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THE CAPITOL BUILDING.

A

S soon as congress settled upon the adoption of Washington's

cherished idea of founding a "Federal City” on the bank of the Potomac, the work of laying out the city was assigned to the young French engineer, Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who at once selected the most commanding and beautiful spot in all the allotted territory as the site for a National capitol building. It was a most fortunate selection. The great white dome which crowns the beautiful pile is visible for miles around, and from it, as far as the eye can reach, may be seen shaggy woods, rolling hills, broad valleys and the lordly Potomac, rolling its blue waters to the sea. From this as a centre, the city is laid out, and broad avenues, intersected by rectangular streets, radiate in every direction.

The location being settled, the commissioners at once advertised for designs for the “congress hall,” as they then called it, offering fifty dollars, or a gold medal, for the best plan submitted. These plans passed under the scrutiny of President Washington, who professed him self particularly pleased with the design offered by Dr. William Thornton, a West Indian, first clerk in charge of patents. Washington was led to give preference to this design because of the beauty of

central rotunda and the dome. As Thornton was not a professional architect, Stephen Hallet, a Frenchman, was employed to reduce Thornton's designs to a practical form.

On September 18, 1793, Washington laid the corner-stone of the capitol building under what is now the law library, in the rear of the main building. The outer walls were of yellow sandstone (now painted white to conform to the marble wings), quarried on a small island at the mouth of Acquia creek, where it empties into the

the

Potomac. The bricks were made and burned in kilns on the spot, and much of the timber was cut from the surrounding hills. The building as originally planned consisted of a main building and two small wings, the north wing being completed first. In this wing was the senate chamber, a beautiful and imposing apartment modeled after the Greek theatre, with a gallery behind the chair of the presiding officer supported by caryatides representing the states, of which there were then but sixteen.

As soon as the south wing could be completed, the house of repre sentatives took possession of it. This hall was also modeled after the Greek theatre, was considerably larger than the senate chamber, and is now occupied by the National statuary gallery. The central rotunda was not yet begun, and the two separate wings were connected by a covered wooden passage-way, which echoed, no doubt, as sonorously to the dignified tread of senator and legislator as though it had been of marble.

The building had reached this point in its completion when, in August, 1814, the British invading force wantonly destroyed the public buildings at Washington, the capitol being the first object of their vengeance. At once, upon knowledge of this, the people in ail parts of the country urged the immediate reconstruction of the build ings in accordance with the original plans. Appropriations wer: liberal, and the work was soon begun. The halls of the senate and the house of representatives were immediately begun, the senate chamber being finished first. This apartment has, since the additiou of the two large wings or extensions, been used as the supreme court room, but it was in this hall that the majestic tones of Webster were heard as he "caught the thunder-bolts of the gods as they went smoking by and hurled them at his enemies;” it was here that the magnetism of Henry Clay's voice and presence fascinated both friend and foe; it was here that old John Randolph shook his long, bony index finger in the face of his opponent and poured forth his bittei invectives.

It was not long until the hall of the house of representatives was completed, in the south wing, and it was here that Henry Clay, speaker of the house, welcomed Lafayette as the Nation's guest, and John Quincy Adams pronounced the brave Frenchman's eulogy. Here the great parliamentary battles were fought in the stormy days of the Missouri Compromise, the United States bank and the attempt at nullification.

In 1818 the appropriation was made for building the central portion of the building comprised in the rotunda. This is the most imposing part of the entire structure. It is circular in form, and the main entrance leads directly to it through the great bronze door which was added in 1871. Standing in the rotunda, the visitor may look upward one hundred and eighty feet to the curving dome, and about the circuit of the sides are eight panels, separated by massive Roman pilasters supporting an entablature wreathed in olive. With the completion of this central portion in 1827, the edifice was reported to be completed, and the stately building, with its low dome and its ranges of columns, was the admiration of artists and architects. It was pronounced "perfect in design. perfect in proportion and perfect in all its adaptations.”

As the Nation grew, the capitol building was found too circumscribed for the use of congress, and it was found necessary to call for plans for an addition to the main building. It was finally decided (following the advice of Jefferson Davis, then senator from Mississippi and member of the committee on public grounds and buildings) that these additions should be made in the form of two large wings or extensions on the north and south sides of the building, and on the fourth of July, 1851, the corner-stone was laid by Daniel Webster, with appropriate ceremonies. The extensions are built of white marble from Lee, Massachusetts, with monolithic columns from Cockeysville, Maryland, and are connected to the wings of the main building by corridors. The senate chamber occupies the centre of the north extension. It is in the form of a parallelogram, measuring, exclusive of the cloak-rooms and lobby, eighty-three feet in length and fifty-one feet in width. On its floor is room for one hundred and twenty senators, and the galleries will accommodate one thousand spectators. The house of representatives occupies the south extension and is of the same shape, but larger, seating four hundred representatives on the floor and five times as many spectators in the galleries. Each house has its gallery set apart for the diplomatic representatives of foreign powers, who, however, seldom use them. Above and back of the chairs of the presiding officer are the galleries of the press, with adjacent telegraph offices. About the main halls are the offices and committee rooms of the senate and house, elegant apartments, elaborately frescoed and handsomely furnished.

