I remember the day the first brick of the Capitol city was laid (I recall being mortified that there was no special ceremonies to avail the architecture of the future city), I remember the day that I and Mr. Hamilton agreed upon it's creation, and even the day Sir Washington decided upon the Potomac River for it's placement. It was a week ago that I finally returned again to the Federal city, albeit a bit later than I had planned, with Ludwig and Daniel to study the mystery of the missing researcher Julius Rothbard. It had been nearly two hundred years since I had been here last, and it is interesting to see all that has changed.
We were not going to make light of this trip, we want to give Julius every opportunity to make communication with us, as we knew he would be watching our activities. To be sure, Ludwig has exhausted all his contact methods, email, phone messages, even leaving a note on his own door saying "Off to DC". Daniel had his own agenda, wanting to see popular sites, which we agreed might give Julius an opportunity to approach us should he be truly watching. The longer we stayed, the more opportunity we could take to find out what is going on... so I opted to spend some time touring the Capitol buildings, and perhaps even find a way to sit in on a session of Congress. Ludwig informed us that he wanted to visit the great Library of Congress... a library I hold dear to my heart. What was once a scarred remnant of an invaded Capitol is now the largest library in all the world... I remember when I sacrificed my 6,000 books to revitalize it, and upon the trip I was perhaps in the greatest anticipation to see just how well the library has grown since. Between that and our questions about the mysterious St. George Tucker of history to the headquarters of an organization called Phi-Beta-Kappa, I believe we had more than enough to keep ourselves occupied.
Our first stop was the heart of Washington; the Capitol, it's monuments & the President's palace. It's expansion since my time is remarkable, truly a representation of progress, perhaps too much so. We stopped at Lady Bird Johnson park, and walked crossed the Arlington memorial bridge (while I do not know who Arlington is, I must say his bridge is a vast improvement, as it is a shorter and stronger bridge than the single old one there used to be) into the place of the Lincoln memorial. There were many tourists there, and I did wonder exactly how great the memorial would be, so we decided to stop there first.
Daniel: Wow, look how big Honest Abe is!
Me: Good lord, a giant adornment like I have never seen before. Is this Abraham Lincoln the 16th President of these United States, or a frozen ice giant from the antient land of Niflheim?
Daniel: What? You read too many books, man. It's Abe. Giant ol' Abe. That's why he was so good wrestling, you know. He was big, like Big Show big, only not as fat.
Me: Well, I was expecting a great tribute after reading the history books, but this perhaps is a bit greater than I had imagined. Is there a monument to George Washington?
Ludwig: Sir Thomas, the Washington monument is just outside, across that great reflecting pool, the giant spire.
Young Boy: Wow! Look at that big guy!
Tourist: It isn't just any big guy son, it's Abraham Lincoln. He was one of the greatest Presidents in history. Freed the slaves and unified the United States. If it wasn't him, we'd all be racist hick Southerners and the blacks would all be picking cotton.
Me: Sorry to interrupt sir, but I overheard you speaking to your boy here. Surely you do not suggest that it was the mere actions of this man who liberated the slaves. After extensive research into modern history I find that perhaps the negros themselves did more for their own liberation than any mighty man like this could, any President, even any white man for that matter. And indeed, it was Congress, not the President, who truly liberated the slaves... and it was the slaves who educated themselves, and fought for those rights as they came. Once educated, no man could deny them their freedom. Men like Frederick Douglass and women like Harriet Tubman proved this on their own accords. I submit that slavery was an issue of the times, and in the times after the Civil War, it was most ripe to be ended, Union or not. The only thing that proved capable of liberating the slaves - education - finally came. In this regard, it was the slaves who freed themselves.
Tourist: What are you? Some kinda idiot? Lincoln freed the slaves, didn't you go to school? I bet you're just another Southern Confederate hick who's grand-daddy owned slaves. Don't listen to him boy, let's go.
Daniel: He sure showed you, huh Tommy? Bet your "grand-daddy" sure did own slaves, ha ha. You got served!
Despite the uncomfortable situations that were visited upon us, we continued out to the beautiful reflective pond towards the grand Washington monument. Passing into the wooded surrounds we saw the Vietnam Veteran's memorial wall, again, the tourists never seemed to be far behind.
Tourist: C'mon boy, this is a great part of American history, the Vietnam war. Come, let's get a photo. No, the other wall, so I can get the Washington monument in the reflection.
Young Boy: Daddy, what're all these names?
Tourist: They're the names of great patriots who died defending your liberty. No, no, no, to the left! I want the reflection! You're standing right in the way. Shut up and get it right.
Me: Sorry to be a bother good sir, but again I feel I must offer some correction. Regarding the Vietnam war, as I understand it - you may forgive me as I was not there - it seemed to me that it was a fight that had little to do with national defense. We would no more be under the flag of the Vietnamese than we would the flag of the Communists, had we lost that war or never fought it in the first place.
Tourist: Don't listen to this wackjob boy, the Commies had to be fought back somewhere or they would've taken over everything. No! More to the right!
Continuing we also had a moment to see a tribute to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, and crossed the Constitution Gardens only to find the Washington Memorial under construction and unavailable to the public, it is opening anew this Spring. The tourists were only becoming more bothersome at this point.
