John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

The Pope Stone Incident

The Pope Stone Incident exploded in the summer of 1862. In the late 1840s, the Washington National Monument Society, a private civic-minded organization, was raising funds to build the nation’s first monument to George Washington.

The group was successful and by 1862, the base of the Washington Monument had been completed by mostly Irish laborers with imported Italian Marble, much to the annoyance of local Maryland quarry owners who felt that the Monument should have been constructed in Maryland marble. (The monument is made of not only marble but also granite, and sandstone)

 The Architect was Robert Mills who also designed the Department of Treasury building and several other federal buildings in D. C. including the U.S. Patent Office Building. Mills died in 1855 and was buried at the Congressional Cemetery.

 It so happened that at certain sections of the Monuments interior inscripted stones from various heads of state were to dot the walls, including one stone sent by the Pope,  Pius IX.  Pius had gone to Rome as a very young man to become a pontifical guard, however, epilepsy kept him out of the legendary Swiss Guard. It was Pius who convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal infallibility in church matters.  He also defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, meaning that Mary was conceived without original sin and that she lived a life completely free of sin.

 The Pope had been invited by the US government to contribute the memorial stone. He sent a black marble block measuring approximately three feet long, 18 inches high, and 10 inches deep, that had been taken from the ruins of the ancient Temple of Concord the western side of the Roman Forum., and had it inscribed “Rome to America”. The stone arrived in DC in October of 1853.

 At that time, anti-Catholic-anti Irish  sentiment in the US was enormous  and soon a rumor spread, not only across the city, but across the country, that the monument was not to be in honor of the Americas first President, but instead, it was to be dedicated to Pope in Rome, as a symbol to the nation’s growing Irish- Catholic population. There was even a bestselling pamphlet by John F. Weishampel entitled Rome to America: the Pope’s Stratagem! An address to the Protestants of the United States against placing the Pope’s block of marble in the Washington Monument.

 On the night March 5, 1854, members of the Know Nothing party (Reports ranged from five or six thugs to as many as 750) attacked the work site, overpowered it guards and set about destroying monument as best they could. (At the time it stood only 153 feet in the air)  The so-called Pope’s stone, together with monumental blocks from other countries, was stored in a shed. Upon finding the offending stone, they flung it into the nearby Potomac River. (The rover had not yet been redirected and was only several yards away from the monument)  That Stone has never been found.

Appalled at the attack, the Washington National Monument Society appealed to Congress for assistance in completing the monument and Maryland Representative Henry May (May was born in DC and graduated from the Colombian College, which is now GW University) had all but arranged a federal appropriation of $200,000.

The following year, in 1863, the Know Nothings took control of the committee set up to complete the Washington Monument. Under Know Nothing Control, work on the monument came to a virtual standstill.  At the end of the civil war, the monument was completed, this time with Maryland Marble. The difference in the stones can be seen today about midway up the Statue.

The capstone was set on December 6, 1884, and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. (A day before Washington’s Birthday) It officially opened October 9, 1888.

 Upon completion, it became the world's tallest structure, a title previously held by the Cologne Cathedral. The monument held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France. It remains the world's tallest stone structure, the world's tallest obelisk and the tallest building in Washington, D.C (There is a popular misconception that the law specifically states that no building may be taller than the Washington Monument, but in fact, the law makes no mention of it)

Among those who spoke before the crowd of 800 was Ohio Senator John Sherman, (Brother of William Tecumseh Sherman who led the military procession that day, it was John Sherman who wrote the Sherman anti-trust act) William Wilson Corcoran of DC, (Of the Corcoran gallery of Art fame) Thomas Lincoln Casey of the Army Corps of Engineers. Casey headed the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds for the then federally run District of Columbia.  He built the State, War, and Navy Department Building (now the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) and completed the Washington Monument. He also worked on the Library of Congress building, which was nearly completed when he died suddenly on March 25, 1896.

 President Chester Arthur was also present and Representative John Davis Long read a speech given 37 years before at the laying of the monuments cornerstone. The final speech given Virginia Governor John Warwick Daniel, a lawyer, author, and politician from Lynchburg. A major in the Confederate Army, Daniel was an important staff officer for Major General Jubal A. Early in several campaigns, including Gettysburg. He was permanently disabled in the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864

Despite being unable to walk as a result of his war wounds, Daniel’s enter law school and was admitted to the bar in 1866. He established his practice at Lynchburg and then entered politics.  It was Daniel who planned the Virginia Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

The Corcoran, Himself

William Wilson Corcoran (December 27, 1798 – February 24, 1888) was a banker, philanthropist, and art collector who gave Washington its first art museum, the Renwick.

The Renwick

 The Gallery was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. (1818–1895), who had earlier designed the Smithsonian's Castle and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The Renwick was completed 1861 but in August of that year, the Quarter Master General’s Corps for the Union Army occupied the building to store records and uniforms, and eventually set up offices for the duration of the Civil War.

Corcoran (Corcoran street between Q street and R street NW on DuPont is named after him, it’s a block away from Riggs Street, which was named after his business partner) was an interesting man. He amassed a fortune by financing the Mexican War for the U.S. government through the sale of millions of dollars of government bonds.

He retired from the banking business in 1854 with a fortune estimated to be in the area of $20 million dollars, a staggering amount of money for time. He gave away over $5 million dollars to local charities before he died in 1888. (When the average middle class income was about $2,000 a year)   In 1848, Corcoran had purchased 15 acres of land for Oak Hill Cemetery, which overlooks Rock Creek Park.

The old Corcoran Gallery of Art

He organized the Oak Hill Cemetery Company to oversee the project which was formally incorporated by Act of Congress on March 3, 1849. Corcoran paid for the construction of a Gothic Revival chapel in Oak Hill Cemetery, commonly known as the Renwick Chapel. He also established a $10,000 fund, administered by the Benevolent Society, to purchase firewood for the poor in Georgetown. He gave large amounts of cash to George Washington University, the Maryland Agricultural College, the College of William and Mary, and Washington and Lee University. He also contributed to a fund to purchase George Washington's Mount Vernon estate, after his family could no longer keep it up, and the federal government refused to purchase it.

Corcoran’s father, Thomas, was born in Limerick, Ireland, and arrived in the US in 1783 and promptly, married Hannah Lemmon, of Baltimore and in 1788, the couple settled in Georgetown, then a busy commercial port. Thomas was a shrewd and successful businessman who a magistrate, member of the levy court, postmaster, and College trustee and served two terms as mayor of Georgetown. 

Corcoran was born in Georgetown and lived in or around the area most of his life.  Corcoran was given a classical education with a bent on mathematical in private schools and in Georgetown College. He went to work at age seventeen, under the supervision of his two older brothers, who ran a dry goods trade a wholesale auction and commission business. The three brothers almost went bankrupt in 1823 but pulled through it.

In 1828, Corcoran was given charge of the enormous real estate holdings in the district that was then owned by the United States bank and the Bank of Columbia. (His father owned large parts of the banks)

In 1835, he married (They eloped actually) Louise Amory Morris, daughter of Naval Commander Charles Morris. Louise died in 1840, leaving Corcoran to raise their three children (Harriet Louise, Louise Morris, and Charles Morris). The middle child, Louise Morris (1838-1867), was the only one to survive into adulthood.

