tv Jefferson the Federalists in Washington DC CSPAN August 18, 2021 8:48pm-9:44pm EDT
>> next, a historian with the u.s. capital historical society discusses the tumultuous relationship between president thomas jefferson and federalist members of the seventh congress. the first to have a full session in the new capital washington d.c.. he explains how political differences between the democratic republicans and the federalists, politicized many aspects of daily life, including food, socializing, and science. the eu as capital historical society hosted this event and provided the video. >> today's the inaugural scholar series we thought we'd start with our very own chuck
digiacomantonio. chuck is really one of the nation's finest scholars on the first congress, and that early period in the development of our country. we have been fortunate to have chuck as part of the uscis society team, for five years prior to that he was 27 years working on the first congress program. he has put together an imaginative presentation, using primary sources, letters of the times, where people wrote to one another about the science, the food, the culture and the back and forth that made early days in washington. that being said, we invite you to stay with us for your questions and answers. chuck will do his presentation and i will work through the questions and we have a couple
questions we may be able to do a couple of questions during the presentation, but a majority of our questions will be at the conclusion of the presentation. please put your questions in and i will try to work them through both at the end and as we move forward. thank you very much, chuck, for the work you've done to put this together and welcome to the platform! >> welcome, everyone. i'm happy we can pull this off. i am going to as jean said tell a very imaginative story so let your minds go. it's not straightforward narrative but we are going to touch a lot of points. the point of departure for me came with the publication of my book, which i will show you here. some of you have seen it before. it's my book on george thatcher. the screen you see is of a painting of george thatcher. i edited a volume of his
letters, and the point of departure for me was his attendance at the second session, the last session of the sixth congress. george thatcher was a member of congress through the confederation period. the first six congresses under the federal government of the u.s. constitution. he comes to washington d.c. when the federal government moves here in 1800. he arrives at the seat of government from may with his fellow main congressman wadsworth, who was a portland merchant a revolutionary war veteran. for many new england hours in particular, this exposure to washington d.c. is their first exposure to rural slavery. wadsworth writes to his daughter lies a few days before the opening of that last session of the sixth congress. the first session in washington d.c.. this is in late 8000 aground as
he approached george town is excellent for roads. it's in very bad repair by reason of -- and great want of labor. exhibited for the first time to my senses, they precious effects of slavery. a soil impoverished by over telling, scarcely settled with tattered inhabitants be spoken of with wretched -- landlord whose external spoken with great pride but little money. he goes on. the capital, what's of the capital? why, it is a high though magnificent pile. it is but one wing of the original design. the body under the wing only appear to the imagination from a view of the foundation, which is laid in stone. you can see that in this illustration here. this is the capital that george thatcher and his roommate wadsworth both remain, appear at in the end of the century, it really, 1800. it's november, 1800 when they
convene. they actually meet here. i share this because not many people get to see this image. it's obviously a preprint blueprint of the main floor of the capitol at that time when congress moves and at that time. the senate was down below, where the supreme court chamber is now. the galleries depicted here, and the house of representatives actually meeting where the library of congress was going to eventually be meeting. in the third session -- sorry, there is no third session. in the seventh congress, george thatcher decides he's been reelected. he's the only congressman to have been reelected up until that point in congressional history. he decides his family is better served by him earning a nice salary as a supreme court justice back in massachusetts. maine was part of massachusetts at that time. he gives up his seat in congress, and his own roommate
wadsworth is representing main, massachusetts with nathan reid, who is on the right here. nathan reid was a scientist from salem, massachusetts. he starts off as an apothecary but is interested in steam engines. he applies for pardons from congress before he's elected there in the 1800s. the only serves this one session. he and thatcher and wadsworth reside in a boarding house. seventh congress meets and thatcher is gone. wadsworth finds other housing and meets roommate now who is a guy named reverend manasseh cutler. he's from northern massachusetts. he's kind of an every man. he's a lawyer, he's a merchant, he's a subject of many of you might know him as a subject of development of the ohio country because he's one of the main lobbyist for the ohio company that promotes settlement to the
ohio river valley. so, from now on, most of the letters, most of the voices the primary voices you are going to be hearing our nathan reid and manasseh cutler. fortunately for us, they both left illuminate records of their letters and other writings. mostly up in salem, massachusetts. and they, besides being colleagues in terms of the documentary records are left behind, they inhabit the same boarding house room. i don't know if you can see my cursor, but it is right here and it is where the library of congress jefferson building sits now. for those of you, you know it's carole roe. the occupied the southernmost, this one here on the far right. a boarding house run by just dies king. this is the way color describes it to his daughter betsy. this is the first session out
