The Public Interest

The Washington novel

Stephen Miller

Summer 1978

ACCORDING to Henry Adams, Washington, D.C., in 1868 “stood outside the social pale.” The remark comes from his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, written some 40 years after he first moved to Washington from Boston—a brave and bold move, he implied, for “no Bostonian had ever gone there.” No proper Bostonian, Adams meant: “no literary or scientific man, no artist, no gentleman without office or employment.” In The American Commonwealth, James Bryce confirmed Adams’ view. Washington in the 1880’s, he said, had little in common with Paris or London. It was not a capital city-not a city whose size, wealth, or citizenry made it “the head and center of the country.”

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