By 1837, Corcoran was one of Washington’s most prominent broker and banker and in 1845 opened, with George Washington. Riggs, the Corcoran & Riggs Bank (Actually the took over the old United States bank located on 15th Street at New York Avenue)

A noted Southern sympathizer, Corcoran left Washington for Paris (His son-in-law George Eustis Jr., was a representative of the Confederacy.) during the Civil War and to ensure the federal government didn’t abscond with his home, located on the northeast corner of H Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW, he rented it to the French Legation which gave the property diplomatic immunity.

The government returned the building that housed his art collection to Corcoran in 1869 (Corcoran had trouble reclaiming all his property and in 1869 gave over his gallery building and much of his collection to the government.) and on February 20, 1871, the banker used the property to host a lavish ball to raise funds for the Washington Monument, whose constructed had stalled due to the war and other reasons. 

The event, called "the most magnificent reception ever given in the United States," was attended by President Ulysses S. Grant and included a special balcony for musicians who were accompanied by canaries singing from cages suspended from the ceiling. After extensive renovations, the building finally opened as his art gallery in 1873. The Corcoran House was the first significant Victorian constructed in Washington. Originally built in 1828 as a three-and-one-half-story Federal residence for prominent Maryland attorney, Thomas Swann (February 3, 1809–July 24, 1883)

Swann was initially a Know-Nothing, and later a Democrat, served as mayor of Baltimore (1856-1860), as the 33rd Governor of Maryland (1866-1869), and as U.S. Representative from Maryland's 3rd congressional district and then 4th congressional district (1869-1879).  The house was later occupied by Daniel Webster. 

When Corcoran purchased the home, in 1849, he choose James Renwick Jr. (above) as his architect. Renwick enlarged the house into a Renaissance-inspired mansion, which effectively introduced DC to the Italianate style. Renwick’s designs of classical window frames, cornices, and floral swags are still seen throughout the city.

When Corcoran died in 1888, the house was left to his grandson, William Corcoran Eustis, (Below) (July 20, 1862 - November 24, 1921) who rented it to a succession of prominent senators and government official. 

Eustis, who was born in Paris, was the son of George Eustis, Jr. (1828-1872) and Louise Morris Corcoran, (1838-1867) William Corcoran’s only daughter. George Eustis, Jr. was a lawyer and politician who was born in New Orleans. His father was a lawyer who served as a Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. His brother, James Biddle Eustis,(below) was a United States Senator.

George Eustis, Jr. was a Harvard University Law School graduate, a member of Congress and later secretary to John Slidell during the Civil War and was a member of the United States House of Representatives representing Louisiana and served two terms as a member of the anti-immigration American Party. 

He was later Secretary of the Confederate mission in Paris. He died in Cannes, France and was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in D.C.

George and Louise had two sons, William Corcoran and George Peabody, and a daughter, Louise Mary, who married steeplechase horse racing trainer, Thomas Hitchcock who was one of the leading American polo players during the latter part of the 19th century and a Hall of Fame horse trainer and owner known as the father of American steeplechase horse racing.
William Corcoran Eustis was a Captain in the United States Army and the personal assistant to John J. Pershing during World War I.  

He was also chairman of the inauguration committee for the first inauguration of Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and laid the cornerstone for the Corcoran Gallery of Art on May 10, 1894.  In 1900 he married Edith Livingston Morton (1874-1964), a daughter of Levi P. Morton, Vice President under Benjamin Harrison. Together they had five children, and owned and restored the Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Virginia.

Oatlands Plantation was established by George Carter in 1798 on 3,408 acres  of farmland. It started as a wheat farm, but expanded to include other grains, sheep, a gristmill and a saw mill, and a vineyard. In 1803, Carter began construction of a Federal mansion, which he expanded in the 1820s and 1830s. He also built a terraced garden and numerous outbuildings.

In 1897 the Carter family sold the mansion with 60 acres to Stilson Hutchins, founder of the Washington Post newspaper, who never lived on the property. In turn, Hutchins sold Oatlands in 1903 to William Corcoran Eustis. The Corcoran House was razed in 1922 to make way for the massive neoclassical U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building which still occupies the site today.

William died on November 24, 1921 of pneumonia. His wife died in 1964. Mrs. Corcoran was also  instrumental in helping to build the District of Columbia War Memorial It was the first war memorial to be erected in West Potomac Park, part of the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, and remains the only local District memorial on the National Mall. Their daughters donated the mansion, furnishings, and estate grounds to the National Trust under the National Trust Community Investment Corporation.

Madam of the Mall

Mary Ann Hall (died January 29, 1886) ran a successful brothel from the 1840s until about 1878 at 349 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C., about four blocks west of the U.S. Capitol. Before the National Museum of the American Indian was built on the site in 1999, the Smithsonian Institution conducted an archeological excavation of the foundations and garbage dump of the house.

The expensive tableware in the garbage dump was made of ironstone and porcelain. Food remnants include meat, fowl, fish, and exotic fruits like coconuts and berries. French champagne corks were especially numerous. She built a three-story house on the site which rose greatly in value. Her business was apparently very successful and she died with a net worth of $87,000 - worth over $2,000,000 in 2005 dollars.

In 1864 the Union Army's Provost Marshal published a list of brothels in Washington and Mary Ann Hall's had 18 "inmates," making it the largest in the city.

Mary was buried with her sister and other family members under "large and dignified" memorials at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

1861 topographical map by A. Boschke of the District of Columbia showing the location of Mary Ann Hall's brothel.

The Petticoat Affair

The Petticoat Affair

Margaret O'Neill (Her maiden name is also recorded as O'Neale and O'Neil.) is better known as a footnote of history as Peggy Eaton, although She preferred to be called  Margaret  and  claimed until the day she died that only her enemies referred to her as Peggy.

Peggy, noted for her beauty, wit and vivacity, was born and raised in the District, the oldest of six O'Neale children, probably living at 19th and K Streets Northwest for most of her early life.  Her father was William O'Neale, an Irish immigrant and the owner of Franklin House, a popular high-end social center, tavern/ hotel for politicians. (It was actually more like a huge boardinghouse) located on 2007 I Street NW. (Others place the hotel at the northeast corner of Penn and 21st)
Peggy, middle aged 

Away from home and family, the politicians who lived at the hotel (Lafayette was a guest there once) spoiled Peggy with attention. "I was always a pet," she later remarked.
 She was educated one of the best schools in the District, studied French, English, grammar, needlework and music and was a noted pianist. Andrew Jackson once wrote to his wife, Rachel, "Every Sunday evening [Peggy] entertains her pious mother with sacred music to which we are invited."  She had such a talent for dance by the age of 12 she performed for First Lady Dolley Madison.

In 1816, when she was only 17, the blue eyed and dark haired O’Neale married John Bowie Timberlake, a 39-year-old purser in the United States Navy. Her parents gave them a house across from the hotel.