of the seventh congress. it's the first entire congress that is calling washington d.c. home. color writes about life on carole roe and decides kings boarding house. it's situated east of the capital on the highest ground in the city. mr. nathan raid and myself have, i think, the pleasant room in the house. or indeed in the whole city. it is the third story, commanding a delightful prospect of the capital, of the presidents how'd, georgetown, all the houses in the city. along the river and the city of alexandria. you can imagine how beautiful that must of been. he continues, i must add i am exceedingly happy with mr. reed. i made my choice among all the members of congress, for want to have lived in the same chamber with me. all things considered, i should've chosen mr. reid. i'm not much pleased with the capital. it is a huge pile built indeed with handsome stone, very heavy and its appearance without not
very pleasant within. if they were literally looking out their window towards the capital, this is what they would be seeing. the senate north chamber on the right side, the left, that odd structure is called the oven. some of you might have seen images of it before. none of them would have been contemporary. these are all reconstructed images because we don't know exactly what it looked like except from verbal descriptions. they are connected where the central part of the building is now, the return to area by this walkway where they were stairway to the gallery leading up to the top of the oven which is where the house set. they stayed there through the seventh congress up through the first session of the eight congress in 1804. so, from now on, as i said, using the words of these three men, wadsworth, nathan reid, manasseh cutler. at some point i will be throwing in some words by william plummer, a senator from new hampshire. he came a year later to fill a
vacated seat. he shows up in december 1802. again, all these things are spinoffs of my book on thatcher. i was curious once thatcher leaves congress, what happened afterwards? what happens to the federalist congressman from massachusetts who enraptured the other new england states primarily? who carried on the federalist fight? i call this top experiencing the feed. it's a riff off christopher hill's famous book the experience of defeat which looks how levellers, quakers, dealt with the restoration after the english civil war in the 18 sixties. i wanted to see how they dealt with defeat. and from that chronological episode, if you will, i teased out for themes. they all cover kind of like micro history. i teased them out of their records of just three or four days. those first few days of 1802 during the first session of the seventh congress.
at the end, i began to realize what they are talking about is basically the politicize asian of everything. we are talking about sociability, food, science, historical memory. those are the four themes we are teasing out of here. the first one, social biloxi, the social life in washington, to some extent anyways, revolves around the white house. the white house knew occupant at this point was thomas jefferson. he'd been inaugurated in march, 1801. and we all know from jefferson's famous first inaugural where he says we are all federalists, we are all republicans. he is trying to conciliate all parties. what he really meant was we are all republicans. the federalists don't know it yet. he decides, i mean, he realizes the federalists need special treatment. one way he does this is to use one of the greatest informal
resources at his disposal, the white house social life. right away, it sets up a contrast with his predecessors, with the federalist republican court. this is highly exaggerated in mid 19th century view of the artist's imagination of what martha washington's levee looked like. jefferson's were more democratic. he writes manasseh cutler to his son-in-law, in january 18 a two. a couple days into session. he writes under the new order of things, there are no levees, nothing like this. the members are invited to dine with the president. this is, i include this for the information people maybe haven't seen this before this is the blueprint for jefferson's white house. the dining room we can see in the upper left was where these dinners would have taken place. he continues what is strange if anything down here can be
strange. is that only certain lists are democrats who are invited to the second half. a number in a day is 98. and when the federalist are invited the heads of departments are there. mr. reed, myself -- were handsomely received an entertainment. now, jefferson, wanted to create this idea and conceded of having a formal white house. one of the best images that i can think to illustrate this is one of these wonderful portraits by -- a good friend of the societies. he's now artist and resident at georgetown. he depicted jefferson's study here which is this right here, it's the southwest corner of what is today the state dining room. you can see that it's filled with paraphernalia, of
interests, studies. the idea here he wanted to de-politicize his dinners. he hates conflict. he's very much in conflict avoidance. no politics could be discussed at's dinner table, and my friend -- by trying to defuse the small conflicts that might erupt for members of both parties at the same table, you may in fact a pause fostered a deep division. one should note that, jefferson's invitations to dinner were sent out under thomas jefferson, not president of the united states. the idea of being that he wanted to create this image, that was more democratic, that was there to gather friends, not a political meeting anymore. but in fact, inviting people under his own name and the name of his office as president was an excuse to -- and that is why he ends up being able to invite only federalists all of the time,
which is democrats. and eventually, as time goes by. he uses his dear invitations with primarily federalists. some of the words of william plummer, that i told you, this guy from new hampshire. plummer quoting cat al gore, he said that jefferson used friendly conversation, good, food wine to bind congressman to himself and divide them from one another. in plummer own words, i have no doubt of this being the true grounds of the -- in the last session, though they called on him, they were not invited to dine with him. here plumber named some federalists. it is true that these gentlemen reason against some of mr. jefferson's favorite methods. and there are arguments that made his recommendations rather ridiculous. he had decent conduct by him, abused. he discovers a little list of minds unworthy of the president of the united states.
