The Imperial Season: America's Capital in the Time of the First Ambassadors, 1893-1918
This story of the young city of Washington coming up in the international scene is populated with presidents, foreign diplomats, civil servants, architects, artists, and influential hosts and hostesses who were enamored of the idea of world power but had little idea of the responsibilities involved.
Between the Spanish American War and World War I, the thrill of America's new international role held the nation's capital in rapture. Visionaries gravitated to Washington and sought to make it the glorious equal to the great European capitals of the day. Remains of the period still define Washington--the monuments and great civic buildings on the Mall as well as the private mansions built on the avenues that now serve as embassies.
The first surge of America's world power led to profound changes in diplomacy, and a vibrant official life in Washington, DC, naturally followed. In the twenty-five year period that William Seale terms the "imperial season," a host of characters molded the city in the image of a great world capital. Some of the characters are well known, from presidents to John Hay and Uncle Joe Cannon, and some relatively unknown, from diplomat Alvey Adee to hostess Minnie Townsend and feminist Inez Milholland. The Imperial Season is a unique social history that defines a little explored period of American history that left an indelible mark on our nation's capital.
ISBN 10: 158834391X
ISBN 13: 9781588343918
William Seale is a historian and the author of The White House: History of an American Idea and of several other books on state capitols, courthouses, and historic restoration. Editor of White House History, the journal of the White House Historical Association, he lives in Texas and Washington, D.C.
In "The Imperial Season: America's Capital in the Time of the First Ambassadors, 1893-1918," William Seale takes us on an urban safari into Washington's first gilded age, from the 1890s to World War I, when "world power, if yet untested, presented a wholly new context for the United States," turning the poky, dusty city into an aspiring rival to the capitals of Europe. Mr. Seale's wise and witty exploration of an earlier era's intersection of power and pretension comes at an apt time, as surging wealth, breakneck gentrification and cultural renascence are today once again transforming the nation's capital.
—Wall Street Journal
A well-polished, lustrous piece of American history.