By then, stories of Peggy’s romances were DC legend, most of it was pure rumors and gossip, which included tales of how one suitor-swallowed poison after she refused him, another was that she had been involved with the son of President Jefferson's treasury secretary; and that she had almost eloped with a young aide to General Winfield Scott.  In that story, Peggy was said to be claiming out of her bedroom window to run off with the young man when she kicked over a flowerpot during her climb, awakening her father, who dragged her back inside.

Most of these stories weren’t true but Peggy was a forward young girl and openly flirtatiousness, who worked in the family tavern, was known to tell an off color joke and quick to offer her political opinions. The result was, by many who didn’t know her, that Peggy was a wanton woman.

 In 1818, they met and befriended John Henry Eaton, (1790-1856) the handsome, wealthy 28-year-old widower and newly elected senator from Tennessee who was a guest at the Franklin House. He had become a confidant of John Timberlake, so much so that upon learning that Timberlake was heavily in debt, Eaton tried to get the Senate to pass a petition to pay debts accrued while Timberlake was in the Navy, but was unsuccessful. Eaton also, foolishly, escorted Peggy around town when Timberlake was away at sea.

Eaton’s close friend, Andrew Jackson, had met Peggy in December 1823, when he arrived in Washington as the new junior senator from Tennessee and boarded at the Franklin House. Like most elected representatives, Jackson had not intended to relocate to the capital which was a muddy, scattered sleepy southern town still reeling from the British invasion of 1814.
The Franklin had been recommended to Jackson by John Henry Eaton, Tennessee's senior senator and the author of a biography on Jackson that highlighted Jackson’s heroism as the general who defeated the British army at New Orleans in 1815.

President Jackson

Jackson, the son of Irish immigrants, took a liking to the Celtic William O'Neale and his "agreeable and worthy family." and was said to have a special fondness for Peggy, then 23-years-old and married to John Bowie Timberlake, with who she bore three children (one of them dying in infancy).  Peggy was, Jackson said often, "the smartest little woman in America." and his wife Rachel Jackson was equally impressed when she travelled to Washington in 1824.

Senator Eaton

 Timberlake died in 1828 while at sea in the Mediterranean, in service on a four-year voyage aboard the USS Constitution. The cause of death was pulmonary disease.

Peggy married Senator Eaton shortly afterwards in a candle-lit ceremony held at the O'Neale residence on January 1, 1829.

According to the social mores of the day, they probably should have waited longer and the rumors about them started immediately, the Maryland politician and later secretary of the treasury and state in Jackson's second cabinet, Louis McLane, sniped that the 39-year-old Eaton had "just married his mistress--and the mistress of 11-doz. others" and Margaret Bayard Smith, a Washington society maven whose husband was president of the local branch of the Bank of the United States, declared that Eaton’s reputation "totally destroyed" by the marriage.

Louis McLane

  The cruelest rumor was that  Timberlake had committed suicide because of despair at an alleged affair between his wife Peggy and Eaton and this rumor was probably started with Lieutenant Robert Beverly Randolph was a naval officer from Fredericksburg, Virginia, who had been dismissed in disgrace under direct orders from President Jackson. 

 In 1828, Randolph was appointed purser aboard the U.S.S. Constitution, assigned to take John B. Timberlake’s place.   An auditor's report and subsequent investigation found that Randolph's accounts did not balance and that he was in debt to the government, but that there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing.  Regardless, and based on the investigation, President Jackson dismissed Randolph from the navy. Randolph argued that he had done nothing wrong and that it was Timberlake who actually embezzled the money and had funneled some of that money to John H. Eaton, then secretary of war.

In 1833 Randolph, now a disgraced former naval officer was back in Fredericksburg where Andrew Jackson was visiting to lay the cornerstone at a monument to George Washington's mother.  Jackson would make the trip by boat. When the boat made a stopover in Alexandria, Randolph boarded and made his way into Jackson’s cabin where Jackson was seated, surrounded by several members of his party.  According to one version of what happened next, Randolph approached the aged Jackson with "timidity" and "humility." and   "thrust one hand violently into the President's face" or that Randolph “struck him (Jackson) in the face.” and that  “ Jackson immediately thrust the dastardly assailant from him" and stood up.

As a group of men rushed in to restrain Randolph, the sixty-six-year-old Jackson grabbed his cane, demanded that everyone move away, and leave him free to wreak vengeance on his attacker. "Let no man stand between me and the villain" and later chastised the men who "interposed, closed the passage of the door, and held me, until I was oblige [d] to tell them if they did not open a passage I would open it with my cane."" In fact, when someone offered to kill Randolph immediately, the president rejected the offer: "I want no man to stand between me and my assailants, and none to take revenge on my account." Jackson later wrote Martin Van Buren that if he had been prepared for the assault he would have killed Randolph.

 Several years later, after Jackson had left office and Randolph was finally apprehended for the assault, Jackson also rejected the interference of the courts in what he regarded as an affair of honor. He asked President Van Buren to pardon Randolph.

Eaton was a close friend of President Andrew Jackson, who knew and liked the couple, encouraged their marriage (The then President-elect told Eaton "If you love the woman, and she will have you, marry her at once and shut their mouths.. . . and restore Peggy's good name.”) and in 1829 appointed him Secretary of War, which elevated Peggy into the closed world of Cabinet social circle.  

However, the rumors about her and Eaton followed  (mostly the rumor was that Peggy was promiscuousness and that she miscarried pregnancy by Eaton prior to their marriage) and the wives of the cabinet officials, led by Floride Calhoun, (Below)  the wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, led the other Cabinet wives to shut Peggy out.  

It seems that Floride Calhoun accepted a social call from the Eaton’s after their wedding but she steadfastly refused to pay a return visit, which the tiny universe of Washington’s polite society interpreted as a calculated snub.

Jackson was angered by the snubbing but tried, unsuccessfully, to coerce the women into accepting Peggy into their rarefied world.  According to Jackson biographer Robert V. Remini, at a grand ball on inauguration night, "the other ladies in the official family tried not to notice as Peggy Eaton swept into the room and startled everyone with her presence and beauty."

Jackson believed that rumors were the cause of her heart attack and death December 22, 1828, several weeks after his election, of his wife Rachel because her first marriage had not yet been legally ended at the time of her wedding to Jackson. Even Rachel's niece Emily Donelson, whom Jackson called on as his "First Lady", sided with the Calhoun faction and turned a chilly shoulder to Peggy, claiming that Mrs. Eaton's elevation to the cabinet had given his wife airs that made her "society too disagreeable to be endured."

 Jackson's advisors, worried about the political fallout caused by the Peggy rumors, tried to dissuade him from naming Eaton to his cabinet but Jackson reportedly said "Do you suppose that I have been sent here by the people to consult the ladies of Washington as to the proper persons to compose my cabinet?”

Jackson appointed Eaton as his Secretary of War, hoping to limit the rumors, but the scandal intensified mostly because Jackson many political opponents, especially those around Calhoun, were feeding the controversy.

"Eaton Malaria." (A term Secretary of State Martin Van Buren coined) had taken grip of the Jackson administration, putting off Jackson’s plan to replace corrupt bureaucrats in the government.  Jackson decided to delay his formal post-inaugural cabinet dinner because tensions between Peggy Eaton and the rest of the political wives was so prevalent. 

