DC’s Federal Triangle Neighborhood Was Night And Day Different In The 19th Century

    Washington DC. It’s a beautiful city full of powerful government buildings,  majestic monuments, blocks of lovely old townhouses, amazing museums, and wonderful restaurants.
   Just east/southeast of the White House between Pennsylvania Avenue, Constitution Avenue, and 15th Street NW are the impressive, neoclassical buildings that make up the formidably large Federal Triangle complex. These grand structures are full of offices where people work throughout the week keeping the bureaucracy of government churning along. Next to the office buildings is the stunning columned National Archives.
   But it wasn’t always this way.
   Nope.
   The structures there now were built in the 20th Century. Before this, the neighborhood was quite different. Like night and day different.
   Put it this way, during the latter half of the 1800s, this neighborhood had several names including Hooker’s Division and Murder Bay.
   Back then, the area was often pretty rough and consisted of smaller buildings and houses, many of which contained saloons and bordellos. Gambling and prostitution were prevalent as was theft, fighting, and the occasional murder.
   During the Civil War, Union troops were frequently encamped in and around the city.  In their off hours, the soldiers would often seek out places to drink, gamble, and have sex. As a result, prostitution in the neighborhood became very common. Apparently, for a while, Union General Joseph Hooker ordered all the city’s prostitutes to congregate in this neighborhood, thus the nickname Hooker’s Division. Though, it should be noted that the referring to prostitutes as hookers probably predates this time.
   Immediately after the war, it seems to have been a working class neighborhood that became much rougher as the years went by. Gambling, drinking, prostitution, and theft were extensive and murders were not uncommon. Many would say don’t go south of Pennsylvania Avenue after dark, and supposedly, many police agreed and stayed away at night themselves. There are reports that as a result, volunteer firefighters may have taken on the role of peacekeepers at times. This is considerably ironic since they were often a tough, rowdy bunch and likely started quite a few drunken brawls themselves.
   In 1914, Washington DC began to seriously crackdown on prostitution which led to the closure of the bordellos. The Federal Government acquired the area and eventually tore down the old buildings and replaced them with the structures you see today.

African American Hero From The American Civil War

   William Carney was born a slave in Norfolk, Virginia in 1840. His father, William Sr, escaped North via the Underground Railroad and after working hard, was able to buy freedom for the rest of his family. They settled in Massachusetts where young William learned to read and write, planning on becoming a minister.
   However, in 1863, 23 year old William Carney joined the 54th Massachusetts Black Regiment instead. He was now a soldier in the American Civil War.
   In July of that year, the 54th and other Union forces were gathered outside Charleston, South Carolina preparing to take part in the assault on Fort Wagner, one of the installations guarding Charleston Harbor.
   On the 18th, the 54th was taking cover behind sand dunes about 1000 yards from the fort. When nightfall arrived, the order was given.
   Advance.
   The 54th was leading the attack on Fort Wagner.
   After dressing their lines, the regiment moved across open ground under withering cannon and musket fire. Seeing the color bearer start to fall, Carney quickly dropped his gun and grabbed the flag moving to the front of the line. He and the 54th continued forward through a storm of bullets, cannonballs, and canister. Soldiers fell all around with terrible bloody wounds, but the regiment kept going with Carney at the front holding the American flag aloft.
   He crossed a ditch and clambered up the fort’s earthen wall. When Carney arrived at the top and looked around, he found himself surrounded by dead and wounded members of his battered, bloodied regiment.        
   At that moment, William Carney realized that in his area, he was the only one still standing.  
   Seeing Confederate forces advancing towards him, Carney worked his way back down the wall through the carnage and made it to the ditch that was now waist deep in water. Pausing there, he thought about his next course of action. As he rose up to get a better look around, William Carney was shot. A second bullet struck him shortly after. While Carney was painfully pushing his way towards friendly lines, he came upon a soldier from the 100th New York who asked if he was wounded. As Carney responded, a third bullet grazed his arm. The soldier came over to help him, offering to take the flag, but Carney wouldn’t let it go. Together the two men, one black and one white, struggled towards Union lines during which a fourth bullet grazed Carney’s head.
   When they made it back, he refused to give up the flag to anyone except another member of his regiment. Once they reached other survivors of the 54th, Carney said, “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.”
   In 1900, William Carney was finally awarded The Medal of Honor.

John Quincy Adams, The Skinny Dipping President

  

   Yes, you heard me right! But first, let’s start at the beginning.
   John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts in 1767. He was the eldest son of John and Abigail Adams, who were both very important figures in the early United States. His father was a member of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, served as a diplomat in Europe, and became the 2nd American President. As a result, young John Quincy grew up among numerous movers and shakers including some in European countries. He was very intelligent, learning multiple languages and was an avid reader. Apparently, he had hoped to pursue a career in writing; though, his future lay in politics.
   John Quincy Adams had a long career as a civil servant and politician. He served as a diplomat overseas, was a member of the United States Senate, became Secretary of State, and was the 6th President of the United States after which he had a long career as a member of the House of Representatives. As a matter of fact, he is the only person to serve in the House after being President.
   In many ways, he was ahead of his time. He despised the institution of slavery and was more sympathetic to the rights of Native Americans than many of his contemporaries. As much as he hated slavery and fought against it, John Quincy Adams predicted that the only way the terrible institution would come to an end would be if the Southern states ended it voluntarily or if there was a civil war. He also predicted that if there was a civil war, the president of the time would use war powers to end slavery. This is quite close to what actually happened since Abraham Lincoln used the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in the Confederate states.
   In 1797 London, Adams married Louisa Johnson, the daughter of the US consul to Britain. They had 3 sons and 1 daughter together. Tragically, two died as young men after battles with alcoholism. One possibly from suicide. John Quincy likely suffered from depression and had a serious disposition much of the time. In politics, he became well known for his oratory, giving powerful impassioned speeches. In fact, when his end finally came in 1848, he was giving a fiery speech in Congress when he collapsed from a stroke. He died two days later in the US Capitol Building.
   Obviously, John Quincy Adams spent many years living in Washington DC. He had a habit of getting up early in the predawn hours to walk around the city getting exercise when it was quiet and other people were still asleep. If the weather was good, he was known to swim in the Potomac River. In those days, when men swam in the river, they would remove their clothes and take a dip. Although in 1821 when the British Ambassador George Canning spotted then Secretary of State Adams in the water, he wasn’t entirely naked. Canning later wrote, “The Secretary of State was seen one morning at an early hour floating down the Potomac, with a black cap on his head and a pair of green goggles on his eyes.”
   So yes, John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, would remove his clothes and skinny dip in the Potomac River! Not something you’d catch any modern president doing!
   So when you have a few minutes, perhaps learn about and remember the skinny dipping President of the United States, John Quincy Adams.

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Quincy-Adams

https://shannonselin.com/2017/07/john-quincy-adams-swimming/

Republican Party Has Gotten Off Track

Gotta say…If the Republicans don’t allow witnesses and new documents into the Senate Impeachment Trial, it will truly be a sickening farce and further example of how so off track the Republican Party has gotten.

It’s scary how they won’t stand up to Trump when they clearly should.

Members of Congress should be more loyal to the United States Constitution and the American people than a particular party or political figure. They should stand for the Constitution and nation first.

But it appears many Republicans are not doing this. They seem to be putting Trump first. That is scarily wrong and misguided. The United States is a Democracy, not a dictatorship. The Constitution is more important than the President! And no one is above the law!

The Republican Party seems to have gone totally off track.

History is going to teach the current batch of Republicans harshly.

And they will deserve it!