This tag is associated with 6 posts

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

Charles Francis Jenkins and the Birth of TV

In 1929, inventor Charles Francis Jenkins built a small, unassuming bungalow at the corner of Windham Lane and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton, Maryland. From the outside, the property seemed a simple suburban house—except for the two, 125-foot steel towers rising from the yard. Inside, something remarkable was happening: Engineers were busy in the home’s five … 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

The Confederate in the Courthouse Square

In 1911, on the 50th anniversary of the battle of Manassas—the first major encounter of the Civil War—a crowd of about 10,000 people gathered on the Virginia battlefield to celebrate what was called the “Peace Jubilee.” Confederate and Union veterans attended. President William Howard Taft gave the keynote address. An air of camaraderie enveloped the … Continue reading

Operation Whitecoat

The Cold War during the 1950s and 60s elicited a range of American responses, from carefully planned, advanced technology defenses to primal paranoia. Washington was regarded as target zero for a communist incursion. Residents of Montgomery County waited in trepidation for the wail of the air raid siren; children practiced ducking under their desks; and … Continue reading