 On September 10, 1829, Jackson decided to kill the issue once and for all. With Vice President Calhoun at home in South Carolina and John Eaton not invited, Jackson summoned his cabinet, plus Reverends John N. Campbell and Ezra Stiles Ely who had recently criticized Margaret's morals, to a meeting at the White House.  Ill with dropsy, chest pains, and recurring headaches, the 62-year-old Jackson proceeded to make a cases for Peggy Eaton, including affidavits from people who had known her and absolved her of misconduct. When someone in the room argued the case, Jackson bellowed that Peggy (The twice-married mother of two) was “...as chaste as a virgin!"

Assuming the issue was resolved; Jackson held his overdue cabinet dinner in November 1829. However, as Van Buren recalled the affair had "no very marked exhibitions of bad feeling in any quarter" but the entire evening was tense and awkward and the guests “rushed through their meals in order to avoid discussion of or with the Eaton’s, who had found places of honor near Jackson.”   

The next state party, hosted by Van Buren was attended to by every member of the cabinet but not their wives who found various reasons not to show.

For two years, the press and pundits savaged the administration over Jackson's support for the Eaton’s. The rumors about the couple spread grew worse.  One declared as a fact that Eaton had fathered a child with a "colored female servant." The president had even sent his nephew and private secretary, Andrew Jackson Donelson, and his wife, Emily, back to Tennessee when they refused to associate with the Eaton’s. Andrew Donelson expressed his sadness in parting from his uncle, "to whom I have stood from my infancy in the relation of son to father."

In the spring of 1831, Jackson almost completely reorganized his cabinet, an event referred to as the Petticoat affair. Postmaster William T. Barry would be the lone member to stay.  The worst effect of the incident fell on the political fortunes of the vice-president, John C. Calhoun because Jackson transferred his favor to the widower Martin Van Buren, the Secretary of State and the only unmarried member of the Cabinet. Van Buren had taken the Eaton’s' side in the quarrel and his elevation to the vice-presidency and presidency through Jackson's favor as related to this incident.

The situation almost came to gun play when Samuel Delucenna Ingham, a Quaker, paper manufacturer and Secretary of the Treasury (1829-1831) called Peggy “impudent and insolent.”  After his resignations, Ingham and Eaton exchanged tempestuous notes and Eaton challenged Ingham to a duel. Ingham declined. 

When President Jackson heard about it he advised Eaton “If he won’t fight, you must kill him.” Stalked through the streets of Washington by Eaton and his three companions Ingham gathered an armed escort and fled Washington in the dead of night.  Ingham, Van Buren, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun and Jackson county Counties Michigan were all named for members of Jackson’s cabinet.  Neither Ingham nor Eaton ever saw the counties named in their honor.


Elected to a second term, Jackson was eager to end the Peggy O’Neil fever that had threatened to bring down his first administration. He sent John Eaton and his wife off to the Florida Territory as governor. Two years later Jackson appointed Eaton minister to Spain in 1836, and she was a court and social favorite in London and Paris.

An older Peggy O'Niel

Amazingly, Eaton eventually turned on Jackson. In 1840, when President Van Buren recalled Eaton from Spain for failing to fulfill his diplomatic duties, Eaton announced his support for Van Buren's presidential rival, William Henry Harrison. Jackson was infuriated by Eaton's political disloyalty, claiming, "He comes out against all the political principles he ever professed and against those on which he was supported and elected senator." The two men didn't reconcile until a year before Jackson's death in 1845.

Van Buren 

John Eaton died in eleven years later, in 1856, leaving Peggy a small fortune. Peggy continued to live in DC and her two daughters married into society.   On June 7, 1859, Peggy, then 59, married an Italian music teacher and dancing master, Antonio Gabriele Buchignani, who was 19.   In 1866, after seven years of marriage, Buchignani ran off to Europe with the bulk Peggy’s money as well as her 17-year-old granddaughter Emily E. Randolph, whom he married after he divorced Peggy in 1869. She was unable to recover her financial standing.
Peggy in old age

She died in poverty in Washington, D.C. on November 9, 1879 at Lochiel House, a home for destitute women.  She is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery next to John Eaton. A newspaper commenting on her death and on the irony of the situation editorialized: "Doubtless among the dead populating the terraces [of the cemetery] are some of her assailants [from the cabinet days] and cordially as they may have hated her, they are now her neighbors."

UFO's over Washington DC

From July 12 to July 29, 1952, there were a series of UFO sightings over Washington D.C. with the most publicized sightings took place on consecutive weekends, July 19–20 and July 26–27.

July 19–20

On Saturday, July 19, 1952 Army artillery officer Joseph Gigandet, was sitting on the front porch of his home in Alexandria Virginia just outside of Washington DC. At almost exactly 9:30 p.m. he saw "a red cigar-shaped object" which sailed slowly over his house. Gigandet estimated the object's size as about the same as a DC-7 airplane and flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Following the red cigar-shaped object were a "series of lights very closely set together" on its sides. The object eventually flew back over his house a second time, which led Gigandet to assume that it was circling the area but on the second fly by it turned a deeper red color and sailed over towards Washington DC. Gigandet claimed that his neighbor, an FBI agent, also saw the object.

 Photos of National Airports Radar Tower

At 11:40 p.m. that night Edward Nugent, an air-traffic controller at Washington National Airport, spotted seven objects on his radar. The objects were located 15 miles south-southwest of the city; no known aircraft were in the area and the objects were not following any established flight paths. Nugent's superior, Harry Barnes, a senior air-traffic controller at the airport, watched the objects on Nugent's radarscope.

He later wrote: "We knew immediately that a very strange situation existed . . . their movements were completely radical compared to those of ordinary aircraft"

Barnes had two controllers check Nugent's radar; they found that it was working normally. Barnes then called National Airport's other radar center; the controller there, Howard Cocklin, told Barnes that he also had the objects on his radarscope. Furthermore, Cocklin said that by looking out of the control tower window he could see one of the objects: "a bright orange light. I can't tell what's behind it"

At this point, other objects appeared in all sectors of the radarscope; when they moved over the White House and the United States Capitol, Barnes called Andrews Air Force Base, located 10 miles from National Airport.

Although Andrews reported that they had no unusual objects on their radar, an airman soon called the base's control tower to report the sighting of a strange object. Airman William Brady, who was in the tower, then saw an "object which appeared to be like an orange ball of fire, trailing a tail . . . [it was] unlike anything I had ever seen before."

 As Brady tried to alert the other personnel in the tower, the strange object "took off at an unbelievable speed" and vanished in "a split second". He then observed a second, similar object, but it also disappeared before anyone else in the tower could see it.

At 12:30 a.m. on July 20, another person in the National Airport control tower reported seeing "an orange disk about 3,000 feet altitude". On one of the airport's runways, S.C. Pierman, a Capital Airlines pilot, was waiting in the cockpit of his DC-4 for permission to take off. After spotting what he believed to be a meteor, he was told that the control tower's radar had picked up unknown objects closing in on his position. Pierman observed six objects — "white, tailless, fast-moving lights" — over a 14-minute period Pierman was in radio contact with Barnes during his sighting, and Barnes later related that "each sighting coincided with a pip we could see near his plane. When he reported that the light streaked off at a high speed, it disappeared on our scope."

