National Geographic : 1964 Jan
Following a session of the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Harry F. Byrd (left) of Virginia and ranking minority member John J. Williams of Delaware exchange views about a proposal to reduce income taxes. They and 15 colleagues on the 'com mittee screen revenue legislation originating in the House. Approved bills go before the full Senate for a vote. Youthful House Pages Perform a Happy Chore: Signing the Payroll In blue suits, white shirts, and black ties, 76 Congressional pages spend the average day scurrying through Capitol corridors. The boys, selected by Members of Congress, run errands and distribute documents. Fourteen to 18 years old,theyreceive $315.45 amonth. From 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. they attend school in the Library of Congress. goddess's headdress that has led people since to confuse her with Pocahontas-or even to fancy that a big bird was roosting there. The truth is even stranger. Sculptor Thomas Crawford had designed his "Armed Liberty" as a woman wearing the liberty cap of emancipated slaves in Roman times. In 1856 he changed her name to "Free dom" and her headdress to a helmet trailing eagle feathers because the official then in charge of Capitol architecture objected to the cap as "the badge of the freed slave" and "inappropriate to a people who were born free...." The official was Jefferson Davis, future President of the Confederacy. Prize: $500 and a City Lot To a surprising degree, U. S. Presidents from Washington to Lincoln had a hand in the 72-year construction of the Capitol. Con gress itself authorized their role in acts begin ning with the selection of the Potomac area as the permanent seat of government. George Washington approved the Capitol's hilltop site in 1791 on a horseback tour of the neighborhood with his city planner, the French engineer-genius Maj. Pierre Charles L'En fant. In laying out the future metropolis in a rolling, wooded wilderness, L'Enfant called the Capitol's 88-foot hill "a pedestal waiting for a monument." To obtain an architectural design for the monument, an open competition was ad vertised, offering a prize of $500 and a city lot. The winner was Dr. William Thornton amateur architect, professional physician, and man of many interests, from poetry and KODACHROMESBY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERGEORGEF. MOBLEY © N.G .S . (ABOVE) AND U. S. CAPITOL HISTORICAL SOCIETY painting to steamboats and techniques to help the deaf. His drawings pictured the future Capitol as a stately structure with a low domed center, flanked by two balancing wings for House and Senate. President Washington's enthusiasm assured acceptance of Thornton's entry. It had just what was wanted, he wrote, "Grandeur, Sim plicity and Convenience." It "captivated the eyes and judgment of all," agreed Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State. Washington Watches Capitol Rise The first President laid the Capitol's cor nerstone in 1793 in an elaborate combination of civic and Masonic ceremonies, after the custom of the time. He approved Dr. Thorn ton's work as first architect of the Capitol, and watched over the building's trouble-strewn progress with the same devoted care he lav ished on his "own Vine and... Fig tree" at nearby Mount Vernon. Washington, however, did not live to see the Capitol occupied. On November 22, 1800, President John Adams addressed the first Joint Session of Congress to meet in the handsome Senate Chamber. Standing with plump dignity in long coat and knee breeches, he spoke to the young Republic's leaders on the peace and prosperity that then marked the "State of the Union." He congratulated the gentle men of Congress "on the prospect of a resi dence not to be changed." By 1801 the House, Senate, Supreme Court, and a Circuit Court had crowded into the one small building available to the law makers. But expansion soon began.