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People Born in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. in People's Lives
Abraham Lincoln: I lived and worked here as President of the United States from 1861 - 1865. I was assassinated here while attending a play in 1865.
Connie Talbot: I travled here in 2008, at the age of 8, to promote the upcoming release of my American album.
Gore Vidal: I moved here in 1933, when I was 8 years old, after my father became Director of the Bureau of Air Commerce. I attended the prestigious St. Alban's School, a boy's boarding school, beginning in 1934. In 1936, my father and I were filmed flying a Hammond Model Y plane here at Bolling Field, to demonstrate how easy they were to control. I grew up here, as a bright and precocious boy in a wealthy and well connected family. I was close to my father, and to my grandfather, who was blind in his later age. I used to read aloud to him, and acompany him to Senate meetings, where I would act as his "eyes." In 1939, at the age of 14, I left this city to study in France. I returned, however, only a few months later, after the outbreak of World War II. I temporarily attended the Sidwell Friends School, before leaving in 1940 to attend school in Los Alamos, New Mexico, at the age of 15. I returned in 1944, at the age of 19. I had just failed out of the Virginia Military Institute, but still persuaded my uncle, the commander of an air force fighter wing, to have the Air Force hire me. I worked as an office clerk, and began to doubt my dreams of a military life, as my father had had. I was so bored, I began a study of my own on navigation. I took an exam in this field, and passed, and was made a junior maritime warrant officer in the Transportation Corps. During this time, I began a passionate love affair with another man, a boyhood friend of mine from St. Alban's. I was devastated when he died in the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, and always considered him the love of my life. I published my first book, Williwaw, in 1946, though I had written it in 1944. After three years of service, in 1948, I was forced to leave my post and be reassigned as a mess officer. This was due to me contracting hypothermia and arthritis. In this year, I published my second novel, The City and the Pillar, which made me a notorious figure due to its subject - a homosexual relationship. There was an uproar over the book, and some major newspapers even refused to review or acknowledge it, or any of my future works. Around 1949, now a 24 year old up and coming writer, I moved to New York.
James Buchanan: I moved here in 1834 to serve as a Democrat on the United States Senate, a post I held until 1845, when I resigned to accept President James K. Polk's nomination to appoint me Secretary of State. I also was active in diplomacy, and was the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. Polk also nominated me to be Supreme Court Justice, but I declined. As Secretary of State, I battled against Polk's Vice President, George Dallas, my enemy and rival. I was instrumental in the 1846 Oregon Treaty and establishing the borders of the northwestern United States. I was the subject of some controversy when I wrote the Ostend Manifesto in 1854, which said that the United States should purchase Cuba from Spain, but if they refused to sell, to "wrest it from them." The document contained heavyhanded racism and is now thought to be one of the precursors leading up to the Civil War. Despite this blunder, I was elected to be the Democratic contendor in the bid for President in 1856, and won the election. I became the last president to have been born in the 18th Century. During my presidency, I supported slavery, did nothing to discourage secession, and attempted to make universities government property. By 1860, things were falling into chaos, with seven states seceding. By 1861, these states had declared themselves to be the Confederate States of America, and the nation was poised to launch into Civil War. I found myself unable to re-establish control, and Congress refused to listen to anything I had to say. The first fighting of the Civil War began, and I tried to find a way to choose what to do: either enrage the South, or enrage the North. Deeply distressed, I after a few weeks I gave up and seemingly decided to let the fighting run its course, with no interferance. When Abraham Lincoln finally took the office of President from me in March of 1861, I was beyond relieved, and said to him "If you are as happy in entering the White House and I shall feel upon returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man." Wheatland, my rambling country house in my hometown of Lancaster, was exactly where I went, an enormous weight lifted from my shouders.
Jared Leto: My mother and brother and I moved here around 1985, when I was about 15 years old. It was in this city that I spent the remaining years of my teenage life. My mother, who identified as a hippie, encouraged my brother Shannon and I to be ourselves, expressive, and creative. I had a rather uninhibited, artistic childhood, and was always interested in music and art. I went to an expensive prep school in this city, but felt that I learned more at home, where I was more free. I left to attend the University of the Arts Philadelphia in 1989, when I was 18 years old.
