And that's why they call it Chain Bridge.....

The first bridge from McLean to DC rotted and collapsed in 1804. Its immediate successor, of similar construction, burned six months after its completion.

Four years passed before another bridge was completed at this site. The "Chain Bridge" was built in 1808 -- it was the third bridge at Little Falls, but the first to use chain suspension support. It was destroyed by flood in 1810.

The fourth bridge used similar construction but was severly damaged by floods in 1815, prompting the company to seek federal support. This bridge was replaced in 1840 by a new bridge built of chain and wood.



Private Lyons Wakeman


Private Lyons Wakeman, a women whose real name was Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, was stationed in Washington with the 153rd New York Regiment who were serving guard duty at the Carroll Prison on Capitol Hill.
In 1864, Wakeman and the 153rd Regiment were sent to Louisiana to serve under General Nathaniel Banks in the Red River campaign. She died in a New Orleans hospital after seven weeks of chronic diarrhea.

Duck Lane

 33rd Street NW in Georgetown was once called Duck Lane. It was the site of a large estate owned by Stephen Bloomer Balch, a precher, which he called "Mamre," from the Old Testament. After Abraham and Lot had separated, Abraham giving Lot the first choice of location, "the Lord told Abraham to look over the whole land which He would give to him and his seed forever, and Abraham moved his tent and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, and built there an altar unto the Lord."

The Pope Stone Incident exploded in the summer of 1862.

In the late 1840s, the Washington National Monument Society, a private civic-minded organization, was raising funds to build the nation’s first monument to George Washington.
The group was successful and by 1862, the base of the Washington Monument had been completed by mostly Irish laborers with imported Italian Marble, much to the annoyance of local Maryland quarry owners who felt that the Monument should have been constructed in Maryland marble. (The monument is made of not only marble but also granite, and sandstone)
The Architect was Robert Mills who also designed the Department of Treasury building and several other federal buildings in D. C. including the U.S. Patent Office Building. Mills died in 1855 and was buried at the Congressional Cemetery.
It so happened that at certain sections of the Monuments interior inscrip­ted stones from various heads of state were to dot the walls, including one stone sent by the Pope,  Pius IX.  Pius had gone to Rome as a very young man to become a pontifical guard, however, epilepsy kept him out of the legendary Swiss Guard. It was Pius who convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal infallibility in church matters.  He also defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, meaning that Mary was conceived without original sin and that she lived a life completely free of sin.
The Pope had been invited by the US government to contribute the memorial stone. He sent a black marble block measuring approximately three feet long, 18 inches high, and 10 inches deep, that had been taken from the ruins of the ancient Temple of Concord the western side of the Roman Forum., and had it inscribed “Rome to America”. The stone arrived in DC in October of 1853.

At that time,  anti-Catholic-anti Irish  sentiment in the US was enormous  and soon a rumor spread, not only across the city, but across the country, that the monument was not to be in honor of the Americas first President, but instead, it was to be dedicated to Pope in Rome, as a symbol to the nation’s growing Irish- Catholic popula­tion. There was even a bestselling pamphlet by John F. Weishampel entitled Rome to America: the Pope’s Stratagem! An address to the Protestants of the United States against placing the Pope’s block of marble in the Washington Monument.
 On the night March 5, 1854, members of the Know Nothing party (Reports ranged from five or six thugs to as many as 750) attacked the work site, overpowered it guards and set about destroying monument as best they could. (At the time it stood only 153 feet in the air)  The so-called Pope’s stone, together with monumental blocks from other countries, was stored in a shed. Upon finding the offending stone, they flung it into the nearby Potomac River. (The rover had not yet been redirected and was only several yards away from the monument)  That Stone has never been found.
Appalled at the attack, the Washington National Monument Society appealed to Congress for assistance in completing the monument and Maryland Representative Henry May (May was born in DC and graduated from the Columbian College, which is now GW University) had all but arranged a federal appropriation of $200,000.
The following year, in 1863, the Know Nothings took control of the committee set up to complete the Washing­ton Monument. Under Know Nothing Control, work on the monument came to a virtual standstill.  At the end of the civil war, the monument was completed, this time with Maryland Marble. The difference in the stones can be seen today about midway up the Statue.
The capstone was set on December 6, 1884, and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. (A day before Washington’s Birthday) It officially opened October 9, 1888.
 Upon completion, it became the world's tallest structure, a title previously held by the Cologne Cathedral. The monument held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France. It remains the world's tallest stone structure, the world's tallest obelisk and the tallest building in Washington, D.C (There is a popular misconception that the law specifically states that no building may be taller than the Washington Monument, but in fact, the law makes no mention of it)
Among those who spoke before the crowd of 800 was Ohio Senator John Sherman, (Brother of William Tecumseh Sherman who led the military procession that day, it was John Sherman who wrote the Sherman anti-trust act) William Wilson Corcoran of DC, (Of the Corcoran gallery of Art fame) Thomas Lincoln Casey of the Army Corps of Engineers. Casey headed the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds for the then federally run District of Columbia.  He built the State, War, and Navy Department Building (now the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) and completed the Washington Monument. He also worked on the Library of Congress building, which was nearly completed when he died suddenly on March 25, 1896.
 President Chester Arthur was also present and Representative John Davis Long read a speech given 37 years before at the laying of the monuments cornerstone. The final speech given Virginia Governor John Warwick Daniel, a lawyer, author, and politician from Lynchburg. A major in the Confederate Army, Daniel was an important staff officer for Major General Jubal A. Early in several campaigns, including Gettysburg. He was permanently disabled in the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864
Despite being unable to walk as a result of his war wounds, Daniel’s enter law school and was admitted to the bar in 1866. He established his practice at Lynchburg and then entered politics.  It was Daniel who planned the Virginia Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield.


