Monday, April 25, 2016

D.C. History

During the Reconstruction period of Washington, D.C., the city has grown. By 1870, the District’s population had grown 75% from previous census to nearly 132,000 residents. Despite the city’s growth, Washington D.C. still had dirt roads and lacked basic sanitation. The situation was so bad that some members of Congress suggested moving the capital further west. Yet, President Ulysses S. Grant refused to consider such a proposal. There were poor conditions in the capital. So, Congress passed the Organic Act of 1871. This law revoked the individual charities of the cities of Washington and Georgetown. It created a new territorial government for the whole District of Columbia. The act provided for a governor appointed by the President, a legislative assembly with an upper house composed of eleven appointed council members and a 22 member house of delegates elected by residents of the District. The law allowed an appointed Board of Public Workers charged with modernizing the city. President Grant appointed Alexander Robey Shepherd (who was an influential member of the Board of Public Works) to the post of governor in 1873. Shepherd authorized large scale municipal projects, which greatly modernized Washington, D.C. Yet, the governor spent three times the money that they had been budgeted for capital improvement and it ultimately bankrupted the city. In 1874, Congress abolished the District's territorial government and replaced it with a three-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the President, of which one was a representative from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The three Commissioners would then elect one of themselves to be president of the commission. Another act of Congress in 1878 made the three members Board of Commissioners the permanent government of the District of Columbia. The act also had the effect of eliminating any remaining local institutions like the boards on schools, health, and police. The commissioners would maintain this form of direct rule for nearly a century. Motorized streetcars in the District started to begin service in 1888 and it gave service  in areas beyond the City of Washington’s original boundaries. In 1888, Congress required all new developments within the District to conform to the layout of the City of Washington. The City of Washington's northern border of Boundary Street was renamed Florida in 1890, reflecting growth of suburban areas in the County of Washington. The city's streets were extended throughout the District starting in 1893. An additional law passed in 1895 mandated that Washington formally absorb Georgetown, which until then had maintained a nominal separate identity, and renamed its streets. With a consolidated government and the transformation of suburban areas within the District into urban neighborhoods, the entire city eventually took on the name Washington, D.C.

During Reconstruction, Howard University was founded in 1867 and black males were given the right of suffrage (or the right to vote) in the same year. Howard University is one of the most famous Historically Black Universities (HBCUs) in America. It has great research facilities and it coeducational and nonsectarian. It has business courses and it’s one of the top universities in America. Many strong, courageous African Americans have graduated from Howard University. The new institution was named for General Oliver Otis Howard, a Civil War hero, who was both the founder of the University and, at the time, Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau. Howard later served as President of the university from 1869–74. Howard University would play an important role in the Reconstruction movement and the civil rights movement.  In the year of 1869, the National Convention of the Colored Men of America which was held in D.C. and in the same year, the American Equal Rights Association would meet in the city too. Norton P. Chipman becomes delegate to the US House of Representatives from the District of Columbia. Telephones came to D.C. in 1878. In the early 1880’s, the Washington City Canal was covered over. Originally an expansion of Tiber Creek, the canal connected the Capitol with the Potomac, running along the north side of the Mall where Constitution Avenue is today. However, as the nation transitioned over to railroads for its transport, the canal had become nothing more than a stagnant sewer, and so it was removed. Some reminders of the canal still exist. South of the Capitol, there was a road named Canal Street, which connected Independence Avenue, W and E Street, SE (although the northern most section of the street was renamed Washington avenue to commemorate the state of Washington. A lock keeper’s house was built in 1835 at the eastern terminal of the C&O Canal (where the C C&O emptied into Tiber Creek and the Potomac River) remains at the southwest corner of Constitution Avenue, NW, (formerly B Street, NW) and 17th Street, NW, The western end of the City Canal emptied into the Potomac and connected with the C&P Canal near the lock keeper’s house. One of the most important Washington architects of this period was the German immigrant Adolf Cluss. From the 1860s to the 1890s, he constructed over 80 public and private buildings throughout the city, including the National Museum, the Agriculture Department, Sumner and Franklin schools.  The Washington Monument, a tribute to George Washington and the world's tallest stone structure, was completed in 1884. In 1890, D.C. had a population of 230,392. The American University was founded in 1893, the American Negro Academy was founded in 1897, and the Height of Buildings Act of 1899 was legislated in 1899.

