The Party of Lincoln desecrates Lincoln’s Monument to America

Photo by Christopher Ryan on Unsplash

Traditionally, President Lincoln has been credited for insisting that work on the dome continue because of its power to inspire confidence during the dark days of the Civil War. [n. 142, p.57 The Dome of the United States Capitol: An Architectural History. U. S. Government Printing Office 1992]

Along with all the Puritans and Pocahontas malarkey that’s taught as U. S. history, we are often reminded that British troops over-ran Washington during the War of 1812. On August 24, 1814, British troops burned the White House, and attempted to burn the Capitol to the ground, but ran short of fuel. They did succeed in destroying the entire 3000 volumes of the Library of Congress.

What we aren’t told is how important the Capitol was to George Washington, who laid the cornerstone, in an appropriately symbolic ceremony of Freemasonry, on September 18, 1793. Some seven months earlier he had signed into law the Fugitive Slave Act (cf. Article 4, Section 2–3, USC).

The Capitol dome was re-built in wood in 1818–24, under the direction of Charles Bulfinch, Architect of the Capitol. By the 1850’s a new design had been approved, and Bulfinch’s now leaking dome was dismantled between sessions of Congress in the fall of 1856. “Stones and bricks that could be reused were cleaned and stacked. Copper was carefully removed and stored. The timbers of the outer dome were cut and stacked to later fuel the steam engines that would help build the new dome … if anyone felt the least nostalgic at the sight of Bulfinch’s dome reduced to rubble, these sentiments were expressed privately. That dome was more often seen as an embarrassing relic. Soon a magnificent creation in cast iron would rise in its place.”

Motgomery C. Meigs was a Captain in the Army Corps of Engineers. During that time, construction of the Capitol was transferred from the Department of the Interior to the War Department, under the authority of Jefferson Davis. Davis was later Senator from Mississippi, before becoming President of the Confederacy. Meanwhile, engineer Meigs and architect Thomas Walter were having their own private war, each vying for control of the project.

In the spring of 1861, work on the dome was called to a halt by the Secretary of War. “… the Government was assailed by widespread conspiracy and corruption … and had no money to spend except in self-defense.” By May, 1862, work on the dome was returned to the Department of the Interior, and resumed this time under the direction of architect Thomas Walter.

During 1862 and 1863, approximately 1,250,000 pounds of cast iron was placed in the dome. At a quarter past noon on December 2, 1863, barely two weeks after President Abraham Lincoln had delivered his Gettysburg Address, the fifth and final section of Freedom was set in place atop the completed dome.

The 20-foot high bronze Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, was designed by Thomas Crawford, and cast by sculptor Clark Mills. A journalist from the New York Tribune wrote “… now that victory crowns our advances and the conspirators are being hedged in and vanquished everywhere, and the bonds are being freed, she comes forward, her hand outstretched in guaranty of National Unity and Personal Freedom.”

Walter, relieved and exhausted, wrote to his wife, “There was an immense crowd to witness the operation, and everything was done with propriety and dignity.”

Now, we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation — or any nation so conceived and so dedicated — can long endure.

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Carpenter: woodcarver with a bent for typography, music, poetry, good design & living well in peace and harmony. Un-apologetically Southern; literate…

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michael langford

michael langford

Carpenter: woodcarver with a bent for typography, music, poetry, good design & living well in peace and harmony. Un-apologetically Southern; literate…

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