The Washingtonians Who Fought to Keep Their City as the Nation’s Capital

Rivalries Over Its Political Symbolism, and Damage From the War of 1812, Nearly Destroyed the City

As the national capital, Washington, D.C. always has carried special meaning—representing both the federal government and the United States as a whole. No matter how Americans might feel about the state of the nation at any given time, they typically respect and revere the city—visiting on vacations and school trips by the millions each year.

Many might be surprised to learn, therefore, that at one particularly precarious point in the city’s history during the War of 1812, Congress seriously debated abandoning the site and moving the capital to another location. …

More In: Essays

How Chicago Lifted Itself Out of the Swamp and Became a Modern Metropolis

By Building Canals, Laying Sewers, and Jacking Up Buildings, the Windy City Spurred Its Miraculous Growth

In 1833, Chicago was a wilderness outpost of just 350 residents, clumped around a small military fort on soggy land where the Chicago River trickled into Lake Michigan. The site …

What Does It Mean to Be a ‘Local’ in Hawai‘i?

A Honolulu-Born Mainlander Reflects on How Demographic and Economic Change Are Making an Idealized Aloha State Identity Obsolete

The story of the modern Hawai‘i diaspora is a paradox: Many of us who grew up in Hawai‘i in the second half of the 20th century developed a powerful sense …

Suppressing Voting Rights Is as Old as the Republic—But the Tactics Keep Changing 

Discriminatory State Constitutions, Poll and Literacy Taxes, and Now Photo ID Laws All Have Been Used to Keep Ballots From the Less Powerful 

The more that efforts to suppress voting rights in America change, the more they remain the same.

From the earliest days of the republic to the present, politicians have sought to …