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What constitutes a State ?
Not high-raised battlement or labored mound, Thick wall or moated gate ;
Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned ; Not bays and broad-armed ports
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride ; Not starred and spangled courts
Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride. No! MEN, high-minded MEN,
With powers as far above dull brutes endued In forest, brake, or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude ; Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and knowing dare maintain, Prevent the long-aimed blow,
And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain :These constitute a State ;
And Sovereign Law, that State's collected will, O'er thrones and globes elate,
Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill.
IN writing the Story of Washington, the author has had in mind both the local and general reader; for the national capital belongs not alone to its citizens, but also to the nation. On the hand it was desirable not to burden the narrative with details of merely local interest ; on the other, not to treat the subject in so general a way as to associate with it no local flavor whatever. He has also endeavored to write in a simple and direct style that would attract youthful readers, and that would not displease those of mature years. It is common complaint that our young people read foreign books— especially English books—so exclusively, that we are in danger of becoming a race of Anglomaniacs,a consummation that our law-makers seem bent on furthering by their inexcusable delay in passing an international copyright law.
In these pages the author has endeavored to make prominent what was noble, dignified, and patriotic in the city's history, and thus to awaken in her behalf the interest and affection of his readers. He has also endeavored to make prominent the fact that Washington is the capital of the nation, and should be regarded and treated as such. The sectional jealousies which led Congress so long to treat the city with indifference, and to pursue her with a niggardly policy that kept her for years a provincial village, are happily abated. The agitation for a removal of the seat of government has ceased with them. The later argument of the “capital-movers," that the city is not the geographical centre, still remains. But this, too, will soon lose its force. Space will be annihilated. As regards communication, distance is not now considered, and without doubt in a few years pneumatic tube, air ship, or some other mechanical contrivance will in a few hours convey hither the delighted traveller from the Golden Gate or farthest limits of Oregon.
The citizen of Washington is dependent on Congress for every crumb of municipal improvement he gets.
He has neither voice nor vote in the government of his city. During the past fifteen years Congress has awakened to a sense of its responsibilities toward the District and has done much for the capital, while much yet remains to be done.
America has material resources far surpassing those possessed by the great empires of antiquity; she has the requisite artistic and mechanical genius for making them available. There is no reason why in every thing that men deem noble, beautiful, and excellent, the American capital should not take rank among the greatest capitals of the earth.
It is well to remember that a nation's capital may fairly be considered as an index to the nation's character, and that the outcome of our institutions
will be studied by critical strangers in the city on the banks of the Potomac.
The author acknowledges with pleasure the aid afforded by citizens of Washington and others in the prosecution of his work. His thanks are especially due Mr. Justice Bradley of the Supreme Court, Assistant Secretary of State Rives, Mr. Worthington C. Ford, Chief of the Bureau of Statistics, Mr. A. R. Spofford, Librarian of Congress, Mr. William B. Webb, President of the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia, Mr. William B. Powell, Superintendent of Public Schools, and General H. V. Boynton.
It is hardly necessary to name here all the books and periodicals consulted.
Mr. Joseph B. Varnum's “Washington SketchBook," Messrs. Hutchins and Moore's “National Capital,” “ The Reminiscences and Letters ” of Dr. Manasseh Cutler, Ben : Perley Poore, Dolly Madison, Mrs. W. W. Seaton, and W. A. Gobright, with the files of Harper's, Scribner's and the Atlantic Magasines, the New York Tribune, Times, Herald, and World, the Washington National Intelligencer, Post, and Star, with the unpublished manuscripts in the State and War Departments, have formed the basis of the work. A number of the illustrations of public buildings, etc., have been taken by permission from Messrs. Hutchins and Moore's larger work “The National Capital."
C. B. T. WASHINGTON, January 2, 1889.