and as president he ought never to act towards an individual as if he knew what was said for or against him on the floor of the house. plummer, i realize, at jefferson's behavior, just the way that he told out to dinner invitations to his white house staff, especially today, and members of the initiative. politicize a shun of food, was just part of the amount to see, what's the hell that even meant. in the first few days of january 1802, back on new year's day, he picked up again with politicize a shun. although the president had not yet a number of federalists agree to go from coaches to the president's house and wait upon him with a compliments of the season. we will receive with politeness, cake, and wine. the mammoth cheese having been presented this morning with all democratic etiquette, the president invited us to go to quote, the mammoth row and see
the mammoth cheese. there we viewed this monument of human weakness as long as we pleased, and then returned home. the mammoth cheese or cheshire cheese, as it was called, it was a gift to jefferson from the baptist community of chester massachusetts. this to thank jefferson for promoting religious freedom. this would've been important to baptist through are already in most of the country at this point. the cheese itself was four feet wide, 15 inches high and wait 1230 pounds. i don't have an image of the cheese, there is no contemporary image, or even any image that i know of of the cheese. but we have, and, again by this painting -- it would be a famous paint in. soon to be famous. this shows that she's given to andrew jackson. there is something of giving
the president the cheese. this is the big cheese that was presented to jackson in 1835. and it was there for people to munch on for a couple of years. it looks ridiculous, right? but this cheese is in fact at least a federalist thinking, a symbol of jeffersonian-ism. it is go, impractical, the idea of it is driven by folly, it's a case of the ideology always -- does not come out as planned. it does not help at all that the cheese is presented by the leader of the baptist community in cheshire named leland a baptist preacher. this is him writing to a son in a few days after his new year's presentation of the cheese. last sunday on the 3rd of january, leland the cheese monger, a four --
illiterates baptist priest, was introduced as the preacher to both houses of congress and a great number of gentlemen got it from i know not wear. the president, conjuring all former practice, made one with the audience, such a performance that i never heard before, and i hope never shell again. such a fair ago, bomb, stunning voice, frightful bruises, extravagant gestures i believe was never heard by any decent auditory before. shame or laughter appeared in every countenance. this is a guy who presented the cheese. whatever glamour the cheese might have brought, or added to jefferson's rows, it began to lose its luster as it increased with its aroma, presumably. one year later on new year's eve 1803, qatar writes again, after we left delivery room as we were passing through the great hall, i happened to think of the mammoth cheese, and one of -- excuse me --
... and -- i happen to think of the mammoth cheese, and i asked one of the servants in library in waiting whether it is still in the mammoth room. the manager of the ways the east room, today. which is still mammoth today. he replied that it was and then i might see if i pleased. i went with the member that happen to be wishing for a look at it. the president had just told us when we talked with him that 60 pounds had been taken out of the middle in consequence of the puffing of and symptoms of decay. so, in case you're wondering what happened to the mammoth cheese, the plumber writes about it two years later in december 1804 that it athlete and he wakes was very far from being good. it is seen a year later in 1805 and it was either by that point totally conceded sooner some scholars think it was dumped into the river. i want to talk about the word mammoth here which is when a color wrote, quote to the
minute route, and see the mammoth cheese, he bothered to put that in quotes because he was quoting jefferson verbatim. and he said it off with quotes because in fact it was part of the use of the expression mammoth. imagine my surprise in the oxford english dictionary when i found that it credits thomas jefferson with coining the adjective, mammoth. and certainly, by the time that she's arrives in washington people have picked up on this terminology, mammoth jeez. an adjective for something huge, weird, quixotic, gauche, serving a practical purpose. imagine, who needs a 1200 pound cheese? but it is not a perfectly politically neutral word either. in time, this word would come to the widespread usage in impact that the word atomic for example would have in the 20th century. where we used to sign the adjective, atomic. it means something. so one of the origins of the
