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CHAPTER VIII.

CITY OF WASHINGTON.

In order to preserve unity in the discussion of our theme, it became necessary to record the most important events in the history of the city under the caption of History of the Seat of Government (Chapter II.); by turning to page 43, therefore, the reader will find what in strictness may be regarded as a portion of the present chapter.

After the conclusion of peace between the United States and Great Britain, in 1814, the necessity for the rebuilding, in the city of Washington, of the edifices of the national government was introduced into the deliberations of the American Congress.

An effort to remove the seat of government from its present location was introduced, but met with the fate of similar and subsequent propositions, and resulted in a signal failure. From that time onward, except during the periods of excitement caused by prospective changes of political power growing out of several presidential elections, the value of real estate in the city has gradually increased. Physically, the city has constantly improved, from the grading of streets, and consequent drainage of swamps and pools, until it has become one of the most salubrious cities in the United States. At the commencement of its corporate history, Washington was governed by a board of Commissioners; next by a Superintendent, who was the prototype of the Commissioner of Public Buildings; then by a Mayor appointed by the President; and afterwards, under a charter conceived in a more liberal spirit, by a Mayor elected by the people every two years, and by two branches of the municipal council.

We feel compelled, by common dictates of justice, to explode the fallacy of two ideas which have been generally entertained. It is supposed that Washington, or the residents of Washington, have spurned the moral laws which govern all well-ordered and Christian communities; and the feeblest attempts at wit ever perpetrated have attempted to cast ridicule upon the magnificent proportions of a political capital, which was designed upon a scale drawn from the potential necessities of a nation whose greatness even the present generation has only faintly conceived. It is well to bear in mind that the march of the city in population and magnificence has kept steady lockstep with the advance of national power and population. With regard to morals, it is not to be denied that Washington is the abode of a legion of foul vices; but this is a matter, not of reproach to its permanent residents, but of shame to every patriot; and will be cured when The PeoPLE of every large city, and of each remote hamlet, shall have acquired a proper reverence for their liberties, a due conviction of the sanctity of their political duties, and shall have determined to exercise a vigilant and inflexible purpose to commit their interests to none but the wisest, best, and purest of their fellow-citizens. When this shall have been attained, Washington will cease to bear an undeserved reproach, and will have less cause to regret the presence of the camp-followers of Congress.

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This imposing building, situated on Judiciary Square, -which is bounded on the east by Fourth street, on the west by Fifth street, on the north by H street, and on the south by the junction of D street and Louisiana and Indiana avenues,

,—was originally proposed to be erected from the proceeds of a lottery. The cost of its erection has been shared in a near equality between the city and federal government, and as the latter has had an equal use of its accommodations, it is surprising that Congress has exhibited so marked a reluctance to aid in the completion of the building. It will scarcely be credited that the titles to property in the District of Columbia, bills of sale, mortgages, and other records, of vast public and private importance, are daily and nightly exposed to the pilfering, or confided to the honor, of any scoundrel who may choose to enter a public, unguarded passage-way, and decide whether or not to mutilate them. The Commissioner of Public Buildings has repeatedly called the attention of Congress to the necessity, upon the ground of national accommodation, for the extension of the City Hall and national court-rooms; and yet the federal legislature has not seen fit to make the necessary appropriation. In its present contracted space, the City Hall contains the office of the Mayor, the rooms used by the Board of Aldermen and City Council, the various local courts of the District, and the Criminal and Circuit Courts of the United States held in the District. The extension of the building is imperatively demanded by the public exigencies; and, when finished, it will be one of the finest architectural adornments within the city limits.

WASHINGTON

INFIRMARY.

Immediately north of the City Hall is the Washington Infirmary, in which government patients, to the number of nearly a thousand annually, receive the benefit of the best medical treatment. Besides these, there are other patients from public and private sources. The nursing of the sick is confided to the charitable devotees known as Sisters of Charity, but no sectarian predominance is recognized, either in the requisites for admission, or the spiritual advisement of those who are placed in charge of this most laudable institution.

COUNTY JAIL.

This miserable structure, still northward of the Washington Infirmary, is as deficient in all the interior requisites for enabling its faithful officers to perform their duties with an equal regard to the demands of the law and of humanity, as it is devoid of the exterior embellishments to permit us to describe its architecture. Unquestionably, a better building, in a better situation, must soon replace this paltry structure. In the meanwhile, the security of those whom the law directs to be kept in confinement, depends less upon the building in which they reside, than upon the most remarkable vigilance and fidelity of their jailers.

CORPORATION

A LMS - HOUSE.

The handsome edifice dedicated to corporate charity, and the restraint and reformation of petty offenders, occupies an elevated site, east of the Capitol, and is a rare specimen of the right building in the right place. Its architecture is pleasing and durable, without unnecessary expense; and a visit to it will quicken the heart and gratify the taste.

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The hotels of Washington have submitted to a great amount of undeserved abuse from abroad, but they present more features of interest than any similar establishments in the country; for here you meet, not only those who come to buy and sell, and to discuss the rise or fall of stocks, but those whose traffic is with national affairs. The Washington hotels are generally well kept, and if not able to fully accommodate the occasional influx of thousands, it should be remembered that they are built and maintained, not for transient inroads of the masses, but for the accommodation of an average number of guests.

National Hotel.—This is the largest hotel in the city, and one of the largest in the country. It is situated on Pennsylvania avenue, at the corner of Sixth street, and occupies the entire depth of the block. The old National is the stamping-ground of politicians, and the grand centre of political intrigue. Its crowded halls and gay saloons and parlors are proverbial among old frequenters of the seat of government; while its proximity to the Capitol, and excellent management, render it the most favored hotel in Washington.

Willards' Hotel.This fine edifice is situated on the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Fourteenth street, and extends to F street, occupying about half of the entire block. The architecture of the building is good, especially that of the modern portion.

Brown's Hotel.This hotel has a fine marble front on

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