See biographies by J. B. Flagg (1892, repr. 1969) and E. P. Richardson (1948).
While he studied law, Irving amused himself by writing for periodicals such essays on New York society and the theater as the Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. (1802-3). From 1804 to 1806 his older brothers financed his tour of France and Italy. On his return he joined William Irving and J. K. Paulding in publishing Salmagundi; or, The Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff & Others (1807-8), a series of humorous and satirical essays. Under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, he published A History of New York (1809), a satire that has been called the first great book of comic literature written by an American. Purporting to be a scholarly account of the Dutch occupation of the New World, the book is a burlesque of history books as well as a satire of politics in his own time.
Irving went to England in 1815 to run the Liverpool branch of the family hardware business, but could not save it when the whole firm failed. Thereupon, with the encouragement of Walter Scott, Irving turned definitely to literature. The stories (including "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), collected in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (London, 1820), appeared serially in New York in 1819-20; their enthusiastic reception made Irving the best-known figure in American literature both at home and abroad. Bracebridge Hall (1822), the next volume of essays, although inferior to the previous book, was well received. However, his Tales of a Traveller (1824), written after visits to Germany and France, was a failure.
Irving became a diplomatic attaché at the American embassy in Madrid in 1826. There he produced his biography of Columbus (1828), largely based on the work of the Spanish historian Navarrete; The Conquest of Granada (1829), a romantic narrative; and the soft, casually charming Spanish sketches of The Alhambra (1832). After a short period at the American legation in London, he returned to New York. In search of colorful material, he made a journey to the frontier and wrote about the American West in A Tour of the Prairies (1835). From records furnished by John Jacob Astor, he wrote Astoria (1836), with Pierre Irving, and The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A. (1837).
Irving subsequently established himself at his estate, Sunnyside, near Tarrytown, N.Y., until he was sent to Madrid as American minister to Spain (1842-46). Once more at Sunnyside, he wrote a biography of Goldsmith (1849) and the miscellaneous sketches called Wolfert's Roost (1855) and labored at his biography of George Washington (5 vol., 1855-59), which he completed just before his death.
Irving was master of a graceful and unobtrusively sophisticated prose style. A gentle but effective satirist, he was the creator of a few widely loved essays and tales that have made his name endure.
Irving's journals were edited by W. P. Trent and G. S. Hellman (3 vol., 1919, repr. 1970); The Western Journals (1944) by J. F. McDermott. See also his life and letters by P. M. Irving (4 vol., 1864; repr. 1967); biographies by S. T. Williams (2 vol., 1935; repr. 1971), C. D. Warner (1981), and A. Burstein (2007); studies by W. L. Hedges (1965, repr. 1980) and J. Rubin-Dorsky (1988).
In 1881 he was chosen to organize (and construct) an academic, agricultural, and industrial school for African Americans at Tuskegee, Ala. Under his direction, Tuskegee Institute (see Tuskegee Univ.) became one of the leading African-American educational institutions in America. Its programs emphasized industrial training as a means to attaining self-respect and economic independence for black people, and Washington continued to advocate self-help and self-sufficiency as the most effective means of improving life for African Americans.
A skilled orator, Washington gave many lectures in the interests of his work, both in the United States and in Europe, and he was counted among the ablest public speakers of his time. In 1895 at Atlanta, Ga., Washington made a highly controversial speech on the place of the African American in American life. In it he maintained that it was foolish for blacks to agitate for social equality before they had attained economic equality. His speech pleased many whites and gained financial support for his school, but his position was denounced by many African-American leaders, among them W. E. B. Du Bois.
Though many African Americans saw him as a compromiser and a reactionary, in the early years of the 20th cent. Washington was widely viewed as the main spokesman for black America. He was the organizer (1900) of the National Negro Business League, a group committed to black economic independence. He also became a trusted adviser to President Theodore Roosevelt on matters related to the African-American community, and received honorary degrees from Dartmouth and Harvard. By the time of his death, however, Washington's influence had waned considerably. Among his many published works are his autobiographies, Up From Slavery (1901, repr. 1963) and My Larger Education (1911, repr. 2008) as well as such studies as The Future of the American Negro (1899), Tuskegee and Its People (1905, repr. 1969), Life of Frederick Douglass (1907, repr. 1968), and The Story of the Negro (1909, repr. 1969).
See L. R. Harlan et al., ed. The Booker T. Washington Papers (14 vol., 1972-89); biographies by E. J. Scott and L. B. Stowe (1916, repr. 1972), B. Mathews (1948, repr. 1969), S. R. Spencer, Jr. (1955), A. Bontemps (1972), L. R. Harlan (2 vol., 1972-83), R. J. Norrell (2009), and R. W. Smock (2009); studies by H. Hawkins, ed. (1962), E. L. Thornborough, ed. (1969), and S. Mansfield (1999).
