Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24 - U.S. Library of Congress

The U.S. Library of Congress was established on April 24, 1800, by an Act signed by President John Adams that transferred the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital, Washington, D.C. The statute appropriated $5,000 to purchase books for the use of Congress and for “a suitable apartment” to house those books. The Library was destroyed in 1814, during the War of 1812, when the British burned the Capitol building and the trove of 3,000 books within it. Thomas Jefferson sold his entire personal collection of 6,487 books to the Library the following year. The Library’s main building, now named after Jefferson, was built in the Beaux-Arts style between 1890 and 1897 and contains some of the richest, most ornate public interiors in the United States, including the Great Hall (pictured), with sculpture and murals that proclaim the nationalism, optimism and confidence of the Gilded Age. Edwin Blashfield's murals in the dome of the reading room (pictured) are entitled “The Progress of Civilization.”

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