The 1830s, the setting for Jefferson Morley's absorbing new book Snow-Storm in August, are one of those lost "in-between" periods in the history of both Washington and the nation at large. Too late for the Revolution or even the War of 1812 and too early for the Civil War, the 1830s are a mystery to many people. Morley brings this era to life, vividly portraying the tinderbox of racial tensions that would ultimately lead to civil war.
The book's title derives from the so-called "Snow Riot" of August 1835, when a mob of angry young white laborers vandalized a restaurant at 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW operated by Beverly Snow, a free black. Compared to other great civil disturbances such as the race riots of 1919 or 1968, the mayhem and destruction in 1835 were almost negligible. Nevertheless, it was a shocking event for many Washington residents, and the underlying tensions were as strong as at any time in the city's history.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Sunday, June 10, 2012
When traveling to Washington in the early 1900s—by train, of course—you would have arrived either at the Baltimore & Ohio Station on Capitol Hill or at the Baltimore & Potomac Station on the eastern end of the Mall, where the National Gallery of Art now stands. Stumbling out of that station, in desperate need of lodgings, you would have to travel a block north to Pennsylvania Avenue to get to the famous National Hotel across the wide street on the right or the nearly-as-famous Metropolitan Hotel down the block to the left. But if you didn’t want to lug your bags that far, you could choose the St. James, immediately to your right, on the southeast corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania.
at 5:35 PM