He was born on Feb. 22, 1732 (Feb. 11, 1731, O.S.), the first son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, on the family estate (later known as Wakefield) in Westmoreland co., Va. Of a wealthy family, Washington embarked upon a career as a surveyor and in 1748 was invited to go with the party that was to survey Baron Fairfax's lands W of the Blue Ridge. In 1749 he was appointed to his first public office, surveyor of newly created Culpeper co., and through his half-brother Lawrence Washington he became interested in the Ohio Company, which had as its object the exploitation of Western lands. After Lawrence's death (1752), George inherited part of his estate and took over some of Lawrence's duties as adjutant of the colony. As district adjutant, which made (Dec., 1752) him Major Washington at the age of 20, he was charged with training the militia in the quarter assigned him.
Washington first gained public notice late in 1753 when he volunteered to carry a message from Gov. Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia to the French moving into the Ohio country, warning them to quit the territory, which was claimed by the British. In delivering the message Washington learned that the French were planning a further advance. He hastened back to Virginia, where he was commissioned lieutenant colonel by Dinwiddie and sent with about 400 men to reinforce the post that Dinwiddie had ordered built at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers.
The French, however, captured the post before he could reach it, and on hearing that they were approaching in force, Washington retired to the Great Meadows to build (July) an entrenched camp (Fort Necessity). Late in May he had won his first military victory (and his colonelcy) when he surprised (through the intelligence of his Native American allies) a small body of French troops. The French soon avenged this defeat, overwhelming him with a superior force at Fort Necessity on July 3, 1754. He surrendered on easy terms on July 4 and returned to Virginia with the survivors of his command. These battles marked the beginning of the last of the French and Indian Wars in America, in which Washington continued to figure.
As an aide to Edward Braddock he acquitted himself with honor in that general's disastrous expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1755. After the debacle he was appointed commander in chief of the Virginia militia to defend the frontier, and in 1758 he commanded one of the three brigades in the expedition headed by Gen. John Forbes that took an abandoned Fort Duquesne. With this episode his pre-Revolutionary military career ended.
In 1759, Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, a rich young widow, and settled on his estate at Mt. Vernon. He was a member (1759-74) of the house of burgesses, became a leader in Virginian opposition to the British colonial policy, and served (1774-75) as a delegate to the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution broke out at Concord and Lexington, the Congress organized for defense, and, largely through the efforts of John Adams, Washington was named (June 15, 1775) commander in chief of the Continental forces.
He took command (July 3, 1775) at Cambridge, Mass., and found not an army but a force of unorganized, poorly disciplined, short-term enlisted militia, officered by men who were often insubordinate. He was faced with the problem of holding the British at Boston with a force that had to be trained in the field, and he was constantly hampered by congressional interference. Washington momentarily overcame these handicaps with the brilliant strategic move of occupying Dorchester Heights, forcing the British to evacuate Boston on Mar. 17, 1776.
Against his wishes the Continental Congress compelled him to attempt to defend New York City with a poorly equipped and untrained army against a large British land and sea force commanded by Sir William Howe. He was not yet experienced enough to conduct a large-scale action, and he committed a military blunder by sending part of his force to Brooklyn, where it was defeated (see Long Island, battle of) and surrounded. With the British fleet ready to close the only escape route, Washington saved his army with a masterly amphibious retreat across the East River back to Manhattan. Seeing that his position was completely untenable, he began a retreat northward into Westchester co., which was marked by delaying actions at Harlem Heights and White Plains and by the treacherous insubordination of Charles Lee. The retreat continued across the Hudson River through New Jersey into Pennsylvania, as Washington developed military skill through trial and error.
With colonial morale at its lowest ebb, he invaded New Jersey. On Christmas night, 1776, he crossed the Delaware, surrounded and defeated the British at Trenton, and pushed on to Princeton (Jan. 3, 1777), where he defeated a second British force. In 1777 he attempted to defend Philadelphia but was defeated at the battle of Brandywine (Sept. 11). His carefully planned counterattack at Germantown (Oct. 4, 1777) went awry, and with this second successive defeat certain discontented army officers and members of Congress tried to have Washington removed from command. Horatio Gates was advanced as a likely candidate to succeed him, but Washington's prompt action frustrated the so-called Conway Cabal.
After Germantown, Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge. Seldom in military history has any general faced such want and misery as Washington did in the winter of 1777-78. He proved equal to every problem, and in the spring he emerged with increased powers from Congress and a well-trained striking force, personally devoted to him. The attack (June 28, 1778) on the British retreating from Philadelphia to New York was vitiated by the actions of Charles Lee, but Washington's arrival on the field prevented a general American rout (see Monmouth, battle of). The fortunes of war soon shifted in favor of the colonial cause with the arrival (1780) of French military and naval forces, and victory finally came when General Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on Oct. 19, 1781. Washington made the American Revolution successful not only by his personal military triumphs but also by his skill in directing other operations.
