The Capitol Building is a symbol of America. In the chambers of this great building, laws have been made that changed not only the history of this country, but the path of the entire world. In the Capitol, men and women have debated issues such as slavery, labor laws, war, civil rights and voting rights.
Even in times of great national stress, the Capitol remains important to the nation. During the Civil War, work continued on the 9 million pound Capitol dome because President Lincoln wanted to show that the United States was still a nation and would remain so. The statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol was a beacon of hope to the American people.
Slaves, Europeans and Americans helped prepare the foundation for the cornerstone of the Capitol building.
George Washington laid the cornerstone in a Masonic ceremony on September18,1793.
The winter of 1794, 60 men, including 4 African-Americans, were paid to work on the Capitol.
On December 16,1854, Thomas Walter exhibited a drawing of the Capitol dome.
On the strength of that drawing Congress gave Walter $100,000 to build a new dome.
A new wing for the House of Representatives was added to the Capitol in 1857 and a new wing for the Senate was added in 1859.
The dome was completed in1863 at a cost of $1,047,291.