John Marshall: I traveled here in 1769, at the age of 14. I had been sent by my parents to attend a boy's academy. In our countryside Virginia estate, there were no schools for hundreds of miles, and I had always learned at home. My parents, however, wished for me to have more official and prestigious schooling. I studied here for a year, and was a classmate of James Monroe. I returned to my family's small estate in Markham, Virginia within the year. I moved to this city from Richmond in 1799, at the age of 44. I had spent the last few decades building a strong and influential career as a Virginian politician, but relocated here after being elected to the United States House of Representatives. Shortly after moving here, also in 1799, I was named a frontrunner to be appointed Secretary of War, but was appointed Secretary of State instead. I served well in this post. I was named Chief Justice in 1801, at the age of 46 - the career that I would become known for. During my long service as Justice, I served under six different presidents, and presided over 1,000 decisions, handwriting over half of them myself. During my time as Chief Justice, I elevated the Supreme Court to its position as a final authority on Constitutional cases. I also presided over many historic cases, including the infamous Aaron Burr trial. From 1804 - 1807, I wrote and then published an expansive biography on George Washington, a close friend and mentor to me.
John Ridge: I traveled here in 1825, an up and coming young 23 year old politician for the Cherokee Nation. I lobbied for the rights of Creek and Cherokee Native Americans, who were currently being removed from their lands. After this successful delegation, I returned to this city many times afterward for similar lobbying. Though I had always strongly opposed the idea of removal, as the years went on, I began to be persuaded, particualarly by Andrew Jackson, that this was the only way to preserve my people's way of life. Life in the southeast was becoming increasingly hostile, as our lands shrunk further and further. In 1835, I signed the infamous Treaty of New Echota, which stated that all Cherokees would be removed from the southeast - the beginning of the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Despite being a tool in what led to those terrible events, I truly believed that I was doing what was best for my people. Removal began in 1838, and I lost my revered status among my people, now being the subject of hatred and contempt. Within a year, I would be assasinated by the people I had devoted my life to helping.
Liam Neeson: I traveled here in 1985 to film scenes of the movie The Delta Force.
Lucy Mercer: I was born here in 1891, the daughter of a man who had belonged to Theodore Roosevelt's band of Rough Riders and an independent, bohemian woman. Though my family was wealthy and powerful at the time of my birth, due to their lavish spending habits and the Panic of 1893, they lost their fortune when I was a young child. Their money troubles helped to seperate them, and they divorced when I was about 2 years old. My father went on to become an alcoholic, and my mother raised my sister and I alone. I recieved a moderate education, and worked as a young girl in a dress shop. In 1914, at the age of 23, I was hired to work as the social secretary of Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom I got along well. I soon became a close friend of Eleanor, and was allowed into her social circle and to interact closely with her family. That was how I met Franklin D. Roosevelt, who would become the love of my life. We began a relationship two years after meeting, in 1916. I often accompanied him to yachting parties and events, and we fell in love. In 1917, I either quit or was fired from working with Eleanor, and instead began working in Franklin himself's office. We were frequently seen out together, causing gossip to swirl around the city. When he went on a trip to Europe in September, I wrote him many love letters, which were discovered by Eleanor when he returned. Franklin promised his wife that he would never see me again, and our affair ended. Heartbroken, I fled to New York, leaving this city in 1918. I returned in 1933, now a married and wealthy woman who was still as in love with Franklin as ever. We had been exchanging love letters for over a decade now, and Franklin personally arranged for me to secretly attend his presidential inauguration in this city in 1933. Around 1940, after my elderly husband Winthrop Rutherford suffered a stroke and fell into ill health, we moved to this city, where I called upon Franklin's influence to secure Rutherford in an elite hospital, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After this, I began secretly seeing Franklin again more regularly, and even sometimes attended the White House for a private dinner with him, under a secret name. In March of 1944, my husband died after a long period of decline. I continued to see Franklin, and he increasingly tried to hide his relationship with me from Eleanor. I arranged to go away with him on a secret trip to Warm Springs, Georgia in 1945, where Franklin unexpectedly died. I moved back to New York heartbroken, for the second time. This time, it was truly the end of my time with the love of my life.
