The Statue of Freedom

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I always thought the statue on top of the US Capital dome was Mars, god of war.  Turns out I was wrong.  The statue is of a woman, The Statue of Freedom designed by Thomas Crawford and approved by Jefferson Davis in 1856. It is 19 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 15,000 pounds.

Crawford was working in a studio in Rome at the time.  The statue was divided into five plaster casts. The artist died suddenly in 1857 and his widow shipped out the crated plaster casts in 1958. During the voyage the ship was forced to stop in Gibraltar for repairs since it was leaking.  The trip ended in Bermuda because the ship could not go any further due to leakage. It was held in storage until they could figure out how to get it to New York.

By 1859 all the pieces reached Washington DC and the bronze casting work began in1860.  Work stopped temporarily due to the Civil War but the statue was finally raised in 1863 to a 35 gun salute.

In 1993 the statue was brought down by helicopter for restoration.  It was returned by helicopter four months later. That same year the plaster cast was assembled and put on display.  Today it can be seen in Emancipation Hall at the US Capital Visitor Center.

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US Capital Building

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Dome with Statue of Freedom

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President James A. Garfield

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