The Capitol Dome

2017 Dome 54.1

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The Capitol's history is steeped in stories about efforts to create and maintain a repository for national meaning. Those efforts are as distant in time as George Washington's burial and as current as the recent restoration of the Dome. Matthew Costello's article shows how George Washington's body became a commodity in protracted negotia- tions that, two hundred years later, still leave their mark as an empty tomb below the Capitol Crypt. At the other extreme—in chronology as well as vertical distance—is the Capitol Dome. Alan Hantman's first-person narrative recounts the genesis of its most recent restoration, which was completed and celebrated in a formal ceremony on 2 December 2016. Hantman is uniquely posi- tioned to tell this story: as the 10th Architect of the Capitol, he led a federal agency whose 2,200-person workforce is virtually invisible to the millions of Americans who see their handi- work—in person, in books and newspapers, or on TV—every day of the year. Between 1997 and 2007, he was responsible for the architecture, engineering, renovation, new construction, historic preservation, and facilities manage- ment for the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and all congressional office buildings. He oversaw the planning, design, and construction of the 580,000 square foot Capitol Visitors Center, which is the build- ing's largest increment of growth since George Washington selected the Capitol design in 1793. A local collector's chance purchase of a rare C.A. Busby print launched the Society's sleuthing Resident Scholar on a journey back almost two hundred years to Charles Bulfinch's time, when the purpose and scope of the Capitol Rotunda was not yet settled, literally, in stone. Pam Scott brings her usual intrepidity and insight into retrieving Bulfinch's phantom designs for the most symbolic space in the Capitol. Like the Busby print that inspired Scott's article, the re-discovery of the Texas Legation Papers after 150 years is the inspiration behind Kenneth Stevens's article on a relatively unknown episode of federal government his- tory, when the future state of Texas was still a recently-proclaimed republic, and the "Texas Legation" was something between a foreign embassy and a congressional delegation. Finally, we conclude with the return of a feature that we will continue to revive periodi- cally in these pages. Book reviews offer readers a short-cut to the latest scholarship, which they can then choose to pursue at more length. Here, we consider the recent biography of former Rep- resentative Homer Thornberry (TX) and invite readers to recommend other books on congres- sional or Capitol history for future reviews. We are grateful to Bell Clement for her well-written and judicious review—as we are grateful to all our authors for this issue of The Capitol Dome. William diGiacomantonio From the Editor's Desk

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