The crowning function of the Dome that the U.S. Capitol stands 19 feet 6 inch tall and weighs about 15,000 pounds.

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Statue that Freedom is a timeless female number with long, flow hair wearing a helmet through a crest composed of one eagle’s head and feathers. She put on a classic dress secured through a brooch enrolled "U.S." over it is draped a heavy, flowing, toga-like robe fringed with fur and also decorative balls. Her appropriate hand rests upon the hilt that a sheathed knife wrapped in a scarf; in her left hand she stop a laurel wreath the victory and also the shield that the United says with 13 stripes.

The helmet is encircled by ripe stars. Ten bronze points tipped v platinum are attached to her headdress, shoulders and shield for security from lightning. She was standing on a cast-iron cut down topped with a world encircled with the motto E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one). The lower part of the pedestal is decorated through fasces (symbols that the government of government) and wreaths. The base is 18-1/2 feet high and nearly doubles the total height. The stakes of Freedom’s headdress rises 288 feet above the east Front Plaza.

Statue of freedom does not wear or host a knitted liberty cap, together would have actually been expected in nineteenth-century art. The knit cap noted to freed servants in ancient Rome had actually been adopted as the prize of liberty or freedom throughout the American and also French Revolutions and also was usually displayed as red. The Statue of Freedom"s crested helmet and also sword, saying she is all set to protect the nation, are more commonly associated with Minerva or Bellona, roman goddesses the war. The background of the statue"s architecture explains why she attract a helmet quite than a liberty cap. The story the her casting reveals that some of the human being who functioned to create Freedom were not themselves free.

Background & design Process

A huge statue because that the peak of the nationwide Capitol was component of Architect cutting board U. Walter"s original style for a new cast-iron dome, which to be authorized by conference in 1855. Walter"s first drawing confirmed a 16-foot statue hold a liberty cap on the lengthy rod with which a servant would be symbolically touched during a consciousness bestowing his freedom in old Rome.

Construction Superintendent Captain Montgomery Meigs, that was overseeing the imaginative decoration that the Capitol extensions, had already engaged American sculptor thomas Crawford to create other sculptures because that the building, including the Senate pediment. He additionally had Crawford do models for the two bronze doors and also for the numbers of justice and background over the Senate door. Born in new York City, Crawford had created a studio in Rome. His portrait statues and also groups of classical and historical numbers had earned him a reputation together both talented and also prolific.

On might 11, 1855, Meigs composed to the artist in ~ his studio to commission the statue because that the dome. Concerning its subject, Meigs wrote, "We have too many Washingtons, we have actually America in the pediment. Victories and Liberties are fairly pagan emblems, yet a Liberty I fear is the ideal we have the right to get."

Crawford finished up creating a collection of three maquettes (preliminary tiny models) numerous feet high and also sending photographs the them come Meigs for approval. He explained his an initial design with a female number wearing a wreath the wheat and also laurel together "Freedom triumphant—in Peace and War."

However, as soon as Meigs sent out him a copy the the drawing for the dome, Crawford realized the his statue essential to it is in taller and stand upon a an ext prominent pedestal. He climate sculpted a graceful figure in a classic dress attract a liberty lid encircled through stars, holding a shield, wreath, and also sword, i beg your pardon he said represented equipped Liberty. It was sent out to Secretary of battle Jefferson Davis, who remained in charge of the as whole construction in ~ the Capitol. Davis objected to the liberty cap, the prize of freed slaves, due to the fact that "its background renders it unreasonable to a human being who to be born totally free and must not be enslaved." Davis suggested a helmet v a circle of stars. In response, Crawford design a crested variation of a roman helmet, "the crest of i beg your pardon is composed of an eagle’s head and a bold setup of feathers, said by the costume of our Indian tribes." This 3rd design was authorized by Jefferson Davis in April 1856.

Original design for Statueof Freedom
Second style for Statueof Freedom
Approved architecture forStatue that Freedom

Crawford enforcement the full-size clay design in his studio in Rome. It to be then cast in plaster in five significant sections. He passed away suddenly in 1857 prior to the model left his studio, and also his widow transport the model, packed into six crates, in a little sailing courage in the feather of 1858. Throughout the voyage the ship began to leak and stopped in Gibraltar because that repairs. After ~ leaving Gibraltar, the ship started leaking again to the allude that it might go no farther 보다 Bermuda, wherein the crates were left in warehouse until other transportation can be arranged. Half of the crates arrived in brand-new York in December, however all part were no in Washington till late march 1859.

Beginning in 1860, the frosting was actors in 5 main part by Clark Mills, who bronze foundry was situated on the outskirts of Washington. Occupational was halted in 1861 because of the polite War, yet by the finish of 1862, with the help of the slave Philip Reid, the statue was finished and temporarily presented on the Capitol Grounds. The cost of the statue, exclusive of installation, was $23,796.82. Late in 1863, building and construction of the dome to be sufficiently advanced for the environment of the statue, which was hoisted in sections and also assembled atop the cast-iron pedestal. The last section, the figure"s head and also shoulders, was raised on December 2, 1863, to a salute that 35 guns answered through the firearms of the 12 forts about Washington.

The Plaster Model

The version of the frosting of freedom is a item of history itself. Because its fabrication, the 15,000-pound plaster model has been segmented, moved and also stored numerous times. It also left the Capitol in 1890 and was moved to the Smithsonian whereby it was shown in the Arts and Industries structure from 1900 come 1967. Sawn apart and in storage until 1992, the design made a last return to the Capitol the year many thanks to accumulation donated come the U.S. Capitol conservation Commission.

Architect that the Capitol ( painter basic Supervisor Ken Riley was one of the hand-operated guys throughout restoration the the model, which at first took place on the Russell Senate Office Building"s loading dock. One Construction division paint crew exfoliated practically every square inch of the statue"s leaded repaint surface. "The biggest challenge was no damaging the brittle — and historic — plaster substrate," states Riley, who spent plenty of hours top top the loading dock closely scraping off the molting paint.

The paint crew placed on a inside wall undercoat to preserve the original plaster and also to administer a barrier coat that protection. Tiny voids and also imperfections were filled through a setting type compound and also sanded smooth and level.

Riley additionally worked ~ above filling and sanding the model’s shield, i m sorry he believed looked like it had actually been in a battle. "Because I"d worked on the reconstruction of the pedestal on peak of the Capitol, I"d watched the bronze statue"s shield increase close through its beautiful concise directly lines. I knew the the plaster version must have at once looked choose that therefore I ended up spending a the majority of time working to exactly the alignment that the 13 stripes top top the shield."

From the loading dock, the design in two huge pieces was crated and transported — with simply inches to preventive in several of the narrow hallways — to the basement rotunda of the Russell Building.

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The statue of liberty model continued to be on view in the Russell basement rotunda till 2008 as soon as the opened of the Capitol visitant Center listed a an are where visitors might truly evaluate it. It is now the centerpiece that Emancipation Hall, and also visitors can see details that the design that would certainly be impossible for castle to watch from the soil looking up in ~ the copper statue atop the Capitol.