History's footnotes, James Pumphrey

                                                          The National Hotel
James Pumphrey was born in Washington, D.C., to Levi Pumphrey and Sarah Pumphrey née Miller, and was one of six children. Upon the death of his father, being the eldest son, James inherited a livery stable at 224 C Street NW at the corner of C Street and 6th Street.
Pumphrey, who had two common law marriages, was an acquaintance of conspirator John Surratt and it was Surratt who introduced Booth to him prior to the assassination. Pumphrey's stable was located near the National Hotel, where Booth lived while in DC. On the day he shot Lincoln, Booth showed up at a stable and rented a fast roan mare. He said he would pick the horse up at 4:00 P.M. that afternoon.
At the hour agreed upon, Booth arrived at the stable. Pumphrey warned Booth that the horse was high-spirited and she would break her halter if left unattended.
                                                          Fords Theater
After the assassination, Booth and Herold made good an escape to Virginia. Prior to crossing the Potomac River and while hiding out in some woods, David Herold, a co-conspirator,  killed Pumphrey's horse along with his own because the horses were no longer needed.
United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton rounded up and arrested anyone connected to the Lincoln assassination including Pumphrey for having supplied the getaway horse. On May 15, 1865, Pumphrey testified for the Prosecution and described the horse he provided to Booth and the details of how that transaction came about. Afterwards, he waited on his horse for hours outside the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in the hope of having carrying President Andrew Johnson's reprieve to Mary Surratt. It never came.
Pumphrey continued to operate the livery stable until sometime after 1900. The end of his stable came with the advent of the automobile. Pumphrey died on 16 March 1906, at his house at 477 C Street.  He is buried in Congressional Cemetery.

 

Marry Surratt's Boarding House at 604 H Street


  The inscription in front of  Marry Surratt's Boarding House at  604 H Street in Chinatown reads "The nest in which the egg was hatched." which are the words that President Andrew Johnson, used in April 1865 to describe this innocuous brick house  just five blocks from at Ford’s Theater where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated . Johnson was wrong; the house was never the site of any meetings between the conspirators, although John Wilkes Booth did visit the place several times directly before the murder.
Mary Surratt,  was born Mary jenkins  in Southern Maryland in the town of Waterloo and was educated in a private Roman Catholic girl's boarding school, the Academy for Young Ladies in Alexandria, Virginia. (Located on North Washington Street, the school eventually was Incorporated into Georgetown Visitation)
In 1839, she married 27 year old John Surratt in 1840. Surratt was reported to be a mean drunk (he essentially drank himself to death) who beat his 16 year old wife regularly.  The couple had three children and tried a number of occupations over the next twenty years including a 287 acre tobacco farm,  a general store, a gristmill, a tavern, and a post office. (There son John was the Postmaster of the Surrattsville station)
 John died in 1862 and left Mary in debt.  The family's slaves had either run away or been repossessed (it is unknown exactly what became of them), the sale of a substantial amount of property which had given hope of resolving the financial difficulties failed because of the buyers' default, and John's many creditors still pressed to collect. Mary leased the family farm and tavern to a former Washington, D.C., policeman named John M. Lloyd  and  moved into the District, into a house that she and her husband had owned, and turned it into a boarding house where her son John, a Confederate courier, lived along with several other co-conspirators in the Lincoln assassination.

