Georgetown Walking Tour Part 2

The house on 3014 N Street, N.W. belonged to a few influential and famous people at different times. The center part of the house was built in 1790 by John Laid, an affluent tobacco merchant. His daughter, Barbara, who inherited the house, was married to Judge James Dunlop. He had a successful career as a judge of the Criminal Court, as a judge of the Circuit Court in D.C. and as a Chief Judge of the Circuit Court. He was also a confederate sympathizer and President Lincoln didn’t like that. But the Congress didn’t have any reason to fire judge Dunlop. Instead, they eliminated the D.C. Circuit in 1863 and the judge lost his position. He continued his private practice in Georgetown.

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In 1912 Todd Lincoln (1843-1926), the only son of President Lincoln, who survived to adulthood, bought this house. Todd Lincoln studied law at Harvard University, but he didn’t graduate. Instead, he joined the Union Army in 1865 and served as a captain on General Ulysses Grant staff. He came to Washington D. C. for a short visit in April. His parents invited him to the Ford Theater performance, but he declined, because he was too tired. He decided to stay at home and have a good night sleep. He was woken up and told that his father was shot. He rushed to the house in front of the Ford Theater, where mortally wounded Abraham Lincoln was taken. He was the only one who stayed beside his father until his death in the morning of April 14, 1865.

Todd Lincoln

Todd Lincoln graduated from the University of Chicago and was admitted to the bar in 1867. He married Mary Eunice Harlan, the daughter of Senator Harland, and they had three children. Todd Lincoln served as the U.S. Secretary of War under President James Garfield from 1884 to 1885. He was a co-founder of the Glenwood School for Boys and Girls for abandoned children in Illinois. He also served as the U.S. ambassador in the U.K. under President Benjamin Harrison from 1889 to 1893. Later he started his private practice as a lawyer. He became the President and the Chairman of the Board of the Pullman Palace Car Company and worked there until his retirement in 1922. As a result, he got the nickname “the Prince of Rails.”

By fatal coincidence he was present at the train station in Washington D.C. on President Garfield invitation, when President Garfield was shot in 1881.

In 1901 he was invited by President McKinley to the Pan-American exposition, where President McKinley was shot. McKinley died nine days later of gangrene, because a doctor could not locate and extract the second bullet from his abdomen.

Todd Lincoln was shocked and let everybody know that he would never accept invitations from any U.S. President, as he was present at three assassinations. He withdrew from public life and continued to work as a lawyer at his private practice. His office was located on the first floor of the house on 3014 N Street, next to the left entrance.

Ben Bradlee (1921-2014) was another prominent resident who lived in this house and had a very eventful life.  He bought the house in 1983.  His actions had a significant impact on the history of post-war Europe and politics in the U.S.  Here are some facts from his biography.

ben bradlee

His parents were direct descendants of royal families in Europe. His father traced his lineage from Henry VII of England and his mother from Heinrich XXIX, from Maximillian I, the Holly Roman Emperor, from King John of Denmark, and from Casimir IV of Poland.

Ben Bradlee attended Harvard College and later joined the Naval Reserve Officers training Corps. In 1942 he joined the Office of Naval Intelligence. He worked with classified and coded cables on the destroyer USS Philip in the Pacific. He fought in many battles including the battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, in the Borneo Campaign and in the Solomon Islands Campaign.

After the war he started working as a reporter and in 1948 began to work for the Washington Post. In 1951 Bradlee took the position of press attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where he worked at the Office of the U.S. Information and Education Exchange (USIE). The Office produced magazines, films, and speeches which were used by the CIA to influence public opinion. The USIE managed the Voice of America and spread propaganda about the trial and conviction of two American citizens, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted and executed for giving away nuclear weapon design to the Soviet Union in 1953.

In 1957 Bradlee interviewed two Algerian partisans, who fought with the National Liberation Front for independence against the French Government. After the interview was published Bradlee was ordered to leave France.

Upon return to the U.S. Ben Bradlee settled in Georgetown and befriended John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), who lived nearby. They had a lot in common because JFK was also a Navy officer during WWII. He was a commander of a number of PT boats including PT-109.  While patrolling the waters around the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, in August 1943, PT-109 was cut in half by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. Two of JFK’s crew members perished, but ten others managed to swim three miles to a nearby island.

Kennedy was a good swimmer, but a few members of his crew were not. One of them, Patrick McMahon, was badly injured and Kennedy pulled him all the way by the strap of the life jacket clenched between his teeth. To avoid Japanese soldiers and to search for fresh water and food, JFK and his crew members swam to another island.  JFK again pulled McMahon to the other island.  After one week of surviving, with the help of two local islanders and the relentless efforts, courage and leadership of JFK, they were rescued by two American PT boats.

 

Bradlee worked as a reporter for the Washington Post and became a senior editor in 1961. Later he was promoted to managing editor and then to the executive editor in 1968. Under his leadership the Washington Post confronted the U.S. Government and obtained rights to publish the Pentagon Papers about the military involvement of the Department of Defense in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. He also backed the investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who wrote about the Watergate Scandal. They investigated a break into the DNC office and the CIA involvement in this matter. The result was the resignation of President Nixon. Bradlee was one of four people, who knew the identity of Deep Throat, an informer, who had a crucial role in the investigation. In fact, he was Nixon’s FBI director Mark Felt.

Ben Bradlee, Woodward, and Bernstein

In 1978 Bradlee married his fellow journalist Sally Quinn. It was his third marriage. He retired from the Post in 1991.

Bradlee won the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism in 1998. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor Award in 2007 in Paris and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2013.

During his life he wrote two books: “Conversations with Kennedy” published in 1984 and “A Good Life: Newspapering and Other adventures” published in 1995.

He was portrayed in movies: “All the President’s Men,” “Dick,” “Chances Are,” “Jackie,” and “The Post.”

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The house on 3017 N Street N.W. is across the road from the house owned by Ben Bradlee. It belonged to Jackie Kennedy, who lived there for a few months. She bought it after her husband’s assassination with the intention of making it her permanent home, after moving out of the White House. But the attention of noisy and curious tourists made her life unbearable. Tour buses and cars constantly parked in front of her house and people were waiting for her and her children outside for hours. In September 1964, nine months after moving into the house, she fled to New York, where she had more privacy.

To be continued.

Resources used: Georgetown Notable Homes/Blds

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc/sets/72157594236684793

2 comments

  1. I work in DC and Georgetown is one of my favorite places in the city, but I don’t know nearly as much of the history as I should. Like, I didn’t know anything you talked about in this post! I know lots of famous people have and do live in Georgetown, but I didn’t know which house was Jackie’s, or that Ben Bradlee lived in Todd Lincoln’s house. There are so many stories like this in DC that most people don’t know about! Loved this, learn something new everyday haha

    Liked by 1 person

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