Summiteers see few sights. What with arms talks in the morning and state dinners at night, the Gorbachevs might never see the real Washington. In the interest of world peace, Post readers are suggesting stops on a highly unofficial tour of the area's lesser-known charms.
Today's guide: Joseph Harsh, professor of history at George Mason University.
Destination: The Antietam battlefield near Sharpsburg, Md.
"It was the bloodiest day in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Next to the Bloody Angle at Gettysburg, the Bloody Cornfield at Antietam is probably the most sacred place on American soil, as far as sacrifice is concerned. The people who own that land today have done nothing more than plant and harvest corn on it, thank God. Of all the battlefields of the Civil War, it is far and away the one closest to its original state in 1862.
"Antietam was a hinge politically. Lincoln was looking for a chance to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He wrote it in July but his Cabinet told him to put it away and wait until times were better. On September 23, he was perfectly willing to believe that Antietam was a victory and he issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which basically says what he would say officially 100 days later on January 1, 1863."