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Look On Top Of The Dome

If you carefully examine the top of the Capitol dome, you will discover the Statue of Freedom, originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace. “The statue depicts a female figure wearing a military helmet and holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left.”

Freedom is a huge bronze figure 19½ feet tall and weighing 15,000 pounds. Freedom faces east towards the main entrance of the building and the ‘rising Sun’, and she is very similar to Columbia. It’s hard to keep up with all of them.

At a cost of a mere $23,796.82 she was constructed, excluding the price of installation. Work was stopped in 1861 because of the Civil War (1861-1865), and in 1862 she was temporarily displayed on the grounds.

Ironically, Jefferson Davis then Mississippi senator, yes later to be Confederate president, was actually in charge of capitol construction. Davis was unhappy with the original liberty cap (similar to France’s bonnet rouge), and had them change it to a helmet. Just like the Madame Defarge character in the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

She was cast in five main sections by Mills, whose bronze foundry was located on the outskirts of Washington, and instead of paying those high wages to the current foreman on hand, the task went to a slave, Philip Reid. Sounds like modern times doesn’t it?

William A Cox notes the following: “… the facts are that [Freedom's] successful taking apart and handling in parts as a model was due to the faithful service and genius of an intelligent negro in Washington named Philip Reed (sic), a mulatto slave owned by Mr. Clark Mill, and that much credit is due him for his faithful and intelligent services rendered in modeling and casting America’s superb Statue of Freedom, which kisses the first rays of the aurora of the rising sun as they appear upon the apex of the Capitol’s wonderful dome.” Emphasis mine.

The final section was raised on December 2, 1863, to a salute of 35 guns answered by the guns of the 12 forts around Washington.

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