Brother Benjamin Latrobe and Dolley Madison

Architects of Civil Society and Public Space in the Early American Republic

First Lady Dolley Madison and the Freemason Benjamin Latrobe were major architects of civil society and the public sphere in the early American republic. Their work in Washington DC had impact far beyond the geographic and socio-cultural boundaries of the new Federal Capitol. By examining their individual lives, and work together on the White House, and the context of related projects like the United States Capitol, it is possible to gain insight into the early historical geography, daily life of the new nation,and the wheels of government in Washington DC. The research paper provides opportunity to reconsider ideas of public and ritual performance in civil society, people who have been forgotten, communication of the written and spoken word, aesthetics, and geographic place.

John Slifko

University of California Los Angeles
Department of Geography