Edited by William C. Dickinson, Donald R. Kennon, and Dean A. Herrin
At the age of thirty-six, in 1852, Lt. Montgomery Cunningham Meigs of the Army Corps of Engineers reported to Washington, D.C., for duty as a special assistant to the chief army engineer, Gen. Joseph G. Totten. It was a fateful assignment, both for the nation’s capital and for the bright, ambitious, and politically connected West Point graduate.
Meigs’s forty-year tenure in the nation’s capital was by any account spectacularly successful. He surveyed, designed, and built the Washington water supply system, oversaw the extension of the U.S. Capitol and the erection of its massive iron dome, and designed and supervised construction of the Pension Building, now the home of the National Building Museum. The skills he exhibited in supervising engineering projects were carefully noted by political leaders, including president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who named Meigs quartermaster general of the Union Army, the most important position he held during his long and active military career.
Meigs believed Washington, D.C., should be the reincarnation of Rome, the ancient capital of the Roman Empire. He endeavored to memorialize the story of the American nation in all the structures he built, expressing these ideas in murals, sculpture, and monumental design.
Historians have long known Meigs for the organizational genius with which he fulfilled his duty as quartermaster general during the Civil War and for his unwavering loyalty to Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. This volume establishes his claim as one of the major nineteenth-century contributors to the built environment of the nation’s capital.
William C. Dickinson is a consultant who has studied the military career of Meigs from a management perspective. More info →
Donald R. Kennon is the former chief historian and vice president of the United States Capitol Historical Society. He is editor of the Ohio University Press series Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789–1801. More info →
Dean A. Herrin is a National Park Service Coordinator. More info →
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Release date: February 2002
232 pages · 7 × 10 in.
William Thornton and the Cultural Life of Early Washington, D.C., 1794–1828
By Gordon S. Brown
While the majority of scholarship on early Washington focuses on its political and physical development, in Incidental Architect Gordon S. Brown describes the intellectual and social scene of the 1790s and early 1800s through the lives of a prominent couple whose cultural aspirations served as both model and mirror for the city’s own.When William and Anna Maria Thornton arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1794, the new nation’s capital was little more than a raw village.
Biography, Artists and Architects · American History · 18th century · Architecture History · Art History · American Studies
Alexander Robey Shepherd
The Man Who Built the Nation’s Capital
By John P. Richardson
· Foreword by Tony Williams
With Alexander Robey Shepherd, John P. Richardson gives us the first full-length biography of his subject, who as Washington, D.C.’s, public works czar (1871–74) built the infrastructure of the nation’s capital in a few frenetic years after the Civil War. The story of Shepherd is also the story of his hometown after that cataclysm, which left the city with churned-up streets, stripped of its trees, and exhausted.An
American History · Biography & Autobiography | General · Architecture | History | General · 19th century
Paris on the Potomac
The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C.
Edited by Cynthia R. Field, Isabelle Gournay, and Thomas P. Somma
In 1910 John Merven Carrère, a Paris-trained American architect, wrote, “Learning from Paris made Washington outstanding among American cities.” The five essays in Paris on the Potomac explore aspects of this influence on the artistic and architectural environment of Washington, D.C., which continued long after the well-known contributions of Peter Charles L’Enfant, the transplanted French military officer who designed the city’s plan.Isabelle
Architecture History · Art History · Architecture | History | General · Washington, DC