The Imperial Season: America's Capital in the Time of the First Ambassadors, 1893-1918
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This story of the young city of Washington coming up in the international scene is populated with presidents, foreign diplomats, civil servants, architects, artists, and influential hosts and hostesses who were enamored of the idea of world power but had little idea of the responsibilities involved.
Between the Spanish American War and World War I, the thrill of America's new international role held the nation's capital in rapture. Visionaries gravitated to Washington and sought to make it the glorious equal to the great European capitals of the day. Remains of the period still define Washington--the monuments and great civic buildings on the Mall as well as the private mansions built on the avenues that now serve as embassies.
The first surge of America's world power led to profound changes in diplomacy, and a vibrant official life in Washington, DC, naturally followed. In the twenty-five year period that William Seale terms the "imperial season," a host of characters molded the city in the image of a great world capital. Some of the characters are well known, from presidents to John Hay and Uncle Joe Cannon, and some relatively unknown, from diplomat Alvey Adee to hostess Minnie Townsend and feminist Inez Milholland. The Imperial Season is a unique social history that defines a little explored period of American history that left an indelible mark on our nation's capital.
so absurd as to lead to the suspicion that there must be something which the committee is desirous of covering up.” He asked that his letter be kept “strictly confidential.”7 Taft continued to encourage Boardman and Anna Cowles as “arch conspirators” in Red Cross reform for the “new Red Cross Society.” Boardman called the controversy the “Barton problem.”8 In March 1903 she asked Hubbell for a list of the names of members of the new board elected at the secret meetings. Ignoring this, Hubbell
passed beyond the line and is no longer to be respected for even the high places which he has more or less unfortunately, filled in the past.” Reveling in the apparently universal public affection he loved, Roosevelt seemed to Anderson a “boor.”17 And it is true that only Mrs. Roosevelt’s admonitions restrained the ex-president from wearing his Rough Rider clothes before the host kings and queens who received him in their courts. However little a stiff diplomat might think of this and Roosevelt’s
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greatness of its schooling. McKim studied the plan and redefined its zones to suggest ceremonial areas while taking advantage of a beautiful river view. The generals knew they had their man and gave him the project. McKim spooned the campus carefully into the McMillan Plan, which had provided no war college. He walked the site, making notes and sketches to take back to the drafting rooms of McKim, Mead & White, in New York. At the cornerstone ceremony in 1903 probably half of Washington stood in
second and last adventurer, Edythe, went out into the world to marry but soon returned a widow. The Patten sisters staked a claim on the emerging Washington society as few other permanent residents were able to do, considering themselves several rungs above nearly everybody else. The new winter residents, who knew the world elsewhere, found the Patten sisters charmingly provincial and learned that they had to be contended with. From their rugged house, the sisters judged all they saw, never