Saturday, April 06, 2013

Washington D.C.'s Barbecue Grove

In Barbecue: the History of an American Institution, I wrote a lot about barbecue's long tradition in American political life. In particular, I dug into early 19th century political barbecues, which evolved from a few local candidates speechifying at rural gatherings into massive, well-organized political events, reaching full maturity during the 1840 presidential election pitting William Henry Harrison against Martin Van Buren.

Here's something I didn't come across in all of my research: during the Jackson Administration James Maher, the Superintendent of Capitol Grounds, directed the planting of two patches of "barbecue trees" on the east lawn of the capital. Their purpose? To provide shady groves in which to hold barbecues, one grove for Whigs and one for Democrats.

Joe Haynes, who writes the Obsessive Compulsive Barbecue blog, dug up the story, and his full write up has just been published in Smoke Signals Magazine. It's a splendid illustration of how entrenched a part of 19th century politics barbecue was. 


Obsessive Compulsive Barbecue said...
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Obsessive Compulsive Barbecue said...

Thanks for the shout out! You and your book Barbecue: The History of an American Institution is my inspiration as I continue on my quest to answer your question "Whatever happened to Virginia Barbecue?"

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