The Nation’s Capital


A view of Washington, D. C. in 1830 (detail)


Building a New City

With its grand neoclassical buildings and its tree-lined avenues, Washington, D. C. strikes the visitor as a lovely and formal city. Wash­ington wasn’t always this way.

When it was decided that the new coun­try needed a new city for its capital, President George Washington himself helped pick the spot—a marshy area where the Potomac and Anacostia rivers come together. French engi-

Подпись: Washington, D.C. today

neer Pierre Charles L’Enfant created a design based on Versailles, a palace built for King Louis XIV in the 17th century7. The capital city would be crisscrossed by broad avenues, which would meet in spacious squares and circles.

Creating Versailles from a marsh was no easy task. Building went slowly, and people were reluctant to move to the new capital. For years, pigs roamed through unpaved streets. There was said to be good hunting right near the White House!

Matters were not helped when, during the War of 1812, the British burned parts of Wash­ington. This episode did, however, give the White House its name. The president’s house was one of the buildings burned, and after the war it was painted white to cover up the marks.

Museums and Monuments People often save old things in the attic of their house. Nineteenth-century7 writer Mark Twain called the Smithsonian Institute "the nation’s attic." This comment is even more true today, when, with its thirteen museums, the Smithsonian has at least a little of every ­thing!

The Smithsonian began in the 1850s, with a gift from Englishman James Smithson. Al­though Smithson had never set foot in the United States, he left his entire fortune to this
country7, asking that it be used to found "an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge."

Of all the Smithsonian museums, the most visited—indeed, one of the most visited mu­seums in the world—is the National Air and


One of the buildings of the Smithsonian Institute


Capitol Hill

Space Museum. The museum has aircraft and spacecraft that were important in aviation his­tory. It has the craft in which Orville Wright made the first manned flight and the plane in which Charles Lindbergh made the first solo flight across the Atlantic. It has the com­mand module that returned the Apollo 11 as­tronauts to earth after their moon landing, and it even has rocks that the astronauts brought back!

The Smithsonian buildings are built on or near the Mall, a large open space. The Mall also has monuments honoring George Wash­ington and Abraham Lincoln. Washington was the first president. Lincoln was president dur­ing the Civil War and ended slavery. Many important civil rights events have taken place at the Lincoln Memorial. A third important president, Thomas Jefferson, who was also the
main author of the Declaration of Indepen­dence, is honored by a monument overlook­ing the nearby Tidal Basin. The Tidal Basin area is especially beautiful in spring, when its many cherry trees, a gift from Japan, are in bloom.

Washington at Work

Washington has one major business, and that business is government. The executive de­partments (Treasury, Agriculture, Education, etc.; see the Introduction) are located in Washington. Many of the people who live in Washington work for the federal government.

When you’re in Washington you can tour the White House, at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave­nue. You won’t be able to see the president at work though; White House offices, as well as living quarters, are closed to the public. However, if you visit Capitol Hill, you might be able to see some important members of the other two branches of government: The Supreme Court has a public gallery, as do the Senate and the House of Representatives.

To go to the Senate or House gallery, stop in at any congressperson’s office for a pass. Don’t be surprised, though, if from the gallery you see a congressperson giving a speech to a nearly empty room! Absent members of congress are probably at committee meetings, where much of the important work is done. The public can also go to many of these meet­ings.


Congress and the public listen to a speech. (Pamela Price/Picture Croup)



Being a museum guard isn’t easy—there are always so many questions to answer. A guard in the South Lobby of the National Air and Space Museum gives these answers to some frequently asked questions. Use the floor plan to figure out what questions the guard was asked.


1. _____________________________________________ ?

"That exhibit is by the other exit, just across the hall."

2._______________________________________________ ?

"When you walk out of the lobby, go right.

It’s all the way at the end of the hall with

entrances to the left and the right."

3._______________________________________ ?

"There is one here in the lobby." "Make a left in the hall and it will be the first room on your right."

5. ?

"Of course, the museum has some, sir. Go left to ‘Jet Aviation’ or right to ‘Looking at. Earth.’"


In five minutes’ time how many words can you make from the word Washington? When the time is up, the person who has made the most words wins.

Here’s another way to find the winner: The person with the longest list reads his or her words. When the person reads a word you

wrote, draw a line through it. The person with the most words that no one else has is the winner.

Decide in advance which way you will play.

False to True

The following statements are all false. Rewrite

the statements so that they will be true.

1. The city of Washington was designed by President George Washington himself.

2. The White House is named after the ar­chitect who designed it (Charles White).

3. James Smithson, whose money the Smith­sonian Institution was started with, was an Englishman who had often visited the United States.

4. One of the Smithsonian museums—the Arts and Industries Building—is the most visited museum in the world.

5. The Mall has monuments honoring three important Supreme Court justices.

6. If the Senate chamber seems nearly empty, it’s probably because most senators are out to lunch.

The Appalachian region is among the most rural—and beautiful—areas in the United States. It includes parts of thirteen states from New York to Georgia. West Virginia is the only state that falls entirely within the Appalachian region.

Подпись: The Hatfield clan of West Virginia

The Appalachian region is mountainous. The mountains have shaped people’s way of life. Settlers, who came mainly from Great Britain and Germany, found themselves iso­lated by the mountains. According to an old joke, the only way to get to some mountain

towns is to be bom there! Isolation made it possible for people to develop and preserve their traditions.

The mountains also made earning a liv­ing difficult. Many Appalachian traditions center on handicrafts, as people had to make the items they needed. Appalachian people are known for their independence and their self-sufficiency. The motto of West Virginia is Montcmi SemperLiberi ("Mountaineers are al­ways free").

