Friday, 9 May, 1828

Washington, D.C.

It will naturally be supposed from what has been related that I was up soon this morning, and as soon as it was completely light and I had come to the proper temperature from the unnatural and unpleasant excitement of the night, I started to view the President's house and other Public buildings situated near it. The abode of Presidents, as to exterior, is beautiful and elegant, built of white marble, pleasantly situated at the end of the avenue leading to the Capitol and in full view of it. The yard around the President's house is now undergoing repairs. The Public buildings belonging to the Government are not as convenient as I should have expected, but they appear well built and indicate expense. After thus spending one or two hours in satisfying my curiosity, I returned to Floyd's with a good appetite for the morning repast which was in readiness on the board. After having satisfied the demands of appetite, we called on a Mr. Maynard, a member in the House of Representatives from the western part of the State of New York. Tyler was personally acquainted. He seemed delighted to see us, some of his constituents, and his acquaintance with the place was advantageous to us, as our stay was intended to be limited to a very short time. From Washington all wrote home to our friends for the first time. By the time we had finished our ramble and deposited our communications in the post office, the members of the House of Representatives and Senate had convened, and we repaired to the Capitol to see and hear the congregated wisdom and eloquence of the United States assembled in the Legislative Halls of the nation. And judging from what was said and from the general appearance of the House of Representatives, many an idle illiterate fellow was lounging on his quilted seat with a mind as vacant as the space above their heads. What use are such men here? Mere drones. And love the bonus per diem better than the people who pay for doing nothing, and find them Sofas to sit on. They vote, but from their own ideas of the measure which may be under consideration.  But there are those whose intellectual capacities do not lie dormant, who have the energy to investigate and give their views on that investigation. Such men it was a pleasure to see and hear. We had the pleasure of hearing several attempts to display their powers of eloquence, but none of the great Masterpieces of American orators chose to argue the time we stayed, or the subjects under consideration were too plain and easy for the full operation of their profound intellectual superiority. The Rotunda is forty feet in diameter and eighty feet high and the niches are, with a few exceptions, filled with elegant paintings representing some scene of our glorious Revolution. This is as it should be. The Representatives of a free people ever have before them the scenes of those fine patriots who at so much sacrifice and blood established our freedom.

The departments of the Capital: for the Senate and the House of Representatives are elegant and furnished with beautiful and easy seats for the members and so are the galleries for the Spectators. The Judiciary or Legal Department and Library are spacious and splendid, displaying taste, grandeur, and convenience.

The subject under debate at the time of our visit was the great Western Canal. Some of those who addressed the chair were very good speakers. But those most eloquent were on the wrong side of the question as they were reindicating internal improvements by the general Government, a thing in my estimation not granted by the Constitution.

From the Capital you have a fine view of the President's House, as both buildings stand on an elevation, and the road leading from one to the other is descending from each about half the distance and the street wide, affording an excellent view. The sidewalks are wide and well paved and the streets are nearly completed. The houses are not compactly built and never will be until the day of judgment, its situation seems to forbid it as its location is entirely to the east side of the United States while origination flows to the West, settling the vast world of forests belonging to the United States, which in time will be the most numerously and densely populated portion of the Republic, consequently the most powerful. And as the majorities rule, the Valley of the Mississippi will in time become the seat of Government in the United States. However, it is probable it will far exceed its present population, particularly so if Congress will do all the improvements required, such as leveling and paving each street merely for the inhabitants. That it should have done so much already in this is astounding. i see no just cause why the people must be made to pay for paving the streets in Washington. it is not right. The Representatives have no more business to use the revenues in this way than I have.

We purchased a few articles in this place, and from the way we were charged one might suppose it was done in order to get sufficient overvalue and profit to pave the streets in good style. Having now satisfied, as far as time would allow, our curiosities - though our examination was indeed very imperfect, we prepared to leave the great Metropolis and examine the pleasures of the good Old Dominion with the fond hope of diminishing our expenses. How far this hope will be realized the future will disclose. At two o'clock we left the city.

We passed through Georgetown which joins Washington and the union so intimate and the resemblance so complete that it requires the accuracy of a surveyor to discriminate the ending of one and the commencement of the other. We passed through but one street, consequently our view was limited. It is, however, situated on the North side of the River Potomac on a considerable eminence fronting the water. The streets are paved with large rough stones; houses poor and wear the venerable appearance of age. One or two Meeting Houses are to be seen raising their solemn spires above the ordinary dwellings. Finally, it has no particular attraction. As we approached the water our olfactories were much incommoded by the disagreeable effluvia eminating from the decaying of all the finney tribe that had probably there been prepared for market. The River here is one-half mile wide and a Ferryboat propelled by horse was fifteen minutes in crossing. Now having seen most of the important places which we expected to visit when we left home, a contemplation of the prospect before us was very natural. And to me all had rather the horrid aspect of gloom. Every part of the country appeared to dampen our energy, as the land on every side was miserably poor, the roads bad, and only now and then could a dwelling be seen and that reminded a traveler of a poor God-forsaken place as ever was in the world. And every human being we met on the road had the appearance of abject poverty, completely depicted on every part of the system, furnishing a complete picture of the country and buildings through and by which we now are passing. Had I now been asked why I left the State of New York and wandered into this country my answer must have been, to see poor land and poor people. I do not mention poverty in relation to the people as entirely associated with vice, but as here represented, the combined product of slavery and unluxuriant soil. Because he who has no slaves has no standing in the higher ranks of society but feels and seem himself neglected both in public and private capacities. He is destitute of those opportunities of information derived from an education which his more favoured neighbors, Slaveholders, enjoy. Poverty is no reproach to any man when it is not the consequence of some vice. There are in the lower walks of society as much virtue and patriotism, nay! I may say more than can be found in the more elevated. The purest hearts and cleanest intellects are among those who live and die neglected for the want of cultivation.

We drove a short distance after dark and arrived at Fairfax Court House in Fairfax County and put up for the night. The Landlord at this Inn is really a good natured, humorous sort of a man, intelligent and communicative in conversation and agreeable in manners, keeps a good house and makes a stranger feel as though he was at home. This certainly is one of the best recommendations for a Landlord. It is a rare quality, however, and seldom found. our suppers were served up in good style. His lady attended at table, servants were well trained, and here appeared to be well used, a treatment I have not before seen since I entered the Slave States. indeed it seemed to alleviate my mind in relation to slavery. After remaining here a few hours my mind became more calm and serene, and many of those disagreeable forebodings of the past six hours began to disappear under the influence of this pleasant and agreeable man.