Although living in the Union capital, she was quietly sympathetic to the Confederacy.  Her  older brother, Zadoc Jenkins, was arrested by Union forces for trying to prevent an occupying Federal soldier from voting in the Maryland elections that gave Lincoln a second term. Mary had a son fighting in the Rebels army.  Another son, John, (who was born in the Congressional Heights District of DC and christened at St. Peter’s church)  was good friends with John Wilkes Booth. Dr. Samuel Mudd introduced Surratt to  Booth on December 23 1864.
At a meeting at the National Hotel in D.C., where Booth lived, (It was on Pennsylvania Avenue and is today the site of the Newseum)  Surratt agreed to help Booth kidnap U.S. president Abraham Lincoln. The plan was to capture Lincoln, take him to Richmond, Virginia, and trade him for thousands of captured Confederate soldiers.

The plan was that on  March 17,  1865, Surratt and Booth and others,  would lie in wait for Lincoln's carriage when he left the Campbell General Hospital (Florida Avenue and 7th Street, was one of nearly three dozen military hospitals in Washington) and returned to Washington.
Their plans were foiled when Lincoln changed his mind and stayed in Washington to meet with the 140th Indiana Regiment and to present to the governor of Indiana a captured Confederate flag.
 On the day of the assassination, Mary rode out to her tavern with one of her boarders, Louis J. Weichmann, a young War Department clerk, who was a friend of her son, John Surratt, Jr. Although Mary Surratt claimed to have made the journey to collect back rent owed by her tenant, John Lloyd, a former DC Policeman, later testified against her, saying she gave him a package containing field glasses and told him to "make ready the shooting irons." This referred to two repeating carbines and seven revolvers that she had bought and stored for the conspirators on her property. Mary admitted taking the package there but claimed that she did not know what the package contained.   


