring for more than twenty years. Most women on the train who were identified were under 21, but there were some exceptions.


GWU’s Marvin Center is named after the segregationist president of the university from 1927 to 1959, Lloyd Heck Marvin. In 1938 he declared that “students of any race or color perform their best” in a “homogenous group, and the University, in its tradition and social environment, has long preserved this policy.” He also made clear that “The George Washington University does not register colored students.”


SAM SMITH – Having Charlie Mason down at the District Building was a little like having John Quincy Adams roaming around the set of MTV’s Real World. By color, culture, class and couture, Charlie seemed a bit out of place until, that is, you realized how useful and important he was. Charlie was a walking Wikipedia of local and national knowledge, not the least of which could be found – in the days before Metro – in a shirt pocket stuffed with an amazing collection of bus schedules. He politely but firmly shared his information, including gently remonstrating my Wisconsin-born wife for not knowing that Maine had once been part of Massachusetts and, on another occasion, for putting too much postage on a package mailed to his councilmember wife, Hilda Mason. You should never use too much postage, he advised.

He was as diligent with his generosity as he was with his facts. Debbie Hanrahan remembers approaching Charlie with a friend to seek a contribution for a public interest legal matter that had run up fees of $5,000. Charlie wrote a check, folded it, and handed it over. It was only when the pair were in their car that they opened the check and read the amount: $5,000.

And for the UDC law school, the generosity of Charlie and Hilda added several digits.

It was rare that you mentioned Charlie without the ampersand for Hilda and Charlie were inevitably linked in conversation as in real life.

Charlie was well into his 90s before he started to slow down. Hamil Harris remembers him in his 80s being the last spectator at city council meetings that lasted until 2 am. I recall a meeting where Charlie dozed off only to be aroused by his pocket pill alarm. He fumbled about, took his pills, and then rejoined the discussion. On another occasion, at the UDC law school, a meeting ran so late that even the elevators shut down. At 2: am, Charlie had to be carried down five flights to his car.

In this town, there aren’t many people so many so respected. I was one of them. So I’ll go to his memorial service and won’t be at all surprised if Charlie has left us a few last suggestions and instructions.

HAMIL R. HARRIS, WASHINGTON POST, 1997 – It’s 7 p.m. and the John A. Wilson Building is almost empty of D.C. Council members, except for Hilda Mason, 80, who is making her way into the cold night with her constant companion. That would be Charlie Mason, 86, half of the hottest political couple — never mind Cora and Marion, never mind Hillary and Bill — in the city. . .

This romance — forged at the height of the civil rights movement, when interracial dating was a daring thing to do — needs no flower-driven holiday to find its expression. As they emerge from the Wilson Building, Hilda guides Charlie, whose health and vision haven’t been so good lately, toward their Mercedes-Benz for the drive home to Shepherd Park. One of several homeless men waiting to take shelter inside for the night breaks ranks to help him into the car. “They are looking out for one another,” remarked the man.

As they always have.

Hilda, an African American, grew up in Virginia and moved to the District in 1945, becoming a teacher and administrator. She received her bachelor’s degree from Miner Teachers College and her master’s from D.C. Teachers College. By the 1960s, she was a divorced mother of two and active in the movement to bring home rule to the District.

Charlie, a white native of Boston, received his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and worked for the U.S. Civil Service Commission before coming to Washington in the 1960s. . .

Hilda and Charlie met one day at All Souls Unitarian Church on 16th Street NW, one of the city’s first integrated churches, which was popular among activists in the 1960s. Charlie, a man of few words, said it isn’t hard to understand how he fell in love with Hilda. “We had similar interests,” he said. . .

They wed in 1965. In their first years of marriage, Hilda supported her husband while he attended Howard University’s law school. Contrary to popular rumor, Charlie said his family had no fortune. After his graduation from law school, Charlie chose to devote himself to being a quiet aide to his wife. . .

Her office offers proof of their partnership. Its many pictures show Hilda hugging and caressing Charlie’s face — though when a visitor asks about them, Charlie just flashes a coy smile.

Yesterday, the two sat in Hilda’s office, eating lunch. She laid out a blue place mat, napkins and a cup on her desk and served Charlie slices of turkey. “I have to take care of my baby,” she said. Charlie, sitting across from his wife with a big smile on his face, said, “She means everything to me.”

LEA ADAMS – A couple of days after I joined John Wilson’s staff as communications director in the early 90’s, I made my maiden voyage to use the copying machines shared by first floor Council offices. I was surprised to find Charlie Mason in the small cubicle, diligently collating documents for his beloved Hilda. The machines required a code, and were a bit quirky. I got confused and expressed my frustration under my breath, cursing the machines and DC government for not working as well as I thought they should. Charlie stopped what he was doing gradually, making certain of his own count before he turned and told me what I was doing wrong. I smiled and thanked him, then reiterated my critical comment linking the performance of the machine to that of the District. Before turning back to work that a different sort of octagenarian, Harvard-educated white man might have considered beneath him, Charlie reminded me that, “Most things do work, but you just have to take your time and stay with it if you want them to work well.” I learned an important lesson about patience and perseverance from this gentle warrior, and I will be eternally grateful that our paths crossed.

JOE LIBERTELLI – Betty-Chia and her husband Hank Gassner are both longtime DC residents and activists. She told a story about Charlie, then-treasurer of the local CORE, [who] was once awakened in the middle of the night to go down to the Greyhound station to provide a substitute check for the Freedom Riders whose out-of-state check was rejected by Greyhound. Years later, Marvin Rich, then President of the ADA, [said] that had it not been for Charlie, there would have been no Freedom Ride.

My own first encounter with Hilda and Charlie was in the summer of 1986. Now-disgraced TV actor Robert Blake (and my good friend Tim Carpenter) came to DC to raise money for the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, which had run out of funds in the Nevada desert and was in danger of total collapse. I recommended they contact All Souls Church and, indeed, Blake was invited to deliver a guest sermon. At the end of what was a very dramatic and emotional presentation, the audience was silent. Then, from up in the balcony, a voice was heard “So what can we do about this?” It was Hilda, with Charlie at her side. “Can we pass the hat? My husband and I will donate one thousand dollars each.” The hat was passed and in a few minutes more than $13,000 was raised and the Peace March was on its way to being saved. In my opinion, that March, while a tiny footnote in American history, set in motion a chain of events that may have had momentous consequences as many marchers continued to March from Western Europe into the Soviet Union. Their efforts and their origin in America was big news in Europe and in the Soviet Union at the time and served to undermine the Kremlin’s assertions of a monolithic American/Western threat.


Debby Hanrahan

[From a talk delivered at the 10th anniversary of the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition, 2007]

When the late, great Statehood Party pioneer Josephine Butler was in her final year of life, she was admitted to Howard University Hospital. One day, a friend and I were visiting Jo in the hospital, as were Jo’s niece and grand niece, when Hilda came into the room. Jo mentioned to Hilda that her grand niece was going to Russia for three weeks over Christmas in a student exchange program. Hilda asked the young woman if she had a warm coat to wear in the bitterly cold Russian winter. When Jo’s relative said no, she really didn’t, Hilda said that wouldn’t do — and sat down and wrote her a check to cover the cost of a new down coat.

When Marion Barry was seriously wounded in 1977 in a shooting and hostage situation inside the District Building that resulted in the killings of a reporter and a security guard, Hilda and Charlie opened up their home for Barry to recuperate.

And there was the time when opponents of the building of the new convention center in Shaw needed money to file a lawsuit to try to stop the convention center from being built there. I went to the Masons’ house with Beth Solomon to see about getting a contribution toward a $5,000 matching grant someone else was offering us to help pay for the lawsuit. Hilda was out, but Charlie did what he and Hilda always did. He listened to our pitch and wrote a check for $5,000 to cover the entire matching grant.

Hilda can be tough, too. Lawrence Guyot told me about the time in 1965 that he came to All Souls Unitarian Church — Hilda and Charlie’s church — to ask to speak to the congregation on the activities of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Despite the church’s reputation for progressive politics, Guyot, surprisingly, was turned down. When Guyot told Hilda about it, she immediately went to the minister privately and said, “Lawrence Guyot will speak, or Charlie and I will leave this church.” . . . Needless to say, Lawrence Guyot got to speak at All Souls.

In addition to the numerous civil rights, civil liberties and peace organizations they helped legislatively, financially, and on the picket line, Hilda and Charlie would quietly help individuals get the training they needed for jobs, help people get into college, and do whatever they could for anyone they came across who needed help. . .

