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. …

George Washington’s ‘Tortuous’ Relationship with Native Americans

The First President Offered Indians a Place in American Society—or Bloodshed If They Refused

There are certain things about the nation’s founding era that many Americans don’t want to see messed with. The Declaration of Independence, despite its inaccurate claims that King George had …

How Vain, Stubborn, Thin-Skinned George Washington Grew Up

Through the Trauma of War, and By Learning From His Mistakes, the First President Gained Empathy and Gravitas

At 21 years of age, George Washington was a very different man than the one we know and hold sacred, different from the stately commander, the selfless first president, the …

What the First First Couple Bequeathed America

George and Martha Washington’s Close Partnership Helped Them Through Rebellion, War, and Even the Presidency

One of the most revealing spaces at Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington’s home in Virginia, is a bare attic bedroom. Martha retreated here after George’s death in 1799. Without …

The Native Americans Who Drew the French and British Into War

The Anishinaabeg Played an Outsized Role in World Affairs

When a young George Washington approached the forks of the Ohio River in the spring of 1754, he was nervous. The previous year, as he scouted the area that …

George Washington’s Deep Self-Doubt

The First President Was Indispensable to Our Early Democracy, Precisely Because He Didn’t See Himself as Indispensable

Revolutions tend to get hijacked, going from being about the people to being about the triumphant revolutionary leaders. And so the French Revolution begat Napoleon, and the Russian Revolution begat …