The Capitol Dome

The Capitol Dome 56.1

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I n March 2018, a USCHS lunchtime lecture audience was held in thrall by Dr. Elise Friedman's presen- tation, "Pompeii on the Potomac." The title is a riff on other tongue-in-cheek tributes to Washington as "Paris on the Potomac," "Hollywood on the Potomac," and even "Babylon on the Potomac." But Pompeii? The Roman city destroyed by fi re and ash in 79 C.E. gave its name almost 1800 years later to the style that ornaments the Senate Appropriations Room (S-127). Dr. Friedman's research opened a window onto Constantino Brumidi's uniquely compelling deco- rative program for one of the most important but least accessible working spaces in the Brumidi Corridors. Unlike most of our lunchtime lectures, C-SPAN was not able to record her presentation, so we are especially pleased to make her fi ndings available to a larger audi- ence through these pages. We hope readers will enjoy walking hand-in-hand with a trained archeologist as she unearths the buried sources for Brumidi's masterpiece. The remaining two articles in this issue illustrate episodes that dramatically affected the trajectory of a member of Congress's life of public service, or that cast a new perspective on a member's more conven- tional biographical treatment. First, Lorraine Tong describes a biographical sidelight easily overshadowed in the longer life narrative of Sen. Alan Cranston. Many years before representing California in the U.S. Senate (1969–93), Cranston was a budding young journalist who fi led eye-witness reports from his foreign desk assignments in Europe from 1936 to 1938. Upon his return, Cranston deployed his formidable powers of analysis and German-language skills to provide the fi rst American edition (abridged) of Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf—one that would not leave out or whitewash the impending horrors of the Nazi state machinery and its genocidal ideology. Cranston's edition of Mein Kampf was quashed by a court injunction and ultimately (1941) impounded for copyright infringement. But by then, two years into WWII, the world had other proof of Hitler's plans for world domination. Another 60 years later, at Cranston's memorial service in San Francisco, then-Sen. Joe Biden spoke for many of his colleagues when he said that "Most of us would consider it a successful career if we did nothing other than be sued by Adolph Hitler." Ryan Conner accesses rarely tapped primary sources to provide pendant perspectives by one of American history's legendary political couples on three distinct episodes in congressional history. As a U.S. senator, secretary of state, and fi nally as a single-dis- trict representative from Massachusetts, John Quincy Adams kept minute and candid records of his break with the Federalists in 1808, on the Missouri Com- promise in 1820, and on his antislavery petition cam- paign of the 1830s. His wife, Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, recorded her own observations on the same topics, during the same periods. But the difference between their writings' viewpoints, tones, and intended audiences are stark and revealing. Nothing better high- lights those differences than the title of Louisa's auto- biography, "Adventures of a Nobody": it is both play- fully ironic and heart-renderingly confessional at the same time. Nobody who knows anything about John Quincy would suspect his robust self-esteem capable of subscribing his name to such a memoir. Like the other articles in this issue, Conner's piece challenges readers to appreciate different styles—of art, political activism, and introspective writing—in new and complex ways. William diGiacomantonio From the Editor's Desk

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