The African Americans Who Built The United States – A Belated Tribute by the US House of Representatives

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Whereas the report of the Architect of the Capitol entitled `History of Slave Laborers in the Construction of the United States Capitol’ documents the role of slave labor in the construction of the Capitol;

Whereas enslaved African-Americans performed the backbreaking work of quarrying the stone which comprised many of the floors, walls, and columns of the Capitol;

Whereas enslaved African-Americans also participated in other facets of construction of the Capitol, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, roofing, plastering, glazing, painting, and sawing;

Whereas the marble columns in the Old Senate Chamber and the sandstone walls of the East Front corridor remain as the lasting legacies of the enslaved African-Americans who worked the quarries;

Whereas slave-quarried stones from the remnants of the original Capitol walls can be found in Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia;

Whereas the Statue of Freedom now atop the Capitol dome could not have been cast without the pivotal intervention of Philip Reid, an enslaved African-American foundry worker who deciphered the puzzle of how to separate the 5-piece plaster model for casting when all others failed;

Whereas the great hall of the Capitol Visitor Center was named Emancipation Hall to help acknowledge the work of the slave laborers who built the Capitol;

Whereas no narrative on the construction of the Capitol that does not include the contribution of enslaved African-Americans can fully and accurately reflect its history;

Whereas recognition of the contributions of enslaved African-Americans brings to all Americans an understanding of the continuing evolution of our representative democracy; and

Whereas a marker dedicated to the enslaved African-Americans who helped to build the Capitol will reflect the charge of the Capitol Visitor Center to teach visitors about Congress and its development

Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),


(a) Procurement and Placement of Marker- The Architect of the Capitol, subject to the approval of the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate, shall design, procure, and place in a prominent location in Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center a marker which acknowledges the role that slave labor played in the construction of the United States Capitol.

(b) Criteria for Design of Marker- In developing the design for the marker required under subsection (a), the Architect of the Capitol–

(1) shall take into consideration the recommendations developed by the Slave Labor Task Force Working Group;

(2) shall, to the greatest extent practicable, ensure that the marker includes stone which was quarried by slaves in the construction of the Capitol; and

(3) shall ensure that the marker includes a plaque or inscription which describes the purpose of the marker.

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