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Marble Used For The United States Capitol Building 1852

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(UNITED STATES CAPITOL BUILDING). Describing the method and pricing for cutting marble for the expanded U.S. Capitol Building in 1852.

July 6, 1852-Dated, Autograph Letter Signed, “Duff Green” (a political journalist), describing the cutting of marble for use in rebuilting and expanding the United States Capitol Building. The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the home of the United States Congress, and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Addressed to the Secretary of the Interior, this 2-page Letter with Integral Address Leaf, measures 9.75" x 7.5" and has a Docket on the back reading: “56, Washington, July 6. 52. Duff Green.” Asking if a contract for cutting the marble for the Pub:(lic) Building could be obtained by the Patentees of a machine which will do the work much cheaper." On the first page fo this Letter, Green states, in part:

"I am now informed that you intend to let the cutting of the marble for the Capital (sic) to contractors and therefore write to you to say that there are responsible persons who will contract to cut the marble for the Capital with much greater dispatch, much better in execution & at a rate much less say than by three & one third per cent less than any other person can do it..."

The U.S. Capitol Building was built during the early 1800s, but was greatly expanded during the 1850s. Some of the construction labor was actually carried out by Slaves, although the original plan was to use specialized workers brought in from Europe. However, after there was a poor response to the European worker recruitment efforts, African Americans, being both Free and as Slaves, composed the majority of the work force on the building project. A very rare and of highly original content original letter.
The original design in 1800 by Thornton was later modified by the famous British-American architects Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Sr., and then Charles Bulfinch. The current cast-iron dome and the House's new southern extension and Senate new northern wing were designed by Thomas U. Walter and August Schoenborn, a German immigrant, in the 1850s, and were completed under the supervision of Edward Clark.

By 1850, it became clear that the Capitol could not accommodate the growing number of legislators arriving from newly admitted states. A new design competition was held, and President Millard Fillmore appointed Philadelphia architect Thomas U. Walter to carry out the expansion. Two new wings were added – a new chamber for the House of Representatives on the south side, and a new chamber for the Senate on the north.

When the Capitol was expanded in the 1850s, some of the construction labor was carried out by slaves "who cut the logs, laid the stones and baked the bricks". The original plan was to use workers brought in from Europe; however, there was a poor response to recruitment efforts, and African Americans, some free and some enslaved, composed the majority of the work force.

Lot Number: 148
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