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tv   Virginia Capitol Building  CSPAN  March 4, 2017 10:00am-10:28am EST

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richmond, virginia to learn about the history of the state capital building. modeled after a roman temple in southern france. and first used in 1792. our tour guide is a capital historian. >> we are inside a working public building that has posted oldestest -- hosted the active legislature in the western hemisphere. in terms of architecture, since we are the first american state capital to open after the revolutionary war, and since we are the first monumental roman temple style public building in the modern era, it's influence on other state capitals, county court houses, and public buildings that are very famous in washington, d.c. cannot be underestimated. i have heard architectural
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historian described the iconic government buildings in washington, d.c. as the sequel to the virginia state capitol in richmond. we started off with the first political center at jamestown which was the oldest english-speaking settlement in north america. the was used throughout 1600s and there were multiple buildings, public and private, use for government buildings. when we moved to williamsburg, we built a capital in the english colonial tradition, which burned down in the middle of the 1700 and we rebuilt the second one. the second capital in williamsburg that we left behind when we moved to richmond during the revolutionary war. introducedon who had a bill to relocate to richmond, by the time we made the move a year later, he was serving as governor and got to oversee the process. if you think of the capital as in architecture, the primary author was thomas jefferson.
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at the time we were getting ready to break ground for a new public building in richmond in 1785, jefferson had left state service and was an american ambassador to france, living in paris. , richmonds authorities reached out to jefferson in 1785 and ask for his help as an absentee advocate for a properly designed capital building. he turned to the architecture of antiquity, he was fascinated by the temples of greece and rome. in paris, he met and collaborated with a professional french architect. who was a published authority on roman antiquities. those men got together and i like to think of jefferson as the author of our original capital building and the french architect as the professional editor as jefferson's ideas and eventually looked to a well preserved roman temple in southern france known to the
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french. when jefferson was planting that planning the virginia state capitol to look like a classical monumental roman temple, he followed the advice of people who study the architecture of antiquity and he put the capital up on top of a major hill. it began by design its 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. it faces south with a great view back in the old days of the james river. ae front of the building has triangular pediment. and a substantial portico. in the words of a architectural historian, the south portico of the virginia state capitol is to all of virginia.
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the records we have today are incomplete but we know 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 begin working on the subsequent united states capital. when you have a really good building that is accumulating important history and has important people and events associated with it, you do not give up on the building. for over 100 years, we use the capital as first built and it was a rectangular roman temple style building. 1904, we realized that the building was getting a little old in the two and needed renovation. -- folder need to and needed renovation and was too small. rather than give up on the building, we gave it a new roof,
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we gave it monumental front steps leading up to the south portico. we added two balancing classically styled wings, the west wing became a senate wing, and he used wing became a house wing. -- and the east wing became a house wing. century of the general public could come up the exterior front steps onto the portico and enter through double doors in front of me and walked down this entrance hall and the greeted by none other than george washington himself, standing life-sized, meticulous marble masterpiece that was placed in the center of the capital all the way back in 1796. it is the only full-length statue of washington that he personally posed for. shortly after the revolution, he was 53 years old, he had voluntarily resigned his military powers to go home to private life on his farm.
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the statute that visitors see today is the most accurate depiction of george washington available. inside the room where you see george washington are marble busts of the other virginia born presidents, a total of eight. we have a surprise guest, and additional statue of the mark udall if it, a major general in the american revolution on our side against the british, a french volunteer. outside of our building, we have a pediment style, temple style, roof, but once you are inside the building and you enter the hall of presidents, and you look up, you discover a dome which is what you have been expecting all along. the dome inside the building has a skylight and directly above that don't skylight, about it is an additional skylight on the outside roof. we are now inside the old hall
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of the house of delegates. referred to as the old house chamber. this room is filled with memories, rich and rare. it is also filled with statuary that honor americans and virginians who were prominent legislators, jurists, executive leaders, military or naval commanders, scientists, inventors. in this room, this is where the public pulse of the capital first came to life in october of 1788, when the house of delegates convened. for about 116 years, this was the historic setting for great debate and defining decisions that would shape the destiny of virginia and influence the history of the united states. the virginia state capitol and the constitution of the united states were born in the same year, 1788. the constitution is just a few months older than the virginia
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state capitol. the american revolution put richmond on the map as a new capital city for a new commonwealth. in 18 621, the american civil 1851,t richmond -- in the american civil war -- virginians took a long time to decide whether or not to secede from the union and subsequently joined the confederacy. we are standing in the room where virgin is ultimately change their minds and voted to secede from the union. once that decision was made, the confederate congress was brought to richmond from alabama and for the next four years, between july of 1861 through march of 18 625, the virginia state capitol was multitasking. it hosted the ongoing meetings of the virginia assembly and the activities of our state governors, but it also posted
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simultaneous meetings that hosted simultaneous of the congress, the american civil war camp are dramatic and in virginia right here at richmond. in 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 richmond in a hurry. in the confusion of these evacuations of the confederate government and the virginia state government, orders were given to military authorities to set selected fires at government warehouses to destroy military and naval property and to literally burn their bridges behind them across from the james 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
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commercial and industrial waterfront of richmond going up in flames. the descriptions of the great conflagration of 1865 are harrowing. -- historic temple building capitol building and historic mansion behind it were situated in this open capitol square public park which served as a firebreak and protected the buildings from raging fires that came up to the border of the capital. when union troops came into the city, on the morning of april 3, 18 625, they were able to come --ching and galloping in they replaced confederate flags with united states flags. conveniently, the virginia state capitol became the perfect office building for military occupation, federal troops wasted no time organizing
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volunteer firefighting company's 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. as it happens, on the 17th of april, 18 621, this is the room 1861. 1868, a new group of virginia leaders put the finishing touches on a new virginia state constitution. written during reconstruction. the purpose of the 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 contingent. the suffrage had been extended to black men in virginia as a consequence of the civil war.
