The bronze Statue of Freedom was given an acid wash, which produced a distinctive bronze-green patina. It was lifted to the Capitol dome in sections. The placing of the head, on December 2, 1863, was marked by a 35-gun salute and answered by guns from the 12 forts that encircled the city during the Civil War.
This drawing by Thomas U. Walter shows a section of the dome with the scaffolding used to erect the Statue of Freedom in 1863. Note the detail of the top section, with the head being lifted in place.
Architect of the Capitol
Statue of Freedom
The full-size plaster model for the Statue of Freedom was used to cast the bronze statue on top of the Capitol dome. Freedom wears a helmet encircled with stars and topped with an eagle’s head and feathers, the talons hanging at either side of her face. Her long, curly hair flows down her back. Her dress is secured with a brooch with the letters “US,” and she is draped with a fur-trimmed robe. Her right hand holds a sheathed sword, the left a laurel wreath of victory and the striped shield of the United States.
The model, which had been stored in pieces for many years, was restored in 1992 by the Architect of the Capitol with funds donated to the U.S. Capitol Preservation Commission. It was on display in the Russell Senate Office Building before being moved to Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
The bronze Statue of Freedom, facing east over the central entrance, crowns the dome of the United States Capitol. The bronze Statue of Freedom, facing east over the central entrance, crowns the dome of the United States Capitol, 288 feet above the east front plaza.