At Andrews AFB, meanwhile, the control tower personnel were tracking on radar what some thought to be unknown objects, but others suspected, and in one instance were able to prove, were simply stars and meteors. However, Staff Sgt. Charles Davenport observed an orange-red light to the south; the light "would appear to stand still, then make an abrupt change in direction and altitude . . . this happened several times"

At one point both radar centers at National Airport and the radar at Andrews AFB were tracking an object hovering over a radio beacon. The object vanished in all three radar centers at the same time

Air Force Capt. Harold May was in the radar center at Andrews AFB and upon hearing that National Airport's radar had picked up an object heading in their direction, he stepped outside and saw "a light that was changing from red to orange to green to red again . . . at times it dipped suddenly and appeared to lose altitude." However, May eventually concluded that he was simply seeing a star that was distorted by the atmosphere.

 At 3 a.m., shortly before two jet fighters from Newcastle AFB in Delaware arrived over Washington, all of the objects vanished from the radar at National Airport. However, when the jets ran low on fuel and left, the objects returned, which convinced Barnes that "the UFOs were monitoring radio traffic and behaving accordingly"

 The objects were last detected by radar at 5:30 a.m. when E.W. Chambers, a civilian radio engineer in Washington's suburbs, observed "five huge disks circling in a loose formation. They tilted upward and left on a steep ascent."

July 26–27
At 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, 1952, a pilot and stewardess on a National Airlines flight into Washington noticed strange objects above their plane. At almost exactly the same time both radar centers at National Airport, and the radar at Andrews AFB, were tracking more unknown objects. A master sergeant at Andrews visually observed the objects; he later said that "these lights did not have the characteristics of shooting stars. There was [sic] no trails . . . they traveled faster than any shooting star I have ever seen"

Two more jets from Newcastle AFB were scrambled during the night. One pilot saw nothing unusual; the other pilot moved towards a white light which "vanished" when he closed in.
A while later, a Capital Airlines flight leaving Washington spotted "odd lights" which remained visible for about twelve minutes. As on July 20, the sightings and unknown radar returns ended at sunrise.

By that time the stories about the UFO were all over the news and President Harry Truman called in USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the supervisor of the Air Force's
(then-secret) Project Blue Book investigation whose job was to figure out what the UFO’s appearing across the country were.

By coincidence, Captain Ruppelt was in Washington the night of the first sightings although he didn’t learn about the sightings until Tuesday, July 22, and he learned over it only then when he read his morning newspaper.

Ruppelt called a meeting with intelligence officers at The Pentagon about the sightings and then spent most of the rest of the morning trying to get permission to use a staff car to investigate the matter but was turned down (only generals and senior colonels could use staff cars.) 

Captain Edward J. Ruppelt

Frustrated, he flew back to Blue Book's headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.

Then President Harry Truman called Captain Ruppelt back to DC and told him to report to the White House. Truman said he wanted two things. He wanted the Air Force to calm down the general public of the UFO issue and he wanted answers. 

At the meeting, Truman asked for an explanation of the sightings, and Ruppelt, (Who had not yet interviewed any of the witnesses or conducted a formal investigation) had no explanation, said that the sightings might have been caused by temperature inversion, in which a layer of warm, moist air covers a layer of cool, dry air closer to the ground. This condition can cause radar signals to bend and give false returns.

Above: Pivotal scene from 1956 docudrama "UFO: The True Story of Flying Saucers", clipped from "UFO Investigator Magazine" and found in Project Blue Book files. The "Lt. Holden" referred to is actually a pseudonym for Lt. Holcomb.

To deal with the press and calm the public Air Force Major General John Samford (Stamford was also a director of the National Security Agency, the super-secret NSA) called a press conference at the Pentagon on July 29, 1952. It was the largest Pentagon press conference since World War II.

The general, (Above)  who had no idea what he was talking about, said that the UFO sightings over Washington could be explained as “misidentified aerial phenomena” meaning the US Air Force and trained radar personnel were mistaking  stars or meteors as UFO’s.
Further, Samford said that the unknown radar targets could be explained by temperature inversion, which was present in the air over Washington on both nights the radar returns were reported. (Yet in the six decades that have passed since the incidents, the temperature inversion phenomenon of presenting itself as UFO’s has never been repeated.

To support their case, the Pentagon mentioned that the crew of a B-25 bomber, which had been flying over Washington during the sightings of July 26–27, was called by the control tower at National Airport several times over unknown targets on the airport's radarscopes, yet the bombers crew saw nothing. A crew member related, "The radar had a target [which] turned out to be the Wilson Lines steamboat trip to Mount Vernon . . . the radar was sure as hell picking up the steamboat"

Above: July 29, 1952 photo op showing from left, Captain R.L. James, Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey (seated, left), Capt. Edward Ruppelt (standing, center), Maj. Gen. John A.Samford (seated, right), Col. Donald L. Bower, and B.L. Griffing.

But otherwise nobody bought the temperature inversion theory including Captain Ruppelt himself who discovered that "hardly a night passed in June, July, and August in 1952 that there wasn't a [temperature] inversion in Washington, yet the slow-moving, solid radar targets appeared on only a few nights"

According to Ruppelt, when he was able to interview the radar and control tower personnel at Washington National Airport, not a single person agreed with the official explanation. However when Ruppelt interviewed the tower at Andrews Air Force base, the Airmen and Officers insisted that they had been mistaken and had merely seen a bright star. 

Ruppelt checked an astronomical chart he found that there were no bright stars over the station that night, and, he wrote later, that he had "heard from a good source that the tower men had been 'persuaded' a bit" by superior officers to state that their sighting was merely a star.

Dr. James E. McDonald, a physicist at the University of Arizona and a prominent ufologist in the 1960s, did his own analysis of the Washington sightings. After interviewing four pilot eyewitnesses and five radar personnel, McDonald argued that the Air Force explanation was "physically impossible".

National Airports Harry Barnes told McDonald that the radar targets "were not shapeless blobs such as one gets from ground returns under anomalous propagation", and that he was certain the unknown radar blips were solid targets; Howard Cocklin, the National Airport radar tech who first spotted the objects, agreed with Barnes.
The United States Weather Bureau also disagreed with the temperature inversion hypothesis.


After the Truman meeting, Captain Ruppelt sent Albert M. Chop, the press spokesman for Project Blue Book, to National Airport to interview the radar center personnel. Just as he did, at around 9:30 p.m. the radar center was picking up unknown objects in every sector. The objects traveled slowly and every now and then reversed direction and moved across the radarscope at speeds calculated at 7,000 mph.