Mary Todd Lincoln: I moved here with my husband Abraham Lincoln and my children in 1861, after Abraham won the position of President of the United States. I had a difficult time adjusting to life in the White House, and though I described myself as "a Westerner," everyone knew that I was actually from Lexington in the south. I had one brother and three half-brothers serving in the Confederate Army, and people at times used this against me, despite the fact that I was fiercely loyal to my husband and his cause. Washington D.C. society viewed me as pretentious and coarse, and I was not very good and weaving in and out of political backstabbing and rivalries, ill-intentioned solicitors, and tricky reporters. I refurbished the White House, extensively redecorating all of the main rooms, and also bought it new porcelain china. The cost was exorbitant, and when Abraham saw the bill, he was furious. Congress had to pass two appropriations just to cover the costs. During the war, I staunchly stood behind my husband. I often visited the hospitals of this city to bring flowers and fruit to wounded soldiers, and wrote out letters that they dictated to me, to send to their families. As time went on, I began suffering from painful migraines - made worse by a carriage accident outside the White House. I was known for my extreme mood swings, fierce temper, public outbursts, and excessive spending, which would later lead historians to guess that I suffered from bipolar disorder. I was often criticized for spending too lavishly during my time as First Lady, but I thought it necessary to maintain an image of prestige and wealth as the First family. After the war ended in 1865, Abraham and I could breathe with relief. We looked forward to spending our remaining years at the White House, however many they may be, in peace, and rebuilding the nation. Abraham seemed happier than he had in a long while, which made me glad, though I wished he wouldn't say it out loud to people - it was bad luck. In April of 1865, Abraham and I attended the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in this city. During the production, he was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth, and I was made a widow. I moved back to Illinois and lived with my sons in Chicago beginning in late 1865.
Megyn Kelly: I moved here from Chicago around 2003, trading my career as a lawyer for a new one in media journalism. I was hired by ABC as a general assignment reporter, and began getting increasingly good stories, covering major national events such as the 2004 Presidental Election. Later in 2004, I accepted a job with Fox News and moved shortly afterward to New York.
Miley Cyrus: I performed at a charity event held at the White House here in 2014, to raise funds for HIV and AIDS awareness. I performed alongside Justin Timberlake.
Natalie Portman: After my parents left my first home of Jerusalem to live in the United States, we came here in 1984, where my father recieved medical training. I attended a Jewish children's school, and learned to speak Hebrew. We moved to Connecticut in 1988, when I was 7 years old.
Ralph Fiennes: I traveled here in 2001 to film scenes of the movie Red Dragon.
Roald Dahl: I traveled here in 1942 to begin my position as Assistant Air Attache at the British Embassy. I fell in love with the city and its atmosphere, but disliked my office in the British Air Mission, attached to the embassy building, which I thought unimpressive. The English ambassador E.F.L. Wood, 1st Lord Halifax, I also took a disliking to, though I sometimes played tennis with him. I began to feel immensely weighed down by the enormity of my job: as the United States had only entered the war a few months ago, my job was to promote British relations, tell stories of my war experiences at public events, and in general coax the Americans into putting their back behind the war effort. After only ten days of this, I felt exhausted, frustrated, and depressed. I later described it as: "I'd just come from the war. People were getting killed. I had been flying around, seeing horrible things. Now, almost instantly, I found myself in the middle of a pre-war cocktail party in America." A beam of hope came in the unexpected form of writing. I met novelist C.S. Forester, who was also working for the British war effort, and we became friends. The Saturday Evening Post asked Forester to write a short story about my war experiences, and Forester requested that I jot down some thoughts and recollections that he could make a story out of. When I handed the rough draft to Forester, he was impressed, and gave it to the newspaper to publish exactly as I had written it. And so, my first published piece of writing, Shot Down Over Libya was published in August of 1942. Things began to look up: I made more friends and adjusted to life in America. Among my new friends were other attaches at the embassy, and a wealthy Texas publisher and oil mogul. In August, following my publication, I was promoted to Flight Lieutenant War Substantive, and Forester, who had begun working for British intelligence, introduced me to espionage and spies, a world that I was greatly drawn to. Contrastingly, I published my first children's book, The Gremlins, and sent a copy to Eleanor Roosevelt, who read it aloud to her grandchildren. I began working out of D.C. for a division of MI6, and delivering intelligence to spymaster William Stephenson. During this time, for some undisclosed reason, the Americans deported me back to Britian, allegedly for misconduct. When Stephenson heard about this, he was furious, and immediately arranged for me to travel back to this city, also promoting me to Wing Commander. After the war ended, Stephenson and I remained close friends. I began writing a bit about the history of the secret service, and relocated to New York.