I came to know Hilda and Charlie Mason more than 30 years ago, primarily through the newly-formed D.C. Statehood Party. I had worked as Julius Hobson’s secretary for a time in the late 1960s, then later had worked on Hobson’s school board campaign and on Jo Butler’s campaign for the D.C. Council, so I became heavily involved in the D.C. Statehood Party. I met Hilda and Charlie when Hilda was on the school board sometime in the mid-1970s.

Later, when Hilda was on the D.C. Council, I worked for her as a receptionist and community outreach person for a year or so. I can’t say I worked for her. I ran behind her and Charlie. I couldn’t keep up with them. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, I was in dozens of meetings with Hilda regarding Statehood Party activities, her election campaigns, and so many other issues of the time. In addition to the Statehood Party meetings, Hilda, like Jo Butler, seemed to be at three or four evening meetings every day of the week that took her to every neighborhood in the city. Additionally, like Julius Hobson and Jo Butler, Hilda had her eye not only on local matters, but on national and international issues, so Hilda might also be found at a Women’s Strike for Peace meeting or a nuclear freeze event on any given night or weekend.

Hilda grew up in Campbell County, Virginia – Klan country – and learned about social justice – and injustice – at an early age from her parents. Her great grandmother on her mother’s side had been a slave. Hilda’s mother Martha was a teacher. Her father ran a number of small businesses, including at one time a country store. Hilda recalled an incident in her early years when her father hurriedly arranged to have an African-American man get out of town to avoid a lynching.

Upon finishing high school at age 16, Hilda immediately went into teaching in Virginia. Later, in 1945, she moved to Washington, D.C. with Carolyn and Joyce, her two daughters from an unsuccessful marriage. While working several jobs, she also attended Miners Teachers College, from which she received her B.S. degree in 1952. She went on to get an M.A. from the old District of Columbia Teachers College in 1957.

From 1952 until 1971, Hilda held a number of public education posts throughout the city — teacher, counselor, assistant . . .

During that period as an educator, Hilda also became active in progressive causes. She helped organize the Washington Teachers Union in her school; she was involved in the successful effort to desegregate D.C.’s restaurants, and she was active in a wide variety of other civil rights activities. In 1957 she met Charles Mason, and they were married eight years later, thus beginning a unique partnership nurtured by love, family and social activism.

Hilda and Charlie during the 1960s worked through CORE and SNCC to help provide food, housing, clothing, medical care and transportation for people who came to Washington to demonstrate and to lobby for civil rights. Hilda worked with Julius Hobson on a number of matters, including his successful landmark lawsuit (Hobson v. Hansen) on the unequal treatment of African American students in the city’s public schools — and on the formation of the new D.C. Statehood Party.

In 1971, at Julius Hobson’s urging, Hilda ran for and was elected to the Board of Education where she served along with Hobson and another of tonight’s honorees, the future Mayor Marion Barry. Hilda was reelected in 1975.

An ailing Julius Hobson was elected to the D.C. Council as a Statehood Party candidate in 1974 and died in 1977, at which time the Statehood Party selected Hilda to replace him on the council. Later in the year she won an election to fill out the term, and was then reelected in 1978 and four elections thereafter, leaving office at the end of 1998.

Hilda holds the distinction of being the only person to defeat Marion Barry in a D.C. election. That happened in the 1990 election when Barry challenged Hilda for her council seat in the general election, but in that showdown the “grandmother to the world” beat the “mayor for life.”

And maybe some of you don’t know that Hilda has a police record. Yes, it’s true. Back in November 1984 during the almost daily protests against apartheid at the South African Embassy, Hilda, along with Congressman Ron Dellums and Mark Stepp of the United Auto Workers union, were arrested at the embassy when they refused to leave the front steps of the building after being denied a meeting with the South African ambassador. Dellums and Stepp were held overnight in jail, while Hilda was released on her own recognizance.. . .

Probably Hilda’s greatest accomplishment on the D.C. Council was to keep alive the University of the District of Columbia Law School — named the David A. Clarke School of Law, but seen by a lot of us as the David Clarke/Hilda Mason/Charlie Mason School of Law. . . The Hilda-Charlie-Dave Clarke effort to save the UDC law school was successful and how lucky we all are for it. For today, the David A. Clarke School of Law is the most diverse law school in the nation, with 51 percent of its students from minority groups and 64 per cent women. Of the 192 American Bar Association-accredited law schools, the UDC law school has the fifth highest percentage of African-American law students. The Princeton Review rated it first in the nation for most progressive students. The applicant pool has almost quadrupled in six years. The first-time bar passage rates of the law schools graduates has increased to over 60 per cent. . .

While working in Hilda’s office in the late 1970s-early 1980s, I had a chance to observe Hilda and Charlie close up. While citizen advocates for schools, civil rights, housing, tenants’ rights, and social justice were frequent visitors to her council office, I don’t recall any lobbyists for corporate interests even setting foot inside the door. It’s not that Hilda wouldn’t see them if they showed up, it’s just that they knew Hilda was always going to put citizens’ interests over business boondoggles.

And her door was always open. Constituents could just walk in and get an appointment on the spot, and they got to see Hilda — not a staff member — unlike today, when it’s often like pulling teeth to get appointments with the councilmember herself or himself — and then you might be limited to 10 or 15 minutes.

Once while I was working for Hilda, she and Charlie asked me to mail out contribution checks to the countless organizations and individuals to which they were contributing — civil rights organization, peace groups, social justice organizations of one type or another. When I asked Charlie if I should keep a list of recipients so Hilda could call upon them to hold little neighborhood campaign parties at election time, Charlie looked at me quizzically and said, “We don’t do that.” . . .

Back in 1986, the D.C. Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild honored Hilda and Charlie with the David and Selma Rein Community Justice Award, named for two other great local champions of civil liberties. In the program for that event, Hilda was asked what had made her remain true to her principles over the years. She cited the example of her parents and the tragic death at age 13 of her grandson Nestor. And here I quote what Hilda said to the interviewer:

“It’s in the marrow of my bones, it is in my blood. Almost every step I take, I feel like I’m doing what my mother and father would have done. And my grandson, Nestor, I feel like I’m walking in his footsteps, too. I can’t forget where I came from. I can’t forget what my parents did to preserve their own lives. Although I’m living comfortably now, I’m not going to forget how it once was for me. And I’m not going to turn my back on people who aren’t as fortunate as I am.”


NY TIMES The doormen and bellhops in white gloves and dark brown suits at the soaring Mayflower Hotel have come to recognize the subtle signs: attractive women who carry no luggage, dressed tastefully but, in stilettos and lacy camisoles, seeming a touch too sensual to meet a chubby Commerce Committee lobbyist for cocktails. Sometimes they walk straight to the elevators. If it is after 10 p.m., a security guard might stop them, leading to an awkward conversation, but a discreet call upstairs usually sets minds at ease.

More often, these women, who earn $500 to $5,000 an hour attending to guests, slip onto a stool at the wood-paneled Town & Country Lounge in the lobby and order a club soda with lime; no elaborate drinks, because the client will appear within minutes to usher them to a handsomely appointed room. . .

“We are in the business of selling rooms,” said a former manager of the Mayflower, speaking on the condition of anonymity as he searches for another job in the clubby world of fancy hotels. “And the escort services are in the business of keeping our guests happy.”

The Mayflower is one of the dowager madams of Washington, whose curving facade, murals and extensive gold leaf suit a city of grandiose ambition. President Harry S. Truman called the hotel “Washington’s second-best address.” The White House is a five-minute walk from the front door.

J. Edgar Hoover lunched there every day for 20 years, taking a blandly predictable chicken soup, cottage cheese and grapefruit. Charles Lindbergh celebrated the first-ever solo trans-Atlantic flight in a Mayflower ballroom. Franklin Delano Roosevelt penned his first inaugural speech in Room 776.

Marion S. Barry Jr., the former mayor of Washington, was convicted in 1990 on a misdemeanor drug charge after being accused of using cocaine while staying at the Mayflower in 1989. Members of the House pursuing the impeachment of President Bill Clinton interviewed Monica Lewinsky in the hotel’s 10th-floor Presidential Suite a decade later. . .

“In March of 1933, a former New York governor, President Roosevelt, was composing a history-making speech in his room here thinking that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Dan Ruskin, who has played at the piano bar since the Eisenhower administration, said in an e-mail message. “Now, almost to the day, 75 years later, another New York governor is making history. He’s in his room thinking the only thing we have to fear is – getting caught.”

Asked about the hotel’s reputation, John Wolf, a spokesman for Marriott International, which owns the Mayflower, declined to rebut the specifics. “It is our company’s policy to comply with all federal, state and local laws,” he said in an e-mail message. “We also respect the privacy of our guests, subject to the safety and security of other guests and the public.”. . .