adjective of the mammoth? well, the now mammoth was a phenomenon that historians have studied, and recognized as one of thomas jefferson's hobby horses. thomas jefferson, imagined himself among other things as a scientist. just like benjamin franklin. you see scientists had to have for lined jackets, of course. jefferson for, most of his public life, is interested in science in a way that refuted the arguments made famously by a french philosopher named the count of bouffon who insisted on a -- he published a -- where he writes that fog, particularly megafauna that are found in the northwestern hemisphere are in essentially inferior to those found
elsewhere in the world. they degenerate. on this side of the globe. with jefferson at least, it became a patriotic article of faith that americans had megafauna, at least as mega as york did. we see this in his notes in virginia, in 1705. and he endorses an expedition in to the beyond the mississippi by on the game usual. where he specifically launched -- under the head of animal history to make notes on the mammoth that he might find there. the mammoth is particularly recommended he writes to michaud. years later he sends out similar instructions with clark on their famous in expedition west. it is to say that's jefferson is very excited when in the summer of 1801, charles wilson peel his told about mega
mammoth bones, in the hudson river valley near new bergh. by the way, it's not always called mammoth, sometimes it appears the word incognito because they simply did not know what it was. but they did have some bones, as they had but the article doesn't, and rid of his contraption to drain the more's out and dig out the remnants of the skeleton of this, whether you're still calling a mammoth or incognitum. jefferson is calling the mammoth to, although we know today that as of 1806, thanks to the work of the jewish -- and an anatomies that the in fact is not a mammoth at all but a new species entirely which he named the masted on. because of its teeth. the mastos, or breasts like mastectomy. and don teeth, because they're shaped like the ridges of rest. mammoth so ever were found
further up west. and lewis finds evidence of them in the ohio valley. but the east coast variety comes to be quickly known as masted on. so this famous painting gun in 1806 by peel is quickly renamed the exhumation of the masted on. on christmas eve 1801, peel actually erect sit in the headquarters of the american philosophical society in philadelphia. and this is needed to be found closer to america's image of itself. the skeleton ends up and independence hall where people opens his museum. and we see it there on the background on the right, partially hidden by the drapery. and this famous painting, self portrait called artist in his museum from 1822. so, despite its obvious scientific significance, the federalist follow jefferson's lead in using it as a political symbol. jefferson's quixotic patriotic search for the mythic mammoth, like his cheese, the mammoth cheese be a byway for
jeffersonian's literal quackery. that is a direct quote from one of nathan reads letters. and a buy word for democratic success in all of its manifestations. within days, in fact, read and other jeffersonian -- federalists are calling the jefferson administration the mammoth incompetent. and plummer two years later writes how the words used in a different context but with the same intent. plummer, two years later, writes that the baker of the navy erected and oven and in having made a barrel of flour to a loaf he baked it and called it the mammoth loaf. reasonable enough. this loaf was later laid on beer and born on the shoulders of men and was carried to the capitol and lodged in a committee room near adjoining to the senate chamber. a large sirloin of roasted beef and casks of wine, side room whiskey were provided to deposit in the same place. the 12:00, the chambers crowded with people of all classes and colors from the pearls of the united states. jefferson himself, to the
meanest, minus -- violinist slave. he cut and -- drink of the liquors, he compared this drunken frolic, the sacrament of lords supper. we can imagine what that is going to do to the federalists. the skeleton, meanwhile, just like the word mammoth, the mastered on skeleton took on a life of its own. today the focus in kids books for example is on the search for scientific truth while the mammoth cheese is presented to kids either as a tale about -- the ingenuity and community experience of a small village, a bit more seriously the triumph and exploration of the burdens in joins of rural america and the deaths we owe to our history, parents and ourselves. so ... before i move on -- >> where is the mastodon today?
