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District of Columbia Suffrage Bill – The President’s Veto — The New York Times, January 8, 1867
|| 11/17/2010 || 8:29 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The argument with which President Johnson supports his veto of the District of Columbia Suffrage Bill will not convert Congress or the country to his views. His denial of the right of Congress to legislate for the District is so flatly opposed to the terms of the Constitution, and the ground upon which aid for District projects has always been invoked, that it amounts to little. The provision of the Constitution empowering Congress to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District, and the fact that its citizens have never claimed the rights which the President now asserts in their behalf, are conclusive against him. The plea that the citizens of the District possess, “as an organized community, the same popular rights as the inhabitants of a State or Territory,” is sustained neither by theory nor usage. Congress has, indeed, conceded certain municipal privileges; but its power to legislate in all matters pertaining to the District has not been disputed by people or President until now.

Certain it is that this message will not induce the surrender by Congress of the authority under which it regulates the suffrage in the Federal District. The right by which it legislates for the District on the other questions embraces the right to legislate on this question, with exclusive reference to the wishes and requirements of the States represented in the Capitol. And nothing is more clear than the fact that the States whose verdict has recently been pronounced are in favor of solving in the District, experimentally, one of the many problems which grow out of the altered relations of the colored people. The pending Constitutional Amendment indirectly encourages the enfranchisement of the freedmen in every State, North and South. It diminishes everywhere the basis of representation to the extent of the number of those who are excluded from the franchise because of race or color; so affirming, indirectly, the principle of impartial suffrage, while recognizing the absolute right of each State to determine the standard of suffrage for itself. What more proper than that the application of the principle should begin in the District whose public concerns are specially subject to the control of Congress?

The president dwells upon the opposition of the majority of the white residents in the District to any scheme of negro enfranchisement. This opposition, however, has never assumed the form of a denial of the Congressional right to legislate in the premises. They are too conscious of the substantial benefits accrue continually from the guardianship of Congress, to impugn its authority in the matter of the franchise. As for the rest, Congress is the judge of what is proper and expedient. And nothing could be more obviously proper than that the Congress which has decreed the civil status of the negro should also affirm his political equality as a citizen, so far as it is subject to the national legislation. In affirming this, Congress simply obeys the will of the majority of the American people, whose utterances the President continues to disregard.

There may be room for doubt as to the expediency of acting on the principle of universal enfranchisement. We should have preferred the application of some test of fitness, whether intelligence or property or taxation, to be enforced alike against black and white. So that the right to vote be shared impartially, irrespective of color, the great point would seem to be gained. Congress has thought differently, however; and as between universal suffrage and the entire exclusion of the freedmen because of color, the Republican Party cannot hesitate in its choice.

The President quotes from MADISON, JEFFERSON, STORY AND KENT in support of his course. But the citations from the writings of these eminent men really have no direct bearing upon the point at issue. They vindicate the value of the veto power and the right of the Executive to exert it; but as neither is disputed the appositeness of the passages reproduced is not very apparent.

The right to veto is as valid as the right of Congress to pass the bill over the veto, and no more so. The debatable part of the question relates to the arguments by which the position of each is upheld. And we apprehend that in this case the popular judgment will be on the side of Congress, and against the President.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article from the New York Times. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



A Shower of Proclamations: Arlington Heights – The New York Times, May 9, 1861
|| 5/10/2010 || 8:14 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

This tirade against the State of Virginia was written one month after the American Civil War began. At the end of the article there is the assertion that for the previous 20 years Virginians had been plotting to overthrow the Union and the Retrocession of Alexandria was one step in the process. By obtaining Arlington Heights, present-day Rosslyn, Virginia, the State of Virginia was able to obtain a militarily important piece of land where cannons could fire upon Washington. As I noted before, later in 1861 Abraham Lincoln mentioned this liability in his first State of Union delivered to Congress.


A Shower of Proclamations.; Arlington Heights.

