Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Civil War Sunday Special Edition - Topping the Dome

...the U.S Capital dome, that is.

150 years ago yesterday, December 2, 1863, the dome of the United States Capital was completed, as a statue was placed on its top.

What was so special about that?  Simply, our country was in the midst of fighting a war.  11 states had seceded from the United States and formed a separate country, the Confederate States of America, and the two countries went to war.  At stake - the continuation of our Union.  The border of the Confederacy (Virginia) was only a few miles from the United States Capital, Washington, DC.

And yet....

Construction of the dome was started in 1855.  When war broke out in 1861, construction continued.
Abraham Lincoln believed that the continuation of the dome construction symbolized the continuation of the Union.

A lot of that construction work was done by slaves.

The dome is topped by a statue, the Statue of Freedom. One of the men who labored on this statue was a slave, Philip Reid.  He started work on the statue, in 1860, as a slave.  He saw its completion, in 1863, as a free man, as slaves in the District of Columbia were emancipated on April 16, 1862 by the Compensated Emancipation Act.

Want to see what the dome looks like today, in a way you've never seen? This video aired on American TV Sunday night, and it helps to tell this interesting story of national will in the midst of war.  It's about 12 minutes long, but worth every minute of viewing.


  1. And, as the lattice-work (work scaffolds) comes down from about the Washington Monument, we can look forward to their erection about the Capitol Dome, as it undergoes two years of extensive repair.

  2. Wow that is incredible, especially about the statue of freedom!


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