The 21st century in Washington, D.C. began with many events. By the year 2000, the Million Mom March was held in D.C. This was the rally of thousands of people to call for tighter gun control. The march had an attendance of 750,000 people. On September 11, 2001, the Pentagon (which is in Arlington, Virginia) was attacked. The Pentagon is across the river from Washington, D.C.  United Airlines Flight 93, which was also hijacked and which went down in an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, supposedly intended to target either the White House or the U.S. Capitol. From 9/11 onward, Washington D.C. became more involved in security protection measures. Soon, many high profile incidents and other evil acts have occurred in Washington, D.C. In October 2001, there were the anthrax attacks. It involved anthrax contaminated mail sent to many members of Congress. It infected 31 staff members and killed 2 U.S. Postal Service employees who handled the contaminated mail at the Brentwood sorting facility. An FBI and DOJ investigation determined the likely culprit of the anthrax attacks to be Bruce, a scientist, but he committed suicide in July 2008 before formal charges were filed. There were the acts of the Beltway Sniper attacks in October 2002. It lasted for 3 weeks around the DMV area. John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were the shooters and they were arrested on October 24, 2002. They murdered 10 innocent people. 3 other people were wounded. In 2003 and 2004, a serial arsonist set over 40 fires, mainly in the District and the close-in Maryland suburbs, with one fire killing an elderly woman. A local man was arrested in the serial arson case in April 2005 and pled guilty.

The toxin ricin was found in the mailroom of the White House in November 2003 and in the mailroom of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in February 2004. These events caused more screening devices, metal detectors, and other high tech security measures in Washington, D.C.(especially in major federal government buildings).  The Washington Convention Center was rebuilt in 2003. By 2007, Adrian Fenty became mayor. After 2007, student achievement tests at the secondary level reportedly rose 14 points in reading and 17 points in math. Student SAT scores rose 27 points in 2010.  Graduation rates rose each year since 2007, and 72 percent of District students took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), which functions as a practice test for college bound students. The Nationals Park stadium opened in 2008. Under Fenty, 16 neighborhood and school playgrounds were opened and nine play courts and fields were completed. Fenty wasn’t a progressive on every issue though, especially on collective bargaining (Fenty opposed collective bargaining, which is his mistake). Vincent C. Gray became mayor in 2011 and the City Center DC construction started in the same year. In 2015, Sister Muriel Bowser became mayor of Washington D.C. She is the second African American woman to be mayor (the first was Sharon Pratt Kelly). Mayor Muriel Bowser is dealing with many issues from education, health care, and criminal justice matters.

Amy in Delaware was recently murdered in a school bathroom by a group of girls. There is a serious problem where some of the youth outright glamorize violence. Beating up on kids is low and very heinous. Some evil kids outright use cameras to record unjust violence against people. Some target kids and adults alike, regardless of age.  There are so many stories where adults were once the victims of taunts, assaults, harassment, etc. I do find that many of the trolls in the Internet harbor the same mentality as the bullies of yesteryear and today. Trolls (we now who they are) are the epitome of cowardice and hate. What is truly sick is that none of the murderers so far have been arrested. These killers should be convicted. The ones, who physically killed Amy are reprehensible including the people who recorded the murder and did nothing about it. Basically, the murderers created a perverted snuff film. Amy was a smart, articulate, and caring girl whose life was taken. We are all in favor of justice and standing up against murder, abhorring bullying, and following integrity. Bullying is evil and unjust. Some people embrace the evil stereotype that every introverted person is arrogant or hates people. People have said that Amy was a nice, quiet young girl. Violence against innocent people is evil. Also, what is sick is how some people recorded Amy being murdered. Some folks just like a blood lust literally for nihilistic violence and certainly enough is enough. Taking a stand against evil is a necessity. I feel for Amy's parents. They are going through immeasurable pain and heartache. Some of the youth have no home training. Some folks have a viciousness in how they interact with people. I feel so bad for the girl's parents. Some young people have no respect for even elders and that must change. There is nothing wrong with being different and the more people show true love and honor the diversity of humanity, the better off the world would be. Amy was a girl with the whole world ahead. She could have been a lawyer, a teacher, a businesswoman, etc. but her life was ended by criminals. Amy had a kind soul and she was a girl who loved her family. Society should change in order for introverts and other human beings to be treated as human beings. Like always, we honor the sacrifice and heroic courage of Harriet Tubman. She saved hundreds of lives of black people. Yet, her being placed on the dollar bill was used as a means by the powers that be to deflect their responsibility in sugarcoating their oppression of our people. Also, other racists are still on our currency. So, we have a long way to go. Also, we should expose Andrew Jackson (who destroyed a black fort filled with black men, black women, and black children. The Battle of Negro Fort was a short military siege in 1816 in which forces of the United States assaulted and managed to blow up an African-American fortified stronghold in the frontier of northern Spanish Florida.The Seminole Wars are interesting to study) too as a white supremacist, a person who had black slaves, and he was involved in the Panic during the 19th century that harmed the economy. Having Andrew Jackson on the back of the 20 dollar bill is disgraceful. So, we have to know about the subtle tactics of white supremacy.

By Timothy

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