Historical Highlights

Centennial Celebrations of the 1793 Laying of the Capitol Cornerstone

September 18, 1893
Centennial Celebrations of the 1793 Laying of the Capitol Cornerstone Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Speaker of the House Charles Crisp of Georgia served in the House for a total of seven terms, chairing the influential Rules Committee and the Committee on Elections.
On this date, the federal government celebrated the centennial of the laying of the Capitol cornerstone by President George Washington in 1793. Government offices were closed to mark the occasion and a grand procession—retracing the route of Washington and his entourage 100 years earlier—beginning at Lafayette Square and proceeding along Pennsylvania Avenue up to Capitol Hill. At the head of the parade was President Grover Cleveland followed by his Cabinet, Representatives, Senators, members of local Masonic lodges and the Sons of Cincinnati, veterans of the Mexican War and the Civil War, District of Columbia National Guardsmen, and firefighters from around the country. A crowd estimated at 10,000, basking in the clear and comfortable late-summer sunshine, greeted the procession at the Capitol. A reporter for the Boston Globe wrote, “The decorations of the capitol were artistic, but in no way gaudy, and when the ceremonies began an animated picture, full of patriotism, life and beauty, was presented” to onlookers who thronged the broad terrace along the East Front. A 1,500-member chorus, led by the Marine Corps Band, belted out patriotic songs and classical hymns. President Cleveland, William Wirt Henry (grandson of Patrick Henry of Virginia), Vice President Adlai E. Stevenson, and Speaker of the House Charles F. Crisp of Georgia, also addressed the crowd. Crisp reflected on the “marvelous growth” of the nation in the century since Washington had laid the cornerstone. “When that century began,” the Speaker noted, “we were ‘weak’ . . . just struggling into political existence. . . . Its end finds us strong in resources, strong in wealth and credit, strong in numbers, and strong in the affection of an intelligent and united people.”

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