The New York Times, May 9, 1861

Gov. LETCHER has issued a proclamation full of lofty sentences and abounding in big words, calling upon Virginians to “rally in defence of the State,” to “uphold the flag of the Commonwealth,” and “maintain the rights of the South.” All this means a call upon the traitors and disloyal men, of whom he is the chief, in the once patriotic and true old State of Virginia, to arm against the Republic of which her own WASHINGTON was the founder, and against a Constitution which her JEFFERSON, her MADISON and MONROE — names so dear to the American people — aided so largely in framing,

Of all the treason against the Constitution and Union, that of Virginia is the rankest, the most inexcusable and the meanest. The noble and true patriots of her past history are dishonored, and the graves of her wise and true men polluted by it. Of all the States, there is not one so linked to the Union by hallowed memories, by ties which all mankind in all ages have regarded as sacred, as Virginia. Her history bears the names dearest to the American heart — of patriots who labored most, fought most, sacrificed most and suffered most for that Union which her degenerate sons would shiver to-day. Of all the States, she has least cause of complaint. She has enjoyed more of the patronage, more of the offices, and exercised a greater influence in shaping the policy of the Government, than any other State. She has asked nothing that has not been granted — demanded nothing that has not been conceded. And yet hers is the heart that is foulest with treason, the hand that threatens to be reddest with the blood of loyal and true men!

The Governor of South Carolina has issued his proclamation, and though representing the smallest save one of all the seceding States, his tone is the loudest, his boast the largest, and his words the biggest of them all. We can respect Georgia for her real strength, while we execrate her treason. She was among the strong States of the Union, and is strongest among those that have seceded, and might, therefore, speak with something of power; but for little South Carolina, the verriest bantam of the secession brood, to flap its puny wings and crow so defiantly, is one of the jokes of the age. Virginia could put South Carolina in its breeches pocket, and yet South Carolina speaks so patronizingly, so condescendingly, so full of motherly regard for the Old Dominion, that were it not for the census and the map, one would suppose that Virginia was some helpless and oppressed little community, too weak to think even of defending itself. And, then, to see how meekly and humbly Virginia receives her proffers of aid — to see the once proud and haughty Virginia — the mother of Presidents and nursery of heroes — the once chivalrous, self-reliant, noble Virginia, submissively and gratefully receiving nursery pap from a spoon in the hands of South Carolina, is a tableau worth a day’s journey to see.

JEFFERSON DAVIS, too, has issued his proclamation, tendering his aid, and forwarding his starving troops to Virginia. Virginia food is to feed them — Virginia money is to pay them — Virginia soil is to be desecrated, and her social life demoralized by them. The war is transferred to her valleys, and her cities are to be made a camp. And yet Virginia submits. She forgets her former chivalry — her boasted strength. Three months ago she assumed to be the arbiter of the destinies of the nation; to-day she is the protege and follower of South Carolina, and the tool of JEFFERSON DAVIS. She yields a craven deference to the one, and bears submissively the burdens of the other.

And last, though not least. Brig. Gen. COCKE has issued his proclamation. He is in command of the Potomac Border of Virginia. Whether he is a Virginian he does not inform us, and history is silent on the subject. It may be that he is, or it may be that he holds the border as one of the myrmidons of JEFFERSON DAVIS. He, too, like his illustrious compeers, the trio of Governors, uses the language of grandiloquence. Hear him:

“The Capital has never been threatened by us. It is not now threatened. It is beyond and outside the limits of the free and sovereign State of Virginia. The North has not openly, and according to the usage of civilized nations, declared war on us. We make no war on them — but should the soil of Virginia, or the grave of WASHINGTON, be polluted by the tread of a single man in arms from north of the Potomac, it will cause open war.”

According to Brig. Gen. COCKE, we shall have open “war,” then, for, just as sure as that the sun shall rise and set, thousands of men in arms from the north of the Potomac will be in Virginia within a week.