At the war's end he was the most important man in the country. He retired from the army (at Annapolis, Md., Dec. 23, 1783), returned to Mt. Vernon, and in 1784 journeyed to the West to inspect his lands there. Dissatisfied with the weakness of the government (see Confederation, Articles of), he soon joined the movement intent on reorganizing it. In 1785 commissioners from Virginia and Maryland met at Mt. Vernon to settle a dispute concerning navigation on the Potomac. This meeting led to the Annapolis Convention (1786) and ultimately to the Constitutional Convention (1787). Washington presided over this last convention, and his influence in securing the adoption of the Constitution of the United States is incalculable.
After a new government was organized, Washington was unanimously chosen the first President and took office (Apr. 30, 1789) in New York City. He was anxious to establish the new national executive above partisanship, and he chose men from all factions for the administrative departments. Thomas Jefferson became Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton Secretary of the Treasury. His efforts to remain aloof from partisan struggles were not successful. He approved of Hamilton's nationalistic financial measures, and although he was by no means a tool in the hands of the Secretary of the Treasury, he consistently supported Hamilton's policies. In the Anglo-French war (1793) he decided against Jefferson, who favored fulfilling the 1778 military alliance with France, and he took measures against Edmond Charles Édouard Genet. Jefferson left the cabinet, and despite Washington's efforts to preserve a political truce the Republican party (later the Democratic party) and the Federalist party emerged.
Washington was unanimously reelected (1793), but his second administration was Federalist and was bitterly criticized by Jeffersonians, especially for Jay's Treaty with England. Washington was denounced by some as an aristocrat and an enemy of true democratic ideals. The Whiskey Rebellion and trouble with the Native Americans, British, and Spanish in the West offered serious problems. The crushing of the rebellion, the defeat of the Native Americans by Anthony Wayne at Fallen Timbers, and the treaty Thomas Pinckney negotiated with Spain settled some of these troubles. Foreign affairs remained gloomy, however, and Washington, weary with political life, refused to run for a third term. Washington's Farewell Address (Sept. 17, 1796), a monument of American oratory, contained the famous (and much misquoted) passage warning the United States against "permanent alliances" with foreign powers. Washington returned to Mt. Vernon, but when war with France seemed imminent (1798) he was offered command of the army. War, however, was averted. He died on Dec. 14, 1799, and was buried on his estate.
There are many portraits and statues of Washington, among them the familiar, idealized portraits by Gilbert Stuart; the statue by Jean Antoine Houdon, who also executed the famous portrait bust from a life mask; and paintings by Charles Willson Peale, John Trumbull, and John Singleton Copley. His figure also has bulked large in drama, poetry, fiction, and essays in American literature. The national capital is named for him; one state, several colleges and universities, and scores of counties, towns, and villages of the United States bear his name. Wakefield and Mt. Vernon are national shrines.
The Univ. of Virginia is preparing a new edition of the complete writings of Washington. Under the editorship of D. Jackson, W. W. Abbot, D. Twohig, and P. Chase, 43 volumes have been published (1976-). The long-standing edition of Washington's writings (39 vol., 1931-44) was edited by J. C. Fitzpatrick. His journals—that of his Barbados journey in 1751-52 (1892), that of his journey to the West (1905), and his diaries (ed. by J. C. Fitzpatrick, 4 vol., 1925)—were also edited separately. An old standard edition of his writings is that by W. C. Ford (14 vol., 1889-93), and S. Commins edited a one-volume selection, Basic Writings (1948). Other standard sources of his works are The Washington Papers (1955, repr. 1967), edited by S. K. Padover, and The George Washington Papers (1964), edited by F. Donovan. There have been innumerable editions of his Farewell Address and many separate editions of others of his works.
There have been a great many studies of phases and incidents of Washington's career and a continual stream of biographies; the definitive biography is by D. S. Freeman (7 vol., 1948-57; abr. ed. 1968); Volume VII was written after Freeman's death by J. A. Carroll and M. W. Ashworth of his staff. The biography (1940) begun by N. W. Stephenson and completed by W. H. Dunn is full and eminently useful; so is the four-volume biography by J. T. Flexner (1965-72). The early biography by "Parson" M. L. Weems is important chiefly because it contains many of the now-famous Washington legends, such as that of the cherry tree. Biographies of Washington by eminent men of another day include those by J. Marshall, J. Sparks, and W. Irving. Among the shorter biographies are those by P. L. Ford (1896, repr. 1971), W. Wilson (1896, repr. 1969), J. Corbin (1930, repr. 1972), L. M. Sears (1932), J. C. Fitzpatrick (1933, repr. 1970), N. Callahan (1972), R. Brookhiser (1996), J. M. Burns and S. Dunn (2004), J. J. Ellis (2004), and P. Johnson (2005).
