The Army of the Potomac Paraded Down Pennsylvania Avenue
May 23, 1865
If the streets in your town could talk, would
they have any interesting stories to tell? You can imagine that
stories of Pennsylvania Avenue, the street that connects the
White House to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., would be
fascinating--so much has happened there! On May 23, 1865, the
Army of the Potomac celebrated the end of the Civil War by
parading down Pennsylvania Avenue. Only weeks before, mourners
watched Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession pass by along the
same thoroughfare. Many of the buildings were still dressed in
black crepe as the Infantry Unit came marching up the avenue.
Pennsylvania Avenue, America's "Main Street," was one of
the earliest streets constructed in the federal city. Both
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson considered the avenue an
important feature of the new capital city. At first, this "Grand
Avenue" was just a dirt road that Jefferson had planted with
rows of fast-growing poplar trees. That stretch of the avenue
between the White House and the Capitol has served the country
well as a ceremonial heart of the nation. What other things have
happened on Pennsylvania Avenue?
Each U.S. president
since Jefferson has paraded up Pennsylvania Avenue after taking
the oath of office. The funeral processions of the seven
presidents that died in office followed this historic route. But
the avenue is not just the setting for official events. People
who are not famous have paraded and protested down that road.
Jacob Coxey led 500 supporters down Pennsylvania Avenue to
demand federal aid for the unemployed in the 1890s. Alice Paul
marched with the suffragists in 1913. And there was much more.
Ask your family what parades, protests, and events they know of
that were held on Pennsylvania Avenue.