At 11:30 p.m., two jet fighters from Newcastle AFB in Delaware arrived over Washington. Capt. John McHugo, the flight leader, repeatedly flew right at the location of the radar pips but saw nothing. However, his wingman, Lt. William Patterson, did see four white "glows" and chased them however the glows suddenly turned and surrounded his fighter. Patterson asked the control tower at National Airport what he should do; according to Chop, the tower's answer was "stunned silence". The four objects then sped away from Patterson's jet and disappeared

After midnight on July 27, Major Dewey Fournet, Project Blue Book's liaison at the Pentagon, and a Lt. Holcomb, an Air Force radar specialist, arrived at the radar center at National Airport.

From reports from the Washington National Weather Station Lt. Holcomb knew that a slight temperature inversion was present over the city, but Holcomb felt that the inversion was not "nearly strong enough to explain the 'good and solid' returns" on the radarscopes and according to conversations that Major Fournet had with the radar teams the targets were most likely caused by solid metallic objects. There had been weather targets on the scope too, he said, but this was a common occurrence and the controllers "were paying no attention to them."

Later that evening, at 3 a.m., an Eastern Airlines flight over Washington was told that an unknown object was in its vicinity; the crew saw nothing unusual. When they were told that the object had moved directly behind their plane, they began a sharp turn to try and see the object, but were told by the radar center that the object "disappeared" when the plane began to turn.
Officially Project Blue Book would label the Washington radar objects as "mirage effects caused by a double inversion", and the sightings as "meteors coupled with the normal excitement of witnesses" in other words, it didn’t happen.

However…..exactly 50 years later, on Friday July 26 2002, according to WTOP News Radio in Washington DC, this is what happened;

What was that bright light in Maryland's sky???
 WTOP has learned that residents near Andrews Air Force base were shaken from their beds early Friday morning by some strange activity in the air.
"Incredible. Absolutely incredible" is what Renny Rogers of Waldorf calls it. Just before two in the morning, Rogers says he saw a large blue ball of light streaking across the sky. But it was the military jets that really startled him.
"(The jets) were right on its tail. As the thing would move, a jet was right behind it," Rogers recalls.
He is not the only one who saw it. Several people called WTOP Radio reporting seeing a bright blue or orange ball moving very fast, being chased by jets.
Rogers says there was no smoke coming from the object, no flashing lights, and says it was smooth, and eerily silent. The Air National Guard confirms they scrambled the 113th squadron.
Spokesman Sheldon Smith says they are investigating and in contact with NORAD.


April 1947; Richmond, Virginia at 11 a.m., a Meteorologist named Minczewski saw a silvery disc through a theodolite while tracking a pibal weather balloon, traveling east to West at less than 15,000 ft., appeared larger than the balloon.

June 2, 1947; Rehoboth Beach, Pilot Forrest Wenyon in aircraft flying at 1400 feet
saw a silvery jar-shaped object 15 inches across cross in front of the plane at 1,000-10,000 mph heading East on a straight course at same altitude, with a silver-white fire exhaust. It is possible he saw a Daytime meteor.

July 7, 1947; Arlington, Virginia between 10:30 and 11 p.m.  AAF Lt. Col. Cobb saw a "blob," the size of a small airplane, reflecting white light flying at less than 500 ft. above ground to at about 1,350 mph.

Nov. 18, 1948; Andrews AFB at 9:45-10:03 p.m. Technical Sergeants Jackson and Combs, 2 reserve pilots, aboard an Andrews AFB T-6 aircraft traveling 150 mph and 2 independent ground observers saw a highly maneuverable whitish-grey oval lighted object smaller than the T-6 cross over Andrews AFB from North to South and back again in a circular pattern from 4,000 ft. dropping to 1,700 ft. then climbing to 7,000 ft. The T-6 followed object to identify it, made 3-4 passes at the object while climbing, dove on the object at 240 mph but it dropped down and came up behind the T-6 and continued circling the base. The T-6 was able with difficulty to put object in front of city lights on the ground to try to make out details, and came within about 300-400 ft. turned on landing light and object responded with a dull glow, then sped off to the northeast at 8,000+ ft. and 500-600 mph disappearing. Another reserve pilot, a USAF 2nd Lt. in another aircraft over the northeast corner of Andrews at 1,000 ft. saw the object directly overhead. A further independent witness, USAF Staff Sgt. John J. Kushner, observed object from the ground.

Jan. 24, 1950; Near Blackstone, Virginia at between 4:50-5:05 p.m. two USAF combat flying officers, pilot Capt. G. B. Edwards and copilot Capt. Theron C. Fehrevach, were flying with three Pentagon officials, in a C-45 transport plane at 5,000 ft., when they saw a dark 200-250 ft. diameter hemispherical parachute-shaped or B-35 flying wing shaped object about 5-10 miles away with a large black smoke region below it. The UFO was darker than the cloud cover and “easy to distinguish as not being cloud.” The object moved smoothly horizontally to the right and then back again without any noticeable turn radius. Edwards put the C-45 into a climb to 7,000 ft. so they would be on the same height level as the UFO and turned left slightly to 20° to head directly toward it. Army Courier Service passenger 1st Lt. John H. Van Santen was alerted by Fehrevach and now also saw the object move right then left, then they all saw the object recede at high speed radically away and disappear. About 1-1/2 mins later object reappeared to the right of their heading at the same level but at greater distance, stationary in position, then oscillating or “wiggling” about that position horizontally right-left about 1-1.5x object’s width. Object moved horizontally to dead ahead again and disappeared by receding in the distance at high speed.

May 29, 1950; A UFO was spotted about 7 miles west of Mt. Vernon, Virginia at 9:20 p.m. by Capt. Willis T. Sperry, a pilot with 10,000 flying hours, and his  copilot Bill Gates, his flight engineer Robert Arnholt, a stewardess and 2-3 or 8 passengers on a DC-6 airliner headed  out of  D.C., en route to Nashville. They all reported a spindle-shaped 150 ft. long metallic object with intense blue light  on the tail, beginning with Gates who sighted blue light from their DC-6 airliner on head on collision course. Sperry made evasive 45° turn to the right, object passed from 11 o'clock to 7 o'clock position to the left at slightly higher altitude.

March 20, 1952; In Centreville, Maryland at 10:42 p.m. A combat veteran of World War one and two, A. D. Hutchinson and his son, saw a dull orange-yellow saucer-shaped light fly straight and level very fast.

March 29, 1952; in Glen Burnie, Maryland at 10:45 p.m. Donald F. Stewart and George Tyler III, saw 50 ft. flat silver disc with cupola/dome to one side, a porthole and hatch on the dome, neon-like lighting around the edges that pulsating.  It hovered and "wavered slightly" for 3 minutes at several hundred feet off the ground with “whirring sound like a vacuum cleaner” The engine of a passing car died while object hovered. The two men got out of car with Thompson submachine gun considering whether to shoot the disc, but decided not to. Object suddenly turned up on edge seeming to "roll across the sky faster than a jet” and disappeared, leaving their car wires "magnetized" and paint cracked.

April 18, 1952; in Bethesda, Maryland at 11:30, Robert Poerstal and two others reported a UFO with a 7-9 circular, orange-yellow lights in a 40° V-formation fly overhead, silently

May 22, 1952; In Falls Church, between 1 and 2 a.m. A top CIA official and several dinner guests, including a retired general, noticed noiseless red light approach from West at about 5,000 ft. then suddenly climb almost vertically in the SE, stop, level out for a few secs, go into near vertical dive, level off, disappear.

