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pletion of the centre of the Capitol, in 1825, the library was removed to its present location.
On the 24th of December, 1851, the library, then num. bering 55,000 volumes, was partially destroyed by fire, which was accidentally communicated from a defective flue in the adjoining masonry ; 20,000 volumes, occupying a detached apartment, were saved, and among them, fortunately, was a large portion of the collection pur. chased of Mr. Jefferson.
Temporary accommodations were immediately prepared, and $10,000 appropriated for a commencement of the restoration of the books destroyed. By an act of March 19, 1852, an appropriation of $72,500 was made for the repair of the library room, and the present beautiful structure was completed and furnished, ready for occupation, on July 1, 1853. An appropriation of $75,000 was made, August 31, 1852, to meet the expense of the extraordinary purchase of books necessary to restore the library to its former state.
An annual appropriation of $5,000 is made for the purchase of miscellaneous books, and $2,000 for law books. Selections are carefully made from the best bibliographical and literary authorities, under the superintendence of the Joint Committee on the Library. The purchase of law books is directed by the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, in accordance with an act of Congress of July 14, 1832.
The library is general in selection, but is particularly full upon politics and international and civil law. The collectioni now numbers 70,000s volumes, exclusive of documents,—which are kept in separate libraries of the Senate and House, and number about 80,000 volumes, including
duplicates. The classification of the books, upon the shelves and in the catalogue, is the one adopted by Jefferson, and based upon Lord Bacon's division of learning. A complete and critical catalogue is now in press and nearly ready for publication.
According to the regulations established by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, the library is kept open every week-day during the sessions of Congress, from 9 o'clock A. M. until 3 P. M., and for the same hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays du. ring the recess. The use of the library is limited, by acts of Congress, to the President of the United States, the Vice-President, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Judges of the Supreme Court, Cabinet officers, the Diplomatic corps, the Secretary of the Senate, Clerk of the House of Representatives, and Agent of the Joint Committee on the Library.
The Law Library.—In the basement, directly under the hall of the Supreme Court, in the room formerly occupied by the court, is the Law Department of the Library of Congress, which is separated from the main library for the convenience of the court. The room of the same dimensions as the hall above, though less in height. The massive arches rest upon Doric columns, and the semicircular wall is studded with alcoves, containing 16,000 volumes of law; forming the choicest and most extensive collection upon the subject in America. It is particularly rich in works upon the civil, maritime, and commercial law. A complete catalogue was published in December, 1860.
The Old Hall of Representatives.—The magnificent hall formerly occupied by the House of Representatives, is situated in the south wing of the centre building, between the rotunda and the present hall of the House. This stately hall is one of the most interesting relics of the history of Congress. The grand and imposing architecture still remains firm, like the Constitution, bidding defiance, as it were, to all change. It is semicircular in form, 95 feet in length, and 60 feet in height to the apex of the vaulted ceiling. Twenty-four massive Corinthian columns, of variegated green breccia, support the entablature, from which springs the domed ceiling, beautifully painted in panel to imitate that of the Pantheon at Rome. From the centre of the ceiling rises a handsomely painted cupola, through which the light is admitted. In the tympanum of the arch stands a colossal statue of Liberty, modeled in plaster, by Signor Causici. Beneath this figure, upon the entablature, is the American eagle, modeled from life, and cut in sandstone, by Signor Valaperti. Over the main entrance from the rotunda, is a beautiful statue, by Franzoni, representing History standing in a winged car, the wheel of which, resting on a globe, forms the face of a clock. The figure lends a listening ear, and, with pen and volume in hand, seems about to record the events as time rolls on. A full-length portrait of Lafayette adorns the western wall of the hall,— a present to Congress on the occasion of his visit to the United States, in 1825. The opposite wall bears a fulllength portrait of Washington, painted by Vanderlyn, by order of Congress, for which he received $2,500.
The Speaker's chair and desks have been removed, and the grand corridor traverses the hall to the south wing. The galleries, occupying the space between the columns and the wall, are to be removed, and the floor laid with tessellated pavement, when the hall will form an open court, serving as an additional rotunda, and as a receptacle for historical paintings and sculpture.
The Document Library of the House.—This library occupies very incommodious apartments situated in the second story of the old south wing, and is reached by a flight of stairs at the left of the entrance of the old hall of Representatives. It contains about 65,000 volumes of documents, laws, reports, debates, and newspapers, and is accessible to members of Congress, and persons introduced by them. The library is to be removed to more suitable and convenient apartments in the south wing. It is in charge of a librarian appointed by the Clerk of the House.
The Commissioner of Public Buildings.—This officer has in charge the care of the public buildings in the city, the public parks and grounds, and all streets and avenues under the control of the government. He is appointed by the President, whom it is customary for him to serve in the capacity of usher at receptions and on occasions of ceremony. The Commissioner is assisted in his other duties by clerks, and occupies apartments on the west front of the basement story of the centre building of the Capitol.
The Court of Claims.—This court occupies rooms upon the basement story of the centre building of the Capitol, on the western front. . The formation and duties of the court will be included in the chapter on the judicial department of the government.
The Capitol Grounds.—The Capitol is skirted on the western front by a stone terrace twenty-five feet wide, from which the glacis is descended by a double flight of stone steps to a second terrace or embankment, from which a second flight of steps leads to the sloping park below. These grounds are traversed by three flagged walks, fifteen feet wide, diverging from the foot of the first flight of steps and terminating at heavy stone gateways in the lofty iron palisade which surrounds the park. This park is ornamented with flower-beds and graveled walks, and a fountain in the centre, throwing a jet one hundred feet in height.
In the eastern park is a colossal statue of Washington, executed in marble by Horatio Greenough. He is
represented sitting in a curule chair, his body nude to the waist, the right arm and lower limbs being draped. In his left hand he presents a Roman sword, hilt foremost, while with his right he points to heaven. The statue rests upon a pedestal of granite, twelve feet high, upon which is inscribed, “George Washington, First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of his Countrymen.” This statue is evidently an imitation of the antique statue of Jupiter Tonans. The ancients made their statues of Jupiter naked above and draped below, as being visible to the gods but invisible to men. This is eminently the case with this statue, being sufficiently exposed to the heavens, but scarcely recognizable, in this garb, to his countrymen.
The Capitol Guard:—The Capitol is protected by a vigilant police force, whose duty is to keep the peace and preserve order in and about the building and grounds, by day and night. There is a guard-room in the basement,