After assassinating President Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, John Wilkes Booth did in fact first stop at the Surrattsville tavern with his accomplice David Herold. John Lloyd, the innkeeper, gave Booth and Herold whiskey, pistols, and one of two Spencer carbines as well as the field glasses. Lloyd claimed Surratt had told him to do this when she arrived earlier that day.
Three days after the assassination, April 18, police detectives came to interview Mrs. Surratt and by a very unlucky chance, Louis Powell, already identified as part of the plot, showed up while the police were there.  Powell, a former member of John Mosby's Ranger, had attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William H. Seward.  Powell’s sudden appearance was enough of a coincidence was enough for the authorities to implicate Surratt and arrest her. Mary Surratt denied ever having seen Powell before but several witnesses later testified Surratt had met Powell several times.
Mary was held in a makeshift cell on board a warship that was being used as a prison for the conspirators. Her cell was sparse and equipped with only a straw pallet and a bucket.  Her head was covered n a padded canvas bag to prevent a suicide attempt. She was kept manacled and was constantly guarded by four soldiers.
Tried by a nine-member military commission beginning on May 9, 1865, Surratt was the oldest conspirator on trial and the only woman. She was defended by Reverdy Johnson, a onetime Maryland Senator from Annapolis and Attorney General of the United States under Millard Fillmore. In 1876, he would fall from a balcony at the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis and was killed instantly.
Mary maintained her innocence throughout the trial, denying any knowledge of the assassination plot. The evidence against her presented by the prosecution included a hidden photograph of John Wilkes Booth found in her house and bullet molds on top of her dresser.
Still, the evidence against Mary Surratt is dubious.   Weichmann was eventually released after he testified against her and later said that the government forced him to testify against Mary. He stuck to that story until the day he died.  Lewis Powell, a conspirator who was hanged with Surratt, publicly stated she was innocent minutes before his execution. (The others hanged were David Herold, and George Atzerodt) Regardless, a  military court convicted Surratt for her part in the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln and condemned to death by hanging.  President Andrew Johnson signed her death warrant
The trial continued until late  June 30, when  Surratt was sentenced to death by hanging for treason, conspiracy, and plotting murder, although the court attached to its finding a recommendation of commutation of her death sentence to life imprisonment, because of her sex and age.
At noon on July 6, Mary was informed she would be hanged the next day. The reports are that she wept profusely and then collapsed. A  priest, her daughter Anna, and a few friends were allowed into see her but the guards insisted that she wear  handcuffs, leg irons and a hood during the entire day before she was killed.  She spent the night praying and refused breakfast and 10:00 AM, she was told to prepare for  her death although her execution was delayed until the afternoon since most people expected, she would be pardoned by the President and soldiers were stationed on every block between the White House and the execution’s site to relay the expected pardon.
President Johnson later denied seeing the military judges' recommendation that Surratt's sentence be commuted to life imprisonment, but presiding Judge Joseph Holt said that Johnson read the recommendation and discussed it with him. Johnson, according to Holt, said in signing the death warrant that she had "kept the nest that hatched the egg”
She was  hanged with three other conspirators  at Fort McNair in Southwest DC on July 5, 1865. Several pieces of the rope that had ended Surratt's life and locks of her hair were sold as souvenirs. She was the first woman executed by the Federal government. The government’s policy during and after the civil war was to release female confederate spies and it more than likely that Mary was tried only as a means to force her son John out of hiding.  Mary (and most of the others hung with her) were Roman Catholic and the speculation remains that the strong religious prejudice of the era contributed to rumors of a "Papist" conspiracy behind the assassination plot and the lack of Presidential clemency for Mary.  
At 1:15 P.M., a procession, headed by the nearly fainting Mary Surratt, who wore a long black dress and black veil, and the other condemned prisoners were marched towards the east wall of Fort Lesley McNair in hand manacles and leg chains attached to a 75-pound iron balls. They were walked past their newly dug graves and marched up the thirteen steps to the ten-foot high gallows. Once there, Mary began to faint and had to be supported by two soldiers.  The hangman had made Surratt's noose with five turns instead of the required seven because he had thought that the government would never hang a woman.
They were all seated in chairs while their chains and shoes were removed and their wrists were tied together behind them, their arms were bound to their sides, and their ankles and thighs tied together with a white cloth.  Several members of the clergy stood nearby. Below them stood military personnel, various officials, and one hundred civilian spectators who had been issued tickets in order to be present to watch the convicted hang.
Powell stepped forward and yelled   "Mrs. Surratt is innocent. She doesn't deserve to die with the rest of us". But he was pushed back with the others,   nooses were placed around their necks, and thin white cotton hoods were placed over their heads.
Mary Surratt turned to her guard and said, “Please don't let me fall".
 General Winfield Scott Hancock, who would later almost be elected President of the United States, read out the death sentences in alphabetical order. When he finished four soldiers knocked out the supporting post, releasing the platform. The conspirators dropped about five or six feet, which killed Herold and Atzerodt instantly, but failed to kill Powell and Surratt, who both slowly strangled to death over five minutes. Surratt was reported to have gagged and strained against her bonds as she died dangling in the noose. Their bodies were hung for 25 minutes, then unhooded and allowed to hang a further ten minutes before they were examined and pronounced dead.
Four years after the execution, the government gave Mary’s corpse to Anna Surratt who buried her mother in Mount Olivet Cemetery in D.C., (1300 Bladensburg Road, NE.) Her headstone reads “Mrs. Surratt".   The body of John Lloyd, whose testimony may have sealed Mary's fate, is buried less than 100 yards away.
Mary's son John was captured after a year and a half as a fugitive, hiding in various Roman Catholic religious establishments as well as the Papal States.  In September 1865, he traveled from St. Liboire to Montreal, to Quebec, and thence to Liverpool. He served for a brief time in the Papal Zouaves under the name John Watson.
Arrested in 1866, he escaped and travelled to the Kingdom of Italy, posing as a Canadian. He booked passage to Alexandria, Egypt, and was arrested there by American officials on November 23, 1866, then extradited to the United States. He was sent home on a U.S. naval warship and put on trial in a civilian court of the State of Maryland, instead of before a military commission.  He  denied any involvement with the plot, and claimed that at the time he was in Elmira, New York. Judge David Cartter, a former US Congressman from Ohio,  presided over the trial which was hedl in DC . Surratts attorney wa Joseph H. Bradley (of 1517 Twenty-ninth-street) who hailed from an old and distinguised Washington-Georgia family.
John Surratt
John Surratt  was released due to a mistrial and the statutes of limitations.  The federal government attempted to retry him but was unsuccessful. In 1872 he married a second cousin of MaryVictorine Hunter, a second cousin to Francis Scott Key. He returned to Maryland tobacco farming and later taught at the Rockville Female Academy and St. Joseph Catholic School in Emmitsburg before serving as treasurer of the Old Bay Line steamship company, from where he retired in 1914. He died of pneumonia two years later at age 72. He died in 1916 and is buried in Baltimore.