are they still in the white house? is it still there now? >> now, it is not in the white house. [laughs] >> is it in the capital? >> it is not in the capital. i'm not sure it ever made it to washington. mammoth cheese that is in washington, but the mammoth or the masted on was an inspiration for this frenzied use of the word mammoth. it ended up, as i say, in philadelphia. eventually, peel opens up, or his sons open up a museum in baltimore and it is there in 1780 when they move it over to europe to try to sell it in europe. they thought that they had a buyer in france, and then the revolution of 1848 kicks in. so, it ends up in germany, believe it or not. and i have, that is the picture that i showed you earlier of the full mastodon skeleton there in germany. that was in a museum in germany. now, the neat thing about the subject of my top, and everything else that is going into washington is at the master don is now back --
you know watching? i have to swallow my words. the mastodon is here in washington. it was moved from -- for the first time in 70 years to the smithsonian where it was erected in the museum of american art. foreign exhibit on barren von humbolt and the united states. and they thought that the skeleton represented the highest operations of american science in european science meeting together. so they actually brought it here and there was supposed to open this month. obviously, that did not happen. maybe the shutdown will and before we have to ship the mastodon back because we will be lovely to see. so, back to new year's day 1802. after taking an early dinner, eight of us set out for a mountain burn him. the pilgrimage to mount burn him any politicization of george washington is another
major theme that i wanted to tuck on -- touch on and it comes up in a little than yet of federalist visits to mount washington and mount burnham. the bigger story of memorizing, and memorializing george washington at this time is told in mark castle's great book about the efforts to barry washington in the capital. so, they make it from gatsby's town in alexandria and they arrive at mount vernon on saturday, 2nd of january, right after new years. so color writes to his daughter again. a servant conducted as to washington's room where we were received in a very cordial and obliging manner. mrs. washington appeared as much rejoiced in receiving our visit as if we had been of her nearest connections. we will always all be federalists which gave her great pleasure as her,, remarks were pointed, and sometimes very sarcastic under new order of things, in the present administration, as she spoke of
the election of mr. jefferson whom she considered as one of the most detestable of mankind as the greatest misfortune that. our country had ever experienced. her friendly feelings towards a more naturally to be expected from the abuse that he is offered to general washington while living there, and to his memory since his death. after breakfast, these federalists members from massachusetts rambled about until they arrived at the venerable tomb of washington himself. color picks up the story. this tomb contains the remains of the great washington. this precious monument was the first object of our attention. i will not attempt to describe our feelings or the solomon gloom on all countenance as we approached the reverend mound of brick, as it opens towards the river, in an operator that was locked. all of the stone work was covered in herb, overgrown with tall grass. between the two men and the bank, a narrow foot path much trodden and enchanted with trees passes around it. here, mrs. washington in a grieving solitude often takes
her melancholy loss. here, every visitor in slow and solemn steps approaches this venerable mound while all of us took bows, and treasonous precious relics of our own in our country's best friend. i shall enclose a twig of the cypress, and a leaf of the halle. a few months later, wadsworth writes his daughter, because he is going down to visit the same place in the same payment of how much is washington and its relics. and he pretty much is the same experience. he writes, we view the gardens, and situated before dinner in the tomb of the great washington. there was an on every approach to the place where his remains were deposited. how disgraceful to the united states to suffer these remains after having been solicited of and granted by the wallet to remain unnoticed, condemned. will not the almighty blast the gratitude of this ungrateful country? this, oh jefferson, v. thy glory. your loans have not half the merits of his little finger. pitiful revenge, and glorious triumph.