The Town & Country is a favorite watering spot for an eclectic collection of Washington types: lobbyists, journalists, F.B.I. agents, diplomats and the occasional congressman or intelligence operative. The bartender, Sambonn Lek, stirs 101 varieties of martinis, including the Electric Lady and the Naughty Lady (he said he took the Ted Kennedy off the menu to “leave him alone”). . .

George Dasch, the German spy, turned himself in at the hotel in 1942. He demanded to speak with Hoover, who, as it happens, was eating downstairs. (Another noon, the FBI. chief looked up to see the No. 3 on the agency’s Most Wanted List. Hoover ordered the man arrested and returned to his soup.)

John F. Kennedy’s amour-de-mob-moll, Judith Exner, kept a room at the Mayflower and would slip over to the White House when the First Lady was out of town. (A Kennedy biography also details a presidential assignation with the actress Angie Dickinson in the Mayflower.). . .


Mayors of Washington City

Robert Brent 1802-1812
Daniel Rapine 1812-1813
James H. Blake 1813-1817
Benjamin G. Orr 1817-1819

Samuel N. Smallwood 1819-1822
Thomas Carbery 1822-1824
Samuel N. Smallwood 1824
Roger C. Weightman 1824-1827
Joseph Gales, Jr. 1827-1830
John P. Van Ness 1830-1834
William A. Bradley 1834-1836
Peter Force 1836-1840
William Winston Seaton 1840-1850
Walter Lenox 1850-1852
John W. Maury 1852-1854
John Thomas Towers 1854-1856
William B. Magruder 1856-1858
James G. Berret 1858-1861
Richard Wallach 1861-1868
Sayles J. Bowen 1868-1870
Matthew Gault Emery 1870-1871

Mayors of Georgetown

Robert Peter 1790
Thomas Beale 1791
Uriah Forrest 1792
John Threlkeld 1793
Peter Casenave 1794
Thomas Turner 1795
Daniel Reintzel 1796
Lloyd Beall 1797-1799
Daniel Reintzel 1799-1804
Thomas Corcoran 1805
Daniel Reintzel 1806-1807
Thomas Corcoran 1808-1810
David Wiley 1811
Thomas Corcoran 1812
John Peter 1813-1818
Henry Foxall 1819-1820
John Peter 1821-1822
John Cox 1823-1845
Henry Addison 1845-1857
Richard R. Crawford 1857-1861
Henry Addison 1861-1867
Charles D. Welch 1867-1869
Henry M. Sweeney 1869-1871

Governors of the District of Columbia

Henry Cooke 1871-1873
Alexander Shepherd 1873-1874

Post-home rule mayors of Washington

Walter Washington, 1975-1979
Marion Barry, 1979-1991
Sharon Pratt (Dixon) Kelly, 1991-1995
Marion Barry, 1995-1999
Anthony Williams, 1999-2007
Adrian Fenty, 2007-Present

Between 1875 and 1975, Washington was run by appointed commissioners. Source: Washingtoniana Division, DC Library


According to the DC Preservation League the towers at the 1905 McMillan Reservoir are part of a “Slow Sand Filtration Site,” which was once considered a “Washington public health milestone.” This innovative system of water purification, relied on sand rather than chemicals, and it is believed to have led to the elimination of epidemics of typhoid and other communicable diseases. The site consisted of regulator houses, sand bins, washers, and underground sand filtration beds.


COLMAN MCCARTHY, WASHINGTON POST, 2007 – Along with Edward and Kathleen Guinan at the Community for Creative Nonviolence, Pastor John Steinbruck of Luther Place Memorial Church, Veronica Maz of the House of Ruth, Sister Mary Ann Luby of Rachael’s Women’s Center and the Rev. Imagene Stewart of the Church of What’s Happening Now, Horace McKenna helped make homelessness a national public policy issue in the 1970s. In time, at least half a dozen programs for the homeless would operate in the two-mile stretch between the White House and Congress. It became America’s Homeless Belt, with Caesar at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue and grandees at the other — and the invisible poor in between.

Horace McKenna twinned his spiritual life with daily personal relations with the outcastes. The closeness came to light when a homeless man gave his legal address as “the back seat of Father McKenna’s car,” a beat-up Renault.

And he touched the lives not only of poor people but of the affluent, too. A student at Gonzaga College High School, which is next to the center [at St. Aloysius Catholic Church], recently recalled: “So you’d come in from the lily-white suburbs and you’d see the nation’s Capitol looming in front of you and then . . . you’d walk by the morning line of homeless and poor and jobless men who were waiting in line at Father Horace McKenna’s. That was not lost to many of us walking into school by that line every day: how lucky we were, how much we had.”

The schoolboy 30 years ago was Martin O’Malley, now governor of Maryland.


DC BLUES – In 1959, a D.C. club, the old Melody Inn, located at Bladensburg Road NE, became the “Gold Room”. The club featured a variety of live entertainment in blues and jazz. Blues/jazz singers like those named above were regularly featured at the Gold Room, particularly throughout the 1960s. During those years, the Gold Room might well have been the premier black nightspot. Such stalwart black performers as Redd Foxx, Al Hibler, Etta Jones, and Irene Reed have graced the Gold Room’s stage.

Since its establishment, the Gold Room was owned and operated by a jazz singer with a silkalene baritone named Jimmy McPhail. Any Washingtonian “of age” during that time ought to have heard of Jimmy. He worked at the club as a singer when it was called the Melody Inn. Jimmy won a talent show in 1950 that was held by a local radio station (WWDC) with host Jackson Lowe. Shirley Horn was a finalist in that same talent show but it was McPhail who was the victor. . . He appeared periodically with Duke Ellington’s band until Ellington’s death and with Mercer Ellington until just a few years ago. McPhail also appeared along with the great Billie Holliday, at Washington’s “Brown Derby”. McPhail has performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall and has done shows with Ella Fitzgerald and appeared with Josephine Baker here at the National Theater.


DUNCAN SPENCER, THE HILL, JANUARY 2006 – The death-by-negligence of New York Times editor David Rosenbaum [is] a perfect example of the ugly layers of Washington society, and particularly the structure of the high court of the new dukes and duchesses of that society, news reporters. Can one imagine the same case (elderly man clobbered and robbed of his wallet and cards by two thugs) happening in Wards 7 or 8, where the victim would almost surely have been black? The case would never have gotten beyond The Washington Post’s “Metro Briefs” and would have ended there.

But several layers of our unexamined and uncriticized social gradation separated Rosenbaum from the Ward 7 and 8 man. Rosenbaum was white. He was sober. He was walking in a Far Northwest neighborhood considered safe (i.e., almost all white). And he was a news reporter. Not only a news reporter but associated with the country’s only national daily, the Times.

It was this combination of social factors that triggered a deluge from the press corps (or better, the Press Court) to include high indignation from such luminaries as Maureen Dowd, John Tierney (both NYT), Marc Fisher and Cokie Roberts, to mention only the best known of the indignant. . .

The memorial service on the 13th was little less than a press royal occasion, homage being paid not only by those who knew the decedent but by those who wanted to be known as having known him, as well as by those most public senators, Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Eulogist NYT bureau chief Philip Taubman called the crime “unfathomable, unthinkable, unspeakable.” Of course he was referring only to one (his own) social layer – in another part of town . . . such a crime would not only be fathomable, thinkable and speakable but an all-too-frequent experience. But the victim almost certainly would not have been a New York Times reporter. . .

This town’s media elite regard themselves as eminently important and amusing, while the public, ever yearning for a new example of that financial, social magic called celebrity, has eagerly embraced regular news columns on the media, the press reporting on itself. Regularly scheduled media columns ensure that stories are not written to report news but are written under the oldest whip in our business – finding something to fill that hole. What’s easier than another column about news royalty?. . .

As the press ascends to the level of social godhead, perhaps each scribbler should reread at least once a week Janet Malcolm’s shocking confession: “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.”

Too strong? Then read Washington Examiner writer Karen DeWitt: “I became a reporter like many in my generation, because I wanted to shine a light on wrongs and stand up for the little guy against the powerful.” The Press Court is now the powerful. It stands up not for the little guy but for its own.


SAM SMITH, WASH POST, 1986 – The original argument for Metro was that we needed a subway to meet the transit needs of Washington communities. But the facts did not support this argument. In the late 1970s, Metro was talking about a completed system that would have an annual rail ridership of 323 million, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation memorandum. With two-thirds of the system finished, the actual rail ridership is only one-third of the estimate. It now looks as if Metro will be at least 100 million riders short when the system is completed.

