Objectives


The East Front of the United States Capitol

(Days 6-7)

Over the course of this two-day lesson, SWBAT use primary and secondary source document analysis techniques to publish a 1-page word processed response to the essential quesions:

  1. How did the conflict over building the Capitol and the conflict over slavery interact?
  2. How did major historical events leading up to Civil War and the conflict influence the building/construction of the Capitol?

Graphic representation of Lesson Objective. Teacher can reproduce this graphic organizer to differentiate instruction.

Standards

Link to Common Core Standards for History/Social Studies (Grades 6-8)

  • RH.6-8.1.
  • RH.6-8.2.
  • RH.6-8.4.
  • RH.6-8.5.
  • RH.6-8.6.
  • RH.6-8.7.
  • RH.6-8.8.
  • RH.6-8.9.

Link to Common Core Standards for Writing (Grades 6-8)

  • WHST.6-8.1.
  • WHST.6-8.2.
  • WHST.6-8.4.
  • WHST.6-8.5.
  • WHST.6-8.7.
  • WHST.6-8.8.
  • WHST.6-8.9.

DCPS Social Studies Standards



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Resources

In addition to the primary and secondary sources lited below, students will also use their US History textbook as a reference.

Document Based Activity Big Ideas



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Document Analysis

Lesson 4 - Intersection of slavery and Capitol extension

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Key to Documents



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Warm Up

In mixed ability cooperative learning group, students will receive a Construction Sequence Diagram and given several pictures, will have to put them in sequential order. Thorton's original designs (3), Latrobe's plans (3) have been included as the outliers.  Each group will give a brief (2 minutes max) presentation on their results and rationale.

Teacher will debrief the exercise with a discussion of possible reasons why the architect's original designs were not used in the construction/extension of the Capitol.

Extension: Students and teachers can explore the  Architect's Virtual Capitol


Construction Sequence Diagram - The numbers on this drawing show the order in which different sections of the Capitol were built. The dates below are for each section's first construction period and do not include rebuilding or repair.

Thornton's East Elevation of the Capitol, ca. 1796 President George Washington favored the design for its "grandeur, simplicity, and convenience"

This model shows how the Capitol would have looked if it had been completed according to the designs of Dr. William Thornton, the first Architect of the Capitol, as shown in his architectural drawings. An amateur architect from the British West Indies, Dr. Thornton was awarded $500 and a city lot for his design of the Capitol. A domed rotunda based on the ancient Roman temple called the Pantheon is the central feature of Thornton's composition. It is flanked by identical wings: one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives. This model shows how the original Capitol would have looked if Thornton's design had been carried out unaltered by those in charge of its construction. The principal feature of Dr. Thornton's design for the Capitol's West Front was a central circular conference room placed between the north and south wings. Around 1797 Thornton decided that the conference room would be topped by a circular colonnade and dome intended as a "Temple of Fame." While the flanking wings were built according to Thornton's design, the conference room and "Temple of Fame" were never constructed.

West Front The principal feature of Dr. Thornton's design for the Capitol's West Front was a central circular conference room placed between the north and south wings. Around 1797 Thornton decided that the conference room would be topped by a circular colonnade and dome intended as a "Temple of Fame." While the flanking wings were built according to Thornton's design, the conference room and "Temple of Fame" were never constructed.

A domed rotunda based on the ancient Roman temple called the Pantheon is the central feature of Thornton's composition. It is flanked by identical wings: one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives. This model shows how the original Capitol would have looked if Thornton's design had been carried out unaltered by those in charge of its construction.

The North Wing of the Capitol in 1800 The Capitol's north wing was the only section of the building that had been completed when the Federal government moved to its new city in 1800. It was shared by the House, the Senate, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the district courts, and other offices.

After being appointed Architect of the Capitol by President Thomas Jefferson, B.H. Latrobe proposed design changes to the central section. He wished to raise the dome on a drum, lengthen the portico, and add a central flight of steps. This model illustrates how the Capitol would have appeared if all of Latrobe's alterations to the original design had been carried out.

West Front A temple-like entrance gate flanked by residences for the doorkeepers of the House of Representatives and the Senate was the principal feature of Latrobe's revised design for the Capitol's West Front. The colonnaded central building shown in the model replaced Dr. William Thornton's original idea for a circular conference room. Neither the entrance gate nor this design for the central building was actually built.

(ca. 1806) This model shows how the Capitol would have looked if it had been completed according to the designs of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the second Architect of the Capitol, as shown in his architectural drawings. After being appointed Architect of the Capitol by President Thomas Jefferson, B.H. Latrobe proposed design changes to the central section. He wished to raise the dome on a drum, lengthen the portico, and add a central flight of steps. This model illustrates how the Capitol would have appeared if all of Latrobe's alterations to the original design had been carried out. A temple-like entrance gate flanked by residences for the doorkeepers of the House of Representatives and the Senate was the principal feature of Latrobe's revised design for the Capitol's West Front. The colonnaded central building shown in the model replaced Dr. William Thornton's original idea for a circular conference room. Neither the entrance gate nor this design for the central building was actually built.

