Posted by Sen. Reid's Staff on 3/1/2012 - 2:43 PM
I recently joined my friend Congressman John Lewis and other members of Congress to unveil a new marker that honors the contributions of slave laborers that built the U.S. Capitol. More than 100 slaves worked in treacherous conditions, in the blistering sun and freezing cold, to raise the historic building.
Since its completion, the Capitol has come to be known as the “Temple of Liberty.” But the men and women that cut and hauled the stones to form the walls of that temple never had the opportunity to enjoy the basic freedoms which the building epitomizes.
In reflecting on these important contributions, we consider that even the statue that adorns the dome of the Capitol was built by a slave named Philip Reid. The name of the statue, “Freedom,” was placed atop the dome the same year that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The memory of those that built the Capitol has now been enshrined in the Capitol Visitor Center, and future generations of Americans will be able to acknowledge their important legacy.
The new marker, a block of sandstone formerly built into the Capitol’s East Front Portico, will be an enduring symbol of the work that remains to ensure every American is not only created equal under God, but also treated equally on earth.
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