What is happening to Washington’s neighborhoods is not surprising to those few heretics such as myself who long argued that Metro was a Trojan transit system — a poor solution to the area’s transportation needs, vastly too expensive, and, in fact, a land-development scheme in disguise. We argued that Metro would not compete effectively with the automobile, that its ridership projections were greatly exaggerated, and that its operating and construction costs were greatly underestimated. Although we lost both the. battles and the war, on all these points Metro, the local politicians and the press were seriously wrong.

In 1991, Metro had a ridership of 147 million, less than half the amount projected in the 1970s.

In 2003, Metro reported 184 million riders, or 56% the number predicted in the 1970s.

In 2006 and 2007 Metro exceeded 200 million riders for the first time.


Metro was built on the backs and expense of four private area bus companies that together were losing only a half million dollars a year as of 1971. Using grossly inflated passenger projections (double the eventual figure) and grossly underestimated capital expenses (a quarter of what the system would end up costing), local Metro boosters hustled the public and the federal government into supporting a system that has so badly failed in its purpose that DC now has the second worst auto traffic in the country.

As early as 1968, we warned in the DC Gazette that subways “take years to build, require enormous appropriations, and almost invariably lag behind the city’s changing and growing transportation requirements.” In 1971, we urged that instead of a subway the city adopt a mixed-mode system including improved commuter rail, jitneys, buses running on reserved lanes, and streetcars. Just for starters, we could have had a 100 mile light rail system for one-tenth of the cost of building the subway.

Exclusive-lane buses would have been even more efficient. In Curitiba, Brazil, which uses them, buses move at an average speed of 20 mph, carrying three times as many passengers per hour as standard bus routes. The system, which uses raised boarding tubes (no climbing up bus steps) with advance payment of fares, took only six months to install at less than one percent the per-mile cost of building a subway. The system, which carries four times the number of riders as Rio’s subway, resulted in 28% of the city’s car drivers switching to mass transit. Curitiba’s transit planning also includes cycleways, pedestrian priority in downtown, concentrated development, and higher density near public transportation. As a result gasoline use per vehicle is 25% lower than in other Brazilian cities of its size.

But DC’s power-brokers — led then as now by real estate developers — weren’t really interested in transportation. They were more concerned with land speculation, with exploiting outer suburbia. Thus alternative suggestions were disregarded, even when the nudges came from the federal government itself. Government officials bought into Metro early and never seriously studied anything else. Before long a Fairfax County official would say, “My staff doesn’t have time to work on transportation. They’re too busy trying to figure out how to fund it.”

If the area’s leaders had actually studied subways they would have found that they do not compete with autos. They take no space from cars and they encourage massive new development whose occupants mostly arrive by car — thus ultimately increasing street congestion. When we tried to make this point in the 70s, many thought it absurd. Now the facts are in; Metro has made Washington’s traffic worse.

What subways do compete with — and very effectively — is bus service. The reason for this is that subways are built along the most successful bus routes. For example, in 1980, we examined the ten most popular bus routes in the city. They were carrying about the same number of daily passengers as all the remaining bus lines are today: about a quarter of a million riders. The subsidy for each rider on these ten lines was a minuscule seven cents.

Then came Metro. It siphoned riders off these lines and when they wouldn’t come voluntarily, it rerouted the busses to subway stations in order to force transfers to the underground. As ridership on the remaining lines declined, Metro used this as an excuse to cut service further. Metro even stopped printing a bus map or providing bus schedules as further incentive to give up on the system.

Now the buses — in reality victims of Metro– are being blamed for its woes and are under renewed attack. A recent Washington Post article stated that “the underused bus system has lost 25% of it riders during this decade. Because such a decline could bleed the area’s Metrorail system of millions of scarce dollars, transit officials have called a meeting [to] discuss what to do with the Metrobus system.”

Targeting Metrobus should be of particular concern to DC residents, about a third of whom don’t own cars. Further, DC deserves far better treatment at the hands of Metro than it has received. After all, it was $2 billion of our leftover highway money that made the thing possible in the first place. Instead we have been repeatedly short-changed.

At the core of the problem is a subway system that cost four times what it was supposed and produced half the riders predicted. Now it’s twenty years old and though it hasn’t even been completed yet, it needs significant repairs. Even selling off the bus system or doing away with bus service entirely won’t compensate for having planned area transit so poorly. 1/97



MONICA CAVANAUGH, HILL RAG – The place has been here a while and been through a lot. Before it was Mr. Henry’s, it was the 601 Club, a country-western bar with a loyal following. In 1966 a man named Henry Yaffee took it over.

He never closed the doors during his renovation, a complete overhaul from cowboy chic to Victorian pub. Instead, he went section by section, all the while introducing new people to his restaurant and convincing the salts to stay.

It was a jazz club for a short time, and a popular one at that. The bar’s greatest claim to fame is having been the home base for a young Roberta Flack, then just a schoolteacher with a trio on the side. Yaffee knocked out the upstairs apartments and created a performance space just for her. As her name grew bigger, so did her famous following. Burt Bachrach, Carmen McRae and Johnny Mathis filled the pews Yaffee bought from a local church, while acts like Jerry Butler and even Liberace joined Flack on stage. . .

Yaffee opened sister restaurants around the city, all of which eventually fell to the wayside. He gave the original up to Larry Quillian, still a force in the Capitol Hill real estate market, in 1970. . . The Hill may have changed, but Mr. Henry’s has stayed largely the same.



CAPITOL EAST GAZETTE, FEB 1968 – A group of Eastern High School students, calling themselves the Modern Strivers, have begun a drive for increased academic and personal freedom at the school. Following a successful boycott of the Eastern cafeteria, the Strivers won an agreement from principal Madison Tignor to hold a referendum on a proposed student bill of rights drawn up by the group. Among the rights demanded were: freedom of dress, freedom to wear political buttons and to publish papers without censorship, freedom to organize groups, freedom to protest grievances, and freedom to listen to classroom speakers free of any prior censorship. The bill of rights also sought freedom for students to choose all their non-required courses. At a news conference last month, leaders of Strivers expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of education at Eastern and were particularly critical of the lack of a Negro history course at the school.

CAPITOL EAST GAZETTE, MAR 1968 – One by one the citizens stepped to the beef box at Hine Jr. High School on Feb. 7 to register their complaints, requests, and demands with an impassive school board. The meeting was one of a series of neighborhood sessions being held by the board. . . The Modern Strivers from Eastern High were there. . . Several groups called for a halt in school construction until citizen participation and facilities for new teaching techniques could be incorporated into the planning. (“Almost traitorous, ” snorted board member Benjamin Alexander at one such proposal.) . . . Several members of the Black Student Union hit “Negro History Week” (“The history taught at our schools is racist, ” said one) and complained that the school board “had gotten a honkie to run our school system. ” (One nearby spectator claims she heard school superintendent William Manning ask a board member “What’s a honkie?”) . . .

The Modern Strivers, in their testimony, argued that a committee of students under professional counseling should be permitted to recruit and hire teachers for Eastern. The four representatives of the group, led by junior Gregory Taylor, also urged that a board of parents, teachers and students be established to hire the successor to principal Madison W. Tignor, who retires this year. And they claimed to have the signatures of over 500 students “clearly stating that they are not getting the best education possible. ” In addition, the group presented a plan to establish a ‘Freedom School at Eastern, which would teach black history and black culture.

TESTIMONY OF GREGORY TAYLOR, MODERN STRIVERS – I am a student at Eastern High School. I’d like to read a caption from the Washington Post. This story appeared on January 13th and was about the Eastern student’s protest. Eastern’s principal, Madison W. Tignor, said in this article and I quote: “The students have no right to be disappointed in the school as a whole just because the reading scores are low. They don’t take into account the odds we’re working against. . . We have every kind of student at this school. Some come from fine professional homes, but we have many from other kinds of homes, you know.”

I, myself, come from one of the other homes, my parents are not professional so what do you do with me? Am I inferior because I am not from a professional background? I, myself, believe that it is because you do not want me to be a professional person. Last year I wrote a letter of protest to a faculty member. The faculty member responded to my letter by saying, “You need to go back to the first grade because of the misspelled words. A first grader could have presented it better than you presented it to me.”

My feeling about what she said was if I’m down and I want to get up, she is going to make it as difficult as possible for me to get up. I am a 19-year-old junior and too old to go back to elementary school, so what do you do? You give the so-called basic student, me,- anything – just enough to get me out of the way. I have been officially labelled basic since the first grade and I’m still unofficial basic now. As an example of this, I have been trying to go to college. But this is the program they gave me at the beginning of the year: 1st period, gym; 2nd period, applied math; 3rd period, lunch; 4th period, English; 5th period, U.S. history; 6th period, cooking; and 7th period, woodshop. I have had courses like cooking and woodwork all my life. In place of these courses, I could have taken a foreign language and a meaningful science course to help prepare me for college. But I know the answer now. I must depend on myself and not on the school system.

