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tv   Virginia Capitol Building  CSPAN  February 19, 2017 11:00am-11:27am EST

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and they would rise up and challenge them. thank you for coming, everybody. i will see everybody next week. and we will talk tuesday about the test. we will not have it tuesday, we will delay it a bit. thanks her coming, everybody. i will see you next week. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> to learn more about the cities on her current tour, visit c-span.org/citiestour. we continue now with our look at the history of richmond. mark: we are inside a working public building that has hosted the oldest elected lawmaking
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legislature active in the western hemisphere today. i think in terms of architecture, since we are the tost american state capital open after the revolutionary war and the first monumental roman temple style public building in the modern era, its influence on other state capitals, county courthouses, and public buildings that are very famous up in washington, d.c., cannot be underestimated. i have heard architectural historians describe the iconic government buildings in washington, d.c. is the sequel to the virginia state capital back here in richmond. well, we started off with our first political front here at jamestown, the old -- oldest english-speaking settlement in north america. that was used throughout the 1600s. there were multiple buildings, public and private, used for government meetings. when we moved to williamsburg, we built a capital in the
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english colonial tradition, which burnt down in the 1700s. it was the second capital in williamsburg that we left behind when we moved here to richmond during the revolutionary war. interestingly, mr. jefferson, who had introduced of the bill to richmond by the time we made the move a year later was serving as governor and got to oversee the process. if you think of the capital as an essay in architecture, the primary author was thomas jefferson. at the time, we were getting ready to break ground for a new public holding in richmond in 1785, he had left state service and was the american ambassador to france, living in paris. nonetheless the richmond authorities reached out to him in 1785, asking for his help as an absentee advocate for a properly designed capital building. he turned to the architecture of antiquity.
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he was fascinated by the temples of greece and rome. in paris he was able to meet and collaborate with professional french architects who were published authorities on roman antiquities. the two men got together and i like to think of jefferson as the author of our original capital building and the russo -- clarusso as the editor. they looked to a well preserved .emple in southern france when jefferson was planning the virginia state capital to look like a classical monumental roman temple, he followed the advice of the people who studied the architecture of antiquity and he put the capital of on top of a major hill and it became by design the centerpiece of our city. likely the first thing you would see that would make an impression on you would be this civic temple on a hill.
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viewces south with a great , back in the old days, of the james river. the front of the building has eight ionic columns. 40 feet tall, a triangular pediment and substantial portico. in the words of one architectural historian, the isth portico of the capital like affronted peace to all virginia. the records that we have today are incomplete, but we know that in the course of 13 years of construction, there was a combination of free labor and slave labor involved in making the capital. skilled and unskilled workers, local artisans and traveling itinerant artisans, some of whom after working on the virginia capital went north to washington, d.c. and began working on the subsequent united states capitol. when you have a really good
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building accumulating important history with important history and events associated with it, you don't give up on the building. for over 100 years we used the capital as first built and it was a rectangular roman capital style building with the south portico. i 19 oh four we realized that the building was getting a little -- by 1904 we realize that the building was google -- getting a little old in the tooth. rather than give up on the building, what we did was we gave it a new roof with monumental front steps leading up to the south portico. we added to balancing classically styled wings, the west wing becoming a senate wing , the east wing becoming a house when. we are presently located in the 1906 era entrance hall. there the 21st century, general public would come up the exterior front steps to enter through some double doors in front of me and walked down this
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byrance hall and we greeted none other than george washington himself, standing life-size with a meticulous marble masterpiece placed here back in 1796. it's the only full-length statue of washington that he personally posed for. it was shortly after the revolution. 53 years old, he had voluntarily resigned his powers to go home to a private life on his farm. the statue that visitors see today is the most accurate depiction of george washington. -- washington available. inside you seek marble busts of the other virginia born presidents. we have a total of eight with a surprise guest. there's an additional statue of the marquis the lafayette, a major general in the revolution fighting on our side against the british, a french volunteer.