See also W. C. Ford, Washington as Employer and Importer of Labour (1889, repr. 1971); G. A. Eisen, Portraits of Washington (3 vol., 1932); E. S. Whitely, Washington and His Aides-de-Camp (1936, repr. 1968); F. R. Bellamy, The Private Life of George Washington (1951); C. P. Nettels, George Washington and American Independence (1951); M. Cunliffe, George Washington: Man and Monument (1958); L. M. Sears, George Washington and the French Revolution (1960); B. Knollenberg, Washington and the Revolution (1940, repr. 1968) and George Washington, the Virginia Period, 1732-1775 (1964); T. N. Dupuy, The Military Life of George Washington (1969); F. MacDonald, The Presidency of George Washington (1974); E. S. Morgan, The Genius of George Washington (1980); G. Wills, Cincinnatus: George Washington and the Enlightenment (1984); J. E. Ferling, The First of Men (1988); G. Vidal, Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson (2003); H. Wiencek, An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America (2003); D. McCullough, 1776 (2005).
See studies by P. Clavel and W. Wiewel, ed. (1991), and G. Rivlin (1993).
See biographies by A. H. Wharton (1897, repr. 1967), A. C. Desmond (1942), and E. Thane (1960).
Area, 68,192 sq mi (176,617 sq km), including 1,483 sq mi (3,841 sq km) of inland water surface. Pop. (2000) 5,894,121, a 21.1% increase since the 1990 census. Capital, Olympia. Largest city, Seattle. Statehood, Nov. 11, 1889 (42d state). Highest pt., Mt. Rainier, 14,410 ft (4,395 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Evergreen State. Motto, Alki [By and By]. State bird, willow goldfinch. State flower, Western rhododendron. State tree, Western hemlock. Abbr., Wash., WA
The state comprises three major geographic zones. In the east, most of interior Washington is made up of the Columbia Plateau and the valleys of the Columbia River and its tributaries. Central Washington is dominated, and the state is divided, by the north-south Cascade Range. To the west of the Cascades lie coastal lowlands in the Puget Trough, Puget Sound and its many arms, and to their west the Coast Ranges, which in part form the backbone of the Olympic Peninsula.The Interior
Washington's interior is a region of hard volcanic substructure, in many places scoured by glacial and river action, that is left largely dry by the shield the Cascades form against the Pacific winds; in some areas, as in the southeastern Palouse hills, loess deposits provide a basis for irrigated agriculture. The Blue Mts., an offshoot of the Rockies in the state's southeast corner, are one of the interior's few forested sections. The Columbia River enters the state from British Columbia in the northeast. After receiving the Spokane River from the east, it turns westward across the state and swings south at the foot of the Cascades, enclosing the Big Bend country. Near Washington's southern border, it receives the Yakima (from the west) and Snake (from the east), then bends westward again, forming the boundary with Oregon as it cuts through the Cascades on its way to the sea.The Cascades
Washington's boldest physiographic feature is the lofty Cascade Range, rising to 14,410 ft (4,392 m) at Mt. Rainier. The Cascades block the eastward movement of warm ocean air from the Alaska Current, causing abundant rainfall to the west and semiarid conditions to the east. The valleys of the Wenatchee, Yakima, and other rivers flowing eastward from the mountains are important irrigated farming areas, while the Cascades themselves are the site of North Cascades and Mount Rainier national parks, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, several national forests, and noted ski resorts. Their scenery is a major tourist attraction. Mount St. Helens, on the west slope near the Oregon boundary, is the most recent (1980) Cascade peak to erupt.The West and the Pacific Coast
Washington's coastal region is one of the wettest areas in the United States, receiving up to 150 in. (381 cm) of rain per year at high elevations; it is correspondingly heavily forested, especially with spruce, fir, cedar, and hemlock. Between the Cascades and the much lower Coast Ranges to the west lies the Puget Trough, a lowland heavily indented by Puget Sound, the site of Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, and most of the state's population and industry. The Coast Ranges rise to 7,965 ft (2,428 m) at Mt. Olympus in the Olympic Mts., within Olympic National Park. Along the Pacific coast, in the southwest, they are breached by two substantial bays, Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. Puget Sound is filled with more than 300 islands, including the San Juan Archipelago and Whidbey Island; it is entered from the northwest through the Juan de Fuca Strait, from the north through the Strait of Georgia. Point Roberts, the northwesternmost portion of Washington on the latter strait, is the southern end of a peninsula that begins in Canada, and the area is not connected by land with the rest of the state.Places of Interest and Cities
Visitors are attracted to Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, Fort Vancouver and Whitman Mission national historic sites, and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (see National Parks and Monuments, table). Mt. Saint Helens, which erupted in 1980, is now a national monument. Miles of apple and cherry orchards in the irrigated area just east of the Cascades create the spring landscape for which the state is famous. The rugged mountain slopes and grandeur of the Cascades draw climbers during the summer months, and in winter excellent snowfields near Seattle and Tacoma attract skiers. Olympia is the capital; Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma are the largest cities.
