Washington DC isn’t just a town of laws, legislators, and lobbyists. It’s a town of rich history, containing stories of amazing individuals and unbelievable quarrels as well. As a history major as well as a politics major, my mindset isn’t always on the politics of a certain area or lesson. I often think about what has been and who has been in this city.
So often people forget what has happened in this country and they push it aside. I don’t think they do this knowingly and willingly, it’s just something that happens as people’s lives get busy and they focus on other aspects of life. Being in DC, however, you’re constantly reminded of what was and who was around this city. The other day we had the opportunity to visit the Capitol. This was the first time I was able to visit and let me just say that it was outstanding. Our tour was very simple, we only saw a few things, but the rooms and chambers that we did see were incredible. If I’m remembering correctly we were able to see the old Supreme Court room, the old House chamber, the old Senate chamber, and the Capitol Rotunda.
Old Supreme Court Room
Let me first start by saying that if seeing these rooms doesn’t blow your mind, it should. The Old Supreme Court Chamber is filled with history and stories. Being in operation from 1810 to 1860 means that it held and heard any court case within those years. This means that John Marshall served as Chief Justice in this room, the Dred Scott decision was heard and handed down in this room, and Gibbons v. Ogden was heard in this room, another landmark case. Knowing that you walked in the very room where men like Marshall sat, and where cases like these were deliberated, is mind boggling. Everyone that steps into that room should appreciate what those walls have heard.
The Old House Chamber was another room that I found particularly interesting. This room was in operation since the early 1800s until 1857 when the House moved into the present House Chamber. Walking around this room, you can almost feel the history and the debates held inside its walls. On the tiles in the floor there lie plaques of famous or noteworthy members of the former congresses and where their desk sat. When I found this out I totally nerded out. Knowing that certain people sat in the same spot where I was standing is a pretty amazing feeling. Also knowing what they were doing when they were sitting there makes the whole situation surreal to me. These once-members-of-Congress-turned-presidents sat and stood where I stood. Just saying that should give a person chills.
Tonight, Wednesday, we had the opportunity to meet members of Congress, and on Monday we met Senator Markey (D-MA). I have never had the opportunity to meet such people in the past and me being me, I wonder and appreciate the history of the seat. The congressmen tonight were from New York and Massachusetts and knowing the rich history of both those states, it makes me wonder who held their seats before them, and question what their role was in their respective congresses.
Being the history nerd that I am, I appreciate, and like to think that I can appreciate, the history behind Washington and the people and buildings that live here. So often these days I think that people forget the people and events that build this country and this city. People fought hard for what we have today, and if a few more people in this city and around the country can appreciate the people that came before them, I think that they might care just a little bit more about their own next move when it comes to altering this country.