congress in fact did have plans to honor george washington. most of us know of the existence of a tomb below the crypt level of the capital building. it was intended to hold washington's remains. martha actually gave permission before she died a few years later. but it was kind of a moot point. the jeffersonian's resented, and resisted efforts in 1800, and periodically thereafter to have a mausoleum built to washington, either near the capital or somewhere else in washington. buried in the capital was a moot point of the central part of the capital if it could be finished, where eventually the tombs created. but by then it was 18 thirties, and washington families had changed their mind, and they left washington to a new team that it created for him at mount vernon, that's where he's found today. but ... long before then,
jeffersonian's had other ways of consigning washington's memory to oblivion. a few months later, on a friday before washington's birthday in that year, 1802, the house was listening to one of these wild, crazy debates by john randolph, a judiciary. at the end of the debate a federalist member rises to, until tuesday, adjoining over monday. the idea was that it would give workers a chance to install ventilation in the oven. that is that makeshift house chamber that i showed you earlier, it is called the oven because it got quite stuffy, and cycling as you can imagine. but the federalists also wanted to remind members that it was washington's birthday, and he presumed with so much respect to washington's memory the congress would do no business on that day. it was the intention of those who venerated their great character to devote the day-to-day commemoration of the man, in which he named his
country's glory. as soon as jeffersonian members found the sound realize what was happening, they suddenly decided, no, we needed to meet on monday. they did not want any recognition being paid to the fact that it was washington's birthday. so, color rights, have we lived to see the day, has it so soon arrived, at the memory of washington should meet with mocked contempt? and so pointed by almost a majority of the national representatives? the federal estimate that day regardless. they had dinner together, and at a local hotel, this again is nathan reid writing to a friend that month. in the evening, the vp of the united states era number joined us and gave sentiment which, should it become a part of principle would prove fatal to his party, union among on -- all honest men. he requested that it might not be published however. we had no wished to do it, as we did not find ourselves in a steep donor by his company. i had to throw in, was he owed there? as burr from the hamilton play.
jen, that is for you, really. the last sunday of the sermon is the last sunday sermon given in congress. the house of representatives, some of the audience might know was actually holding religious services in the house chambers in the capital building, because it is the largest single chamber in the young city. so, the last sunday's chairman of that session will focus on, was actually in may of 1802 a few months later. we know about it through colors journal, where he says that he attended the hall, mr. parkinson preached. william parkinson was the house chapman, body at the same kind of reputation in federalist mines as that of john leland the cheese monger, who preached a few months earlier. nathan reid writes to a friend, our chaplain, parkinson, who is an illiterate man, preaches in
the same style as read. they disgrace the cause of religion or bring it to contempt. this was probably one motive that democrats had in choosing a chaplain of this stance. regardless of the person's humble style, you must admit that he's a bit tone-deaf because he chose to preach as a subject of the sermon, the biblical passage about leaving saw him. this is on the eve of washington leaving, and it's even stranger that neither read nor color seem to mention that fact with any sense of sarcasm. so, two days later, cutlery takes a packet with read and 20 other members of congress to the head of chesapeake bay, and then by states to newcastle delaware, and then to philadelphia where he visits peels museum and sees the skeleton of the man. that is a drawing by rembrandt peal of the skeleton and its existence in the baltimore
museum in the 18 thirties. so, this has been our sort of tour of horizons, our tour of the landscape of the very first months of the first congress, the first full congress to meet in washington, and how different aspects of society, food, science, social life, the way you memorize, memorialize people. how it is all politicized in his day when federalist are still hanging on, although the jefferson's have created the first major regime change in national history. and that is the end of the top. so, hopefully, maybe there are questions that i can answer for people. >> we have a number of questions. and we have one piece of good news for viewers which is that there is an exhibition tour online with curator eleanor jones harvey of the smithsonian
that you can see online the skeleton of the mastodon. and that is -- it is called art nature and culture. and that can be reached with the smithsonian through the smithsonian website. and i think that we can figure out a way to send to the registers of that, the link, so that you can see what is going on at the smithsonian while they are under the work from home order just like the rest of us. >> it is a wonderful tour, by the way. >> oh, okay, great. well, there are a few people that indicated that they know about and that it is a fabulous tour. so, it is now available online. here is the question that a couple of people asked, is that, it seems like you have really gotten to know these people. that you have -- you know, i've often heard duress clarence goodwin, when
she's presenting one of the books that she is -- whether it's lincoln, franklin, whoever. she always talks about them as, my people. she feels sort of said to leave them when the book is finished. and it sounds like you have built a relationship with these individuals. and so, can you kind of describe, how does that work? how does that feel? how do you maintain the relationship with people who live to hundred years ago? >> well, in some ways, it's easier than a relationship with people in our lives today. [laughs] >> [laughs] >> because you know, the reality that we know of them is a reality that comes up in their letters. and it is most people whose letters survived were important enough that they knew that their letters would be saved. the adams, of course. i'm not convinced that we should expect there letters to be saved. an important fact that --