Washington's water resources provide both irrigation and enormous hydroelectric power. The impact of the Columbia River on the life and economy of the state can scarcely be overestimated. In early days the river was a means of transport and a salmon-fishing field for many Native American tribes. Because of the steep drop from its origin to its mouth, the Columbia is one of the greatest sources of hydroelectric power in the world. Grand Coulee Dam—one of the world's largest concrete dams and greatest potential power-producing structures—and Bonneville Dam have been supplemented, on the river's upper course, by Chief Joseph and Rocky Reach dams (both completed 1961), Priest Rapids Dam (1962), and Wanapum Dam (1963), and, on its lower course, by The Dalles Dam (1957), John Day Dam (1968), and McNary Dam (1953), all shared with Oregon.
The dams on the Columbia's lower course were designed as power, flood-control, and navigation projects, whereas the dams on the upper course are integral to the Columbia basin project (with the Grand Coulee as the key unit), providing not only power and flood control but extensive irrigation to the Columbia Plateau. The Snake River in the east and the Yakima River in S central Washington also have important irrigation projects. Dams on the Skagit River (including Ross and Diablo, two of the world's highest) supply power to Seattle and the surrounding area.
Puget Sound is the heart of Washington's industrial and commercial development. It is navigable and has many beautiful bays, on which are situated such commercial and industrial cities as Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett. Seattle, an exporter and importer in trade with Asia and a gateway to Alaska (because of the protected Inland Passage), is a major U.S. city and a center for the manufacture of jet aircraft (as well as missiles and spacecraft) by the Boeing Corp. In recent years, computer software (Microsoft Corp. is near Seattle), electronics, and biotechnology have become increasingly important to the economy.
Washington's huge food processing industry is based on the state's diversified irrigated farming and dairying as well as on its abundant fishing resources. Salmon is the biggest catch, but halibut, bottomfish, oysters, and crabs are also significant.
Much of the land in E Washington is used for dry farming. Irrigation, however, has converted many of the river valleys east of the Cascades (especially the Yakima and Wenatchee) into garden areas. This region contains most of Washington's vineyards; from the 1980s the state has developed an important wine industry. Washington leads the country in the production of apples, sweet cherries, and pears and is a major wheat producer, chiefly in the hilly southeastern Palouse area. Washington is also a major producer of corn, onions, potatoes, apricots, grapes (including those made into wine), and other fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Cattle, dairy goods, sheep, and poultry are also economically important. Spokane is the commercial and transportation hub of the entire "Inland Empire" region between the Cascades and the Rockies, which extends into British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon.
Despite the vast semiarid expanse E of the Cascades, more than half of the state's area is forested, and the lumber and wood-products industry, so important in the early development of the state, remains one of its largest. Many of Washington's cities (among them Tacoma, Bellingham, Everett, and Anacortes) began as sawmill centers—Seattle itself was home to the original "Skid Road"—and lumber, pulp, paper, and related items are still among their major products.
Other important manufactures in the state are chemicals and primary metals, especially aluminum. Abundant water power and the rich aluminum and magnesium ores found in the Okanogan Highlands in the northeast part of the state have made Washington the nation's leading aluminum producer. Washington's chief minerals are sand and gravel, cement, stone, and diatomite. Gold, lead, and zinc are also found in the Okanogan Highlands. Tourism is an increasingly important industry.
Washington still operates under its first constitution, adopted in 1889. Its executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. The legislature has a senate with 49 members and a house of representatives with 98 members. The state sends 2 senators and 9 representatives to the U.S. Congress and has 11 electoral votes. Democrat Mike Lowry, elected governor in 1992, was succeeded by another Democrat, Gary Locke, elected in 1996 and reelected in 2000. Christine O. Gregoire, a Democrat, was narrowly elected to the office in 2004 after a hand recount. She had trailed after the first two vote counts, and the final count was challenged in court. Gregoire was reelected in 2008.
Among the state's institutions of higher learning are Central Washington Univ., at Ellensburg; Eastern Washington Univ., at Cheney; Evergreen State College, at Olympia; Gonzaga Univ., at Spokane; Pacific Lutheran Univ. and the Univ. of Puget Sound, at Tacoma; Seattle Univ. and the Univ. of Washington, at Seattle; Washington State Univ., at Pullman; Western Washington Univ., at Bellingham; and Whitman College, at Walla Walla.