                                                  An older John Surratt

Mary Surratt’s ghost has been sighted in several places, including the old Arsenal Penitentiary where she was hanged. Her body was temporarily buried (the bodies were placed on the coffins, which had been gun boxes) near the gallows before being move to permanent graves.  Soldiers and their families swear to seeing a hooded figure wearing black, bound at the hands and feet, (She was buried with the hoods still on and a glass vial containing their names to help identify the bodies.) roaming about the grounds. Mary’s spirit has also been spotted at  Surratt’s Clinton Maryland Tavern, on the stairs and on the first and second floors.  Her apparition is reported to seen regularly at her DC Boarding House along with whispering and cried.
Mary Surratt's boarding house still stands and is  listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Surrattsville tavern and house are historical sites run by the Surratt Society located in Clinton, Maryland.


Annapolis



The execution of Captian Wirz


The old prison

On November 10, 1865, inside the courtyard at the old federal prison that once stood on the corners of 1st and A streets Northeast, (The present-day site of the US Supreme Court) the US Army hung  Heinrich Hartmann Wirz (AKA Henry Wirz) to death.
                                   
The old prison
 in Zürich, Switzerland, was a Confederate officer in command  of Camp Sumter, the Confederate prisoner of war camp near Andersonville, Georgia. (Union prisoners named the camp Andersonville.)  Here, union prisoners were jailed in a vast, rectangular, open-air stockade originally encompassing sixteen and a half acres, which had been intended as only a temporary prison pending exchanges of prisoners with the North.  
The prison suffered an extreme lack of food, tools and medical supplies, severe overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and a lack of potable water. At its peak in August 1864, the camp held approximately 32,000 Union prisoners, making it the fifth largest city in the Confederacy. The monthly mortality rate from disease and malnutrition reached 3,000.
Wirz was arrested in May 1865, by a contingent of federal cavalry and taken by rail to Washington, D.C., where the federal government intended to place him on trial for conspiring to impair the lives of Union prisoners of war.
Wirz
In July 1865, the trial convened in the Capitol building and lasted for two months, dominating the front pages of newspapers across the United States. The court heard the testimony of former inmates, ex-Confederate officers and even nearby residents of Andersonville. Finally, in early November, the commission announced that it had found Wirz guilty of conspiracy as charged, along with 11 of 13 counts of murder. He was sentenced to death.
Reading the crimes
HenryWirz rejected an offer of a pardon the night before his execution becaause the offer was conditioned on his agreement to testify that former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was responsible for the deaths at Andersonville. Wirz said that the statement would be a lie and that he would not base his freedom on a lie.
                                   
Hood is placed on his head
On November 10, 1865 Wirz, guarded by four companies of soldiers, was led to the gallows before some 250 spectators who had government issued tickets who chanted "remember Andersonville" as Wirz ascended the stairway of the gallows. A hood was placed over Wirz's head and the rope around his neck. Wirz last words reportedly were that he was being hanged for following orders. The trap door was sprung open at 10:32 a.m. stretching the rope as it suddenly bore Wirz's weight. Wirz's neck was not broken by the fall and he writhed about as he slowly died of stangulation. Reports were that the crowd cheered as he choked.  He was later buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

The floor is dropped

                                                               Wirz swings to death


Navy Defense guns off of Indian Head highway, Maryland

On parade on America's main street

The Klan in Northern Virginia

Wide shot of old Dc

Random old photos of DC

The Senate
House of Representatives



View from the Old Soldiers Home in NE DC

21st and F NW

HQ for General Alfred Pleasaton near 21st and F NW



Maryland Congressman Charles Linthicum

Maryland Senator Blair Lee (Same family as Robert E. Lee)

Fire at the Treasury Building

Greyhound to New York

F street NW before Christmas

The Petticoat Affair


Margaret O'Neill (Her maiden name is also recorded as O'Neale and O'Neil.) is better known as a footnote of history as Peggy Eaton, although She preferred to be called  Margaret  and  claimed until the day she died that only her enemies referred to her as Peggy.



