TEMPLE OF LIBERTY: Building the Capitol for a New Nation

CONCLUSION: Writing to Benjamin Franklin in 1782, patriot Robert Morris remarked that "in a Government like ours the Belief creates the Thing." Certainly the belief in what the Capitol could convey about that government sustained the many statesmen and architects who created the building. Conceived in the spirit of ancient republics, slowly built to embody the political and social values of the Constitution, and nurtured by the continuous unfolding of national events, the Capitol's art and archtecture presents the broad sweep of American aspirations and history. Today the Capitol is a distillation of two hundred years of what Henry James, writing in The American Scene in 1907, called the "whole American spectacle." Even before it was finished, numerous prints began to make the Capitol a familiar icon, as architecturally vital and ambitious as the institutions it housed.

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