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Capitol Window Trim, Ca. 1806

By Government Printing Office

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Book Id: WPLBN0000045744
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 0.4 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Capitol Window Trim, Ca. 1806  
Author: Government Printing Office
Language: English
Subject: Government publications, Legislation., Economic & political studies
Collections: Government Library Collection, Government Printing Office
Publication Date:
Publisher: Government Printing Office


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Office, G. P. (n.d.). Capitol Window Trim, Ca. 1806. Retrieved from

Government Reference Publication

Excerpt: On February 22, 1827, members of the House of Representatives spent the afternoon debating the merits of legislation aimed at the gradual improvement of the navy. Two days later, the subject of discussion was licensing ships engaged in mackerel fishing. On both occasions the galleries were full of sightseers who had come to the Capitol to have a look around and see Congress in action. Visitors watched from galleries located behind the chamber’s magnificent Corinthian colonnade. Tall shafts of variegated stone and Italian marble capitals gave an impression of grandeur and monumentality that was exceedingly rare in American architecture of the period. Gold fringe dangled from crimson drapery that was festooned between the columns. Sunlight filtered through a large round aperture in the wooden ceiling, which was painted and gilded to imitate a coffered dome. On the carpeted floor below, 212 representatives sat in armchairs covered with horsehair upholstery, their hats stowed on small shelves held between the chair legs. Some congressmen followed the proceedings, but others read newspapers or wrote letters home. Bad acoustics made it difficult to pay attention in any event. Small clusters of congressmen congregated behind the rail to smoke cigars and discuss politics or the evening’s entertainment. Presiding over the spirited scene was the Speaker of the House, who was seated on a raised dais with a silver inkwell and candelabra on the desk before him. At his right was the ceremonial mace, symbol of the authority of the House. Overhead, swags of fringed drapery hung from a mahogany sounding board. Between the naval and mackerel debates, the House took up the topic of funding the public buildings in the capital city of Washington. Legislation before the House included an appropriation for the continuation of the Capitol’s construction. A congressman from Kentucky named Charles Wickliffe rose from his seat to ask why the Capitol was still under construction after thirty-four years of work. He knew old men in his home district who had spent their youths working on the building and who were now utterly astonished to learn that the Capitol was still not finished. He did not understand how the United States, with all its wealth and resources, could not complete a building in the span of more than three decades. He would not support the appropriation because he could foresee that there would be no end to these funding requests.

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