Peggy, noted for her beauty, wit and vivacity, was born and raised in the District, the oldest of six O'Neale children, probably living at 19th and K Streets Northwest for most of her early life.  Her father was William O'Neale, an Irish immigrant and the owner of Franklin House, a popular high-end social center, tavern/ hotel for politicians. (It was actually more like a huge boardinghouse) located on 2007 I Street NW. (Others place the hotel at the northeast corner of Penn and 21st)



Away from home and family, the politicians who lived at the hotel (Lafayette was a guest there once) spoiled Peggy with attention. "I was always a pet," she later remarked.
 She was educated one of the best schools in the District, studied French, English, grammar, needlework and music and was a noted pianist. Andrew Jackson once wrote to his wife, Rachel, "every Sunday evening [Peggy] entertains her pious mother with sacred music to which we are invited."  She had such a talent for dance by the age of 12 she performed for First Lady Dolley Madison.

In 1816, when she was only 17, the blue eyed and dark haired O’Neale married John Bowie Timberlake, a 39-year-old purser in the United States Navy. Her parents gave them a house across from the hotel. 

By then, stories of Peggy’s romances were DC legend, most of it was pure rumors and gossip, which included tales of how one suitor-swallowed poison after she refused him, another was that she had been involved with the son of President Jefferson's treasury secretary; and that she had almost eloped with a young aide to General Winfield Scott.  In that story, Peggy was said to be claiming out of her bedroom window to run off with the young man when she kicked over a flowerpot during her climb, awakening her father, who dragged her back inside.

Most of these stories weren’t true but Peggy was a forward young girl and openly
flirtatiousness, who worked in the family tavern, was known to tell an off color joke and quick to offer her political opinions. The result was, by many who didn’t know her, that Peggy was a wanton woman.

Eaton

 In 1818, they met and befriended John Henry Eaton, (1790-1856) the handsome, wealthy 28-year-old widower and newly elected senator from Tennessee who was a guest at the Franklin House. He had become a confidant of John Timberlake, so much so that upon learning that Timberlake was heavily in debt, Eaton tried to get the Senate to pass a petition to pay debts accrued while Timberlake was in the Navy, but was unsuccessful. Eaton also, foolishly, escorted Peggy around town when Timberlake was away at sea.

ton’s close friend, Andrew Jackson, had met Peggy in December 1823, when he arrived in Washington as the new junior senator from Tennessee and boarded at the Franklin House. Like most elected representatives, Jackson had not intended to relocate to the capital which was a muddy, scattered sleepy southern town still reeling from the British invasion of 1814.

The Franklin had been recommended to Jackson by John Henry Eaton, Tennessee's senior senator and the author of a biography on Jackson that highlighted Jackson’s
 heroism as the general who defeated the British army at New Orleans in 1815.

Andrew Jackson , 1844 

Jackson, the son of Irish immigrants, took a liking to William O'Neale and his "agreeable and worthy family." and was said to have a special fondness for Peggy, then
 23-years-old and married to John Bowie Timberlake, with who she bore three children (one of them dying in infancy).  Peggy was, Jackson said often, "the smartest little woman in America." and his wife Rachel Jackson was equally impressed when she travelled to Washington in 1824.

 Timberlake died in 1828 while at sea in the Mediterranean, in service on a four-year voyage aboard the USS Constitution. The cause of death was pulmonary disease.
Peggy married Senator Eaton shortly afterwards in a candle-lit ceremony held at the O'Neale residence on January 1, 1829. 

Margaret Bayard Smith

According to the social mores of the day, they probably should have waited longer and the rumors about them started immediately, the Maryland politician and later secretary of the treasury and state in Jackson's second cabinet, Louis McLane, sniped that the 39-year-old Eaton had "just married his mistress--and the mistress of 11-doz. others" and Margaret Bayard Smith, a Washington society maven whose husband was president of the local branch of the Bank of the United States, declared that Eaton’s reputation "totally destroyed" by the marriage.

Louis McLane

  The cruelest rumor was that  Timberlake had committed suicide because of despair at an alleged affair between his wife Peggy and Eaton and this rumor was probably started with Lieutenant Robert Beverly Randolph was a naval officer from Fredericksburg, Virginia, who had been dismissed in disgrace under direct orders from President Jackson.  

