Notable DC Figures: John Ross

When I’m on track to be on time for work (which happens most of the time now that I have cats waking me up in the morning), my walk to work is filled with parents and their kids walking to John Ross Elementary School. Who was John W. Ross?

Ghosts of DC did the research for me: he was a Commissioner back in the days when the District was governed by a committee of three presidentially appointed Commissioners. Tributes published in the Washington Post following his death note that he had been a commissioner for 12 years and had been postmaster prior to serving as commissioner. He also served on the Board of Visitors of Providence Hospital.

In 1895, there was fevered discussion in the District about the reestablishment of a whipping post. Commissioner Ross, a democrat, opposed this. The other two commissioners at the time (Truesdell–a Republican–and Powell, whose party I haven’t come across in this research, who also both have schools named after them) did not express a personal opinion to the Washington Post reporter writing about the debate, but the Secretary to the Commissioners, Dr. Tindall, offered a comment that is as relevant today as it was 120 years ago: “I think that the resort to violence by a government is rather a confession of the weakness of its power than a dignified assertion of its rights.”

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