had an amazing correspondence with his wife as they were great friends just like abigail was to john adams. but we have only two of her letters for the hundreds, several hundreds that we know that she wrote. because the family did not think that her letters were worth keeping. so, there's a big blank in my heart for how that was established, miss thatcher. now thatcher, like most members of the first congress nighter say most of the early political figures in the republic, you cannot help but fall in love with them. you know, joe ellis wrote this wonderful book founding brothers instead of founding fathers, the idea of brothers being, they are all equals, fumbling along trying to find how to move ahead in live together, trying to figure this out in realtime. but for us to be able to look back from 200 years later, and see what it must of been like where you did not know how the story was going to end. it is a real trees. and it is an honor, really, to have access to these letters. and to be able to make sense of
them. sometimes, you get so embedded in them that you forget that there is a post 1802. and in this case, i made a very few references to anything that happens over 18 oath to, 1803. can a bowling, my friend on the congress project, is famous for saying, if you ask him anything about anything after 1803, he's like that is star trek, that is science fiction to, me i don't know you're talking about. your real world and when these letters and and the members sign yours dearest or whatever. it's a wonderful experience even amateur historians, people interested into eulogy, the family histories, first thing you should do is get your hand on the letters. provide contact, secondary literature. start with letters, it'll provide passion. it's the fuel for historical research. >> is there anything -- one of the questions a couple people asked is there anything in a letter that talks about how they traveled from
washington d.c. to alexandria? is that a difficult trick at that time? >> yes, because of course, there are no 14th street bridges. you don't have the traffic either. you would take, it would involve a ferry at this time. and from colors telling of it, if you left in the morning, feel left around noon time when they were done visiting jefferson and paying the compliments of the season to jefferson at the white house, you'd be at gets because by the evening. you had to allow a full overnight trip if you are going to make that commitment. we know many of them did. as i said towards the end of my top in reverse, it's overland at first until you get to the bay, you might want to take the water route up the bay. so, it's a very interesting thing that comes up in the letters. today, when you write letters,
we don't write about how we get somewhere because we assume the recipients is going to be experiencing the same thing. we don't need to tell them about it. when you find references to travel, it's a big deal and it's always enlightening. we are always surprised at how difficult it was. if most of the audience had to confront what these people confronted just in the course of getting to work if you are congressman you probably wouldn't do it. you probably would just stay at home. and george thatcher's case, the distance from home was a deterrent to him coming back to congress. we need that for a fact. he's complaining about how far away from home he was. he was doing it in new york. that's one third of the distance to washington d.c.. you can imagine. >> chuck, one of the other questions, someone was asking about the religious services. were they held in house chamber?
is that with the called the oven? where were these services held? >> references i found to it in the letters of reid, wadsworth, and color, plummer doesn't talk about. at the refer to it as the hall. i think the congress representative is using that expression. he is referring to the oven which is bigger than the senate chamber. i'm thinking that's where they were held. they were also, there was a congressional chaplain from the very first week of the very first congress. they opened the religious services to different denominations. we saw, for example, leland. we know there were congregation lists episcopalian's. the people that were speaking during these observance's in the capital were not technically servants of the government. they would you utilize
government space in a community aryan sense. this is the biggest room in the city, so we are going to use it. i would be careful to say it's government endorsing any particular religion or the idea of religion as we understand it. just keep that in mind when you relate about religious worship in the capital building. >> how long did those services continue? they continued through jefferson's presidency. >> they did. i don't know. i don't know. something for me to look into. i imagine another space became available, certainly churches are being felt at this time, there were churches already. first of all, catholic, for example, would never be seen outside of a church, sanctuary. we know catholics weren't doing it. and there is a catholic church and georgetown, for example. a counter member with the first catholic parish in the city of washington was but not long after this period we are talking about. at some point, they do move out
of the capital building. >> chuck, one of the questions -- we have a couple folks who are still interested in this cheese. so, we have two questions. when i think is maybe not quite in the venue but nevertheless. it is called the cheshire cheese because it came from treasure. but then was it cheddar cheese? what's the relationship between cheshire cheese and cheddar cheese? >> i don't know. they both begin with the same letter? >> there you go! >> the same three letters. it's the only connection to think. of it was called the cheshire cheese also itch makes the expression mammoth cheese all the more pointed. someone went to the trouble to call it mammoth cheese. and as i said to coined the word around the same time. it was known as the cheshire cheese because it came from chester and it was chatter.