 In 1828, Randolph was appointed purser aboard the U.S.S. Constitution, assigned to take John B. Timberlake’s place.   An auditor's report and subsequent investigation found that Randolph's accounts did not balance and that he was in debt to the government, but that there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing.  Regardless, and based on the investigation, President Jackson dismissed Randolph from the navy. Randolph argued that he had done nothing wrong and that it was Timberlake who actually embezzled the money and had funneled some of that money to John H. Eaton, then secretary of war.

     In 1833 Randolph, now a disgraced former naval officer was back in Fredericksburg where Andrew Jackson was visiting to lay the cornerstone at a monument to George Washington's mother.  Jackson would make the trip by boat. When the boat made a stopover in Alexandria, Randolph boarded and made his way into Jackson’s cabin where Jackson was seated, surrounded by several members of his party.  According to one version of what happened next, Randolph approached the aged Jackson with "timidity" and "humility." and   "thrust one hand violently into the President's face" or that Randolph “struck him (Jackson) in the face.” and that  “ Jackson immediately thrust the dastardly assailant from him" and stood up.

      As a group of men rushed in to restrain Randolph, the sixty-six-year-old Jackson grabbed his cane, demanded that everyone move away, and leave him free to wreak vengeance on his attacker. "Let no man stand between me and the villain" and later chastised the men who "interposed, closed the passage of the door, and held me, until I was oblige [d] to tell them if they did not open a passage I would open it with my cane."" In fact, when someone offered to kill Randolph immediately, the president rejected the offer: "I want no man to stand between me and my assailants, and none to take revenge on my account." Jackson later wrote Martin Van Buren that if he had been prepared for the assault he would have killed Randolph.

    Several years later, after Jackson had left office and Randolph was finally apprehended for the assault, Jackson also rejected the interference of the courts in what he regarded as an affair of honor. He asked President Van Buren to pardon Randolph.

Peggy Eaton


Eaton was a close friend of President Andrew Jackson, who knew and liked the couple, encouraged their marriage (The then President-elect told Eaton "If you love the woman, and she will have you, marry her at once and shut their mouths.. . . and restore Peggy's good name.”) and in 1829 appointed him Secretary of War, which elevated Peggy into the closed world of Cabinet social circle.  However, the rumors about her and Eaton followed  (mostly the rumor was that Peggy was promiscuousness and that she miscarried pregnancy by Eaton prior to their marriage) and the wives of the cabinet officials, led by Floride Calhoun, the wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, led the other Cabinet wives to shut Peggy out.  It seems that Floride Calhoun accepted a social call from the Eaton’s after their wedding but she steadfastly refused to pay a return visit, which the tiny universe of Washington’s polite society interpreted as a calculated snub.

Floride Calhoun

Jackson was angered by the snubbing but tried, unsuccessfully, to coerce the women into accepting Peggy into their rarefied world.  According to Jackson biographer Robert V. Remini, at a grand ball on inauguration night, "the other ladies in the official family tried not to notice as Peggy Eaton swept into the room and startled everyone with her presence and beauty."

Jackson believed that rumors were the cause of her heart attack and death December 22, 1828, several weeks after his election, of his wife Rachel because her first marriage had not yet been legally ended at the time of her wedding to Jackson. Even Rachel's niece Emily Donelson, whom Jackson called on as his "First Lady", sided with the Calhoun faction and turned a chilly shoulder to Peggy, claiming that Mrs. Eaton's elevation to the cabinet had given his wife airs that made her "society too disagreeable to be endured."

 Jackson's advisors, worried about the political fallout caused by the Peggy rumors, tried to dissuade him from naming Eaton to his cabinet but Jackson reportedly said
"Do you suppose that I have been sent here by the people to consult the ladies of Washington as to the proper persons to compose my cabinet?”

Jackson appointed Eaton as his Secretary of War, hoping to limit the rumors, but the scandal intensified mostly becuase Jackson many political opponents, especially those around Calhoun, were feeding the controversy.

"Eaton Malaria." (A term Secretary of State Martin Van Buren coined) had taken grip of the Jackson administration, putting off Jackson’s plan to replace corrupt bureaucrats in the government.  Jackson decided to delay his formal post-inaugural cabinet dinner because tensions between Peggy Eaton and the rest of the political wives was so prevalent.  

