||Central City, Colorado
||Cutchogue, New York
||Riley County, Kansas
||Baby Doe Restaurant
Washington, D.C. directly impacts
on the Tabor story only once, in 1883, when "Senator Nightshirt,"
as he had by then come to be known (for wearing luxurious, jewel encrusted
sleeping clothes), spent thirty days as a member of the 47th Congress.
Indirectly, the Washington political machinations involving silver
coinage and Presidential politics were integral to the survival of
Horace's fortune and, thus, his and his family's well being. By the
1880s, the national capital had become the seat of a country that
was bursting with industrial age energy and ambition; much of it centered
around the exploitation of mineral resources in the Rocky Mountain
Bimetalism--the official use of both gold and silver coinage--had
coursed through Presidential politics since Grant's administration;
Republicans favored a single, gold-based standard, Democrats supported
a currency based on both gold and silver. Through the 70s, 80s and
into the 90s, as the White House changed hands, so, too, did the country's
policy toward official support for silver, eventually creating so
volatile a market that "smart money" abandoned the metal.
The coup de gras came with repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act
in 1893, which relieved the U.S. Treasury from having to buy 4,500,000
ounces/month. Never again would silver be as precious. Never again
would Horace be as potent.
Horace's official tenure in Washington, short as it was to be, appeared
to signify the triumph of the frontier over the established, settled
East: the new mineral wealth "showing up" the old east coast
money. No doubt Tabor toyed with lofty notions of himself and of the
role he might play in the national scheme of things. His demeanor
certainly said as much; striding flamboyantly onto the studied Washington
scene in full bejeweled regalia, with the ultimate trophy wife--Baby
A more prudent player indeed might have given the country something
formidable to think about. Instead, Horace's time in Washington is
remembered for its gross excess and impious foolishness: organizing
the most lavish wedding the Willard Hotel had ever seen, only to have
it denounced by the presiding priest, Father Chappelle, who had not
been told of the principals' earlier divorces. A ripe scandal for
the Denver papers to exploit viciously! But only one of numerous vignettes.
For so short a time, the stories abound; Baby Doe sitting not inconspicuously
in ermine and emeralds in the Senate gallery, Tabor holding court
in the cloak room, President Arthur hosting them at the White House,
the pair spending over $300,000 (in 1883 dollars!!!!) in less than
Under the circumstances, Washington today isn't much of a Tabor "site."
No mansions. No opera houses. (Not even in the Kennedy Center--the
latest performances of The Ballad of Baby Doe, in the winter
of 1996, were given in the Center's Eisenhower Theater, not in the
Opera House.) St. Matthews Parish Church, in the records of which
Father Chappelle refused to register the marriage, still ministers
to downtown Washington. And though, to this day, the Willard Hotel
occupies the northwest corner of 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue (and,
at two blocks from the White House, hosts its share of movers and
shakers), it is NOT the same building that saw Tabor's lavish evening
nuptials on March 1st, 1883. The current building was constructed
on the site in 1901.