CAPITOL EAST GAZETTE, APR 1968 – Madison W. Tignor, principal of Eastern High School, went on extended leave last month following the revelation that he had written a Pennsylvania draft board requesting removal of the draft deferment of one of his teachers – “as a patriotic gesture.” Shirley O. Brown, who has been assistant principal at Eastern since 1963, was named acting principal in Tignor’s place. The school administration also wrote English teacher J. G. Lord Jr. ‘s draft board and requested that Lord’s deferment be reinstated. “What he did is contrary to school practice, ” said assistant superintendent George R. Rhodes, speaking of Tignor’s action. Tignor’s letter followed increased activity by a militant student group called the Modern Strivers, which Lord had been advising. The Strivers, who have demanded major reforms in both educational and administrative policies at Eastern, have been the subject of considerable publicity in recent weeks. They have pressed their fight in sit-ins, walkouts, news conferences, and testimony before the School Board. The Washington Teachers’ Union has demanded that Tignor be fired. Said Modern Strivers president Gregory Taylor of the principal’s letter to the draft board, it “wasn’t a very nice way to handle the situation.”

[Shortly after this story appeared, Washington erupted in major rioting following the death of Martin Luther King]


Longtime favorite restaurant on Capitol Hill. The Kennedys liked table 22 in the bar room. After the Kennedys were in the White House they still ordered meals from the Monocle.


Jelly Roll Morton, the jazz composer and pianist, lived for three years in DC (1935-1938) and operated the Music Box nightclub at 1211 U Street NW, near the Lincoln Theatre. It was during this period that Jelly Roll recorded his famous reminiscences and piano solos for the Library of Congress.



Wisconsin Avenue Loews
Fine Arts
Inner Circle
West End
Outer Circle

[L Seftor, DC Watch, 2006]



DUNCAN SPENCER, HILL NEWS – Messy, in your face and everywhere, the mulberry is my vote to be D.C.’s “state” plant. The bushy tree and its dropping, staining fruit is considered a sidewalk anathema to today’s swish urbanite and his statement car. . .

Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79) remarked that no tree had been so neglected by the wit of man; Shakespeare had a mulberry in his garden. The leaves were found to be perfect food for silkworms; Vincent Van Gogh made a famous painting of one alone; British kings ordered them propagated; mulberries were honored in World War II, their name being given to the protective harbors at the Normandy landing in ’44. And today Mulberry is a popular e-mail program.

According to botanical authorities, the American variety, the red, is “quite tolerant of drought, pollution and poor soils.” Perhaps this is why they flourish so on the waste spaces of the city. . .

In this country of waste and excess, the many recipes for mulberry wine, preserves, etc., are ignored. In fact there are so many mulberries out there that even the birds can’t get them all and the ants aren’t quick enough. They themselves are excessive. But they are the essence of our tropical, troubling, charming spring.


The Sounds of G Street
SAM SMITH – While being interviewed for a Channel 9 special on old Washington at Reeves Bakery on G Street, I happened to meet a father and son who ran a nearby jewelry store, the father having been there since 1939. Great, I said. Maybe you can confirm something that’s been troubling me. I distinctly recall going to a second floor dance hall on G Street in the 1950s and hearing the Count Basie band. It wasn’t a big room and I thought I was going to be blasted out of it until my ears got used to the decibels. And there was no big sign outside, just some stairs between ground floor stores.Have I been imagining it? No, said the jewelry store owner, there was such a place near the corner of 13th & G. And that wasn’t the only music on G Street. From the 19th century on, the street has had an unusual and greatly underrated connection with American music history.



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS – During the early 1880s a contest developed between Thomas A. Edison on the one hand and the Volta Laboratory team of Chichester A. Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter on the other. The objective was to transform Edison’s 1877 tinfoil phonograph, or talking machine, into an instrument capable of taking its place alongside the typewriter as a business correspondence device. . . As the Edison versus Bell/Tainter contest was going on, Emile Berliner in Washington, D.C., began to take a great interest in the future of sound recording and reproduction. As he had done earlier with Bell’s telephone, he began by examining in detail both the phonograph and the graphophone in order to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each. He soon formed the following conclusions: the wax cylinder, while a vast improvement over the tinfoil cylinder, was too soft and fragile for making a permanent recording. A wax cylinder would wear out quickly so some more durable substance was required. The vertical cut (or hill-and-dale cut) grooves were often not deep enough to keep the stylus from skidding across the surface of the cylinder. To avoid this both the phonograph and the graphophone had the stylus attached to a feed screw that would carry it over the cylinder.



A constantly deep groove would enable the feed screw to be eliminated, but that would require the use of something different from the vertical cut. A soft wax cylinder could not be mass-produced, so if recordings were ever to be widely disseminated, some method of mass-producing exact facsimiles was required. All of this added up to the fact that there was a need in the sound recording and reproduction field for a different type of machine, one that did not use soft wax cylinders, one that did not use the vertical-cut groove that was alternately deep with loud sounds and shallow with soft sounds, and one that employed a relatively hard and permanent record that could be easily reproduced in vast numbers. . .

Then Berliner organized the United States Gramophone Company in Washington, D.C [1205 G Street NW] . . . . The organization of the United States Gramophone Company in Washington, D.C., in 1894 marked the true beginning of the enormous record industry, not only in the U.S., but in the world. A setback occurred on the night of September 29, 1897, when the powerhouse of the Washington Traction Company, where the laboratory of the gramophone company was located, [near 14th & Pennsylvania] burned to the ground. It was reported that the company lost at least one hundred zinc masters that had not been pressed, as well as all of its machines and equipment. Everything had to be replaced.


INTERTIQUE – There was a time long ago when the entire phonograph industry in the United States was under the control of one man. This magnate wasn’t Thomas Edison – his name was Jesse Lippincott and when he went bankrupt in 1894 the men running his Washington, DC territorial franchise decided to make a go of it on their own. They spun the Columbia Phonograph Company-General out of Lippincott’s defunct North American Phonograph Company. Aggressive and talented, these men, led by Edward Easton, powered the Graphophone Company to industry prominence. . . . Unlike Edison or Eldridge Johnson they left behind almost no company history or personal memoirs. . .Shrewd, agressive and litigious, [Edward] Easton was the founder and president of Columbia. Educated in Paterson, New Jersey, at the age of 15 he became a stenographer for several New York newspapers. As a star stenographer in 1881 he sold his account of the trial of Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, for $25,000. Easton put himself through Georgetown law school and emerged in 1889 as a corporate lawyer in the District of Columbia. About this time he was seized with a vision of the phonograph altering stenography. . . When Lippincott went bankrupt in 1894 Easton the corporate lawyer figured out a way to make Columbia Phonograph the record end of the business and American Graphophone the machine end of the business. In 1895, in a stock swap deal, he became president of both. Of all the regional territories Columbia endured triumphant, independent and alone. . .

MENLO PARK RECORDINGS – One of the biggest money makers from the North American Phonograph Company was the District of Columbia Phonograph Company. In charge was Edward Easton who was bent on bringing the phonograph into the minds of people as an entertainment device. Under his direction, the company put music onto the cylinders rather than dictation. Music on cylinders was against the wishes of the Jessie Lippencott and Thomas Edison interests in the North American Phonograph Company. When the North American Phonograph Company went out of business in 1894, the Bell and Tainter interests formed a partnership. Edward Easton’s company and became the Columbia Graphophone Company. Edward Easton headed the new company. Improvements were to the Bell and Tainter graphophone and it was marketed as a musical device.

Thomas Edison decided to take back full rights to his invention from the failed North American Phonograph Company. In doing so he took on the liabilities of the failed empire and was involved in numerous lawsuits. During one of them, the court prohibited Edison from selling phonographs in the United States for a period of about three years. This gave Columbia the time it needed to become a major player in the market and made Thomas Edison resolve to keep future phonograph ventures in his own hands.

In a bold move in 1895, the Columbia Company put out the first inexpensive spring wound machine to play cylinders. Until then, every machine that had been on the market was cumbersome with batteries and prohibitively expensive. The low price brought Columbia to the forefront of the industry and assured the companies early success.

Columbia had used local Washington, DC talent to make cylinders for the steady demand they had. As demand grew because of the lower priced playback machine, everyone realized the need to design a method of mass-producing cylinders for the music-hungry public. . .

Columbia would remember these days as their earliest glory days. The Edison Company would enter the phonograph business again in 1896 with his new phonograph. Edison’s price would go down to $10.00 in 1897, which presented Columbia with some serious competition in the recording arena.

