On his first visit to America in 1842, English novelist Charles Dickens was greeted like a modern rock star. But the trip soon turned sour, as Simon Watts reports.
He visited the Capitol, met American politicians and attend President John Tyler's morning reception at the White House.
But by now Dickens was in such a foul mood that his enduring memory of the city was the tobacco-spitting he saw in the streets.
"Washington may be called the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva," Dickens fumed in American Notes. "The thing itself is an exaggeration of nastiness, which cannot be outdone."
As for the politicians, Dickens concluded that, like everyone else in America, they were motivated by money, not ideals.
"I am disappointed," he wrote in a famous letter. "This is not the republic of my imagination."
Washington, Dickens blasted in American Notes, was the home of: "Despicable trickery at elections; under-handed tamperings with public officers; and cowardly attacks upon opponents, with scurrilous newspapers for shields, and hired pens for daggers".