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there had been an election on 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, that question carried in the it was possible then for white and black men to choose delegates to come to this room and craft a new constitution. there were 140 people -- 104 people who sat in this chamber, 24 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 senate of the virginia legislator. it was all over the newspapers. you had a full range of opinion on what was happening but the results are important and
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indisputable. when the constitution was submitted to congress, it was approved and in january of 1 870, virginia was readmitted to the federal union over the signature of then-president ulysses s. grant. when people come inside the hall in the house, they are immediately struck by the presence of an unusual object and it is stage front and center, virginia has an honest-to-goodness, authentic mace. you can see it on display in this case, made of english sterling silver, has an applied 24 caret gold finish, it was made in birmingham in the 1930's and presented to the house of delegates in 1974. in keeping with the tradition of deployed actively
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hours during each day of session on the floor of the house of delegates. the sergeant at arms in the house will come into this old museum chamber and put on white gloves, he will take the mace out of the display case and carry it out into the hall of presidents and make a left turn at the washington statue come and go into the east wing where the house of delegates convene. nod,the speaker gets the the sergeant of arms holds up the mace and says the "virginia house of delegates is in session." we are standing on the floor inside the virginia house of delegates chamber. located in the east wing of the virginia state capitol. ever since 1906, this room has been the meeting place for 100 lawmakers present by the people of virginia. the lawmakers in the house of delegates have a two-year term and are eligible for reelection.
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this is also the room where we have joint sessions of the virginia general assembly. we know we will have at least one per year every january when the governor resides and delivers his state of the commonwealth address. city people of: virginia with us tonight or watching from home, thank you for the honor of serving as this commonwealth's 72nd governor. , wen interesting phrase have a state of the commonwealth address in virginia because we refer to ourselves officially in our constitution as a commonwealth. we get asked about that all the time, a commonwealth, according to webster's dictionary, is a form of government which relies on the consent of the people, on the rule of law, and on lawmaking for the greater good of the population at large. january, we have a joint session, 40 senators are
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given temporary seating along the backside of the house chamber, 100 vendors of the -- members ofhere the house sitting at their desks, and we listen to the presentation of the governor of virginia. this is the go to room for 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 capacity as a private citizen and made a very well-received address that was just two days after his very famous speech in missouri about an iron curtain listening upon europe after world war ii. winston churchill: we can stand together and merits, in grief for nothing, but in defense of those causes which we hold dear, not only for our own benefit,
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but because we believe they mean the honor and the happiness of long generations of men. [applause] years, we have received in joint sessions margaret thatcher. margaret thatcher: mr. speaker, mr. president, governor alan, members of the general assembly, thank you for that splendid reception. it is one that one rarely receives in one's own country. [laughter] she was the first female prime minister of the united kingdom. , the 400thyears ago anniversary of english settlement marking her majesty the queen of great britain was here and gave a very well-received speech to aipac chamber -- a packed chamber.