Sometimes the mggedness of mountain life was associated with violence. The Hatfield family lived in West Virginia; the McCoy fam­ily lived right across the border, in Kentucky. No one knows exactly what caused the trouble between the Hatfields and the McCoys. It may have been a pig that both claimed to own. In any event, the McCoys killed a Hatfield. The Hatfields took justice into their own hands, killing several McCoys. The Hatfield-McCoy feud lasted nearly forty years. It took many lives in both families.

Coal mining has long been an important activity in West Virginia; it contributes about 10 percent of the state’s income. Mining brought some prosperity but at a cost. Before the establishment and enforcement of safety laws, manj’ men died in mine collapses. Strip mining—in which land is blasted to get to coal close to the surface—destroyed some once-




Musicians playing mountain dulcimers

beautiful land. This was the fate of the town of Paradise, referred to in the following song:

"And, Daddr, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County,

Down by the Green River where Paradise lay?"

"Well, I’m son}’, my son, but you’re too late in asking;

Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away."*

Handicrafts and Traditions Quilting is a well-known Appalachian han­dicraft. A quilt is a bed cover, made of two layers of fabric stuffed with cotton. Using scraps of fabric, Appalachian women sewed squares, based on fancy patterns. They then sewed the squares together to make the two sides of the quilt.

To sew a quilt, a woman often called all her friends together for a big party7 known as a "quilting bee." When a quilt was finished, four girls would each grab a comer. A cat would be thrown onto the quilt, and the girls would shake the quilt up and down. The cat would, of course, run off the quilt. The girl it ran closest to would be the next to get married!

An Appalachian proverb says that "God respects you if you work, but he loves you if you sing." Several musical instmments, in – "Paradise was located in eastern Kentucky, near West Virginia; the Peabody Coal Company mined the area.

eluding the mountain dulcimer, were first made in the Appalachian region. Appalachian music is like American country music, but also like traditional English and Scottish ballads.

In a way, the Appalachian dialect is itself traditional. It is closer than any other dialect of American or British English to the English that was spoken in Shakespeare’s time and earlier. For example, n is added to the end of pronouns (e. g., hisn, hem, youm) and a is added to the beginning of verbs (a-talking, a-com – ing). Does the Appalachian term bone-box for "body" seem strange? You’ll find the same word in Beowulf, the famous poem from eighth – century England!

Discussion Points

• Do you have any areas in your country that were geographically isolated? If so, did these areas develop strong traditions of their own?

• Appalachia is economically one of the poorer areas in the United States. When workers from the government visited the region to see what they could do, one older man told them, "Bring us your prosperity but leave us our civilization."

What did the man mean by this?

Do you agree with what he said?

Do you think what he wanted is possible?


aid to help alongside next to

apprentice a person who works for someone else to learn to do a particular kind of work attic a storage space between the ceiling and the roof of a home aviation flying in aircraft ballad a song that tells a story, often a romantic story

ballpark a place where baseball is played bank the land at the side of a river baseball a game in which players on two teams hit a ball and move around bases blast to blow up with explosives boring dull, not interesting civil rights the rights of citizens; the movement to gain equal political, social, and economic rights for black Americans collapse to fall down, to fall in comedian a person who makes people laugh

comic (adj) causing people to laugh commerce trade, business committee a group of people chosen by others to plan and organize

country music folk music of the U. S. South and West

dialect a language as it is spoken in a particular region

disagreement lack of agreement, differences of opinion

earn a living to work to pay for the things you need

enforcement causing to be obeyed, used especially for laws

episode an event; one event in a series of events

exhibit a group of objects shown in a museum

feud a long-lasting quarrel or fight between two families or groups flirting playful teasing about love formal following rules strictly, often used with dress, manners, or design framework the basic structure supporting a system

grand great, impressive handicrafts items made by hand, especially items that have a practical use but are also artistic home run in the game of baseball, a hit that allows a player to score immediately illegal against the law inspire to encourage to do something, especially something creative isolated separated from other people or places

link a connection between two things marsh an area of low, wetland matters the situation mountainous having many mountains motto a saying, especially one that expresses an important belief mouth the place where a river opens into a larger body of water

neoclassical a style of art, based on the style of ancient Greece and Rome on the whole when all things are considered potential ability

proverb a popular saying, often about everyday life

relatively compared to others reluctant not eager, not wanting to do something

representative someone who represents, or acts for, others, especially in politics

respected honored, thought well of ruggedness roughness rumor gossip, something that people say that might or might not be true salary the amount of money earned for work, especially over the time of a year self-evident obvious self-sufficiency ability to take care of oneself without help from others spacious having lots of space spectacular amazing, very impressive strike as to seem like surface the outside or upper level of something

tombstone a memorial marker set up over a grave

tradition a custom, a way of doing things that has been used for many generations

tyranny a ruler’s cruel or unjust use of power

unalienable (inalienable) not able to be

taken away

unanimously with every person in agreement

uniform (ad)) the same everywhere


The South is economically, histori­cally, and culturally a distinct region. With its warm climate and rich soil, it soon de­veloped an economy based on export crops like cotton. These were grown on farms worked by slaves from Africa. Conflicts be­tween the North and the South, especially over slavery, led in 1861 to the Civil War.[3] In the last few decades, the South has become more industrial and urban than in

the past. Some parts of the South are among the fastest-growing areas in the country. But the South also preserves its traditions— for example, its emphasis on good cooking and its slower, more hospitable way of life.

Updated: 18th July 2015 — 3:13 pm