Washington: How Slaves, Idealists, and Scoundrels Created the Nation's Capital

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HarperCollins, May 6, 2008 - History - 384 pages
21 Reviews

Washington, D.C., is home to the most influential power brokers in the world. But how did we come to call D.C.—a place one contemporary observer called a mere swamp "producing nothing except myriads of toads and frogs (of enormous size)," a district that was strategically indefensible, captive to the politics of slavery, and a target of unbridled land speculation—our nation's capital? In Washington, acclaimed and award-winning author Fergus M. Bordewich turns his eye to the backroom deal making and shifting alliances between our Founding Fathers and in doing so pulls back the curtain on the lives of slaves who actually built the city. The answers revealed in this eye-opening book are not only surprising and exciting but also illuminate a story of unexpected triumph over a multitude of political and financial obstacles, including fraudulent real estate speculation, overextended financiers, and management more apt for a "banana republic" than an emerging world power.

In this page-turning work that reveals the hidden and somewhat unsavory side of the nation's beginnings, Bordewich, once again, brings his novelist's sensibility to a little-known chapter in American history.

  

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Review: Washington: The Making of the American Capital

User Review  - Betty McMahon - Goodreads

I learned a lot about the making of the capitol that I didn't know. But the book was tainted big time with political correctness that spoiled much of it. Read full review

Review: Washington: The Making of the American Capital

User Review  - J Mark Brinkmoeller - Goodreads

Terrific as have been all the books authored by Mr. Fergus Bordewich. The role slavery commanded amidst the politics of deciding on a location for the capital and the impact of land speculators in stunting the growth of Washington were particularly rewarding elements in this book. Read full review

Contents

Prologue The Question of the Capital
1
The New Machine of Government
11
Dinner at Jeffersons
31
Potomac Fever
53
A Cloudy Business
81
Chapter5 The Metropolis of America
103
An Alarming and Serious Time
125
Irresistible Temptations
149
A Scene of Distress
175
The Generals Last Campaign
201
The Capital of a Great Nation
229
Epilogue Summer 1814
259
Notes
277
Selected Bibliography
341
Index
357
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Fergus M. Bordewich is the author of several books, including Bound for Canaan, Killing the White Man's Indian, and My Mother's Ghost, a memoir. The son of a national civil rights leader for Native Americans, he was introduced early in life to racial politics. As a journalist, he has written widely on political and cultural subjects in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, American Heritage, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Reader's Digest, and many other publications. He was born in New York City, and now lives in New York's Hudson River Valley with his wife and daughter.

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