The Arlington Historical Society and Marymount University’s Department of History and Politics will host author John P. Richardson as he discusses his new book “Alexander Robey Shepherd: The Man Who Built the Nation’s Capital.” This is the first full length biography written about DC’s public works czar (1871-1874) who built the infrastructure of the nation’s capital after the Civil War. The event will be held in Marymount University’s Reinsch Library Auditorium at 7:00.
An intrepid businessman, Shepherd became president of Washington’s lower house of delegates at twenty-seven. Garrulous and politically astute, he used every lever to persuade Congress to realize Peter L’Enfant’s vision for the capital. His tenure produced paved and graded streets, sewer systems, trees, and gaslights, and transformed the fetid Washington Canal into one of the city’s most stately avenues. In Washington, Shepherd worked at the confluence of race, party, region, and urban development, in a microcosm of the United States. Determined to succeed at all costs, he helped force Congress to accept its responsibility for maintenance of its stepchild, the nation’s capital city. How did this man convince Congress to invest in the capital city and install both infrastructure basics and beautification? Richardson will discuss this and if there is a lesson for today in Shepherd’s legacy?
John P. Richardson divided a 45-year career between the non-profit world and the US government, focusing on the Palestine problem and the Muslim World. A graduate of Williams College with an M.A. from George Washington University, he was President of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and the Center for Middle East Policy. Later, as an officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, he served in Pakistan, Jordan, and Indonesia before retiring in 2005. Mr. Richardson is Secretary of the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of Washington, D.C. (AOI) and a director of ANERA. He is a past President of the Arlington Historical Society, and is a member of the Arlington Historical Society, the Historical Society of Washington, and the Cosmos Club. He is married and lives in Arlington.
This program is free and open to the public. It is part of a monthly series of public programs sponsored by the Arlington Historical Society. For more information, please go to the Arlington Historical Society website at www.arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org