It can hardly have escaped notice, that the Virginia authorities lay very great stress on the inviolability of Virginia soil. Gov. LETCHER and Gen. COCKE both state that Virginia wages no war against the Federal Government, but the moment any United States soldier steps in arms upon the soil of the State, that act will be regarded as a declaration and the actual commencement of war.

This undoubtedly has more than a general meaning. It is intended to prevent the Government from taking possession of Arlington Heights, which command Washington, and which must be held if the Capital is to he saved. These heights are in Alexandria, which used to form part of the District of Columbia, but was ceded back to the State of Virginia by Congress in 1846. Now, these heights are part of the soil of that State, and the occupation of them by the Government will be regarded and resented, as an act of invasion.

It is scarcely necessary to say that it ought to be done, and beyond all question will be done the moment it is necessary, in spite of this menace. The fact that the menace is made proves that Virginia only seeks a pretext for assuming an openly hostile attitude to the Government, — and if she does not get one here, she will find one somewhere else. Loyalty or forbearance that rests on so flimsy a foundation as this, should not have a feather’s weight on the action of the Government. Whenever Gen. SCOTT deems it necessary, as a military precaution, to take possession of those heights, it will undoubtedly be done. The Government has a right to occupy and hold, for military reasons, any part of any State under its jurisdiction.

It is altogether probable that some such contingency as the present was in view, when the leading Virginia politicians urged the secession of that portion of the District of Columbia. They have been plotting the violent overthrow of the Government for twenty years, — and written records remain to show that the leaders of this treasonable plot made provision for every possible contingency. The whole State of Virginia was carefully studied with a view to military operations against the United States Government, more than twenty-five years ago. Nothing is more probable than that reasons of this sort were among the motives for seeking renewed possession by the State of that portion of the District which commands the Capital. The retrocession was granted out of pure good nature, and with that utter blindness to future contingencies which has characterized the action of Northern public men for many years. Not a thought was given to the military importance of the position, because nobody then believed it possible that the State of Virginia would ever be at war with the Federal Government, — while the members of Congress from that State were at that very moment plotting its overthrow, and using the good nature of the North as the means for accomplishing that object.

It was held by many at the time that the retrocession was unconstitutional, and therefore void. Whether this be so or not, we presume the Government will have very little hesitation about making it practically a nullity, whenever the safety of the Capital may render its military possession necessary.


This newspaper article was obtained from the New York Times archives. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Washington, D.C., Approves Medical Use of Marijuana By Ashley Southall – The New York Times, May 5, 2010
|| 5/5/2010 || 8:07 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Screen grab of Washington, D.C., Approves Medical Use of Marijuana By Ashley Southall - The New York Times, May 5, 2010

Today my names appears for the first time in the New York Times:

Nikolas Schiller, the secretary of the D.C. Patients’ Cooperative, a nonprofit group that advocates legal medical marijuana, said the amendments would have clarified ambiguities in the bill. He pointed to an example of a Wal-Mart worker in Michigan, where medical marijuana is legal, who was fired in March after he tested positive for the drug, which he used to cope with sinus cancer and an inoperable brain tumor.

“We asked the Council to introduce the protection for that and they refused to,” Mr. Schiller said. “And it was very infuriating to sit and watch the best practices from other states, other jurisdictions be ignored.”

Although Ashley recorded a much longer interview with me after the District Council’s final vote, I am happy (read: not infuriated) with how this article is written. I wish she could have highlighted some of the more important issues I spoke to her about. Regardless, I am still disappointed the Councilmembers voted to create one of the most restrictive medical cannabis programs in the country. The reality is that Congress already approved a more liberal version earlier this year and these amendments are far away from the original intent of District residents. The next Congress can take the program away, so why not legislate to create the very best program in the country modeled off of what works? I am sad to say that without home cultivation and limiting growers to 95 plants, the program is going to have some problems, but I hope, in time, we can fix them.