Washington's early history is shared with that of the whole Oregon Territory. The perennial search for the Northwest Passage aroused initial interest in the area. Of the early explorers along the Pacific coast, Spanish expeditions under Juan Pérez (1774) and Bruno Heceta (1775) are the first known to have definitely skirted the coast of what is now Washington. Capt. James Cook's English expedition (1778) first opened up the area to the maritime fur trade with China, and British fur companies were soon exploring the West and encountering Russians pushing southward from posts in Alaska. In 1787, Charles William Barkley found the inland channel, which the following year John Meares named the Juan de Fuca Strait (after the sailor who is alleged to have discovered it). In 1792, the British explorer George Vancouver and the American fur trader Robert Gray crossed paths along the Washington coast. Vancouver sailed into Puget Sound and mapped the area; Gray, convinced of the existence of a great river that the other explorers rejected, found the entrance, crossed the dangerous bar, and sailed up the Columbia, establishing U.S. claims to the areas that it drained.Early Settlement and Boundary Disputes
The Lewis and Clark expedition, which reached the area in 1805, and the establishment of John Jacob Astor's settlement, Astoria, both helped to further the American claim; but in 1807 the Canadian trader David Thompson traveled the length of the Columbia, mapping the region and establishing British counterclaims. After Astoria was sold to the North West Company in the War of 1812, British interests appeared paramount, although in 1818 a treaty provided for 10 years (later extended) of joint rights for the United States and Great Britain in the Columbia River country. The Hudson's Bay Company absorbed the North West Company in 1821 and, under the patriarchal guidance of Dr. John McLoughlin, dominated the region until challenged by the Americans in the 1840s.
Fort Vancouver, on the site of present-day Vancouver, sheltered American overland traders—particularly Jedediah Smith, Benjamin Bonneville, and Nathaniel Wyeth—and later the American missionaries, who were the first real settlers in the area north of the Columbia. Marcus Whitman established (1836) a mission at Waiilatpu (near present-day Walla Walla), which for a decade not only served Native Americans as a medical and religious center but also provided an indispensable rest stop for immigrants on the Oregon Trail. Meanwhile the British, although despairing of control over the area S of the Columbia, were still determined to retain the region to the north; the Americans, on the other hand, demanded the ouster of the British from the whole of the Columbia River country up to a lat. of 54°40'N. "Fifty-four forty or fight" became a slogan in the 1844 election campaign, and for a time war with Britain threatened. However, diplomacy prevailed, and in 1846 the boundary was set at lat. 49°N.Native American Resistance and Territorial Status
Peace with the British did not, however, preclude Native American conflict. Partly as a protective measure, the Oregon Territory, embracing the Washington area, was created the following year; but in 1853 the region was divided, and Washington Territory (containing a part of what is now Idaho) was set up, with Isaac Stevens as the first governor. (The Idaho section was cut away when Idaho Territory was formed in 1863.) Meanwhile, some of the pioneers on the oregon trail began to turn northward, and a small settlement sprang up at New Market, or Tumwater (near present-day Olympia).
After word of the needs of California gold-seekers for lumber and food spread northward, settlers recognized the commercial potential of the Puget Sound country and poured into the area in ever-increasing numbers. Lumber and fishing industries arose to satisfy the demand to the south, and new towns, including Seattle, were founded. Meanwhile Stevens, who also served as superintendent of Indian affairs, set about persuading the Native Americans to sell much of their lands and settle on reservations. Treaties with the coast tribes were quickly concluded, but the inland tribes revolted, and hostilities with the Cayuse, the Yakima, and the Nez Percé tribes continued for many years. Over the years, Native Americans remained a small but significant presence in the state; in the early 1990s their population was over 81,000.Gold, Immigration, and Statehood
Gold was first discovered in Washington in 1852 by a Hudson's Bay Company agent at Fort Colville, but the Yakima War was then in progress and it hindered extensive mining activity. In 1860 the Orofino Creek and Clearwater River deposits were uncovered, bringing a rush of prospectors to the Walla Walla area. The major influx of settlers was delayed, however, until the 1880s, when transport by rail became possible (the first of three transcontinental railroads linked to Washington was completed in 1883).
The population almost quadrupled between 1880 and 1890; although the majority of the new settlers were from the East and Midwest, the territory also absorbed large numbers of foreign immigrants. Chinese laborers had been brought in during the 1860s to aid in placer mining; after 1870 they were followed by substantial groups of Germans, Scandinavians, Russians, Dutch, and Japanese immigrants. By the time Washington became a state in 1889, the wide sagebrush plains of E Washington had been given over to cattle and sheep, agriculture was flourishing in the fertile valleys, and the lumber industry had been founded.