The United States Capitol building. A Presentation drawing by Benjamin Latrobe, showing the Capitol's east facade. Washington, D.C. Benjamin Latrobe watercolor, ca. 1806

The Capitol after the Fire of 1814 Aside from blackened stone, little damage from the 1814 fire was visible on the outside of the Capitol. The inside, however, was "a most magnificent ruin."

(1829) This model shows the Capitol as it was completed by Charles Bulfinch, the third Architect of the Capitol. When Charles Bulfinch was appointed Architect of the Capitol in 1818, the Capitol had been under construction for 25 years. His principal contributions to the exterior appearance of the Capitol are the west central building, the copper-covered wooden dome, and the landscaped grounds enclosed by an iron and stone fence. Bulfinch built the east central portico using Thornton's design as modified by Latrobe. This model shows how the Capitol and the grounds looked from the time of their completion in 1829 until their enlargement in the latter half of the nineteenth century. An interesting feature of the West Front was the earthen and masonry terrace, which created courtyards that hid privies and other necessities best kept out of public view. In front of the terrace staircases stood the monument erected in memory of naval officers who died in the war with Tripoli; the monument was moved to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1860.

West Front 1829

View from the Northeast

View from the Northeast

View from the Northeast

The Capitol's East Front in 1846 This 1846 photograph is among the earliest known of the Capitol. It shows the building's first dome, which was made of brick, wood, and copper.

The East Front after the Removal of the Bulfinch Dome A tripodal derrick resting on the floor of the Rotunda lifted the pieces of the new dome into place.

Dome Construction in 1858 The thirty-six hollow cast-iron columns that form the peristyle of the dome were set in place atop supporting brackets. A fence erected to keep local livestock out of the construction area can be seen in the foreground. Dome Construction in 1858

The East Front ca. 1861 As the dome continued to rise, cast-iron pieces from the foundry (foreground) awaited installation. The East Front ca. 1861

The Capitol with Its New Terraces in 1906 The Capitol and its new marble terraces gleam in this 1906 photograph.

The East Front in 1956 This photograph shows the east front before the 1958-1962 extension project. The 1961 photograph is taken from a similar vantage point and shows the east front after the east central front was extended 32-1/2 feet.

The East Front in 1959 This photograph shows the east front during the 1958-1962 extension project. The central steps and portico have been removed to make way for the foundations of the new space.

The East Front in 1961 This photograph shows the east front after the 1958-1962 extension project, which added 32-1/2 feet to the east central front. The difference between this image and the 1956 photograph taken from a similar vantage point is most evident in the fact that dome now appears better "centered" on the building.

The West Front Scaffolded for Restoration Work Between 1983 and 1987 approximately 40 percent of the exterior sandstone was replaced with limestone, and stainless steel tie rods were set into the masonry to strengthen the structure.

The West Front of the Capitol (Present)

New Material

In a US News Opinion Article, Guy Gugliotta author of Freedom's Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War spoke about why future secessionist Jefferson Davis had to persuade Congress to build the Capitol and what Americans can learn from that struggle now.

Why did the United States need a new Capitol?

Having just won the Mexican War, the United States had accumulated a huge tract of territory. There was still plenty of vacant territory left over from the Louisiana Purchase. With these territories clamoring to become states, all of the sudden you are going to have many more senators and many more congressmen in Washington, and the existing building, which is now the center section of the current building, was simply not big enough. The existing Capitol was pretty hard-used. It was leaking, nothing had really been done on it since 1829, there were rotting timbers, trash everywhere. In the House chamber, which is now called Statuary Hall, it was impossible to hear. Several people suggested that one of the reasons Congress was at each others' throats all the time was that nobody could understand anybody else, so instead of having normal conversations, they were screeching at each other all the time, so everybody got mad. It was bedlam.

Why were so many lawmakers opposed to the idea of building a new Capitol initially?

Most people were very much local. They were very much into their states, into their communities. They really didn't pay much attention to the federal government. The federal government was a necessary evil. It was someplace to go where you could get taxes raised. But Jefferson Davis saw the United States and all that it could become because he had a much larger perspective. He had a national vision that most of his colleagues didn't have.

Why were so many lawmakers opposed to the idea of building a new Capitol initially?

Most people were very much local. They were very much into their states, into their communities. They really didn't pay much attention to the federal government. The federal government was a necessary evil. It was someplace to go where you could get taxes raised. But Jefferson Davis saw the United States and all that it could become because he had a much larger perspective. He had a national vision that most of his colleagues didn't have.

How could the man who was the early champion of the U.S. Capitol be the same man who led the Southern secession?

