March 2013

Colorized photo of Lewis Powell.

Even More Little Known Victims of the Lincoln Assassination Plot

April 14th, 1865 was a pretty bad day for a lot of people. Lincoln was assassinated, Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone had their lives torn apart, and Secretary of State William H. Seward was brutally stabbed along with most of his family and a few bystanders.

Oh, you hadn’t heard about that last one?

Booth and his co-conspirators’ plan was larger than just the assassination of Lincoln. Their plot included a number of top officials in the U.S. government whose death they hoped would bring the country to its knees. Lewis Powell, a twenty year old Confederate soldier, was chosen to assassinate the Secretary of State.

Luckily for the Sewards, Powell was probably the worst assassin in American history.

The Music Behind the Corcoran's Pump Me Up Exhibit

Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, Rare Essence, Minor Threat, SOA.

If you lived in DC in the 1980s, you probably recognize these as local Go-Go and hardcore bands. If that's the case, the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s newest exhibit, Pump Me Up, is sure to invoke nostalgia. For those who have come here more recently, the exhibit offers a rare opportunity to see how much DC has changed in the last thirty years. (You definitely get a different image of the 80s than at a Legwarmers concert at the State Theatre!) Either way, it's worth a visit.

To put it mildly, the 1980s was a tumultuous period for the District of Columbia. There was a lot going on and homegrown music was right at the center of the city's experience.

Every Second Counts: The Decatur-Barron Duel of 1820

In the early 19th century, taking a life was as easy as taking offense. Just ask Commodore Stephen Decatur. 193 years ago today he was killed in a duel leaving (as some claim) his spirit to wander and perhaps seek retribution from the parties that coldly arranged his death.

Decatur was born in 1779 and had a mostly praise-worthy navy career, earning “the heart of a nation” and the malice of a few whose careers he stepped over to achieve his own greatness. One of these was Commodore James Barron.

Things got ugly between the two men with the help of two others who apparently wanted a piece of Decatur, too.

The District's Claim to the Daiquiri

Though it may not really feel like it when you go outside lately, spring is almost here. It won't be long before people all over the DMV are sipping drinks by the pool. Pina coladas... mojitos... and, of course, everyone's favorite homegrown cocktail, the daiquiri.


Okay, okay, the daiquiri is not truly a Washington creation -- it was first mixed in Cuba -- but it has a strong early connection to the District. So, we have some basis to claim it. Read on!

The Washington Post Gets Snarky in 1891

Around these parts it’s pretty common to have buildings named after politicians. The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the Rayburn House Office Building, the Tip O’Neill Building, the Clinton E.P.A. Building – the list goes on and on.

Well, back in the 1890s, the Washington Post felt that Rep. Joseph G. Cannon (R – Illinois) deserved a different kind of recognition for his work on the National Zoo project.

Bomb Rocks U.S. Capitol

In the wee hours of the morning on March 1, 1971, a disturbing phone call came in to the Senate telephone switchboard. A man “with a hard low voice” told the operator that the U.S. Capitol would blow up in 30 minutes.

In the past, operators had fielded similar threatening calls from time to time, but all of them had turned out to be false alarms or pranks. This one, however, would be different.

Happy Birthday, National Zoo!

On this day in 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation establishing a zoological park along Rock Creek in Northwest Washington “for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.” But, of course, the backstory began years before.

Prior to the creation of the Zoo park, the Smithsonian kept a large collection of animals in pens and cages on the National Mall. Washingtonians flocked to see the motley collection which included a jaguar, grizzly bear, lynx and buffalo.

Buffalo grazing on the National Mall! Can you imagine?