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outside the building we have a pediment style, temple style a line roof. inside the building and look up, you suddenly discover a dome, which is what you had been expecting all along . the dome inside of the building has a skylight and then directly is anthat, above it additional skylight on the outside roof. we are now inside the old hall of the house of delegates, usually referred to as the old house chamber. this room is filled with memories, rich and rare. it is also filled with statuary that honors americans and virginians who were prominent legislators, jurists, executive leaders, military or naval commanders, scientists, inventors, and so on. in this room this is where the public pulse of the capital
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first came to life when the house of delegates convened here. for about 116 years this was the historic setting for great debates and defining decisions that would shape the destiny of virginia and influence the history of the united states. the virginia state capital and constitution of the united states were born in the same year, 1788. the constitution is just a few than the state capital. the american revolution put richmond on the map as a new capital city for a new commonwealth. in 1861 the american civil war put richmond on the map as a new national capital for the confederate states of america. virginians took a long time to decide whether or not to secede from the union and subsequently joined the confederacy, but we are actually standing in the room where virginians ultimately
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changed their minds and voted to secede from the union. once the decision was made, the confederate congress was brought to richmond from alabama. for the next four years, between july of 1861 through march of 1865, the virginia state capital was multitasking. it hosted not only the ongoing meetings of the virginia general assembly and the activities of our state governors, but it also hosted simultaneous meetings of the confederate congress. well, the american civil war came to a germanic end in virginia right here in richmond in the spring of 1865. the confederate government decided on the second of april to evacuate the city and the virginia state government made the same decision. they both pulled up stakes and left in a hurry. in the confusion of these immaculate and's of the confederate government and
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virginia state government, orders were given to military authorities to set selective fires at government warehouses to destroy military and naval property and literally burn their bridges behind them crossing the river. unfortunately for richmond the selected fires set by confederate soldiers retreating quickly got out of control and within hours you had a large portion of the financial and commercial, and industrial waterfront of richmond going up in flames. of the greatons conflagration of 1865 are harrowing. fortunately for history, the historic capitol building and historic governor mansion right behind it were situated in this open, capitol square public park that served as a firebreak and protected the buildings from the raging fires that came up to the south border of the capitol square. when union troops came into the
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of april 3,morning 1865, they were able to, marching and galloping into the grounds of capitol square. they immediately request -- replaced virginia flags and confederate flags on public buildings with u.s. flags. conveniently the virginia state capital became a perfect office building for military occupation. the federal troops wasted no time organizing volunteer firefighting companies and brigades to go out and subdue the flames and prevent further damage. there is a powerful historical irony that confronts people when they sit or stand in this historic room. ofit happens, on the 17th april, 1861, this is the room where elected virginia leaders chose to secede from the union. exactly seven years later on the 1868, a new group
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of virginia leaders meeting in the same room put their finishing touches on a new virginia state constitution. the purpose of that new constitution was to get virginia readmitted into the union. what made this constitutional convention interesting was that for the very first time you had a biracial convention. the suffrage had been extended to black men in virginia as a consequence of the civil war and there had been an election in october of 1867 among the white and black male voters of virginia to decide -- should we hold a constitutional convention and create a new constitution to get virginia back into the union? largely on the power of the newly enfranchised black vote, the question carried in the affirmative and it was possible, then, for white and black men to choose delegates to come to this
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room and craft a new constitution. there were 104 people, 104 people who set here in this very chamber, 24 of whom were african-americans. once they finished their handiwork on a new constitution, 10 of those african-american delegates went on to be elected for service either in the house or the senate of the virginia legislature. over the newspapers. you had a full range of opinion on all was happening. the results are important and indisputable. when the constitution was submitted to congress, it was approved. in january of 1870, virginia was readmitted to the union over the signature of the then president, ulysses s. grant. when people come inside the hall of the house, they are immediately struck by the presence of an unusual object. it is staged front and center. virginia has an honest to
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goodness authentic mace. you can see it on display in this case and it is made of english sterling silver and has a more recently applied 24 karat gold finish. it was made in birmingham back in the 1930's and presented to the house of delegates in 1974. in keeping with the tradition of hours, we actively deploy -- ours during each day of ofsions for the house delegates. the sergeant of arms will come into this old chamber, put on white gloves, and take it out of its display case. he will carry the mace out to the hall of presidents, make a left turn at the washington statute, and head down to the where the delegates convene. when the speaker gives the nod, the sergeant at arms holds it up in front of the members and says
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-- the virginia house of delegates is now in session. right now we are standing on the floor inside of the virginia house of delegates chamber. we are located in the east wing of the virginia state capital. ever since 1906, this room has been the meeting place for 100 lawmakers chosen by the people of virginia. the lawmakers in the house of delegates have two years in the term and are eligible for reelection. this is also the room where we have joint sessions of the virginia general assembly and we know we will have at least one per year every january, when the governor delivers his state of the commonwealth address. >> to the people of virginia with us tonight or watching from home, thank you for the honor of serving as this commonwealth's 72nd governor. mark: that's an interesting
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phrase. we have a state of the commonwealth address and virginia. we refer to ourselves officially in the constitution as a commonwealth. get asked questions about that all the time. according to webster's dictionary, and will -- commonwealth is a form of government relying on the consent of the people and the rule of law and lawmaking for the greater good of the population at large. so, every year in january we will have a joint session with 40 senators given temporary seating on the backside of the house chamber. 100 members of the house are at their desks and chairs and we listened to the presentation of the governor of virginia. room forlso the go two other joint sessions of the legislature, when we receive important guests, often from other parts of the world. in 1946 during the general assembly we held a joint session to receive sir winston spencer churchill, who came to us in his
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capacity as a private citizen and made very well-received address that was just two days after his very famous speech in missouri about an iron curtain this -- descending on europe after world war ii. >> we could stand together in merits, agreeing on nothing, but in defense of those things that we hold dear, not only for our own benefit, but because we mean the honor and happiness of long generations of men. [applause] mark: in more recent years we have received in joint session margaret thatcher. >> mr. speaker, mr. president, governor fallin, members of the general assembly, thank you for that splendid reception.