Me: Well, that is a rather grand sight, befitting General Washington.
Young Boy: Awww, I wanna go in!
Tourist: Don't worry son, we can still get a good photo. Going in is overrated. We don't wanna have to go by the ticket booth and have souvenir crap pushed on us.
Young Boy: What is this, anyways?
Tourist: This is the Washington monument, to celebrate George Washington, our nation's founder. He fought the British and won American independence.
Me: Well, at least he got something right...
Tourist: Also remember that he brought into American power the satanic Freemasons. Stand still, I got a good shot right there!
Me: Uh... I... Hmph.
Daniel: I may believe a lot of stupid shit, but even I don't believe that.
Heading back towards the cherry-trees that line the lakeside, we crossed to the south of the Lincoln memorial and to the memorial for a much-spoken-of President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd President.
Daniel: Wow, looks like cube-land over here.
Ludwig: Very interesting, see those statues of the poor men standing at the door? That is a representation of the poor who stood in long lines for bread during the Great Depression.
Daniel: Blah blah blah blah. Cool, waterfalls!
Me: Well, there does seem to be a bit of tranquility here.
Tourist: C'mon son! This is the best part of the trip.
Young Boy: Who's that guy with the dog, dad?
Tourist: That's Franklin Roosevelt, the greatest President in history. He cured the Great Depression through the New Deal, and won World War II by beating the Nazis.
Me: I hardly share so many words of praise, the wartime economy did more curing than the expansive and ill-effective programs of the growing government. If it wasn't for the central bank dictations over credit supply and the Federal Reserve meddling with the money, I sincerely doubt the Great Depression would have been so Great.
Tourist: Damn, you're an idiot. Let's go son.
As we walked further, to the southern bend of the meager tidal basin (I never recalled a lake being here, instead just a few ponds, how things do change over time...), I saw the tourists congregating at another building, appearing to be yet another monument, so we decided to inspect it.
Daniel: Pst, Tommy, this is your monument.
Daniel: Yeah, I knew yours would be around here somewhere, that's why I wanted to come this way. So, here you go.
Me: Well, I am flattered to say the least. Look at the size of that statue!
Ludwig: So, what are you two gentlemen doing?
Me: Just admiring the fine architecture, and the wise quotes. Once they take all the wisdom of a man and place it up for all to see in several phrases and declarations, it makes the man seem somewhat unbelievable, don't you agree?... Oof!
Tourist: ... Excuse me jackass, let's go in son, take some pictures of Thomas Jefferson.
Young Boy: But I wanna see the White House! This is boring!
Tourist: We'll go that way in a minute, plus there is a great shot we can get of the White House and the Washington monument from just outside this monument. Go stand next to the statue.
Young Boy: Who was Jefferson anyways?
Tourist: Some Atheist who hated god and raped a slave but was a Founding Father. Just stand next to the damn statue so I can get a good shot.
Me: Why I never...
Daniel: Back up, let's not blow our cover here.
Ludwig: Perhaps we've wasted away enough of our evening doing this exploring? Perhaps we should be on our way.
Me: ... Hmph.
It was nearing noon, so Ludwig wanted to make the trip north of the Capitol to the headquarters of Phi-Beta-Kappa, the scholarly organization Julius has lead to. We hoped to consult someone with a historical background to learn more about St. George Tucker.
Secretary: How may I help you?
Ludwig: We are researchers who were pointed here by the Harvard chapter head for inquiries of a historical nature into your organization. Do you know of anyone in we can speak to?
Secretary: What publication are you researching for?
Daniel: Pst, Luddy, lie out your ass...
Ludwig: Uh, the New York Times.
Secretary: Wow! The Times. Well, I know someone you can talk to. Down the hall is the offices for the American Scholar, the editor Mr. Miller is in today, he has a good knowledge of organizational history. I'm sorry if we weren't expecting you, let me page him.
Daniel: Well, you know us, we operate on a tight schedule, reporting on all the stuff that happens here in Washington DC, and stuff.
Me: And stuff?
Daniel: Shut up and move, Tommy.
Robert Miller: Hi gentlemen, sorry to keep you waiting, the secretary paged me, from the Times? Please, come into my office and have a seat. Don't you usually call first?
Ludwig: I apologize if there is any complication, I know our arrival was unanticipated.
Daniel: You know how it is, important... stuff... always going on, kinda on a busy schedule.
Me: Good sir, we come to you for an inquiry into a name purportedly of relevance to this organization's history, St. George Tucker, do you know anything of him?
Robert Miller: Well that name does ring a bell, ah yes. I remember studying this just after I joined Phi-Beta-Kappa. The organization was founded at the College of William & Mary, in 1776, the oldest honor society in the United States. It's speculated that other secret scholarly organizations were the foundation of PBK, particularly the FHC Society. In one theory of the several I've studied, a precursor organization founded in the early 1770's by membership of the time - which is where I remember the name St. George Tucker - began as an offshoot of the FHC Society, called the Philosophy Society. However there is no real documentation of this since the group would've been very small up until it's official foundation in 1776, it's just a theory of how the society may have begat from others in the college. The similarities in secret societies it shared with a group like the FHC Society are too circumstantially unique to be totally unrelated. If St. George Tucker was not involved in the founding, he may have been involved in creating a precursor group that lead to it's founding... it's speculated that many members of the FHC Society were tapped to join the original Phi Beta Kappa at William & Mary, so there are a variety of opinions about the inter-relationship of PBK and other groups like FHC.
