- About Us
- Tours and Events
- Cemetery Map
- Interment Index
- Archive Finding Aid
Newspaper Clips (1920-1929)
The Evening Star, February 13, 1929
Old Burial Place Protection Asked
House Bill Introduced Affecting Congressional Cemetery Section
Provision for care and preservation of certain land and monuments in the old Washington parish burial ground, now the Congressional Cemetery, in which are buried some of the persons who took a conspicuous part in the early history of this Nation, is proposed in a bill favorably reported from the House committee on military affairs today by Representative Glynn of Connecticut.
The report points out that among the many distinguished men buried there are George Clinton, vice president of the United States and friend of George Washington; Tobias Lear, the faithful private secretary to George Washington; Gen. James Jackson, a distinguished Georgian; William [Philip] Pendleton Barbour, associate Justice of the United States; William Wirt, Attorney General of the United States, and Abel T. Upshur, a former Secretary of State and Secretary of the Navy.
The bodies of nearly 100 soldiers and seamen of the Revolutionary period, the war of 1812 and few Northern and Southern soldiers of the Civil War are also interred in this cemetery.
The particular part of the Washington Parish burial ground was deeded to the Government as a burial place for Government officials and it is within a mile of the Capital on the Anacostia River. It is an isolated part of the cemetery and for 50 years has been allowed to go to decay.
The Washington Parish burial ground itself is under the direction and care of an Episcopal Parish, but this section of the cemetery has been left uncared for all these years, the report emphasizes.
The Washington Herald, February 17, 1929
Cenotaphs, 'Adding Terror to Death,' Adorn Cemetery
A short distance southwest of the District jail and asylum lies the "Congressional Cemetery," comprising a tract of about 30 acres. Officially it is known as "The Washington Parish Burial Ground."
This cemetery was chosen in 1807 by Congress as the place of interment for Senators, Representatives and executive officers who died in office. Until about 1885 this practice was followed. Gradually as transportation facilities improved, members of the deceased's family began to favor home burial. By 1855 interment for nonresidents of thee District had practically ceased.
Meanwhile, the custom had grown of erecting a cenotaph there in memory of each member of Congress who died in office, though he was buried elsewhere.
These official monuments, unusual in their ugliness, are of sandstone and consist of a six-foot square base, surmounted by a pyramidal top reaching to a height of about five feet. Stonecutters frequently were careless and misspelled words and missing dates are numerous.
Who selected this form of monument is not known, but in 1877 and act was passed that abolished these tombs, as "it adds new terrors to death."
Interments there include 19 Senators, 74 Representatives and 25 others. Among the latter are General Rawlins, Secretary of War under Grant and Abel P. Upshur, Secretary of State under Tyler.
Among those buried there are George Hadfield and William Ellicot, architects of the Capitol. A few feet south lies William Thornton original designer of the building.
Three ex-mayors of the city are interred there, Joseph Lovell, John W. Maury and John T. Towers. Among those whose remains rested there temporarily were President Taylor, John C. Calhoun and Mrs. Dolly Madison.
The Washington Times, March 14, 1929
Washington in Pictures
No. 430 -- Tobias Lear Tomb
Much of the material for the written versions of the death of Washington have been spun from the narrative of that event written by Tobias Lear, private secretary to the Father of His Country at the time of the latter's death.
Lear lies in an out-of-the way corner of Congressional Cemetery, where he was buried in 1816.
His life history is summed up in the inscription on his tomb, which reads:
"Here lie the remains of Tobias Lear. He was early distinguished as the private secretary and familiar friend of the illustrious George Washington; after having served his country with dignity, zeal and fidelity, in many honorable stations, died accountant of the War Department, October 11, 1816, aged fifty-four.
Lear was a New Englander and went to Mount Vernon to tutor the Custis children and later became Washington's private secretary. He was present at the death of Washington and wrote an account of it.
©2013 Historic Congressional Cemetery