the Federal Government Stay in Washington?
In addition to the White House, the fire in Washington severely
damaged many buildings including the Capitol, the Treasury and
the War Department. Almost immediately after the fire, calls
went out for the government to move to another location, ostensibly,
until the city could be rebuilt. Both the cities of Philadelphia
and New York made attractive offers. Fearing that a temporary
move might ultimately result in a permanent relocation of the
government, representatives of the southern states objected.
Prominent local residents and businessmen also objected to moving
the government, fearing that they would lose their investments.
President James Madison, determined to keep the government functioning
in Washington, rejected any move at all. He also planned to
rebuild the White House according to its original design.
the government to a new city made sense to certain individuals,
particularly members of Congress from New York and Pennsylvania.
To others with roots in Washington or southward, a move further
north was considered disastrous.
a list of the reasons for and against keeping the federal
government in Washington after the fire destroyed so many
buildings and livelihoods. You may need to do additional research
to learn more about the debate.
creating the list, characterize the reasons as political,
economic, psychological, and/or symbolic.
what might have happened to the nation had the capital moved
to another city, such as New York or Philadelphia. Extra credit:
Hold a classroom debate. Select an equal number of students
to represent each side of the debate: stay or go? After holding
the debate, allow the rest of the class to vote on the question
of the House: The Role of First Ladies
Dolley Madison was an extraordinary woman of her time. As
first lady she set a precedent for the role of presidential
spouse. She partnered with her husband in a very public way.
Her outgoing nature and prominence on the social scene contrasted
with the quiet personality of predecessor Martha Washington,
who first filled the role. Mrs. Madison's weekly White House
receptions were fashionable but not too formal. She also visited
Washington neighborhoods and called upon prominent local families.
Because Dolley Madison understood the value of cultivating both
the political and social communities of Washington, she brought
the two together whenever possible. The first couple appeared
together at local events and Dolley supported charities that
were important to her friends. She supported the work of Marcia
Burnes Van Ness, who organized the Washington Female Orphan
Asylum. The first lady's participation, including a financial
contribution, generated publicity and support for the cause.
After the city burned, Mrs. Madison continued her active social
life. She enthusiastically and staunchly supported the rebuilding
of Washington and the White House. The weekly parties resumed
after the Madisons settled in their replacement homes, first
at Octagon House and later at what was known as "Seven
Behind all of the socializing, the parties, and the decorating
lay Dolley Madison's primary responsibilities, her devotion
to her husband and country. Her goal was to provide an atmosphere
in which James Madison could be a successful president and thus
the country would flourish.
first ladies have called Mrs. Madison a role model. Choose
at least two other first ladies, one contemporary and one
historical, and examine how they viewed their role as first
lady. Using the worksheet as a guide,
compare their activities to those of Dolley Madison. You will
find brief biographies on this site's First
first lady's work is exciting and challenging, yet the president's
wife is not elected to the post nor is she paid for her efforts.
Based on what you know about the achievements of first ladies,
today and in the past, write a job description for the "position."
Go further and describe the desirable qualifications for a