Calhoun

 On September 10, 1829, Jackson decided to kill the issue once and for all. With Vice President Calhoun at home in South Carolina and John Eaton not invited, Jackson
summoned his cabinet, plus Reverends John N. Campbell and Ezra Stiles Ely who had recently criticized Margaret's morals, to a meeting at the White House.  Ill with
dropsy, chest pains, and recurring headaches, the 62-year-old Jackson proceeded to
make a cases for Peggy Eaton, including affidavits from people who had known her and
absolved her of misconduct. When someone in the room argued the case, Jackson bellowed that Peggy (The twice-married mother of two) was “...as chaste as a virgin!"


Assuming the issue was resolved; Jackson held his overdue cabinet dinner in November 1829. However, as Van Buren recalled the affair had "no very marked exhibitions of bad feeling in any quarter" but the entire evening was tense and awkward and the guests “rushed through their meals in order to avoid discussion of or with the Eaton’s, who had found places of honor near Jackson.”   The next state party, hosted by Van Buren was attended to by every member of the cabinet but not their wives who found various reasons not to show.

For two years, the press and pundits savaged the administration over Jackson's support for the Eaton’s. The rumors about the couple spread grew worse.  One declared as a fact that Eaton had fathered a child with a "colored female servant." The president had even sent his nephew and private secretary, Andrew Jackson Donelson, and his wife, Emily, back to Tennessee when they refused to associate with the Eaton’s. Andrew Donelson expressed his sadness in parting from his uncle, "to whom I have stood from my infancy in the relation of son to father."

In the spring of 1831, Jackson almost completely reorganized his cabinet, an event referred to as the Petticoat affair. Postmaster William T. Barry would be the lone member to stay.  The worst effect of the incident fell on the political fortunes of the vice-president, John C. Calhoun because Jackson transferred his favor to the widower Martin Van Buren, the Secretary of State and the only unmarried member of the Cabinet. Van Buren had taken the Eaton’s' side in the quarrel and his elevation to the vice-presidency and presidency through Jackson's favor as related to this incident.


Samuel Delucenna Ingham

The situation almost came to gun play when Samuel Delucenna Ingham, a Quaker, paper manufacturer and Secretary of the Treasury (1829-1831) called Peggy “impudent and insolent.”  After his resignations, Ingham and Eaton exchanged tempestuous notes and Eaton challenged Ingham to a duel. Ingham declined. When President Jackson heard about it he advised Eaton “If he won’t fight, you must kill him.”  Stalked trhough the streets of Washington  by Eaton and his three companions Ingham gathered an armed escort and fled Washington in the dead of night.  Ingham, Van Buren, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun and Jackson county Counties Michigan were all named for members of Jackson’s cabinet.  Neither Ingham nor Eaton ever saw the counties named in their honor.

Elected to a second term, Jackson was eager to end the Peggy O’Neil fever that had threatened to bring down his first administration. He sent John Eaton and his wife off to the Florida Territory as governor. Two years later Jackson appointed Eaton minister to Spain in 1836, and she was a court and social favorite in London and Paris.

Van Buren

Amazingly, Eaton eventually turned on Jackson. In 1840, when President Van Buren recalled Eaton from Spain for failing to fulfill his diplomatic duties, Eaton announced his support for Van Buren's presidential rival, William Henry Harrison. Jackson was infuriated by Eaton's political disloyalty, claiming, "He comes out against all the political principles he ever professed and against those on which he was supported and elected senator." The two men didn't reconcile until a year before Jackson's death in 1845.

John Eaton died in eleven years later, in 1856, leaving Peggy a small fortune. Peggy continued to live in DC and her two daughters married into society.   On June 7, 1859, Peggy, then 59, married an Italian music teacher and dancing master, Antonio Gabriele Buchignani, who was 19.   In 1866, after seven years of marriage, Buchignani ran off to Europe with the bulk Peggy’s money as well as her 17-year-old granddaughter Emily E. Randolph, whom he married after he divorced Peggy in 1869. She was unable to recover her financial standing.


An older Peggy

She died in poverty in Washington, D.C. on November 9, 1879 at Lochiel House, a home for destitute women.  She is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery next to John Eaton. A newspaper commenting on her death and on the irony of the situation editorialized: "Doubtless among the dead populating the terraces [of the cemetery] are some of her assailants [from the cabinet days] and cordially as they may have hated her, they are now her neighbors."

 Peggy at the end of her life