MILES AGO – In 1891 Columbia was the first company to offer a catalogue of its phonographs and cylinders. By 1895, Columbia was manufacturing hundreds of cylinders daily, and by the turn of the century it had a catalogue of more than 5,000 cylinders. However by 1901, Emile Berliner’s flat disc “Gram-O-Phone” had established itself as the primary consumer medium and the same year, Columbia marketed its first discs — 7-inchers for 50 cents, and 10-inchers for $1.00. One 1901 best-seller was a rush cover version of President McKinley’s last public speech at the opening of the Buffalo Exposition on September 6, the day he was assassinated.


DOUGLAS H. WHEELER, COSMOS CLUB – There was a certain threadbare charm to the [Patrick] Hayes office at the Campbell Music Company at 1108 G Street, where we planned the events of a season in a one-room, second-floor office with a picture window overlooking an airshaft. To reach the office, theatergoers passed through the room where Mr. Campbell displayed the Steinway pianos he sold to the public. On the first floor, the tiny box offices of the Hayes Bureau and the National Symphony faced the sheet music department. Campbell’s stood just five blocks from the White House, where, only a few years before, President Truman could be seen leaving for a daily stroll on downtown streets. The streets were filled with small stores and locally owned businesses: Garfinkel’s department store, where the tea room was still a fashionable meeting place; the Singer Sewing Machine store, where people lined up for 99-cent machines on George Washington’s birthday; M.S. Swing, where coffee was brewed daily for area distribution and the aroma filled the surrounding sidewalks; Raleighs and Lewis and Thomas Saltz, where generations of men bought their clothes; and Rich’s Shoe Store, family-owned and operated for decades.

The Hayes Concert Bureau seemed right at home in this small-town way of life. In fact, we affectionately referred to the ticket office as a “country store,” where we met and developed friendly relationships with the music and dance lovers of the city. My duties included selling tickets for 25 cents each to a line of customers stretching out the store and down the block for concerts presented by the Library of Congress. At least once a day, I collected the cash and checks from ticket sales and deposited the money next door at the bank. Our account was so depleted at times, that we made out multiple checks to vendors in hopes that one or two would be good the first time they were presented and the remainder, the second or third time around. . .

One of my assignments for the Hayes Concert Bureau was to meet pianist Artur Rubinstein at the residence of Mrs. Virginia M. Bacon at 1801 F Street, NW, where he stayed when he performed in Washington. I escorted him to DAR Constitution Hall, located several blocks away, for a rehearsal of his annual recital. We walked and chatted as he puffed away on a sizeable stogie. On top of his mane of white hair was his signature fedora, which he tipped to every lady we passed.


JORDAN KITTS – The Year was 1912. . . Arthur Jordan entered his first foray into the music business by opening the Arthur Jordan Piano Company at 13th and G Street in the Nation’s Capital. Soon after, he persuaded friend Homer L. Kitt to leave his music business in Chicago and become general manager of the Arthur Jordan Piano Company. By 1922, the two had become partners and decided to purchase the G Street building and another music storefront nearby. The Jordan Piano Company eventually occupied the location at the northeast corner of 13th & G Streets, N.W. And the Homer Kitt Piano Company opened at 1330 G Street, N.W.

Though it was a joint ownership of a single business and in fact had a single manager for both stores, each operated completely independently in an effort to corner the market on franchises. They sold different product, employed different personnel, and were fiercely competitive. Any connection between them was a complete mystery to the general public for decades.

At 5:32 am on September 14, 1938, firemen responded to the first of two alarms and found the building at 1330 G Street ablaze. Fires had started separately on three floors. When the smoke cleared, literally, the building had been ravaged to the tune of $50,000 in both fixtures and furnishings. Because of three minor fires in previous weeks, and the fact that the front door had been found unlocked and open, lead investigators suspected arson, as reported in the Evening Star the following day. The only casualty of the fire were Fireman Buck Wright’s false teeth, lost while battling the blaze. Fellow firefighters aided him in his search but at the end of the day, according to the Evening Star, it looked as if he would not be eating steaks for a while. In 1984, Washington’s oldest continuously operating music storefront closed.


Home of WHAQ in the early 1920s, owned by the Semmes Motor Company

The beginnings of Atlantic Records


THE ATLANTIC RECORDS STORY Ahmet Ertegun was born in 1923 in Turkey, and came to the United States at the age of 11 when his father was appointed the Turkish Ambassador to the United States. Ahmet fell in love with the United States, particularly the music. He and his older brother Nesuhi (born 1918) collected over 15,000 jazz and blues 78s. Ahmet went to St. Johns College to study philosophy, and did post graduate work at Georgetown in Washington, DC. During this period, Ahmet and Nesuhi hired halls and staged concerts by Lester Young, Sidney Bechet and other jazz giants. When Ahmet’s father died in 1944, his mother and sister returned to Turkey, and Nesuhi went to California. Ahmet stayed in Washington. and hung around the Waxie Maxie (Max Silverman’s) Quality Music Shop to learn as much as he could about the record business. Ahmet had an aspiration to make records.

HISTORY OF ROCK Ahmet’s father Munir choose the surname Ertegun which means “living in a hopeful future.” His mother Hayrunisa Rustem was very musical and a terrific dancer. With a beautiful voice she played every instrument by ear. There was a lot of music in the Ertegun household with Hayrunsia buying the popular music of the day. Ahmet’s older brother Nesuhi introduced to many different artists and by age of five Ahmet had fallen in love with jazz. At night they would sneak records into their rooms and fall asleep listening to them. At the age of fourteen Ahmet’s mother brought him a record-cutting machine. Taking a Cootie Williams instrumental “West End Blues” he wrote lyrics to it. With the instrumental playing on a record player Ahmet turned recording machine and sang the lyrics into the microphone as the record played.

Ahmet and Nesuhi liked to go looking for old records by the great bands. . . As the brothers became friends with Duke Ellington, Lena Horne and Jelly Roll Morton the decided to put on the first integrated concert in Washington D.C. Having trouble finding a venue where they could hold the event they held at the Jewish Community Center, which was the only place that would allow a mixed audience and mixed band. Later they would be allowed to use the National Press Club’s auditorium. . .

While going to graduate school Ahmet discovered Quality Radio Repair Shop which besides selling new and used radios and repairing them sold records for 10 cents or three for a quarter. The store was owned by a man named Max Silverman. Eventually Max would phase out the radio repair business and concentrated on the record end. The name of the shop was changed Waxie Maxie. Soon Silverman got out of used end into the new record business. He as began a radio program where independent record owners came to get their records played. Ahmet became friends with him and it was here that he learned the record business. Understanding what people were buying and why.

In 1946 Ahmet became friends with Herb Abramson, a dental student and A&R man for National Records. Deciding to start a label together they talked Max Silverstein into backing them. There was to be two labels Jubilee for Gospel and Quality for jazz and R&B.


HISTORIC SURVEY OF SHAW EAST – The store at 608 Florida Avenue was built in 1923 at a cost of $3,000 for Newman Zarin. It was designed and built by Israel Diamond In 1937, the Waxie Maxie’s music shop opened at 1836 7th Street as the Quality Music Shop with such fanfare that police were needed to control the crowd that turned out for a celebration and jam session that ran from 3 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. It was opened by Max Silverman, a successful jukebox salesman, who had opened the business as an outlet for his used records. Live radio broadcasts fro the storefront featured performances by Sarah Vaughn, Margaret Whiting, and drummer Buddy Rich. Silverman recalled a young patron that “lived at my store” in the 1940s named Ahmet Ertegun, the youngest son of the Turkish Ambassador. In 1947, he founded the famed Atlantic records, and recorded his own composition by the local group coined The Clovers that was an instant success. Waxie Maxie’s success eventually led to the company going public in 1970 at $1 a share, and has added 27 stores to the chain since. In 1989, it sold a total of 33 stores for $11.75 million to LIVE Entertainment, Inc. of Los Angeles. The original location was razed to make way for the Metro entrance of the Shaw Howard University Metro station.

MP3 – Herb Abramson was the first president of pioneering jazz/R&B/pop label Atlantic Records. Born November 16, 1920, in Brooklyn, NY, Abramson, who was a blues, jazz. and gospel music enthusiast, began collecting records in his teens. Meeting fellow jazz record collectors brothers Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun in Washington, D.C., in the early ’40s, he began promoting jazz concerts in New York and neighboring D.C. Abramson would solicit the musicians. D.C. record store owner Max Silverman of Quality Music Store, aka Waxie Maxie, financed the Quality and Jubilee labels with Abramson and Ahmet Ertegun. After no commercial success, Silverman decided not to invest any more money in the venture and the labels folded.

