How to buy the book

You can order at History Press as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other on-line retailers. I will send you a signed copy for $23, a little extra to cover shipping. I will send you both Slave Labor in the Capital and Through a Fiery Trial for $40. Send a check to me at PO Box 63, Wellesley Island, NY 13640-0063.

My lectures at Sotterley Plantation in St. Mary's County, Maryland, on September 23, 2015, and the DAR Library on December 5 are now blog posts below listed under book talks. The talk I gave
at the Politics and Prose Bookstore on February 28, 2015, along with Heather Butts, author African American Medicine in Washington, was taped by the bookstore. Take a listen.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Foundations: positioning the "Palace"

Washington wrote a letter to his personal secretary back in Philadelphia that on his return, Hoban would "enter heartily upon the work," and he had already "laid out the foundation which is now digging." The president didn't mention the diggers. It was as if the foundation was digging itself.

Quote from Slave Labor in the Capital, page 59-60

What I quoted in the book came from a letter Washington wrote to Tobias Lear on July 30, 1792, see the letter. After I wrote the book I found a photocopy of a letter Commissioners Stuart and Carroll wrote to Commissioner Johnson describing Washington at the site of the "Palace."

He viewed the ground "particularly at the place for the Palace. It has given him considerable difficulty trouble and difficulty to fix his mind...." I am not sure I would have used that in the book in order to make more fun of Washington not saying who was digging the foundation. The larger significance of Washington's "trouble and difficulty" is that this was his first time touring the site since L'Enfant left. Was Washington's mind too brittle to grasp the complexities that L'Enfant made seem easy?

The commissioners also discuss their need for brick makers in the letter.

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