The Imperial Season: America's Capital in the Time of the First Ambassadors, 1893-1918
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This story of the young city of Washington coming up in the international scene is populated with presidents, foreign diplomats, civil servants, architects, artists, and influential hosts and hostesses who were enamored of the idea of world power but had little idea of the responsibilities involved.
Between the Spanish American War and World War I, the thrill of America's new international role held the nation's capital in rapture. Visionaries gravitated to Washington and sought to make it the glorious equal to the great European capitals of the day. Remains of the period still define Washington--the monuments and great civic buildings on the Mall as well as the private mansions built on the avenues that now serve as embassies.
The first surge of America's world power led to profound changes in diplomacy, and a vibrant official life in Washington, DC, naturally followed. In the twenty-five year period that William Seale terms the "imperial season," a host of characters molded the city in the image of a great world capital. Some of the characters are well known, from presidents to John Hay and Uncle Joe Cannon, and some relatively unknown, from diplomat Alvey Adee to hostess Minnie Townsend and feminist Inez Milholland. The Imperial Season is a unique social history that defines a little explored period of American history that left an indelible mark on our nation's capital.
only to languish in a desk drawer; the climate had changed but little in over twenty years. No attention had been paid to the issue at all since 1896. Alice Paul decided her group had waited too long, that it was time to make a public demonstration for women’s vote. It was not the sort of public act the NAWSA was comfortable with, but the zealous Paul and her associates broke away and proceeded anyway, striking out on a new and more militant course than the suffrage movement had yet known in
descent, projecting the unfounded scenario of hundreds of thousands of Germans in the United States waiting to rise up against their adopted country. In Washington, fear centered on the diplomats and their foreign agencies standing upon “foreign soil,” as embassy sites were reckoned. Government security pitched right in. Cameras mounted in street trees were now fixed on all of the embassies representing the Central powers. Where else might sabotage planning originate? To one who made a study of
as well, indeed better, and in the smoke of battle cursed the Yankees, referring to the Spanish. At the close of the summer of 1898 the United States occupied Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and the empty Wake Island. The slim chance that Spain had in the first place was obvious. On April 7, well before the real action, the ambassadors resident in Washington called upon the president once again to plead for Spain. Little attention was paid to this visit in the United States, but it attracted
American mourning “excessive.” Still the British government turned out in full dress to continue the American honors, transporting Pauncefote to London aboard a special train to lie in state in Westminster Abbey. The state funeral was attended by King Edward VII.25 Embassy life in Washington was, unavoidably, a world distinctly apart from the general flow of life in the capital. Daily private interactions of the diplomats are difficult to trace. Their communications to the foreign offices are
physical stamina was seemingly boundless. But he demanded his summer trip to Europe, which must have helped him recover at times from near exhaustion. Adee was a sound decision maker but always working with details, some of which could have been handled by others. His manner of doing business was naturally unusual, given his severe hearing difficulty. Those who worked closely with him had to learn how to communicate with him his way. Some claimed if they talked very plainly, separating their