June 13, 1952, Fox Hill, Virginia, at 10:30 a.m. An aluminum awning salesman observed an object described as similar to a discussed in athletics, about 25 to 30 feet in diameter hovering approximately 200 feet over a group of pine trees. The object made a slight whistling sound. After approximately 10 seconds the object tilted slightly, flew upward at an angle of 45 degrees and away from him at a tremendous speed.

July 10, 1952; Near Quantico, at 8:18 p.m. The pilot of National Airlines Flight 42, a C-60 aircraft, saw a very bright amber glow, stationary then climbing slowly till disappearance.

July 12, 1952; Annapolis, at 3:30 p.m. Insurance company president William Washburn saw 4 large, elliptical-shaped objects fly very fast, stop, turn 90° and fly away. 7-8 secs.

July 13, 1952. 60 miles southwest of DC at 4 a.m. National Airline Flight 611  airline Capt. William Bruen saw round ball of bluish-white light hovering to the West then ascend to airliner altitude of 11,000 ft., then parallel course off left wing at about 2 miles distance, took off upwards at 1,000 mph when Bruen turned on all aircraft lights.

July 14, 1952; 20-25 miles North of Norfolk, at 9:12 p.m.  Pan American Airways FO William B. Nash, Second Officer William H. Fortenberry, in a DC-4 airliner at 8,000 ft. sighted a total of 8 large, round, glowing red coin-shaped objects, 100 ft. diameter 15 ft. thick, maneuvering in two groups of 3 then joined slightly after by another 2. Objects approached head on at high speed estimated at about 12,000 [27,000] mph at about 2,000 ft. altitude.  At about 10 miles S of Newport News objects ascended as a group in fixed formation in an arc to the right towards Newport News to about 10,000 ft. altitude

July 16, 1952; Hampton Roads, Virginia at 8 p.m. NACA aeronautical engineer Paul R. Hill saw 2 amber-colored objects approach from the south, turn West reach overhead, begin a maneuver to revolve around a common center, change to a vertical plane after a few orbits, were joined by 2 more objects and flew off to the South.

July 19, 1952; Baltimore, Maryland at 6:28 a.m.  Mrs. Carolyn Smith, on duty as a volunteer ground observer aircraft spotter, observed two flying saucers heading northeast at 2000 feet altitude. The objects suddenly shot upward and went out of sight. Duration of the sighting was approximately 20 seconds. Saucers were large, round, bluish in color and emanated a blue jet exhaust.

July 19-20, 1952; Andrews AFB and Washington Nat'l Airport, Washington, D.C. (BBU) at 11:40 p.m.-6 a.m. numerous visual, radar and radar-visual sightings by ground observers and pilots in the air. 6 hours 20 min.

Shortly after midnight civilian radar operators at National Airport began tracking a group of 7-10 unidentified targets southwest of the  city, moving  about 100-130 m.p.h. An individual object would disappear from the scope at intervals, then another target would appear.  This continued for about 6 hours, while airline pilots in the area reported sighting unidentified lights in the positions where radar detected unexplained targets. They were not any known aircraft.

July 20, 1952; Herndon, at 3:00 a.m. a Capital Airlines flight approaching Washington National Airport reported that an unidentified light was following it. Air Route Traffic Control radar tracked the UFO to within about 4 miles of the airport before it disappeared.

July 20, 1952; Andrews AFB, in mid-evening Air Force radar tracked up to 10 UFOs for 15-20 minutes. The objects approached the runway, scattered, and made sharp turns and reversals of direction. (Air Force weather observer report to NICAP.)

July 23, 1952; Alexandria, at 9:00 p.m. A red object, size undetermined, was sighted southwest of Alexandria, Virginia. The object hovered for 10 minutes, then disappeared in a westerly direction at a high rate of speed. The witnesses were a County Policeman, two airmen and a civilian.

July 26, 1952; Hampton, and bet. Newport News and Langley AFB, Virginia (BBU)
12:15-12:45? a.m. Ground observers saw a brilliant luminous alternately bright silver, red and green object hovering over the James River Bridge at about 1,500 ft. for 1/2 hour, then ascend towards the E where seen by Langley AFB tower. USAF crews of 2 F-94's and ground observers saw 4 round silver/bluish objects in V-formation shoot straight up and disappear at 5,000 ft., one tracked by USN ground radar at Norfolk and by airborne radars.

July 26, 1952; Langley, at 1430 hours, Capt. Daniel G. Moore and T/Sgt Edward W. Reamer of the 1907-7 AACS Det., Langley AFB, observed an unidentified target on a radar scope approaching Langley AFB from the south from a distance of 15 miles. Speed of the target was determined to be 2,600 miles per hour at an altitude below 5,000 feet. At 1450 hours an unidentified target was observed on a radar scope. The target stopped and hovered for 2 minutes and then resumed its flight at an extremely high speed. 
The spectacular radar-visual sightings at Washington, D.C., on the weekend of July 19/20 were repeated with some new twists on the following weekend.

July 26-27, 1952; Andrews AFB and Washington National Airport, Wash., D.C. (BBU 1661) 8 p.m. until after 12 midnight  Radar operators at several airports, airline and F-94 fighter pilots, sighted and tracked many unidentified blips and/or lights all over Washington area, at varying speeds. 3 hrs. 10 mins. 

"I saw several bright lights. I was at my maximum speed, but even then I had no closing speed....Later I chased a single bright light which I estimated about 10 miles away. I lost visual contact with it [at] about 2 miles." -- Lt. William Patterson, F-94 pilot who chased UFOs over Washington, D.C.

July 27, 1952; Washington, at 7:30 p.m. Both Air Force personnel and National Airport employees observed a large round object reflecting sunlight as it hovered over the U.S. Capitol Building. After about one minute the object ...wavered then shot straight up disappearing from sight.

July 27, 1952; The Pentagon, on July 27 and July 28, 1952, observers saw a white light immediately over the Pentagon, it made a direct descent toward the Pentagon, stopped and veered off.

July 28, Washington, D.C. Daily newspapers headlined a United Press story  from Washington reporting that the Air Defense Command had ordered its pilots to pursue and, if necessary, shoot down UFOs sighted anywhere in the country.

July 28, 1952 Washington, D.C. President Harry Truman at a National Security Council meeting asked the CIA to look into the UFO question.

July 29, 1952; Washington, D.C. CAA radar in the early morning tracked 8 to 12 UFOs at a time traveling about 100-120 M.P.H. in a 10-mile arc around the Nation’s Capital. When an Eastern Airlines pilot tried to check on the radar targets at CAA request at 3:00 a.m., he saw nothing. The targets disappeared from CAA radar screens when the airliner approached, then came back in behind him after he passed through the area.

