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Lincoln in Rockville

(Originally appeared in Bethesda Magazine) In August 1861, with the first battle of the Civil War at Manassas, Virginia, resulting in Union forces fleeing in retreat, President Abraham Lincoln embarked from the White House on a carriage ride. With him was Secretary of State William Seward, his son, Frederick, assistant Secretary of State, and General … Continue reading

The Underground Railroad in Maryland

(Originally appeared in Bethesda Magazine) On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act to end slavery in Washington, D.C.—more than eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation. News of the coming abolition in D.C. had spread through nearby Maryland slave communities. Word eventually reached Lewis Swams in his quarters near Sandy Spring. … Continue reading

Domestic Manners of the Americans

In 1830, Frances Trollope—a petite Englishwoman whose acidic wit would later earn her the sobriquet “Old Madam Vinegar”—arrived in Montgomery County, Maryland, with three children in tow. She had come to summer at Stonington, a friend’s Potomac estate near Great Falls. Immediately, Trollope was taken by the beauty of the Montgomery County countryside. It “perfectly … Continue reading

Hayes Manor and the Fall of the Reverend Alexander Williamson

In 1767, the Reverend Alexander Williamson, head of the Anglican parish that encompassed Central Maryland, ventured out to his 700-acre parcel of land north of the modern town of Chevy Chase to inspect the construction of his new country manor. Williamson was known as the “Sporting Parson” because of his love for fox-hunting and cock-fighting, … Continue reading

DDT and Root Beer

In 1972, the pesticide DDT was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency due to its link to cancer – notably breast in women and testicular in men – although some bemoaned the decision, hailing DDT as a “miracle chemical” that was eradicating the world of malaria-bearing mosquitoes.  The State of Maryland (and nearly every … Continue reading

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February 2018
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