Timothy Noah: Nobody Has Ever Liked Washington—It’s a City of Busy People Writing the Story of Their Own Lives

From a story on newrepublic.com by Timothy Noah headlined “Washington Is Not a Swamp”:

Nobody has ever liked Washington, D.C. Even before it was built, Thomas Tredwell, an anti-Federalist New York state senator, called it a “political hive, where all the drones in the society are to be collected to feed on the honey of the land.” Treasury Secretary Oliver Wolcott Jr. wrote in 1800 that “most of the inhabitants are low people, whose appearance indicates vice and intemperance.” Charles Dickens saw in 1842 a “stream of desperate adventurers” who “make the strife of politics so fierce and brutal … that sensitive and delicate-minded persons shall be kept aloof.” Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner saw Washington as a permanent dumping ground for unemployable workers, calling it, in their 1873 novel, The Gilded Age, “the grand old benevolent National Asylum for the Helpless.” Henry Adams remembered the post–Civil War city as “a mere political camp,” and his 1880 novel, Democracy, portrayed Washington as a stewpot of corruption.