that's all i really know about it. maybe cheddar lasts longer. maybe that's why they opted for cheddar? i don't know. >> so, your friend in durham has been enjoying the talk and sends you his greetings. he has an important question. he said, is that where that came up with the idea of calling the president the big cheese as a way to tease him? >> oh ... of course you would ask that. [laughs] i don't know when that expression started but i am probably not the only one who's going to go right to google as soon as this is over. and find out the origins of that expression. maybe it is. it makes sense. i'm not sure jefferson would not appreciate it, to be honest. >> and ... one of the people ask where the religious services open to the general public public or where they members of congress? >> at this point, general
public. it was, as a public service to the community. to have them in the capital. it was intended as a public service, so yes, the community was invited. >> one of the other things, you noted in your comments that jefferson was not conflict averse. on the other hand, it appears he was very much in conflict both in life and death with the federalists. how do you reconcile those two things. >> well, jefferson's attempt to suppress conflicts never works. we know this in our personal lives as well. it's going to come out sideways one way or another. jefferson in avoiding conflict, and he would do it in his cabinet meetings as well. stories of how some of his
cabinet would start fighting with each other and afterwards feed paul madison inside and kind of his chief of staff and say make sure that doesn't happen again, basically. he liked having's ducks lined up to the point where, color had a detailed journal of that 70 congress. he is frustrated. the federalists and general are frustrated. there's no allowance for debate. all the votes are rearranged. jefferson made sure with john randolph, roanoke, and other leaders -- all jeffersonian's at this point as soon as the orders came down from the jefferson white house all you had to do is vote on it. that was it. so you are suppressing conflicts, but in the very fact of suppressing, that you're not acknowledging other peoples and put. when people aren't involved in the process, they doubled down, right? we know this from the way
politics is done today. so, i would say jefferson was a failure. he didn't make any attempt to reconcile, but he was a failure to kind of erase conflict. and as plummer said in his acute observation, he's actually aggravating conflict as you suggest. he's aggravating conflict by not giving it a voice. >> we will have two more questions because we could carry this on for the rest of the day, and be fascinated. we are trying to be respectful of your time and everyone else this time. one question was, has anyone ever done an analysis of the people who ran for congress and didn't win? who were, they and what was the context of those campaigns when you talk about experiencing defeat?
>> in this period? >> yes. >> i imagine, i like to think of myself as well read on the secondary literature, but you will find that only snippets. there is no systematic way of looking at how many lawyers lost reelection. i didn't, for example, with my stature book. i did a very detailed analysis of who he ran against, but the issues were and why that person lost. ultimately lost every time to george thatcher. it would be so difficult. i think it would be lovely if it happened. now, there are great websites i want to encourage people to go on. america votes, which is a website run by tufts, and the american antiquarians side. it is free, it'll tell you every vote recorded for every office from local dog catcher up to president of the united states up to the 18 twenties. it will give every candidate, whether the candidate is known
anywhere outside his own family if he got a vote he's on that list on that website. explore that, it's fascinating. fascinating. >> you have to love our audience. they are better than google. >> we [laughs] have an answer -- >> we have an answer to one of the questions. this is about the church services that then were moved to statuary hall. they began in statuary hall in 1807, and where they're three 1857. the first catholics in the capital was bishop john england, the bishop of north and south carolina who breached there on january 8th, 1826 for two hours. >> wow. >> now you know something you didn't know before. >> i would have read that's episcopalian bishop not a catholic bishop. >> the first catholic, according to shane mccarthy. >> mccarthy should know, right?
[laughs] >> he put his name behind it! >> he has to stand by it. >> chuck, i think a couple people asked about your book. could you hold it up again so people can see it? >> my baby. >> there, this is the book. it is available through the united states capital historical society in our -- if you go to our website, there is a shop feature and you can get all kinds of wonderful memorabilia from the capital. we have christmas ornaments made with marble from the capital, but fine books like chuck's book. if you want to get the book, come join us if you want to be part of the continuing exploration of capital history. we hope you will come a member and supporter of the capital historical society. thank you very much, we appreciate and chuck, we appreciate the depth of your knowledge and your efforts. >> it was fun, thank you.
>> thank you, take care. by. >> a few months prior to the general sixth attack, the u.s. capital tour guide robert pohl shares some of his favorite stories of the u.s. capital historical society. he talks about the late 19th century fed of honeymooners visiting the capital. the electric car that triggers to the underground passages, and a violent episode on the capitals