March Book Events Planned: Guy Guliotta & Joseph Wilkins

March Book Events Planned

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society is planning two book events for March; Guy Guliotta and Joseph Wilkins will be on hand to discuss and sign their books. As always, these events are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is strongly recommended. See below for all the details.

news-release-20120201-gugliotta-freedoms-cap-capitolGuy Gugliotta, Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War (New York: Hill&Wang, 2012), 496 pp.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
12:00 Noon
Ketchum Hall
Veterans of Foreign Wars Building
200 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, DC

The history of the U.S. Capitol in the mid-nineteenth century is also the history of America’s most tumultuous years. As the Capitol’s new House and Senate wings and its new dome rose above Washington’s skyline, battles over slavery and secession ripped the country apart. Ground was broken for the Capitol extension just months after Congress adopted the compromise of 1850, which was supposed to settle the “slavery question” for all time. The statue Freedom was placed atop the Capitol’s new dome in 1863, five months after the Battle of Gettysburg.

In Freedom’s Cap, the award-winning journalist Guy Gugliotta recounts the history and broader meaning of the Capitol through the lives of the three men most responsible for its construction. We owe the building’s scale and magnificence to none other than Jefferson Davis, who remained the Capitol’s staunchest advocate up until the week he left Washington to become president of the Confederacy. Davis’s protégé and the Capitol’s lead engineer, Captain Montgomery C. Meigs, became quartermaster general of the Union Army and never forgave Davis for his betrayal of the nation. The Capitol’s brilliant architect and Meigs’s longtime rival, Thomas U. Walter, defended slavery at the beginning of the war but eventually turned fiercely against the South.

In impeccable detail, Gugliotta captures the clash of personalities behind the building of the Capitol and the unique engineering, architectural, design, and political challenges the three men collectively overcame to create the iconic seat of American government.

Join us to hear the author discuss his book and to autograph copies that will be available for purchase.

Guy Gugliotta covered Congress during a sixteen-year career as a national reporter for The Washington Post and for the last six years has been a freelance writer. He has written for The New York Times, National Geographic, Wired, Discover, and Smithsonian. He is the coauthor of Kings of Cocaine. Mr. Gugliotta was the recipient of a United States Capitol Historical Society Fellowship while researching for Freedom’s Cap.

The book talk and signing is free and open to all. Pre-registration is strongly recommended. Email us with your contact information or call (202) 543-8919.

Joseph T. Wilkins</strong>, <em>The Speaker Who Locked Up the House in a Fight Against White Supremacy: A Novel of 1890Joseph T. Wilkins, The Speaker Who Locked Up the House in a Fight Against White Supremacy: A Novel of 1890

Thursday, March 22, 2012
12:00 Noon
Ketchum Hall
Veterans of Foreign Wars Building
200 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, DC

Join us to hear author Joseph T. Wilkins discuss his historical novel about colorful Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed and the raucous 51st Congress. The year is 1890; the place, the House of Representatives in Washington where progressive Republican Speaker Thomas B. Reed presides over a Congress in which the dying embers of the Civil War flare up again as he confronts Southern white supremacists in his determination to end their power.

It is also a story of a Congress whose pay was stolen by a House cashier who ran off with the money and his mistress; where the Speaker ordered the House doors locked to keep the members inside, only to have enraged ex-Confederate cavalry officers kick them open; where the Speaker has to order a lobbyist-organized whorehouse near the Ladies Gallery closed, and where a reporter from the Press Gallery shoots and kills ex-Congressman Preston Taulbee on the main staircase of the House wing, and is acquitted of the charge of murder by the jury. A skillful blend of historical research and dramatic writing, “The Speaker Who Locked up the House” is a riveting tale of the raucous 51st Congress of the United States. And what is most amazing is that it is all true.

Joseph T. Wilkins is a lawyer and author who currently lives and practices in the Philadelphia area. He researched and wrote The Speaker Who Locked Up the House during a 40-year period in which he lived and worked in the nation’s capital.

The book discussion is free and open to all. Pre-registration is strongly recommended. Email us with your contact information or call (202) 543-8919.