Although some agrarian and labor dissatisfaction with the railroads and other big corporations existed, giving rise to the Granger movement and the Populist party, the discovery of gold in Alaska in 1897 brought renewed prosperity. Seattle, the primary departure point for the Klondike, became a boomtown. Labor and election reform laws were enacted, and the primary, the initiative, the referendum, and the recall were adopted.The Early Twentieth Century
The turn of the century brought labor clashes that gave Washington a reputation as a radical state. The extreme policies of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW; also known as the "Wobblies") proved appealing to the shipyard and dock workers and to the loggers, and in 1917 the U.S. War Dept. was forced to intervene in a lumber industry dispute. A general strike following World War I had a crippling effect on the state's economy; antilabor feeling increased, and the famous incident at Centralia resulted in bloody strife between the IWW and the American Legion. The alarmed and brutal reaction of management to radical labor policies produced a confrontational atmosphere that hindered the mediation until the onset of the lean days of the 1930s and the emergence of the New Deal.
Washington was an important center of the defense industry during World War II, particularly with the immense aircraft industry in Seattle and the Manhattan Project's Hanford Works at Richland. (Decades later it was discovered that the Hanford facility had leaked large amounts of hazardous radioactive waste in the 1940s and 50s.) During the war, the large Japanese-American population in the state (more than 15,000 persons) was moved eastward to camps, where they suffered great physical and emotional hardship.Postwar Change and New Industry
In the postwar period military spending continued to pour into such facilities as the Hanford nuclear reservation and the Bremerton naval shipyard, as well as into Boeing's bomber production. At the same time, trade with Asia boomed. Since the 1970s, Washington has attracted a large number of firms moving from California to a more favorable business climate. These include computer software manufacturers and other high-technology companies. The increased economic diversification and stepped-up activity in high-tech industries have cushioned the impact of job losses in the 1990s from post-cold war cutbacks, especially in aerospace orders for Boeing. At the same time, industrial and residential growth has brought the state face to face with environmental issues, among them the effects of continued massive logging and the impact of dams on fish populations.
See E. I. Stewart, Washington: Northwest Frontier (4 vol., 1957); M. W. Avery, Washington: A History of the Evergreen State (1965); P. L. Beckett, From Wilderness to Enabling Act (1968); J. Olson and G. Olson, Washington Times and Trails (1970); J. A. Alwin, Between the Mountains: A Portrait of Eastern Washington (1984); C. J. Manson, Theses on Washington Geology, 1901-1985 (1986); J. W. Scott and R. L. DeLorme, Historical Atlas of Washington (1988).
2 City, SW Ohio: see Washington Court House, Ohio.
3 City (1990 pop. 15,864), seat of Washington co., SW Pa., in a bituminous coal region; settled 1769, laid out 1781, inc. as a city 1924. There is agriculture, coal mining, limestone quarrying, tool and die making, and the manufacture of metal, paper, and plastic products, valves, machinery, iron molds for the glass industry, and wire and cable. The David Bradford House, erected in 1788, was a meeting place in the Whiskey Rebellion (1794). Le Moyne House (1812) was the home of Dr. Francis Le Moyne, an abolitionist leader. Washington and Jefferson College (1781; oldest college W of the Alleghenies) is there.
Washington has long been a gateway for African Americans emigrating from the South, and since the 1960s has had a (now diminishing) black majority. Many citizens live in poverty, and social problems have been exacerbated by the transient nature of the governmental workforce and the District's lack of political power.
Transportation facilities include a subway system that connects the city with many suburbs. The main rail and air hubs are Union Station and Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International airports (both in Virginia). Nearby military installations include Fort McNair, Fort Myer, Andrews Air Force Base, and Bolling Air Force Base.
The city spreads out over 69 sq mi (179 sq km), including 8 sq mi (20.7 sq km) of water surface, with tree-shaded thoroughfares and many open vistas. Numerous impressive government buildings near the city's center are built of white or gray stone in the classical style, and there are many fine homes. Among other attractive buildings are the embassies and legations of many foreign countries, many of them lining "Embassy Row" on Massachusetts Ave. The larger of the city's fine parks are West Potomac Park, which extends S from the Lincoln Memorial and includes the Tidal Basin, flanked by the famous Japanese cherry trees; East Potomac Park, an area of reclaimed land jutting S from the Jefferson Memorial; Rock Creek Park, with almost 1,800 acres (728 hectares) of natural woodlands and extensive recreation facilities, and the adjoining National Zoological Park; and Anacostia Park, adjacent to the National Arboretum.
Besides the Capitol and the White House, other important government buildings and places of historic interest include the Senate and House of Representatives office buildings, the Supreme Court Building, the Pentagon (in Virginia), the Federal Bureau of Investigation building, the Library of Congress, the National Archives Building, Constitution Hall, the Ronald Reagan Building, the Watergate apartment complex, the State Department ("Foggy Bottom"), and the headquarters of the World Bank. Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was shot, has been restored. In 1974 the Admiral's House at the U.S. Naval Observatory became the official residence of the vice president. Of historic interest is Fort Washington (built 1809, destroyed 1814, rebuilt by 1824).
