Since You Asked: Federal officials do have their own cemetery

This is in reference to a story and photo in the July 19, 2008, edition of the MT about the reburial of Maj. Gen. Alexander Macomb. It said, "Macomb was buried again in Washington's Congressional Cemetery..."

I didn't know that our Congressmen had their own cemetery, but I shouldn't be surprised. Can you enlighten me on this point?

— Al Buck, Eagle Point

The Congressional Cemetery is actually a private graveyard in Washington, D.C., where members of Congress and other government officials have been laid to rest over the past two centuries.

But these days, even historic cemeteries have Web sites to enlighten the curious about their stories.

The cemetery, also known as the Washington Parish Burial Ground at Christ Episcopal Church, was established in 1807, when the church was built. Various prominent government officials, including Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, attended Christ Church, and the graveyard there was the fledgling capital city's "most respected and secure site for public burial," the Web site says.

Therefore, it became the final resting place for numerous federal officials whose remains couldn't be sent home. The first Congressional burial there was a senator from Connecticut, Uriah Tracy, on July 20, 1807, launching a tradition that lasted half a century. The Web site,, lists 19 senators and 71 representatives interred at Congressional Cemetery, as well as monuments to honor 120 other members of Congress who died in office.

A central feature of the Congressional Cemetery is an array of 185 sandstone monuments known as cenotaphs erected by the U.S. government to commemorate members of Congress who died while in Washington, D.C. Some members are buried within these elaborate tombs designed by architect Benjamin Latrobe, who also worked on the Capitol building, while others are empty tombs standing as monuments.

An online history of the church, found at, notes that the cemetery, with nearly 70,000 burials recorded, is a microcosm of Washington history. Among those buried there are war heroes, Cabinet officers, President William Henry Harrison, several vice presidents, several first ladies, a Supreme Court justice, three mayors of Washington, the great Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, march composer John Philip Sousa, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, numerous American Indian ambassadors who died while negotiating treaties in the capital in the 19th century, and "a little girl with sausage curls" who was the first automobile-crash victim in the District of Columbia in the 20th century.

The cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, still provides interment. The Web site ( says a limited number of spaces remain available for sale.

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