While studying to be a dentist at New York University, Abramson produced records for Al Green’s — not the ’70s singer — National Records between 1944-1947 and cut sides on Billy Eckstine, Joe Turner, and the Ravens. Ahmet Ertegun, determined to get into the record business, talked his dentist, Vahdi Sabit, into investing 100,000 dollars into his startup label, Atlantic Records. Abramson joined him at the label, along with Nesuhi Ertegun. Atlantic hurriedly recorded sides before the American Federation of Musicians’ strike came into effect in late 1947.

More DC musical history


Top DC Myths

[Compiled by Matthew Gilmore and others on the local history bulletin board]

– Residents stopped construction of a subway stop in Georgetown

– Washington was built on a swamp

– DC’s original plan was reconstructed out of Benjamin Banneker’s memory after L’Enfant was fired

– The L’Enfant plan was copied from Versailles

– The city’s circles and avenues were for military purposes and crowd control

– The absence of a Jay Street was to slight John Jay or Thomas Jerfferson

– Blood expert Charles Drew died at a white hospital where doctors refused to treat the black medical scholar.






Social Security 2004


A large brick building on Capitol Hill served as the Naval Hospital from 1866 to 1906. It sits on a triangular lot, between 9th and 10th Streets, defined by Pennsylvania Avenue on the north. The building faces south, with an entrance on E Street, and is within the vicinity of the current Marine Barracks and the Navy Yard. Prior to the construction of this building, the Navy had used as hospital a rented building near the Navy Yard (1811-1843); a facility within the confines of the Marine Barracks until the Civil War; and a portion of the Government Hospital for the Insane (St. Elizabeths Hospital) during the War. Designed to accommodate 50 patients, the new hospital had good ventilation and running water supplied by the city, and was furnished with gas for lighting. After serving the naval personnel for four decades, the hospital moved to its newly constructed facility at Observatory Hill, 23rd and E Streets, NW. In 1922, the building became the Temporary Home for Veterans of All Wars.


1. Adams Morgan
2. American University Park
3. Anacostia
4. Barnaby Woods
5. Barney Circle
5. Barry Farms
6. Bellview
7. Benning
8. Benning Heights
9. Brentwood Village
10. Brightwood
11. Brightwood Park
12. Brookland
13. Buena Vista
14. Burleith
15. Burrville
16. Capitol Hill
17. Capitol View
18. Carrolsburg
19. Cathedral Heights
20. Chevy Chase
21. Children’s Hospital
22. Chillum
23. Cleveland Park
24. Colonial Village
25. Columbia Heights
26. Congress Heights
27. Crestwood
28. Deanewood
29. Douglass
30. Downtown
31. Dupont Circle
32. East End
33. Eastland Gardens
34. Eckington
35. Edgewood
36. Fairfax Village
37. Fairmont Heights
38. Farragut Circle
39. Floral Hills
40. Foggy Bottom (Hamburg)
41. Forest Hills
42. Fort Davis Park
43. Fort Dupont Park
44. Franklin McPhearson Square
45. Friendship Heights
46. Garfield Heights
47. Georgetown
48. Glover Park
49. Good Hope
50. Grant Park
51. Greenway
52. Hawthorne
53. Hillbrook
54. Hillcrest
55. Ivy City
56. Judiciary Square
57. Kalorama Heights
58. Kenilworth
59. Kingman Park
60. Knox Hill
61. Lamond
62. Langdon
63. Lanier Heights
64. LeDroit Park
65. Lincoln Heights
66. Lincoln Park
67. Logan Circle
68. Mahaning Heights
69. Manor Park
70. Marshall Heights
71. Massachusetts Heights
72. McLean Gardens
73. Michigan Park
74. Mount Pleasant
75. Mt. Vernon Square
76. Naylor Gardens
77. North Cleveland Park
78. Northwest Triangle
79. NW Urban Renewal
80. Park View
81. Petworth
82. Pinehurst Circle
83. Potomac Palisades
84. Randle Highlands
85. Rock Creek Gardens
86. Scott Circle
87. Shaw
88. Shepherd Park
89. Shipley Terrace
90. Southeast
91. Southwest
92. Spring Valley
93. Stanton Park
94. Summit Park
95. Takoma
96. Tenley Town
97. Thomas Circle
98. Trinidad
99. Truxton Circle
100. Twining
101. Union Station
102. University Heights
103. Washington Circle
104. Washington Highlands
105. Wesley Heights
106. West End
107. Westminister
108. Woodland
109. Woodley Park
110. Woodridge.

This is a more recent list compiled by Mark David Richards: in 2001

Adams Morgan American University Park Anacostia, Historic Arboretum Barnaby Woods Barney Circle Barry Farms Bellview Benning Benning Heights Bloommingdale Brentwood Village Brightwood Brightwood Park Brookland Buena Vista Burleith/Hillandale Burrville Buzzard Point Capitol Hill Capitol View Carrollsburg Carver Langston Cathedral Heights Chevy Chase Chillum Chinatown Cleveland Park Colonial Village Columbia Heights Congress Heights Connecticut Avenue/K Street Crestwood Deanewood Douglass Downtown Dupont Circle East End Eastland Gardens Eckington Edgewood Embassy Row Fairfax Village Fairmont Heights Farragut Square Forest Hills

Foggy Bottom (Funkstown, Hamburg) Forest Hills Fort Davis Park Fort Dupont Park Fort Lincoln Fort McNair Fort Totten Foxhall-Georgetown Reservoir Gateway Franklin/McPhearson Square Friendship Heights Garfield Heights (Parklands, Hunter Pines, Ridgecrest, Manor Gardens) Georgetown Glover Park Good Hope Grant Park Greenway Hawthorne Hillbrook Hillcrest Howard University Ivy City Judiciary Square Kalorama Kalorama Heights Kenilworth Kingman Park Knox Hill Lamond-Riggs Langdon Lanier Heights LeDroit Park L’Enfant Plaza Lincoln Heights Lincoln Park Logan Circle Mahaning Heights Manor Park Marshall Heights Massachusetts Heights Mayfair McLean Gardens

Michigan Park Mount Pleasant Mt. Vernon Square Navy Yard Naylor Gardens North Capitol North Cleveland Park North Michigan Park Northwest Triangle Park View Penn Branch Penn Quarters Petworth Pinehurst Circle Potomac Palisades Queens Chapel Randle Highlands River Park River Terrace Rock Creek Gardens Scott Circle Shaw/U St./Cardozo Shepherd Park Sheridan Shipley Terrace Southeast Southwest Spring Valley Stanton Park Summit Park SW Waterfront Takoma Tenleytown Thomas Circle Trinidad Truxton Circle Twining Union Station University Heights Washington Circle Washington Highlands Wesley Heights West End Westminister Woodland Woodley Park Woodridge



LYNN EDEN, BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS – For more than 50 years, the U.S. government has seriously underestimated damage from nuclear attacks. The earliest schemes to predict damage from atomic bombs, devised in 1947 and 1948, focused only on blast damage and ignored damage from fire, which can be far more devastating than blast effects.

The failure to include damage from fire in nuclear war plans continues today. Because fire damage has been ignored for the past half-century, high-level U.S. decision makers have been poorly informed, if informed at all, about the extent of damage that nuclear weapons would actually cause. . .

To visualize the destructiveness of a nuclear bomb, imagine a powerful strategic nuclear weapon detonated above the Pentagon, a short distance from the center of Washington, D.C. Imagine it is a “near-surface” burst—about 1,500 feet above the ground—which is how a military planner might choose to wreak blast damage on a massive structure like the Pentagon. Let us say that it is an ordinary, clear day with visibility at 10 miles, and that the weapon’s explosive power is 300 kilotons—the approximate yield of most modern strategic nuclear weapons. This would be far more destructive than the 15-kiloton bomb detonated at Hiroshima or the 21-kiloton bomb detonated at Nagasaki. . .

The detonation of a 300-kiloton nuclear bomb would release an extraordinary amount of energy in an instant—about 300 trillion calories within about a millionth of a second. More than 95 percent of the energy initially released would be in the form of intense light. This light would be absorbed by the air around the weapon, superheating the air to very high temperatures and creating a ball of intense heat—a fireball.

Because this fireball would be so hot, it would expand rapidly. Almost all of the air that originally occupied the volume within and around the fireball would be compressed into a thin shell of superheated, glowing, high-pressure gas. This shell of gas would compress the surrounding air, forming a steeply fronted, luminous shockwave of enormous extent and power—the blast wave.