I think Jefferson Davis was almost a split personality. When Congress is debating what becomes the Great Compromise [of 1850], and Davis at that point is a senator from Mississippi, there is nobody that is more of a states' rights, pro-slavery guy than him. He threatens secession all the time, he's got a really bad temper, and he is really nasty to cross. At the same time, he is very much an advocate of improving and increasing the reach of the United States. I think where he gets this is that he was a West Point graduate, a Mexican War hero, an Army veteran. He was in his 40s at this time, and at that moment he had probably traveled around the country and knew more about the country just as much as anybody in the United States.

How did the conflict over building the Capitol and the conflict over slavery interact?

Enthusiasm for building the new Capitol in 1850 is really minimal. At the same time, the desire to have a solution to the slavery problem with the Great Compromise is huge. As the decade progresses, the enthusiasm for the Capitol starts to grow just as the hope for a solution there begins to deteriorate. Very gradually, the Capitol becomes a symbol of what the nation could become if there wasn't this other horrible problem. As the country sinks into despair, the Capitol rises.

Practice

Over the course of this two day lesson, students will continue to practice primary and secondary source document analysis.  In their mixed abilty cooperative groups, students will summarize, analyze, and categorize documents in preparation to write a 1-page response to the essential questions.  

Compromise of 1850

Slavery (Pre Civil War)

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Slavery (Pre Civil War)

Slavery (Pre Civil War)

Kansas-Nebraska Act

Slavery (Pre Civil War)

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Slavery (Pre Civil War)

Dred Scott decision

Slavery (Pre Civil War)

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News of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry stunned northerners and southerners alike. Adding to the hysteria were early newspaper reports with their sensational headlines, including this one from the October 18 issue of the New York Herald, which spoke of "Extensive Negro Conspiracy in Virginia and Maryland." Southerners were especially frightened, fearing that widespread insurrection was imminent. They drove out northerners and suspected antislavery sympathisers,1 and when they learned that northerners were mourning Brown's death and even depicted him as a martyr, they became incensed. The raid prompted the Richmond Enquirer to state that, "[the] invasion has advanced the cause of disunion more than any other event that has happened since the formation of [our] government." Slavery (Pre Civil War)

Slavery (Pre Civil War)

John Brown's address to the court 1859

Slavery (Pre Civil War)

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Territorial Growth to 1853 (Pre Civil War)

"Spirit of the Frontier" painted in 1872 by artist John Gast depicting people moving west and captured the spirit of the people at that time. (Territorial Expansion Pre Civil War)

Mexican Cession (Territorial Expansion Pre Civil War)

Map used in the consideration of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Territorial Expansion Pre Civil War)

United States Capitol (Pre Civil War/Civil War)

Capitol 1846 (Pre Civil War)

Capitol 1852 (Pre Civil War)

Capitol 1856 (Pre Civil War)

Capitol 1858 (Pre Civil War)

Capitol 1861 (Pre Civil War/Civil War)

Capitol 1862 (Civil War)

Capitol 1863 (Civil War)

Philip Reid Packet

There are several middle grades appropriate resources to use in this document relating to the Capitol.

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Statue of Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace

Statue of Freedom on Pedestal

The Head and Helmet of the Statue of Freedom This photograph was taken in 1993 while the Statue of Freedom was located on the Capitol's east front plaza for restoration. A helicopter was used to remove the statue from the top of the dome in May and to return it to its pedestal in October.

Excerpt Freedom's Cap 1850



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Excerpt Freedom's Cap 1863



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Jefferson Davis farewell address to Senate



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Emancipation Proclamation

13th Amendment

The Constitution

See 13th, 14th & 15th Amendment

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Recruitment of black soldiers

-recruitment poster -excerpts of speeches of Frederick Douglass

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54th Massachusetts Regiment



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War Department Order

Bureau of Colored Troops

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Lincoln's Evolving Thoughts On Slavery, And Freedom


NPR

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Lincoln's Views on Slavery



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States admitted during and following Civil War

Order States entered the Union

Current Congressional Representatives

Building the Capitol Visitor Center





Capitol Visitor Center



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Capitol Dome Restoration



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Capitol Restoration



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Assessment

Using the primary and secondary source document analysis techniques practiced throughout the unit, students will publish a 1-page word processed response to the essential quesions:
  1. How did the conflict over building the Capitol and the conflict over slavery interact?
  2. How did major historical events leading up to Civil War and the conflict influence the building/construction of the Capitol?

Closure and Reflection

[The closure of a lesson should directly tie the new material, student practice, instructional objectives, and assessment together. It should also connect this lesson to the previous lesson and link to the next lesson(s). In this is space you can also include your notes about how the lesson went. You should indicate what worked well, what was problematic, ideas for modifying the lesson for future use, and how this particular lesson ties in with others in the same curricular unit.]