December 2, 1863: Installation of the Statue of Freedom

Statue of Freedom

To absolutely no fanfare, other than a 35 cannon salute, one for each state, the Statue of Freedom was installed on the top of the Capitol in Washington DC on December 2, 1863.  No other ceremony was due to the architect of the Capitol extension, Thomas U. Walter, viewing any celebration as a waste of time and his desire to keep the work going and not losing even part of a day.  Odd that he had his way, as the installation of the statue was heavy with meaning in the middle of a Civil War that was finally heading in favor of the Union.  Even more symbolic of the struggle was the fact that the statue had been cast by a slave, now a free man, Philip Reid.  Reid would go on to enjoy post war success in Washington as a plaster and would live until February 6, 1892.

Another event on December 2, was that work began on the Union-Pacific railroad in the Nebraska Territory.  While involved  in a life and death struggle, the Union had the resources to bind the nation closer together symbolically by completing work on the Capitol and substantively by initiating the transcontinental railroad.

Published in: on December 2, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 2, 1863: Installation of the Statue of Freedom  
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