Best known of the city's many statues and monuments are the Washington Monument, at the western end of the long grass-covered National Mall; the Lincoln Memorial, with its reflecting pool; the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the Korean War Veterans Memorial; the World War II Memorial; and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, overlooking the Tidal Basin. Among Washington's famous churches are Washington National Cathedral (Episcopal), which was completed in 1990; and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States. The city also contains Nationals Park, the home to major-league baseball's Nationals, and the Capitals (hockey) and Wizards (basketball) play in the Verizon Center. The Washington Redskins play in nearby Landover, Md.
The Arlington Memorial Bridge across the Potomac connects the capital with Arlington National Cemetery. Also in Arlington is the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, one of the largest statues ever cast in bronze, and the U.S. Air Force Memorial. In the Potomac itself lies Theodore Roosevelt Island, thickly wooded and with many foot trails.
The city's many institutions of higher education include American Univ., the National Defense College, the Catholic Univ. of America, Georgetown Univ., George Washington Univ., Howard Univ., and the Univ. of the District of Columbia. Among many cultural attractions are the National Gallery of Art, the Freer Gallery of Art, and the other centers under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; the Corcoran Gallery of Art; the Phillips Collection; the Folger Shakespeare Library; and the Newseum. Major visitor draws on the Mall include the National Air and Space Museum, the Holocaust Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian.
The U.S. Naval Observatory, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the Smithsonian Institution, the Brookings Institution, the National Institutes of Health, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington are among the institutions dedicated to scientific research and education. Also in Washington are Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the Army Medical School and Walter Reed Army Hospital, and the U.S. Soldiers Home (1851). Nearby are the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Md.) and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture research center (Beltsville, Md.)
The present system of government (in operation since 1975) provides for an elected mayor and city council but reserves for Congress veto power over the budget and legislation and direct control over an enclave containing most of the federal buildings and monuments.
The Twenty-third Amendment (1961) to the Constitution gave inhabitants the right to vote in presidential elections; the District of Columbia was accorded three electoral votes, the minimum number. In 1970 legislation authorized election of a nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives. There have been several unsuccessful attempts by the District of Columbia to gain statehood and achieve full representation in Congress.
With the city facing insolvency in 1995, Congress created a financial control board with a mandate to supervise municipal finances. Granted virtual authority over the city, the board concentrated on reducing the municipal workforce, paring services and programs, stimulating the economy, retaining a middle-class presence, and transferring prison and other costly operations to the federal government; it continued its oversight until the District had four successive balanced budgets (2001).
In 1790 the rivalry of Northern and Southern states for the capital's location ended when Jefferson's followers supported Hamilton's program for federal assumption of state debts in return for an agreement to situate the national capital on the banks of the Potomac River. George Washington selected the exact spot. The "Federal City" was designed by Pierre L'Enfant and laid out by Andrew Ellicott. Construction began on the White House in 1792 and on the Capitol the following year.
John Adams was the first president to occupy the White House. Congress held its first session in Washington in 1800, and Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in the new capital. In the War of 1812 the British sacked (1814) Washington, burning most of the public buildings, including the Capitol and the White House.
The city grew slowly. Even after 1850 it was still "a sea of mud," and not until the 20th cent. did it cease to be an unkempt rural city and assume its present urban aspect. Though strongly manned during the Civil War, it was several times threatened by the Confederates, notably by Gen. Jubal A. Early in 1864. In 1871, Washington lost its charter as a city and a territorial government was inaugurated to govern the entire District of Columbia. Congress took direct control of the District's government in 1874, providing for a mayor appointed by the President and a commission chosen by Congress; the residents were disfranchised. After 1901, Washington was developed on the basis of the resurrected L'Enfant plan—a gridiron arrangement of streets cut by diagonal avenues radiating from the Capitol and White House, with an elaborate system of parks.
Through the years the city has been a focus for national political activity. In 1932 Bonus Marchers lived in its parks until they were evicted by the army. In the 1960s and early 70s hundreds of thousands demonstrated for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam, and massive rallies have become a recurrent part of Washington life.
Washington's population has declined steadily since the 1950s; much of the outmigration has been to affluent suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. In Apr., 1968, the assassination in Memphis, Tenn., of Martin Luther King, Jr., touched off riots in Washington, and population loss accelerated. The long mayoralties (1980-91, 1995-98) of Marion Barry were fraught with corruption and controversy, which retarded attempts by the city and by federal authorities to resolve economic and social issues. The Washington metropolitan area was shaken in Sept., 2001, by a terrorist attack on the Pentagon and reports that the White House had been among the terrorists' possible targets.
See C. M. Green, Washington: A History of the Capital (1976) and Washington: Capital City, 1879-1950 (1976); S. Smith, Captive Capital (1974): D. Duncan, Washington: The First One Hundred Years, 1889-1989 (1989); J. W. Reps, Washington on View: The Nation's Capital since 1790 (1991).