Rudyard Kipling: I traveled here in 1889, during a world tour of sorts through North America.
Sam Houston: I traveled here in 1830, explicitly to petition for the rights of Cherokee Indians and expose frauds that government officials had committed against them. In 1832, politican William Stanbery, seeing a way to attack and question the integrity of his rival Andrew Jackson by doing the same to me - a known close friend and protegee - accused me of in fact being in league with the very worst of government officials tricking and taking advantage of Native Americans. The accusations, though baseless, caused a stir, just as Stanbery had intended. Enfuriated by the false accusations and beyond frustrated to think that two years of working to better the Cherokee's lives was now being torn apart, I wrote strongly worded letters to my accuser, which he ignored. One day, I confronted him in person on Pennsylvania Avenue. Things quickly escalated, and I began beating him with my cane, to which Stanbery drew a pistol and pulled the trigger - but the bullet misfired and I escaped unharmed. A few months later in 1833, I was arrested and brought to trial, with Francis Scott Key serving as my lawyer. I was found guilty, but thanks to intervention by friends in high places, I was only lightly reprimanded. A judge did, however, order me to pay $500 in damages to William Stanbery in civil court. I decided that it would be better to flee to Mexico, and did so. I never paid the fine.
Samuel Morse: I traveled here in 1820, after being commissioned to paint Hall of Congress. I took the task seriously, and was highly honored, and being asked greatly buoyed my sense of patriotism. During my visit to this city, I selected the House of Representatives as the setting for my painting, due to its simple but striking architecture and dramatic lighting. I paid careful, painstaking attention to detail in my painting, which would include 80 of the United States' most prominent politicians. I took great care in placing each individual in the correct place, and decided to portray a night scene to greater emphasize the shadows of the Rotunda. Men sitting for their portraits were illuminated with candlelight. Despite my attention, the painting failed to draw much praise when released a year later. Still, I considered it one of my greatest works. In 1825, I recieved a far higher commission, however, the pinnacle of my career - a job painting the portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of mine. I was overjoyed, and traveled back to this city to have him sit for me and begin work. To my delight, we got along splendidly together and struck up a relationship that would later turn into a close friendship. However, while in the midst of this job, I recieved word that my wife Lucretia was gravely ill. I rushed back to New Haven, leaving Lafayette's portrait unfinished for the time. I visted again in 1838, after inventing my telegraph, in an effort to find a financial investor, but was turned down. My last visit in 1842 was more successful, as I demonstrated the telegraph in the Capitol Building in front of some of the country's most powerful men. Congress granted me $30,000 to make a telegraph line between this city and Baltimore. In 1844, the project finally finished, I successfully sent the famous line "What hath God wrought" over telegraph from D.C. to Baltimore. The words had been chosen from a verse in the Bible (Numbers 23:23) by the young daughter of Henry Leavitt Ellsworth.
Viggo Mortensen: I traveled here in 1996 to film scenes of the movie G.I. Jane.
Vinnie Ream: My family and I moved here in 1861, when I was 14. It was the outbreak of the Civil War, and this city was ablaze with the war effort, for both sides. Though we were from Wisconsin, my family was Confederate, and my brother enlisted in the army. I became the first woman to be employed by the federal government in 1862, as a clerk in the United States Post Office. I held the job for four years, until 1866. I kept myself busy collecting materials for the Grand Sanitary Commission, singing for wounded soldiers at a local hospital, and as a member of the choir at a Baptist church on East Street. Also while here, I recieved my widespread acclaim and success for my sculpted bust of Abraham Lincoln, which would eventually be in the Capitol Building. Lincoln sat for me in the mornings for five months in 1864, and we became friends. I was shocked by his assassination a year later. I became the youngest female to ever recieve a commission for a statue by the United States government, a record that I still hold to this day. I did my sculpting work in the basement of the Capitol building. In 1868, I decided to travel abroad. The statue of Lincoln was officially unveiled in 1871, when I was 23 years old. I opened my own studio in this city, on Pennsylvania Avenue. After getting married, I moved away from this city with my husband in about 1880, but when I died in 1914, we were both buried in the Arlington National Cemetary outside D.C., marked by my statue Sappho.