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when you look up, you see the 1906 oval skylight. you see the use of dutch metal paint which gives you the gold effect at a more affordable price. you see the use of what is known as -- you have the different panels that are painting to resemble silk panels or maybe flocked velvet, but they are actually flat wall surfaces carefully printed. you see in the house a navy blue and gold color scheme reflected throughout this chamber. the senate of virginia and the 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 of the capitol and into the west wing of our building. this is a chamber that is used by the senate of virginia, we
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have 40 members of the virginia state senate who convened in this chamber, starting every january. our legislature is a part-time legislature. in odd-numbered years, you have a short session, they do not have to pass a state budget. 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 edward he -- the walls and the ceiling of the senate chamber are not guilty of understatement. the style and the core and color scheme we see here has been carefully restored to resemble its appearance more than 100 years later. -- 100 years ago. when people come into the senate chamber unguided tors and look up, they will see a dramatic skylight which is part of the 1906 design. they will see small, hand painted monograms va.
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standing for virginia up and you corner of the oval. circahey look around a cd 1908, 1910 wall design with dutch metal paint that gives you the gold building. they see ionic plasters around the chamber. if they are coming to the chamber during session, they would not be on the floor but they would be in a dramatic spectator gallery. sweeping, semicircular gallery for the general public that is along the bank of the chamber, that gives everybody who comes a birds eye view of the activity of the senate. jefferson wants people to come to this capitol building. he himself said -- where are the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. this chamber begin functioning for the senate in 1906, and continues functioning today. dias is an original 1906
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center state with an elevated platform for the clerks and 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 person under the -- for senator. -- per senator. it has always been, by conscious design, a part-time legislature. this chamber, in terms of its visual presentation, takes you back 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
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lieutenant governor presided over the senate and ran for, successfully, the governorship of the commonwealth of virginia. in 1990, on the grounds of capitol square, he was sworn in as the first elected african-american governor of a state in our nation. >> i lawrence douglas wilder -- >> do solemnly swear. >> do solemnly swear. >> that i will support the constitution of united states. >> that i will support the constitution of united states. >> that i will faithfully -- and impartially -- discharge all of the duties incumbent upon me as governor of virginia. >> according to the best of my ability. >> according to the best of my ability. >> so help me god. >> so help me god. >> when he took the oath of
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office and made his inaugural speech, it was known to everybody that he had been a descendent of slaves who have lived in virginia in the 19th century. here you had this really interesting evolution within his own family from people living in theery to people assuming chair of the governor of the commonwealth of virginia. ae virginia state capitol is symbol of, not only virginia, but of virginia, the people who have served in public service and virginia principles that have informed -- form american principles of self-government. you walk into this building every january and feel the public pulse building inside his historic landmark with his newer legislative wings and brand-new underground extension that welcomes visitors to the
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capital. itself is on one level a pretty good fine arts museum with a sizable collection of paintings and sculpture. it is also a convincing civic classroom. 118,000 visitors each year coming to see the capital building. they are coming to see it for all kinds of reasons, some one to visit a recognized historical attraction, some are coming for civics education, some are coming here to participate in the process of self-government. and all of them, i hope, will gain an appreciation for a time-tested workplace for enduring american principles. many of those principles having been engineered in virginia, going all the way back to the beginnings of our general assembly in 1619 in jamestown.
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been exercising the rights and responsibilities of self-government in virginia for nearly 400 years. that is something worth watching . >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, this evening at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war. >> grant will put his faith in sherman to breakout of this trap, they are still inside the city, the confederates are on the high ground, grant is determined to break out of this and i will you sherman to do it. >> at 8:55, a lincoln's color on the many paintings, sculptures, photographs of president lincoln now on display in the u.s. capitol. >> the heroic image that president present in their lifetime and after inspire, leaders, caution future in the days when before twitter
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and instantaneous photography, which i see going on over here, or c-span, these images which look rudimentary and primitive today, had power impact and influence. at 6:30 p.m. eastern, international spy museum historian talks about the attempts by the u.s. government to overthrow or assassinate cuban leader fidel castro. >> he was the head of the mob in havana around the 1950's, he had a dog in the fight, somebody who had been kicked out by castro along with all of the casinos and model people. people, those who really want to get rid of castro. the cia said we have $150,000 on the line, whoever kills castro, the money belongs to them. >> ben stein, former speechwriter for richard nixon -- reflectsord, let
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on nixon's time in the white house, his energy policies, initiatives in israel and southeast asia. richard's in, who many accused of being an anti-semite, left israel defense and a way no other president had. >> for a full schedule, go to c-span.org. >> all weekend, american history tv is featuring san jose, california, c-span cities tour staff recently visited showcases about the city's history, in 1943, the international business machines corporation, or ibm, opened its first west coast manufacturing's -- facility in san jose and later the city was dubbed the capital of silicon valley, learn more about san jose all weekend here on american history tv. >> james was a wealthy businessman in the san francisco

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