Me: So what significance would St. George Tucker have to history?
Robert Miller: History? You mean in general? I don't know. What kind of article are you guys writing?
Daniel: One about secret societies and their secret origins.
Robert Miller: Ah, I see, that's an odd type of thing to read about in the New York Times...
Daniel: It's just filler for the website.
Robert Miller: Ah, that makes sense.
Ludwig: So it's speculated that St. George Tucker, a member of an older secret society, may have been involved in the foundation of this bigger one.
Robert Miller: Well, PBK isn't a secret society these days of course, and it's never really been anything more than a scholarly society, that I know of. It officially opened it's practices to the public back in 1831. That it was ever anything else is something for conspiracy junkies to discuss, not a legitimate paper like yourself.
Me: Thank you sir for your time.
Well, our trip did not answer too many questions. I knew the man St. George Tucker from my time, only scantly however, and his involvement in anything modernly is not relevant to history. I don't understand what Julius thinks this "time crisis" is, perhaps Julius is mistaken about what really happened? Daniel and I spoke in private about discussing all this with Ludwig, but we agreed that perhaps it is best to remain silent until we learn more, perhaps some research at home at the libraries is in order. Our trip to DC was definitely not over, it was still before 1pm and we went back to the Capitol building, with tickets we acquired earlier. Going in, and exploring the functioning Capitol, was a very refreshing feeling. As a man who has great appreciation for the law, seeing legislation in action has a feeling of satisfaction. Daniel and Ludwig did not share that appreciation, however I spent most of my time there sitting in a House meeting, where there was much debate regarding transportation and finance. The degrees of money being thrown about were in the orders not of hundreds, or of thousands, or even of millions, but of billions. Perhaps the Capitol has grown too big for a man like me.
The Library of Congress is not one building, but three now. One named for me, one named for Mr. Madison and one named for Mr. Adams. It is fitting to see so many tributes although I doubt most knew who we really were. And there is no more fitting tribute to a man than a library, with so many great books. The Great Hall in the building named after me is bright and vibrant, so much so I almost felt a certain degree of zealous decadence, which I did not appreciate seeing as it was a building in my name. No matter, I still appreciate fine architecture and grand design where it is. We went along a lecture tour of the Library, one particular place of solace was the Library's reading room, looking down upon it gave me a certain feeling of hope that the leaders of the world still read, perhaps about the injustices of the past and the mistakes that need to be rectified, and never made again. Perhaps a little history, my friends, is all I seek to instill upon the world.
There was only one last place to go, a small archive building off to the east of the Capitol. There were a few people there, although we were approaching closing hour. In a rotunda, we approached an exhibition of the charters forged in my time. I recognized each of them, as I took them all by the hand and read each of them, however they are so old now that one would probably damage the documents by touching them. The Declaration, the Constitution and the amended Bills. Perhaps I have little to say, as I know the meaning of each of these documents, in my own way having my own hand. All I could observe, however, is that I saw no man who appeared to be a legislator, a congressman, a statesman, or any official of any sort visit the building. I was hoping to see at least one, even one man who looked like one so I could lie to myself... but no, there was just tourists. The meager many who probably never once took the time to read each of those documents, who are there to snap photos of something they probably will never read, understand or appreciate fully. After that, I knew it was time to leave. Matters in mind, I chose not to see the White House... I felt the visit would be unrewarding.
We are now home safe, and were not contacted by Julius at any point. With no information to go on, Ludwig and I have decided to spend our time researching the circumstances of the time mystery. We do not believe we were being followed or watched, and if we were, then the person doing so is clearly not ready to act, so for the time being we are safe... and may investigate this mystery as it develops. I also return to work and something of normal life, although I hesitate to call anything normal since my trip to this time. Make a safe way on your adventures, friends, for I wish you health and happiness, and think of you with affection.
- TH. Jefferson
This update required quite a bit of extensive research on Washington D.C., particularly today versus the early 1800's. Jefferson's impression of the Federal city should definitely be radically different. In Jefferson's day it was merely a functioning legislative district, set back quite a bit by being savagely burned down in 1814. Now of course it's frequented by millions a year from all parts of the world, chuck to the brim of multi-million dollar memorials and super-sized monuments. Which is hardly a complaint, even Adam Smith recognized that one of the parts of a legitimate nation's spending is a small portion to dedicate towards the beautification of the important parts of the government with things like monuments and grand buildings. However, that has always been the unspoken rule of government, and it has almost always been taken too far.
The symbolism provided by our nation's capital is just that, symbolism. It's not really important to see, it's more important to think about. So I hope my virtual tour of DC with TeeJ has brought at least a bit of introspection to our feelings of the nation, not a perfect one mind you, but the one we happen to have.