Welcome to H-DC, Washington, D.C. History and Life, a member of H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences Online. H-DC, a refereed, multi- and inter-disciplinary digital network, provides a means of communication and interaction for those who research, write, read, teach, collect, curate, and preserve Washington, DC history and culture and for those who work in cultural institutions located within DC, regardless of discipline.
Here are a few suggestions for the context of 1850s Washington DC.
This book may prove insightfulWashington Brotherhood
Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War
This too, as more of a primary source:
Sara Agnes Rice Pryor, 1830-1912
Greetings: The preliminary list of submissions in the Georgetown Historic District received that may be considered at the next meeting of the Old Georgetown Board, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts on May 2, 2019 may be found at the following web page: http://planning.dc.gov/node/1127097 .
You might explore the relationship between President Buchanan and Jacqueline Pendleton, daughter of architect Robert Mills and wife of gambler Edward Pendleton. Edward Pendleton was on close terms with much of D.C.'s political elite and was a lobbyist as well. Jacqueline Pendleton was a close friend of Buchanan, who attended her funeral and wrote a eulogy for her, which appeared in the National Intelligencer. She traveled to France and was rumored to have carried on discreet diplomacy between the French and U.S. governments.