The Willard: Where hope collapsed as slavery raged

The delegates used separate hotel entrances: Pennsylvania Avenue for Northerners, F Street for Southerners.

They shouted, argued and one day almost came to blows before their chairman, a former U.S. president, yelled, “Order!”

Then, the day before Valentine’s Day 1861, one of the aged attendees passed away in his hotel room, begging colleagues from his deathbed to save the Union so he could die content.

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