By the time the fireball approached its maximum size, it would be more than a mile in diameter. It would very briefly produce temperatures at its center of more than 200 million degrees Fahrenheit (about 100 million degrees Celsius)—about four to five times the temperature at the center of the sun. . .

Within minutes of a detonation, fire would be everywhere. Numerous fires and firebrands—burning materials that set more fires—would coalesce into a mass fire. (Scientists prefer this term to “firestorm,” but I will use them interchangeably here.). . .

At Pentagon City, a shopping and office complex about seven-tenths of a mile from ground zero, light from the fireball would melt asphalt in the streets, burn paint off walls, and melt metal surfaces within a half second of the detonation. The interiors of vehicles and buildings in line of sight of the fireball would explode into flames.

Roughly one second later, the blast wave and 750-mile-per-hour winds would arrive, tossing burning cars into the air like leaves in a windstorm. At this distance, the blast wave and thermal radiation would be more powerful and destructive than at ground zero in Hiroshima. . .

At the Capitol, the fireball would be as bright as a thousand suns and would deliver nearly three times the thermal energy deposited at the perimeter of the mass fire at Hiroshima. The Capitol is well constructed to resist fire and stands in an open space at a distance from other buildings, but it would probably suffer heavy fire damage. Light from the fireball shining through its windows would ignite papers, curtains, light fabrics, and some upholstery. The House and Senate office buildings would suffer greater damage—their interiors would probably burn, as would the area’s adjacent residential buildings and trees.

Fire would be virtually everywhere within three miles of ground zero. Clothes worn by people in the direct line of sight of the fireball would burst into flames or melt, and uncovered skin would be scorched, charring flesh and causing third-degree burns.

It would take the blast wave 12–14 seconds after the fireball’s light flash to travel three miles. At this distance, the blast wave would persist for well over two seconds and be accompanied by near-hurricane winds of 100 miles per hour. Buildings of heavy construction on Capitol Hill would suffer little or no structural damage, but all exterior windows would be shattered, and nonsupporting interior walls and doors would be severely damaged or blown down. . .

At Union Station, not quite 3.5 miles from the Pentagon, the majestic front facade of glass would be smashed into razor-sharp projectiles. Curtains, table cloths, and other combustibles would ignite on the upper decks. Blast damage would not be nearly as severe as it would be closer to the point of detonation, but streets would be blocked with fallen debris. The scouring effects of the high winds accompanying the shockwave would loft dust into the air. Fires would be everywhere. Dust and smoke would create a dense, low-visibility, foglike environment, impeding the ability of individuals and emergency response teams to move about. .

Only a few mass fires have occurred in human history: those created by British and U.S. conventional incendiary weapons and by U.S. atomic bombs in World War II. These include fires that destroyed Hamburg, Dresden, Kassel, Darmstadt, and Stuttgart in Germany, and Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki in Japan. History’s first mass fire began on the night of July 27, 1943, in Hamburg—created by allied incendiary raids. Within 20 minutes, two-thirds of the buildings within an area of 4.5 square miles were on fire. It took fewer than six hours for the fire to completely burn an area of more than five square miles. Damage analysts called it the “Dead City.” Wind speeds were of hurricane force; air temperatures were 400–500 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 60,000 and 100,000 people were killed in the attack. . .

Average air temperatures in the burning areas after the attack would be well above the boiling point of water; winds generated by the fire would be hurricane force; and the fire would burn everywhere at this intensity for three to six hours. Even after the fire burned out, street pavement would be so hot that even tracked vehicles could not pass over it for days, and buried, unburned material from collapsed buildings could burst into flames if exposed to air even weeks after the fire.

Those who sought shelter in basements of strongly constructed buildings could be poisoned by carbon monoxide seeping in, or killed by the ovenlike conditions. Those who tried to escape through the streets would be incinerated by the hurricane-force winds laden with firebrands and flames. Even those able to find shelter in the lower-level sub-basements of massive buildings would likely die of eventual heat prostration, poisoning from fire-generated gases, or lack of water. The firestorm would eliminate all life in the fire zone.



more information


GOETHE INSTITUTE – Washington Hebrew Congregation, Washington’s oldest Jewish congregation, was formed in 1852 and is associated with Reform Judaism. The congregation, originally essentially German, dedicated its 8th Street temple in 1898. President William McKinley attended the ground-breaking ceremonies. . . The building has been home to Greater New Hope Baptist Church since 1954, the church having been organized in 1933.


ROSES TO MIKE PANETTA for reviving an idea your editor unsuccessfully pushed 11 years ago: a DC Olympic Committee. Writes Panetta:

Like many good ideas, this one started over a few beers at the Adams Mill Bar. I was watching the 2004 Olympic opening ceremonies and said to myself, ‘That looks cool, I wish I could march in the opening ceremonies.” Being way past my prime athletically to make any U.S. team, I began to think about what developing countries would be open to me sliding them a few bucks to make me a winter athlete – after all whose job would I be taking?

Then something weird happened. The U.S. Men’s Basketball Team lost to the Puerto Rican Olympic team in a stunning upset. Like many Americans, my biggest questions were: ‘Why the hell does Puerto Rico have a team? Aren’t they part of the United States?’ I did a little looking around and found out that not only does Puerto Rico have a team, but so does Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands – all part of the United States.

The wheels started turning in my head. I knew that Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while parts of the United States, each only have one, non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. The District of Columbia also only has one, non-voting delegate in the U.S. House. However, unlike those other American territories DC lacks its own Olympic committee. That is until now. Together with some friends and co-workers who live in the District we’ve started a movement called the District of Columbia Olympic Committee (DCOC).

If the District is going to be lumped in with the other red-headed stepchildren of American representative democracy, we should at least be able to compete with our own Olympic teams like other territories. The first team we are organizing is curling, but we are looking for athletes for other sports for both the winter and summer games. – 2/06

WASHINGTON CITY PAPER, 1994: To most spectators of the Lillehammer Olympic opening ceremony, the things that stood out were the skiing fiddlers, unruly reindeer, and kings swathed in Goretex. But as the parade of nations passed the reviewing stand, Sam Smith, die-hard statehood advocate, full-time rabble rouser, and sometime editor of the Progressive Review, noted that something was amiss. Athletes from American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico strode proudly behind their territorial flags. While these semi-independent US colonies have their own Olympic teams, Washington does not. Once again, Smith realized, the nonvoting citizens of DC had been denied adequate representation.

“Not only are we not part of the Union, we’re not even allowed to play with the colonies. We’re even discriminated among the non-self-governing territories of the US,” Smith growls. “It’s all part of the colonial mentality, of accepting things the way they are.” . . . The oversight so enraged Smith that, by Monday morning, he had already founded and designed letterhead for the DC Olympic Organizing Committee (quickly renamed the Committee for a DC Team in the Olympics to avoid sounding too official), and appointed himself the “very interim chair.” Armed with the slogan “Give Us Liberty or Give Us the Gold,” Smith warmed up his fax and fired off a manifesto to local pols and industry bigwigs. . .

Smith hopes parochial power brokers like [hardware magnate] John Hechinger, Jesse Jackson, and perhaps even [Redskins owner] Jack Kent Cooke will petition the International Olympic Committee to permit DC to compete in the next games. “Tonya Harding’s lawyers got the Olympic Committee to roll over — can you imagine Jesse Jackson and Jack Kent Cooke working in concert? You talk about the morality of Tonya Harding being allowed to compete in the Olympics, how about the immorality of DC not being allowed to compete?” he asks.

EPILOGUE: Jack Kent Cooke never came aboard, but Jesse Jackson did after being button holed by your editor in National Airport — long enough to write a supporting letter to Dr. Leroy Walker, President of the US Olympic Committee, right in the middle of the games. Dave Clarke, chair of the city council, also endorsed the idea. Unfortunately, Jackson’s attention deficit disorder soon took over and nothing more was heard from him. Even more distressing was the failure of DC activists who, rather than rushing to the cause, bombarded your editor with requests to be on the team — based on unsubstantiated and archaic claims of athletic prowess.


WILLIAM TRIPPLET, WASHINGTONIAN – The 1968 riots destroyed Black Broadway along with a chunk of downtown DC; the Howard Theater had already fallen into disrepair, a state in which it remains today. New clubs tried to take up the slack. One of the more successful was One Step Down, which opened in Georgetown as a biker joint, then moved in the ’70s to 25th and Pennsylvania, where it became a charming hole-in-the-wall presenting live jazz. The One Step showcased a variety of musicians, many of whom had played backup to big-name artists and were now making it on their own. Its weekend jam sessions gave local artists valuable opportunities to develop their chops. But despite attempts to keep the club going after owner Joe Cohen’s death in 1997, the One Step, too, passed from the scene