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.
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.
Monday through Saturday at 1 p.m., join a 50-minute outdoor guided tour exploring the Capitol building and grounds, weather permitting. Meet at the North Gift Shop on the upper level of the Visitor Center. No passes needed.
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.
No reservations or passes are required to attend these 15-minute talks which are held in Exhibition Hall on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center.
Wednesday, September 17
In June 1812 House Speaker Henry Clay persuaded Congress to use its constitutional power to declare war for the first time. Adam Berenbak, Archivist, Center for Legislative Archives at National Archives, explains what took place in the congressional chambers that led to the War of 1812.
Thursday, September 18
On September 19, 1814, with the Capitol destroyed, members of Congress crowded into the Post and Patent Office, the only government building not burned by the British. The House promptly passed a resolution appointing a committee to report on the causes and results of Britain’s successful attack on Washington, DC. Rod Ross, Archivist, Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives, talks about the investigation launched by Congress.
Friday, September 19
Outraged by the burning of Washington in August 1814, the House of Representatives authorized and conducted an investigation into this national calamity. What did it find? Who was to blame? From what constitutional source does this congressional power derive? How does this investigation compare with others in our history? Matt Field, Exhibits & Education Division Program Specialist at the Capitol Visitor Center, will discuss these questions.
Monday, September 22
Tensions escalated over Great Britain’s impressment of American sailors, interference with trade, and relations with American Indians led Congress to declare war on Great Britain in June 1812. Join Judith Adkins, Archivist, Center for Legislative Archives at National Archives, as she presents a talked titled, “Congress and the War of 1812.”
Tuesday, September 23
Raymond White from the Library of Congress Music Division will talk about the Star Spangled Banner as the National Anthem.