Anyways, yesterday’s vote was an important start, but there is a long way to go…

Read the entire article:

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RETROCESSION OF ALEXANDRIA – The New York Times, August 17, 1873
|| 4/28/2010 || 10:03 pm || 3 Comments Rendered || ||

Does the New York Times issue corrections after 137 years? Because this article has two errors. First, William Winter Payne, of Fauquier, was then a member of Congress from Alabama, not South Carolina. I decided to look in the Congressional Globe myself and find their error. Second, the article uses both Judge Underhill and Judge Underwood, when it should have been only using Judge John Curtiss Underwood (sadly, he died less than 4 months after this article was published.)

I decided to repost this article here because it provides the setting for the Supreme Court case of Phillips vs. Payne. I was not expecting to find an article that essentially provides a road map for how the unconstitutionality of Alexandria’s retrocession was to be legally challenged.


RETROCESSION OF ALEXANDRIA

The New York Times, August 17, 1873

At a recent meeting of the Common Council of Alexandria, Va., a proposition to establish a new hospital being under consideration, Judge Underhill spoke of the renewed effort by citizens of Washington to procure retrocession of Alexandria to the District of Columbia. He then related an interview he had with Gov. Cooke and Chief Justice Cartter, from which he had learned that they had determined on the move. Judge Cartter had pronounced the act of retrocession of 1846 unconstitutional and void, and they would make a test case by getting some citizen of Alexandria to refuse to pay his taxes, and file a bill for an injunction against their collection by the State of Virginia. They preferred that mode to proceeding criminal case by habeas corpus. The Board of Public Works thought it necessary to have both sides of the river, as the Board of Health had concluded the swamps on the Virginia side were the cause of much of the malarious sickness in Washington. The effort will probably be made in the Fall. Judge Underwood also remarked that the change, if made, would very seriously affect him, and necessitate his resignation of the judgeship or removal, and he said he had looked at the Globe of the date of the act of retrocession, and found that Col. Winter Payne, of Fauquier, then a member of Congress from South Carolina Alabama, had opposed it as unconstitutional, and many Democratic statesmen, but no Whigs.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the New York Times archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



TO MAKE A STATE OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – The New York Times, December 14, 1902
|| 3/30/2010 || 1:14 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

TO MAKE A STATE OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


Mass Meeting of Residents Indorses the Scheme.


Argument For And Against Admission to the Union– The President and New Mexico’s Delegation


Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13- A little byplay for the advocates of statehood and their opponents is promised before the contest in the Senate is entirely over. Senator Gallinger, who has espoused the side of Senator Quay and the admission of the three Territories that are demanding to become States, has, as Chairman of the District Committee, introduced a resolution to amend the Constitution and make a State out of the District of Columbia.

The idea has taken with many of the people of Washington, and meetings are being held to discuss the prospect seriously. Last night a mass meeting was held at Brightwood, one of the largest suburbs of the city, and the Gallinger resolution was unanimously indorsed, but with a suggestion that there be a limitation on the suffrage.

The meeting was attended by many of the prominent and wealthy citizens of the District. Pressure is being brought to bear on Senator Gallinger to offer an amendment to the Statehood bill looking to the admission of the District as a State.

So far as population goes, Washington and the District have a good claim to admission. Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming all rank below the District in population. In point of intelligence and prosperity, so long as the Government stays here, there will be little doubt on that score.

The presence of a large negro vote and dubious jurisdiction involved in being the neutral ceded ground on which the Federal city is placed have been the chief difficulties in the way of giving the district any political status. The courts have uniformly held that the district in its political character is unlike any other principality on earth, and more nearly resembles the Bishopric of Durham than anything else.

Delegate Rodey of New Mexico led a large delegation of his constituents to the White House to-day to urge on the President the claims of the three Territories to admission into the Union.

