American sculptor Thomas Crawford was already working on other sculptures for the Capitol in his studio in Rome when he was chosen to design the figure to top the new Capitol dome. In his first version, Freedom wore a wreath of wheat and laurel. After he saw the drawing of the dome, Crawford created a second design with a liberty cap, the emblem of freed slaves in ancient Rome and a symbol of liberty during the American and French revolutions. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis objected to this symbol as "inappropriate to a people who were born free" and suggested a helmet. The approved third design includes a helmet topped with an eagle head and feathers, in homage to the American Indian.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress and Architect of the Capitol