On the fourth day of December 1815,. . . being at the seat of government of the United States, I was preparing to enjoy the first opportunity that had occurred to me of beholding the assembled representatives of the American republic. . . My agreeable reverie was suddenly interrupted by the voice of a stammering boy, who. . . exclaimed, "There goes the Ge-Georgy men with a drove o'niggers chain'd together two and two.". . . I just had a distant glimpse of a light covered wagon, followed by a procession of men, women and children, resembling that of a funeral. I followed them hastily; and as I approached so near as to discover they were bound together in pairs, some with ropes, and some with iron chains (which I had hitherto seen used only for restraining beasts).
Jesse Torrey, Portraiture of Domestic Slavery in the United States
Washington, Dec. 16, 1856
Among the police reports of the city newspapers, there was lately [April 1855], an account of the apprehension of 24 "genteel colored men" (so they were described), who had been found by a watchman assembling privately in the evening. . . When they were examined before a magistrate in the morning, no evidence was offered, nor does there seem to have been any suspicion that they had any criminal purpose. On searching their persons, there were found a Bible, a volume of Seneca's Morals; Life in Earnest; the printed constitution of a society the object of which was said to be "to relieve the sick and bury the dead"; and a subscription paper to purchase the freedom of Eliza Howard, a young woman, whom her owner was willing to sell at $650. . .
One of the prisoners, a slave named Joseph Jones, was ordered to be flogged; four others, called in the papers free men... were sent to the workhouse; and the remainder, on paying costs of court and fines, amounting in the aggregate to $111, were permitted to range loose again.
Frederick Law Olmstead, The Cotton Kingdom
If it took the ancient Briton a thousand years to emerge from his only half-civilized condition... to reach the point to qualify him for the exercise of this right [to vote], how long would it reasonably take the black man, who but about 200 years ago was brought from Africa."
The Washington City Council, reacting to congressional proposals to extend suffrage to blacks, 1865
No man need be afraid now, since the chief magistrate of the nation receives all alike at his levees -- since, in fact, the chief men of Washington society invite colored men to their receptions.
The New Era, 1870
Yonder I was an unlettered slave toiling under the lash of Covey, the Negrobreaker, here I was the United States marshal of the capital of the nation, having under my care and guidance the sacred persons of the ex-president and of the president-elect of a nation of 60 million, and was armed with the nation's power to arrest any arm raised against them. . . I was no less Frederick Douglass, identified with a proscribed class whose perfect and practical equality with other American citizens was yet far down the steps of time. Yet I was not sorry to have the brief authority, for I rejoiced in the fact that a colored man could occupy this height. The precedent was valuable.
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, reflections during President Garfield's inauguration, 1881
So now Fred Douglass is married, January has united with May. Sixty-six marries 46, and the black teams with the white. Mr. Douglass has often told me that he believed the solution to the race question lies in the amalgamation of the Negro with the white, but he never intimated that he intended to give the country a practical exemplification of his views. . . One of the richest colored men in Washington, Fred Douglass is worth about $100,000. His present income is nearly, if not quite, $7,000 a year, so you see he will have enough to maintain his white wife in a white way.
1883 article by Frank Carpenter in the Cleveland Ledger
But no matter where or when the scene may be in Washington, the ubiquitous negro colors it. Whether the humblest white man wishes to move his trunk from one boarding house to another, or whether the president wishes a state dinner, the darky is indispensable. . .
Washington has a genteel colored society of its own. But no matter to what degree of affluence, education, or culture a colored man may rise, neither he nor his family have any social relations with white people.
Mrs. John A. Logan, Thirty Years in Washington, 1901
She taught us that proper speech and good manners were our first obligations, because as representatives of the Negro race we were to command respect for our people. This being an all-colored school, Negro history was crammed into the curriculum. . . They had pride there, the greatest race pride, and at that time there was some sort of movement to desegregate the schools in Washington, D.C. Who do you think were the first to object? Nobody but the proud Negroes of Washington, who felt that the kind of white kids we would be thrown in with were not good enough.
Duke Ellington, recalling the eighth grade in Music is My Mistress
We are handling the force of colored people who are now in the departments in just the way in which they ought to be handled. We are trying -- and by degrees succeeding -- a plan of concentration which will put them all together and will not in any one bureau mix the two races.
Letter of President Woodrow Wilson, July 29, 1913
In a few minutes another woman was ushered into our room and given a seat and this was repeated half a dozen times. Then it suddenly dawned upon me what the advent of the newcomers signified.
They were colored women so fair that they had been assigned to sections set aside exclusively for white women. By fair means or foul their racial identity had been disclosed to somebody "higher up" who was opposed to allowing the women of the two races to work in the same room together. . .
Mary Church Terrell, A Colored Woman in a White World, describing her experience at the Census Bureau during World War I
In the afternoon I went to the offices of The Washington Post and talked with the city editor. . . He seemed to be under the impression that I had come down from New York for the express purpose of telling the colored people in Washington to be "good.". . . I proceeded to tell him frankly and directly how responsible were The Washington Post and the other dailies for [the race riot]. I talked with him for perhaps a half an hour. During the whole time he stood as one struck dumb; at least, he answered not a word. I realized the man was scared through and through. . .
The Negroes themselves saved Washington by their determination not to run, but to fight -- fight in defense of their lives and their homes.
James Weldon Johnson, Crisis (the magazine of the NAACP), 1919
Dr. Robert Moten, president of Tuskegee Institute, had been invited to speak at the unveiling of the statue of the Great Emancipator (at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, 1922), but instead of being placed on the speaker's platform, he was relegated along with the other distinguished colored people to an all-Negro section separated by a road from the rest of the audience; and the language of the illtempered Marine who herded the "niggers" into their seats caused well-bred colored people as much indignation as the segregated seating itself.
Constance McLaughlin Green, The Secret City: A History of Race Relations in the Nation's Capital
An old Victoria driven by a gray-haired colored coachman, a mammy with her pickaninnies, a dignified general, a resplendent admiral, a silk-hatted ambassador -- they are passersby in this wonderful capital city.
"Washington: The Place of Pilgrimage for Patriotic Americans," a brochure distributed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 1925
Congress passed a bill authorizing the erection of two bathing beaches, one in the Tidal Basin in Potomac Park for white people and one for Negroes. Col. Clarence O. Sherrill, the superintendent of public buildings and grounds here, recommended to Congress that the one for Negroes be placed over in Virginia. The Negroes protested and Congress finally ordered that it be placed in the Tidal Basin near that of the whites. Although separate they were in the same body of water, near to each other, so that the races came in contact going to and fro. After many criticisms of these beaches. . . Congress ordered both beaches destroyed.
William H. Jones, Recreation and Amusement Among Negroes in Washington, D.C., 1927
The 72 percent of Washington whites would not know how to get along without the 28 percent of blacks. They rely on them to help them to the drudgery work in homes, stores and offices. They sell them groceries, rent them houses at extra high rents, pay most of the social costs which go along with Negro disease and Negro crime, and complain always about them. . . They have heard vague rumors about the equality movement but they think it is just a passing phase. They have not learned that it isn't.
W. M. Kiplinger, Washington Is Like That, 1942
Four Negro students from the British West Indies sat at a downtown lunch counter. The waitress informed them they would have to stand to be served. But when they produced their British diplomatic passes, she apologized, remarking she didn't realize they were "not niggers."
National Committee on Segregation in the Nation's Capital, Case 152, November 1948