The New Mexicans came away not entirely satisfied with the President’s manner in receiving their arguments. He was cordial and treated his callers with all possible consideration, but he did not promise he would help them to pass the Statehood bill. This was what they wanted and anything less than this seemed inhospitable.

Senator Beveridge also had a talk with the President about the bill, and when he came away from the White House said he could not make any comment on what the President had said to him, but he was more than ever confident of the defeat of the Tri-State bill. Beveridge says that Senator Quay has claimed too many votes and cannot muster a majority.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the New York Times archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



TAFT STIRS CAPITAL BY SUFFRAGE SPEECH – The New York Times, May 10th, 1909
|| 11/4/2009 || 1:22 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

TAFT STIRS CAPITAL BY SUFFRAGE SPEECH


Opposes Plan to Permit Residents of District of Columbia to Elect Officials.


CITY BELONGS TO COUNTRY


Fears Narrow Spirit in Government–
Not Ready to Approve Roosevelt Plan of Administration

Special to The New York Times
Monday, May 10, 1909

WASHINGTON, May 9.– Nothing has stirred the District of Columbia so much since the days of the civil war as the declaration made by President Taft at the dinner tendered him by the business men of Washington last night that suffrage for the District was impossible. His sweeping answer to the eloquent plea of Justice Stafford of the Supreme Court of the District for the privilege of the ballot has been discussed to-day wherever citizens of the District gathered. There is general disappointment at his attitude, but he finds champions even among those citizens who crave suffrage, but who acknowledge the logic of his arguments.

The President’s speech followed the appeal of Justice Stafford. He said:

“As I look about here into these smiling faces, these somewhat rotund forms that give evidence of prosperity, it is a little difficult for me to realize that it was about these caitiffs and these slaves that Mr. Stafford spoke.

“In spite of my experience with respect to Washington, I am a nationalist. This city is the home of the Government of a Nation, and when men who are just as much imbued with the principles of civil liberty as any who have come after, Washington at the head, put into the Constitution the provisions with respect to the government of the District of Columbia, they knew what they were doing.

“Now, I want to say, with reference to this discussion, that if this meeting or subsequent meetings are to be devoted to securing an amendment to the Constitution but which you are going to disturb the principle of two Senators from every State and you are going to abolish the provision that was put in there ex industria by George Washington, you will not get ahead in the matter of better government in Washington by such meetings. I do not want to seem to be abrupt, but I believe it is possible by such meetings as this to arouse the interest of Congress and the Executive to the necessity of consulting the people of Washington, to let them act as Americans act when they don’t have the right of suffrage, let them act by the right of petition.

“Now, I am opposed to the franchise in the District. I am opposed, not because I yield to any one in my support and belief in the principles of self-government, but the principles are applicable generally, and then, unless you make exceptions to the application of those principles you will find that they will carry you to very illogical and absurd results. This District was taken out of the application of the principle of self-government in the very Constitution that was intended to put that in force in every other part of the country, and it was done because it was intended to have the representatives of all the people in the country control this one city, and to prevent its being controlled by the parochial spirit that would necessarily govern men who did not look beyond the city to the grandeur of the Nation, and this city as the representative of that Nation.

“Now the question arises, What shall we do with the Government of Washington? Shall we have the present board of three? Shall we have one, or shall we have some other form? I confess I do not know. My predecessor has recommended a change of the present form as to give the responsibility to one, with the view of visiting that one with the responsibility. On the other hand, it is said that three have worked well; that it gives more opportunity, possibly, for counsel, and that it takes away the bureaucratic character of the Government.

“As I have said, I have reached no conclusion as to what recommendation I shall make to Congress on the subject. I fully concur with Justice Stafford in thinking that it would be most unwise to introduce into the District what I understand to be a bureaucratic form of government. That is right.”


