1793 – US Capitol Conerstone laid by Pres. Washington

As a young nation, the United States had no permanent capital, and Congress met in eight different cities, including Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. In accordance with the “Residence Act” […]
September 18, 2015

As a young nation, the United States had no permanent capital, and Congress met in eight different cities, including Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia.

In accordance with the “Residence Act” passed by Congress in 1790, President George Washington in 1791 selected the area that is now the District of Columbia from land ceded by Maryland. He also selected three commissioners to survey the site and oversee the design and construction of the capital city and its government buildings. The commissioners, in turn, hired the French engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant to plan the new city of Washington. He located the Capitol at the elevated east end of the Mall, on the brow of what was then called Jenkins’ Hill. The site was, in L’Enfant’s words, “a pedestal waiting for a monument.” L’Enfant was expected to design the U.S. Capitol Building and to supervise its construction. However, he refused to produce any drawings for the building, claiming that he carried the design “in his head”; this fact and his refusal to consider himself subject to the commissioners’ authority led to his dismissal in 1792.

In October, a letter arrived from Dr. William Thornton, a Scottish-trained physician living in Tortola, British West Indies, requesting an opportunity to present a plan even though the competition had closed. The commissioners granted this request. Thornton’s plan depicted a building composed of three sections. The central section, which was topped by a low dome, was to be flanked on the north and south by two rectangular wings (one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives). President Washington commended the plan for its “grandeur, simplicity and convenience,” and on April 5, 1793, it was accepted by the commissioners; Washington gave his formal approval on July 25.

President Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in the building’s southeast corner on September 18, 1793, with Masonic ceremonies. Work progressed under the direction of three architects in succession. Stephen H. Hallet (an entrant in the earlier competition) and George Hadfield were eventually dismissed by the Commissioners because of inappropriate design changes that they tried to impose; James Hoban, the architect of the White House, saw the first phase of the project through to completion. Construction was a laborious and time-consuming process: the sandstone used for the building had to be ferried on boats from the quarries at Aquia, Virginia; workers had to be induced to leave their homes to come to the relative wilderness of Capitol Hill; and funding was inadequate. By August 1796 the commissioners were forced to focus the entire work effort on the building’s north wing so that it at least could be ready for government occupancy as scheduled. Even so, some third-floor rooms were still unfinished when the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the courts of the District of Columbia occupied the U.S. Capitol in late 1800.

Here is a very cool YouTube visual timeline of the Capitols construction from the cornerstone laying to modern times.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os1djKfl7ZU

More Related Posts

What to Expect at Remember

What to Expect at Remember

Join us in honoring our Veterans’ legacy at Remember 2024! 🎉 From humble beginnings to impactful initiatives, discover how FreedomSystem.org has evolved. Learn about our mission, memorable moments, and the keynote speaker, Captain Chad Fleming (Retired). Don’t miss out on a night of camaraderie, entertainment, and giving back. Read our article for an exclusive glimpse into our journey! #Remember2024 #SupportOurVeterans

What is Remember?

What is Remember?

FreedomSystem.org’s ‘Remember’ event honors veterans’ legacies, focusing on camaraderie to prevent isolation and promote mental health. Join us in honoring past, present, and future veterans’ contributions. Get your tickets now!

Author

Kenny

Christian. American. Father. Husband. Friend. Brother. Son. Grandson. Uncle. Cubs Fan. Digital.

Comments

0 Comments

Your Cart

Cart is empty

0