July 29, 1952 D.C., what was characterized as the largest Air Force press conference since the end of World War II was held, with Maj. Gen. John A. Samford, Director of Air Force Intelligence, presiding. He attributed the radar-visual UFO sightings to weather effects, temperature inversions that caused radar mirages. 41-second sound byte

July 29, 1952; Langley AFB, Virginia  2:30 p.m. USAF Capt. D. G. Moore, military air traffic controller, saw an un-described object fly at about 2,600 mph, below 5,000 ft. altitude, toward the air base.

July 29, 1952; Langley AFB, at 2:50 p.m. Mr. Moore and Gilfillan electronics rep W. Yhope tracked a radar target moving away, stopping for 2 mins, again moving extremely fast. 4 mins.

Aug. 5, 1952; Baltimore, Md.  Experienced amateur astronomer observed two copper-like discs.

Sept. 22, 1952; Fairfax County, Police observed 3-4 UFOs maneuvering erratically.

Sept. 24, 1952; Charleston, West Virginia at 3:30 p.m. Crew of USAF B-29 bomber saw a lot of bright, metallic particles or flashes, up to 3 ft. in length, stream past the B-29. 15 mins.

Nov. 24, 1952; Annandale, Virginia at 6:30 p.m. L. L.  Brettner saw a round, glowing object fly very fast, make right angle turns and reverse course. 1 hr.

Nov. 30, 1952; Washington, at 12:30 a.m. Radar operators at Washington National Airport tracked UFO’s

Dec. 14, 1952; Charlottesville, Virginia at 11:45 a.m. Aeronautical engineer former test pilot saw a light orange elliptical shaped object, hovering then move NE at extreme speed, 1,000+ mph estimated. Object gave off discharge that changed brightness when object moved; debris lofted in the air apparently by the object.

Feb. 9, 1953; A Marine Corps fighter pilot, alerted by a Navy facility in Norfolk, searched for a silver, maneuvering object that had been seen from the ground near the Virginia-North Carolina border. The F9F Panther pilot at first saw nothing and was returning to the base. He then saw "what looked like an airplane with red lights which appeared below me... What caused me to look back at the object," said 1st Lt. Ed Balocco, "was the fact that it moved from below me 10,000 feet vertically in a matter of seconds." He turned to investigate and chased the object at speeds over 500 mph for 3-4 minutes, but could not close in on it.

April 7, 1954; at 3 p.m. USN pilot C. R. Allen flying F-6F for Fleet Training Center, Norfolk, Virginia, at 3,000 feet, saw 2 strange saucer-shaped discs in close formation at 3,500 ft. height about 15 miles away at about 2 miles NW of Lake Drummond heading NE. Allen turned right to follow objects as they covered about 140° of arc maintaining about the same distance, disappearing near Cape Henry

May 11, 1954; Washington, at 10:45 p.m. 3 USAF air policemen at Washington National Airport saw 2 bright lights on 3 occasions fly straight and level, make 90° degree turns and fade.

June 11, 1954; near Baltimore, there were reports of a huge glowing object seen by observers; alternately hovered, moved rapidly.

June 12, 1954; A UFO was reported over Southeast DC.

Aug. 26, 1954; In Danville, Virginia at 6:15 a.m. Rev. W. L. Shelton saw 2 domed ellipses, 20 ft. long, 8 ft. thick, 10 ft. at ends, glowing silver or orange, hover, then climb side-by-side while getting brighter.

In January of 1955; A Navy pilot over DC observed domed disc.

Feb. 10, 1955; Bethesda, at 10:03 p.m. E. J. Stein, model maker at U.S. Navy ship design facility, saw an object, shaped like a small portion of the bottom of the Moon, with a radiant yellow color, hover for 30 seconds. The bottom changed to a funnel shape.

Feb. 17, 1955; Blackstone, Virginia a USAF pilot in flight saw an extremely large light-blue object at 35,000 ft.

June 26, 1955; D. C., a brilliant round object with trail 4 or 5 times its own length approached National Airport, stopped, oscillated, and moved off at high speed. Ceiling lights at airport went out when object approached; returned to operation when UFO left.

Aug. 23, 1955; Arlington, at 10:45 a.m. G. M. Park, using a 400x telescope saw six orange lights moving singly or in groups, circling and stopping.

Sept. 7, 1955; in D.C. at 6:30 a.m.  2 photographers, one a plate maker for the Army Map Service, one named Smith, saw a glowing round object fly an arc.

Oct. 11, 1955; at Point Lookout, Maryland at 4 p.m. B. Hale and A. Ostrom saw round object, white in daylight and turning red with sparks near end of sighting, with a deep roar unlike an aircraft. 

June 25, 1957; a UFO was reported over Baltimore, Maryland. Witnesses said that a car radio stopped playing and street lights went out as a formation of seven white discs with red rims passed overhead.

Oct. 7, 1958; A UFO was reported over Alexandria, Virginia at 6:02 p.m by John R. Townsend, Special Assistant for Research & Engineering to the Asst. Secretary of Defense. Townsend said he saw a large stationary sharply outlined Saturn-shaped "silvery" or "aluminum clad" oblate spherical object with "gossamer" surface appearance with a rim or girdle around its equator in clear sky due South.  At about the same time, the pilot of Capitol Flight 407 took off in a DC-4 at 5:59 p.m. from Washington National heading and climbed to 2,000 feet and reported "unidentified aircraft" with "nose light"

Oct. 26, 1958; A UFO was reported over Loch Raven Dam, Maryland at 10:30 p.m. by Phillip Small and Alvin Cohen, who said they saw a large, flat egg-shaped object, flying low about 100-150 ft. above the bridge, which affected their car's electrical system and caused a burning sensation, rose vertically and disappeared in 5-10 secs. (

June 9, 1959; Manassas, at 1:05 p.m. a number of unknown objects traveling abreast were tracked on an FPS-6 radar of the 649th Radar Squadron. The objects were detected at 62,200 feet heading northeast at 200 knots. The objects moved out of radar range and faded. The length of observation was 15 minutes. Apparently same objects were picked up northeast of Roanoke by adjacent radar sight.

Aug. 2, 1959; UFO reported over Washington

Aug. 3, 1959; UFO reported Silver Springs

August 24, 1959; UFO reported over Emmetsburg, Maryland, said to be Planet-like, the UFO hovered and then took off, straight up.

Oct. 19, 1959; UFO reported over Langley AFB

Footnote: Both Presidents Carter and Reagan have admitted to seeing UFOs. Carter was in Georgia, prior to his presidency, when he claimed to see his UFO, which he said changed color from white to blue to red.
Reagan was reportedly flying to California when he saw “a bright white light” that “went straight up into the heavens.” And Reagan’s wife had her dealings with the mystical after her husband was shot, taking to consulting an astrologer
President Jimmy Carter, known by some as the "UFO President," got his nickname by publicly claiming that he had a UFO sighting prior to becoming president. On at least one occasion while campaigning for president, Carter declared that, if elected he would "make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and scientists.
Jimmy Carter spotted the foreign object in the sky in 1969. "It was the darndest thing I've ever seen. It was big, it was very bright, it changed colors and it was about the size of the moon." Carter continued, "We watched it for 10 minutes, but none of us could figure out what it was. One thing's for sure, I'll never make fun of people who say they've seen unidentified objects in the sky."