As the United States expanded across the continent, laborers in Washington were finishing the Capitol. Early in this period, the building consisted of just two wings, both badly damaged by British attacks in the War of 1812. Congress returned to Washington soon after the fires died down, debating whether to rebuild—or to pack up and move back to Philadelphia.
Congress chose to rebuild. It began work reconstructing the two wings, later uniting them with the long-delayed center building. At last, in 1829, the Capitol and its landscaping were complete. But within 20 years, the nation had outgrown the building.