With these additions to the building, the dome which rises out of the centre of the main building was found to be insignificant, and at a

Potomac. The bricks were made and burned in kilns on the spot, and much of the timber was cut from the surrounding hills. The building as originally planned consisted of a main building and two small wings, the north wing being completed first. In this wing was the senate chamber, a beautiful and imposing apartment modeled after the Greek theatre, with a gallery behind the chair of the presiding officer supported by caryatides representing the states, of which there were then but sixteen.

As soon as the south wing could be completed, the house of representatives took possession of it. This hall was also modeled after the Greek theatre, was considerably larger than the senate chamber, and is now occupied by the National statuary gallery. The central rotunda was not yet begun, and the two separate wings were connected by a covered wooden passage-way, which echoed, no doubt, as sonorously to the dignified tread of senator and legislator as though it had been of marble.

The building had reached this point in its completion when, in August, 1814, the British invading force wantonly destroyed the public buildings at Washington, the capitol being the first object of their vengeance. At once, upon knowledge of this, the people in ail parts of the country urged the immediate reconstruction of the build. ings in accordance with the original plans. Appropriations werez liberal, and the work was soon begun. The halls of the senate and the house of representatives were immediately begun, the senate chamber being finished first. This apartment has, since the additiou of the two large wings or extensions, been used as the supreme court room, but it was in this hall that the majestic tones of Webster were heard as he “caught the thunder-bolts of the gods as they went smoking by and hurled them at his enemies;” it was here that the magnetism of Henry Clay's voice and presence fascinated both friend and foe; it was here that old John Randolph shook his long, bony index finger in the face of his opponent and poured forth his bittei invectives.

It was not long until the hall of the house of representatives was completed, in the south wing, and it was here that Henry Clay, speaker of the house, welcomed Lafayette as the Nation's guest, and John Quincy Adams pronounced the brave Frenchman's eulogy. Here the great parliamentary battles were fought in the stormy days of the Missouri Compromise, the United States bank and the attempt at nullification.

In 1818 the appropriation was made for building the central portion of the building comprised in the rotunda. This is the most imposing part of the entire structure. It is circular in form, and the main entrance leads directly to it through the great bronze door which was added in 1871. Standing in the rotunda, the visitor may look upward one hundred and eighty feet to the curving dome, and about the circuit of the sides are eight panels, separated by massive Roman pilasters supporting an entablature wreathed in olive. With the completion of this central portion in 1827, the edifice was reported to be completed, and the stately building, with its low dome and its ranges of columns, was the admiration of artists and architects. It was pronounced "perfect in design. perfect in proportion and perfect in all its adaptations."

As the Nation grew, the capitol building was found too circumscribed for the use of congress, and it was found necessary to call for plans for an addition to the main building. It was finally decided (following the advice of Jefferson Davis, then senator from Mississippi and member of the committee on public grounds and buildings) that these additions should be made in the form of two large wings or extensions

on the north and south sides of the building, and on the fourth of July, 1851, the corner-stone was laid by Daniel Webster, with appropriate ceremonies. The extensions are built of white marble from Lee, Massachusetts, with monolithic columns from Cockeysville, Maryland, and are connected to the wings of the main building by corridors. The senate chamber occupies the centre of the north extension. It is in the form of a parallelogram, measuring, exclusive of the cloak-rooms and lobby, eighty-three feet in length and fifty-one feet in width. On its floor is room for one hundred and twenty senators, and the galleries will accommodate one thousand spectators. The house of representatives occupies the south extension and is of the same shape, but larger, seating four hundred representatives on the floor and five times as many spectators in the galleries. Each house has its gallery set apart for the diplomatic representatives of foreign powers, who, however, seldom use them. Above and back of the chairs of the presiding officer are the galleries of the press, with adjacent telegraph offices. About the main halls are the offices and committee rooms of the senate and house, elegant apartments, elaborately frescoed and handsomely furnished.

With these additions to the building, the dome which rises out of the centre of the main building was found to be insignificant, and at a

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