November 19, 2020
August 26, 2020
On August 26th, 2020, Professor Alessandra Lorini joined USCHS President/CEO Jane Campbell from Italy to discuss Father Eusebio Kino, whose statue represents Arizona in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. In this presentation, Lorini shared how the “real Kino” emerged as a complex historical figure in the Baroque Age of the late 17th century in the viceroyalty of New Spain and how, at the same time, started to emerge in public memory as a heroic figure of the colonization and civilization of the American Southwest. In addition, she noted how Kino became the heroic figure of the “Padre on horseback” in early 20th-century American culture, how his place in that culture evolved during that time, and how it continues to evolve.
August 12, 2020
On August 12th, 2020, Professor Stephen West joined USCHS President/CEO Jane Campbell to discuss the intertwined–and fraught–histories of the 15th and 19th Amendments, both of which have milestone anniversaries this year. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibits the denial of suffrage on the basis of race. The 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, prohibits its denial on the basis of sex. He will also cover how, in the debates over both, some Americans were determined to pit white women’s voting rights against those of Black men. Efforts to include women’s suffrage in the 15th Amendment failed in the late 1860s and caused a split in the women’s suffrage movement that did not heal for decades.
August 4, 2020
On August 4th, 2020, Dr. Colleen Shogan joined USCHS President/CEO Jane Campbell to discuss her latest Washington Whodunit novel “Larceny at the Library.” In the novel, a congressional staffer attends a special event in the Library of Congress displaying the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets when he was assassinated; the next morning a senior librarian is dead, several artifacts are missing, and her husband is the prime suspect. Jane interviewed Dr. Shogan to learn more about her inspiration, writing process, and how she incorporates local landmarks and favorite haunts into her works.
June 24, 2020
The U.S. Capitol Historical Society hosted Debra Hanson, assistant professor of Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University, for a lecture on the “Apotheosis of Washington”, Constantino Brumidi’s massive fresco inside the Capitol Dome. In “Apotheosis: From Ancient Rome to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda”, Hanson explains how the term “apotheosis” became associated with our country’s first president. She shows how and why an ancient Roman ritual gained prominence in nineteenth century America.
June 10, 2020
The U.S. Capitol Historical Society presented independent historian Fergus M. Bordewich, who spoke about his new book, Congress at War: How Republican Reformers Fought the Civil War, Defied Lincoln, Ended Slavery, and Remade America. Building a dramatic narrative around four members of Congress–Republicans Thaddeus Stevens, William Pitt Fessenden, and Ben Wade, and the pro-slavery Northerner Clement L. Vallandigham–Bordewich shows how a dynamic and newly empowered Republican Party created the conditions for Union success. The significance of the wartime congresses, the 37th and 38th, reached far beyond the battlefield. From reinventing the nation’s financial system and keeping the Federal armies in the field to providing for the enlistment of black troops, legislating the erosion of slavery, and planning for postwar reconstruction, to the passage of far-reaching measures such as the Transcontinental Railroad and the Homestead Act, Congress laid the groundwork for a stronger federal government that came fully into being in the twentieth century.
May 27, 2020
The United States Capitol Historical Society presents Dr. David J. Gerleman (George Mason University). As Commissioner of Public Buildings from 1861-1867, B. B. French witnessed some of the most stirring and heart-rending events of the Lincoln administration. Period photographs and insightful snippets from his voluminous journals spanning forty years of Washington life will give audiences an intimate view of the era by one of the 19th century’s most sharp-eyed political observers.
May 13, 2020
Felicia Bell, senior advisor to the director at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, speaks about “Endurance, Capacity, and Destiny: African Americans and the U. S. Capitol”. Since enslaved craftsmen contributed to the construction of the U. S. Capitol, African Americans have played key roles in the history of one of the world’s most recognizable buildings. This presentation will examine the impact of African Americans on the history of the Capitol from the Reconstruction Era to present day.
April 29, 2020
U.S. Capitol Historical Society Chief Historian William “Chuck” diGiacomantonio uses private letters from congressmen to explore how they experienced regime change during and after the transition from John Adams’s presidency to that of Thomas Jefferson. This presentation will include a focus on some of the ways that society in the new capital city, Washington, D.C., was politicized during this period, including in the realms of science, food, and social life. Further, diGiacomantonio discusses Jefferson’s obsession with mammoths.