Click here to read the Washington Post coverage of the same speech.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the New York Times archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Note to the cartographers at the New York Times: the Red Line goes into Maryland
|| 7/11/2009 || 7:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

I know this a bit late, but I was looking over the coverage of the DC Metro train collision last month on the websites of the Washington Post (below) and the New York Times (above) and noticed one glaring error in the New York Times map. The Red Line does not start and end at the borders of the District of Columbia, rather it extends far into the state of Maryland. Maybe the New York Times can issue a cartographic correction?

I guess you could say this is a good example of when the local newspaper gets it right…


Related Found Maps:

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My own Coat of Arms, the Origin of the Stars & Stripes, and Hartburn, DC
|| 6/2/2009 || 1:57 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

Original image created in Chicago, 1894.
From the Library of Congress’ An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera.

Some time in the future I’d like to read more deeply into heraldry and come up with my own Coat of Arms. Today there is so much talk about name branding that I think it would be an interesting juxtaposition where my Coat of Arms could visually explain some subtle details about me. My motto would either be Socio Ditata Labore or Gloria Immortalis Labore Parta, but how would I go about designing the shield? That is where I am currently stuck at, but I imagine that if I were to dig deeper into the arcane traditions of heraldry, I would come up with something fitting.

About two months ago I was rummaging through the Library of Congress’ An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera and came across the image above. I knew that the DC flag was based off of George Washington’s family crest, but I didn’t know that it had been changed over the centuries prior to his family’s arrival in America. Moreover, I didn’t know that the city I currently live in, Washington, DC, might have been called something completely different…

From a New York Times’ Letter to the Editor published on April 8th, 1984:

Eberhartpence, Eberhart, Hartpence, Hart – what’s in a name? Indeed, had it not been for a change of name back in the 12th century, our nation’s capital might be Hartburn, D.C.

You see, when George Washington’s British ancestor William de Hartburn moved from Hartburn to Wessington in 1130, he changed his name to William de Wessington, which later became de Washington. The ”de” was dropped when the family arrived on these colonial shores around 1659.

Had William retained his original name, the father of our country would have been one ”George Hartburn.”

Imagine that– a gastrointestinal themed capital city. The people’s pyrosis!

I bet the George Hartburn University would have an even better medical school too! It makes me wonder if there would even be a Hart Senate office building, lest someone get the wild notion of burning it down. Or what about the lexical ramifications of when the British torched Washington in the War of 1812? Would this alternate history be called The Burning of Hartburn? I can only laugh and, of course, take some antacids.


A very long time ago, a couple weeks after the reelection of George W. Bush in November of 2004, I wrote that my most recent map looked similar to the gas mask I had purchased days prior:

Yet living in DC with 4 more years of Bush, I am expecting some acid reflux in the belly of the beast…

While there was only one case of acid reflux to hit Washington, DC during the subsequent 4 years, and a mild case at that, I can laugh again at this alternative history double entendre. Acid reflux in the belly of the beast? Only if George Washington’s ancestor didn’t change his name.



U Street: The Corridor Is Cool Again
|| 4/14/2006 || 9:45 am || Comments Off on U Street: The Corridor Is Cool Again || ||

If the New York Times says it’s cool, I guess my neighborhood really is.

Printed today in the New York Times:

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Are they really helping the poor?
|| 7/29/2004 || 3:42 pm || Comments Off on Are they really helping the poor? || ||

The World Bank Questioned-
Interesting article from the NY Times

Another review of a $1.3 billion initiative in India found similar problems. Bank economists in New Delhi examined more than 200 studies of projects in India that ranged from teacher training to school construction, enrollment drives to textbook revision.

They concluded that none of the studies were rigorous enough to measure whether the initiatives made a difference, except for one that found it increased enrollment by a disappointing 1.3 percent. “The World Bank spent more than a billion dollars without knowing why they were doing what they were doing – that’s the tragedy,” said Abhijit Banerjee, an M.I.T. economics professor and co-founder of the Poverty Action Lab.





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  • thank you,
    come again!