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one rarelyhat receives in one's own country. [laughter] mark: who of course was the first female prime minister of the united kingdom. just a few years ago, to mark the 400th anniversary of english settlement in north america, her majesty, the queen of great britain, was here, giving a very well-received speech to a packed chamber. when you look up, you see the original 1906 oval skylight. you also see the use of dutch metal paint gives you the gold gilding affects at a more affordable price. and you see the use of what is known as different panels that are painted to resemble damascus silk panels. or maybe flocked velvet. baby carefully painted. capably --ey are
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carefully painted. you see a blue and gold color scheme reflected throughout the chamber. the senate in the opposite wing has similar decorations, but they distinguish themselves with a burgundy and gold color scheme, as opposed to the blue and gold color scheme here. we have moved through the rotunda and into the west wing of the building. this is a chamber that is used by the senate of virginia. we have 40 members of the virginia state senate who convene in the chamber starting every january. the legislature is a part-time legislature. in odd numbered years we have a short session. they don't have to pass a state ajit. in even numbered years we have a longer session where we pass a state budget. we are on the floor of the actual senate chamber. we are surrounded by an warty and opulence. -- at warty and -- edwardian
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opulence. the color scheme that we see here has been carefully restored to his umbel its appearance more than 100 years ago. when the people come into the senate chamber on guided tours and look up, they will see major medic oval skylight that is heart of the 1906 design. they will see small, hand-painted monograms standing for virginia in each corner of the oval. when they look around, they see the circa 1908 -- 1910 -- night -- 1908-1910 wall designs wrapped around the chamber. if they are coming to the chamber during session, they wouldn't be on the floor, they would be in a germanic spectators gallery. there is a sweeping semicircular
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gallery for the general public along the back of the chamber that gives everybody who comes a birds eye view on the activities of the senate. jefferson wants people to come to this capital building. whereverf said that the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. the chamber began functioning for the senate in 1906 and continues functioning today. original wooden dais, center stage, with an elevated platform for the clerking staff and for the lieutenant governor who presides over our senate. our members of the senate have a four-year term and are eligible for reelection. they each represent upwards of 200,000 constituents or senator. featurese interesting of the general assembly, which dates back to 1619, is that it has always been, by conscious design, a part-time legislature.
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the chamber, in terms of its visual representation, takes you back about 100 years to the beginning of the 20th century. in terms of its ongoing function , it is a valid place every single year when the lawmakers come to do the public business. i am remembering that we had in this chamber a lieutenant governor by the name of lawrence douglas wilder who as lieutenant governor presided over the ,enate and then ran for successfully, the governorship of the commonwealth of virginia. in 1990, outside of the grounds of capital square, he was sworn in as the first elected african-american governor of the state in our nation. >> i solemnly swear that i will support the constitution of the united states. >> i will support the constitution of the united
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states and the constitution of the commonwealth of virginia and i will faithfully and impartially discharge all the asies incumbent upon me governor of virginia. according to the best of my ability. so help me, god. mark: when he took his oath of office and made an inaugural speech, it was known to everyone that he had been a descendent of slaves who had lived in virginia in the 19th century, so here you had this interesting evolution within his own family from people living in slavery to people assuming the chair of the governor of the commonwealth of virginia. capital is astate symbol of not only virginia, but
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of virginia, people who have served in public service and of virginia and principles that have gone on to inform american principles of self-government. walk into this building every january and you feel the public halls beating within, with its newer legislative wings and its brand-new underground extension that welcomes visitors to the capital. itself, on one level, is a pretty good fine arts museum, with a sizable collection of paintings and of sculptures. it is also a really convincing civic classroom. we get about 118,000 visitors each year coming to see the capital building. they are coming to see it for all kinds of reasons. some of them want to visit a recognized historical
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attraction. some of them are coming here forces -- civics education. some are coming to participate in the process of self-government. all of them, i hope, will gain an appreciation for a time-tested workplace for enduring american principles, many of them having been engineered here in virginia going all of the way back to the beginnings of our general assembly in 1619 at jamestown. we have been exercising the rights and responsibilities of self-government in virginia for nearly 400 years. that is something worth watching. >> this weekend, we're featuring the history of richmond, virginia, together with our comcast cable partners. learn more at c-span.org/cities tour. you are watching american
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history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> join us this evening at 6 p.m. eastern for live coverage from the smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture. we recently talked with members of: -- congress about its significance. >> congresswoman, can you tell us about your jewelry? >> this jewelry was made by an artist from the bronx. it is a replica of the slave ship. my earrings, my jewelry, i treasure them so much. past ands me on the moving forward. >> in that sense, can you tell us what you think of the museum on the national mall and what it means to the country? >> the museum on the mall

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