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tractors, and preparing cases thereon for the action of the Postmaster-General ; furnishing blanks for mail registers and reports of mail failures; providing and sending out mail bags and mail locks and keys, and doing all other things which may be necessary to secure a faithful and exact performance of all mail contracts.
All cases of mail depredation, of violations of law by private expresses, or by the forging and illegal use of postage stamps, are under the supervision of this office, and should be reported to it.
All communications respecting lost money-letters, mail depredations, or other violations of law, or mail locks and keys, should be directed “ Chief Clerk, Post Office Department."
All registers of the arrivals and departures of the mails, certificates of the service of route agents, reports of mail failures, applications for blank registers, and all complaints against contractors for irregular or imperfect service, should be directed“ Inspection Office, Post Office Department."
This magnificent edifice is situated upon the brow of the eastern plateau of the city, ninety feet above the lowtide level of the Potomac. Its commanding position was determined by Washington, as an imposing site, overlooking the city like the Acropolis at Athens.
The building fronts the east, having been set by an astronomical observation by Andrew Ellicott; and is surrounded by a beautiful park of thirty-five acres, adorned with a great variety of shade-trees, both indigenous and foreign. The Capitol stands in latitude 38° 55' 48" north,
and longitude 77° 1' 48'' west from Greenwich. The calculation was made in 1821, by William Lambert, from observations by William Elliot, by authority of Congress.
The design of the central portion, including the old wings, was presented by Dr. William Thornton, and accepted by President Washington, according to act of Congress. The architecture is of the Corinthian order, though not limited to any particular example, while some of the capitals of columns are original in design. The general features of the exterior of the entire building are in conformity, although the types of the order are quite varied in the interior, and the Doric order is employed in some instances in the basement.
The corner-stone was laid, at the southeast corner of the north wing, by Washington, at twelve o'clock meridian, on Wednesday, September 18, 1793, with all the Masonic rites appropriate to the occasion. A grand Masonic, military, and civic procession was formed on the square in front of the President's mansion, from whence it proceeded to the Capitol ground, with martial music and flying colors, attended by an immense concourse of rejoicing spectators. Arrived at the foundation of the Capitol, the Grand Sword Bearer, followed by the President, marshaled the representatives of the Masonic fraternity between the double lines of the procession, to the corner-stone. After a solemn pause, and the discharge of
artillery, the Grand Marshal delivered to the Commissioners of the District a large silver plate, bearing the following inscription, which was then read:
This southeast corner stone of the Capitol of the United States of America, in the city of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September, 1793, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been so conspicuous and beneficial, as his military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry, 5793, by the President of the United States, in concert with the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No. 22 from Alexandria, Virginia.
Thomas Johnson, David Stuart, and Daniel Carroll, Commissioners; Joseph Clarke, R. W. G. M. P. T.; James Hoban and Stephen Hallet, Architects; Collin Williamson, M. Mason.
The artillery discharged another volley, when the plate was delivered to the President, who, attended by the Grand Master pro tem. and three Worshipful Masters, deposited the plate on the corner-stone, upon which was placed corn, wine, and oil. The assembly joined in prayer, which was succeeded by the Masonic honors, and a volley. from the artillery. An oration was then delivered by the Grand Master pro tem., and the ceremony was concluded by a prayer, Masonic honors, and fifteen rounds from the artillery. The assemblage retired to an extensive booth, where they enjoyed a barbecue feast, and the celebration was concluded with another salute of fifteen guns at sunset.
Under the successive superintendence of Stephen Hallet, George Hadfield, and James Hoban, as architects, the
north wing was made available for the first sitting of Congress in Washington, Nov. 17, 1800. In the meantime the walls of the south wing were carried up twenty feet and roofed over, for the temporary occupation of the House of Representatives. The House sat in this building, which was styled “ the oven,” from 1802 until 1804, when the roof was removed for the completion of the wing, under the direction of B. H. Latrobe, while the House occupied the room of the Library of Congress, on the west side of the north wing, until the hall in the south wing was prepared for use, in 1808.
The old Senate chamber was of but temporary construction, the columns and entablature being of wood stuccoed, and the capitals of plaster. The staircases were also of wood. On September 19, 1808, the centre of the vault of the old room of the Supreme Court was removed, when the arch gave way, carrying with it the floor of the Senate chamber, and killing John Lenthall, clerk of the works. It was the opinion of Mr. Latrobe that this accident was occasioned by striking the centre of the arch too early. The damage to the building was immediately repaired.
The south wing was finished in 1811, the work having been much delayed by the embargo troubles of 1808 and 1809. The finish of this wing was much more beautiful and substantial than that of the Senate chamber. The Hall of Representatives was semicircular, with a vaulted wooden ceiling; the entablature was supported by twenty fluted Corinthian columns of sandstone; the frieze over the Speaker's chair was ornamented by a figure of the American eagle, carved in sandstone, by Signor Franzoni; the opposite frieze was also decorated with figures by the