Friday, June 03, 2011

Adams Visits the Federal City

President John Adams reached the new Federal City for the first time on June 3, 1800. In John Adams (2001), David McCullough writes: "Given what there was to see, Adams might have been terribly disappointed by the Federal City. He could rightfully have fumed over the heat, the mosquitoes, the squalid shacks of the work crews; or the projected cost of the project; or the questionable real estate ventures that had failed year after year, despite so many grand promises... Being that it was his first foray into the South, Adams might have been disturbed by the sight of slaves at work.

"For all the talk, there was no city as yet, only a shabby village and great stretches of tree stumps, stubble, and swamp. There were no schools and not a single church. Capitol Hill comprised a few stores, a few nondescript hotels and boardinghouses clustered near a half-finished sandstone Capitol....

"Yet by all signs he was quite pleased. 'I like the seat of government very well,'he wrote Abigail. He stayed ten days, lodging at Tunnicliff's City Hotel, near the Capitol. He was joined by his new appointments, Secretary of State Marshall and Secretary of War Dexter, who with the rest of the executive branch had made the move from Philadelphia, along with the complete files of the President and the departments shipped in eight packing cases."