Aside from the general tour of the U.S. Capitol offered Monday through Saturday from 8:50 a.m. until 3:20 p.m., there are a number of special activities you may take advantage of.
No reservations or passes are required to attend these 15-minute talks which will be held in Exhibition Hall on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center.
Thursday, February 5
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared that all persons enslaved in a state, or part of a state, then in rebellion against the United States, were and would be forever free. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed by Congress and ratified by the states in 1865, abolished slavery nationwide. Christine Blackerby, Education and Public Outreach Specialist, Center for Legislative Archives at National Archives, talks about the 13th Amendment and events that led up to it.
Thursday, February 12
William Davis, Reference Archivist, Center for Legislative Archives at National Archives, focuses on a petition signed by citizens of Illinois in 1844 that petitioned Congress for a new post road that would reduce the time for delivery of mail from New York and Boston to Springfield by as much as five days. One of the petitioners was Abraham Lincoln, then a lawyer in Springfield.
Thursday, February 19
In 1865, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, to provide for the needs of formerly enslaved African Americans. Operating within the War Department, the Bureau attempted to assist those newly freed with food, medical care, employment, and education. Matthew Field, Program Specialist at the Capitol Visitor Center, weaves a story of tragedy and triumph as he explains the life and impact of the Bureau.
Friday, February 20
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the organizers of the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. She died in 1902, 18 years before women achieved the right to vote. Judith Adkins, Archivist, Center for Legislative Archives at National Archives, highlights Stanton’s January 1878 appearance before a Senate committee in support of a national petition for a woman’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution.
Thursday, February 26
The movement to ensure federal voting rights for women began in the 1840s and culminated, after decades of struggle by generations of suffragists, with ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Adam Berenbak, Reference Archivist, Center for Legislative Archives at National Archives, discusses the House resolution that extended nationwide suffrage to women.
Join a Visitor Guide to explore three unique stories about the War of 1812, often referred to as “the forgotten war.” Discover how the War Hawks convinced a majority in Congress to declare war on Great Britain. See where the British entered the Capitol and destroyed the most beautiful room in America. Listen to how the Native Americans formed a coalition to save their lands and their way of life. No reservations are needed. Get passes for this 50-minute guided program which is offered Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. at one of the Information Desks on the lower level of the Visitor Center.
Watch this series of videos where a historian takes you into the Capitol to explain what happened at the U.S. Capitol during the War of 1812.
Visit the Capitol Visitor Center’s Exhibition Hall where you’ll see President James Madison’s original war message to Congress from June 1, 1812, in which he detailed British offenses against the United States. No reservations or passes are needed to visit Exhibition Hall, which is located on the lower level of the Visitor Center, behind the plaster model for the Statue of Freedom.
In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, a special tour, lasting 30 to 45 minutes, entitled "Capitol and the Congress During the Civil War," is offered Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. With stops at the Old Supreme Court Chamber and other important areas at the Capitol, this tour will explore how the Capitol was used during the Civil War, critical debates that took place during the Civil War, and key judicial decisions made during this time period. No reservations are needed. Get passes for this tour at one of the Information Desks on the lower level of the Visitor Center.
A special tour of the Brumidi Corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing of the Capitol enables visitors to view and learn about the ornate paintings on the walls and ceilings designed by Constantino Brumidi between 1857 and 1859. This tour, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, is offered Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. No reservations are needed. Get passes for this tour at one of the Information Desks on the lower level of the Visitor Center.
<img width="350" height="230" title="House and the Senate Gallery Passes" data-cke-saved-src="/Assets/uploads/images/visit/special-activities/gallery_passes.jpg" src="http://www.visitthecapitol.gov/Assets/uploads/images/visit/special-activities/gallery_passes.jpg" style="float: left;alt=" house="" and="" the="" senate="" gallery="" passes"=""> Find out how to visit the visitor galleries of the House of Representatives and the Senate. This short program is offered Monday through Friday at noon. Inquire at Exhibition Hall.