In order to allow for the installation of scaffolding and floor, statuary, and artwork protection in conjunction with the Dome Restoration Project, the Rotunda of the Capitol will be closed from Monday, July 27 through Monday, September 7. While the Rotunda is unavailable for tours, an alternate tour route will be provided. The Capitol Visitor Center is open during the closure of the Rotunda and will offer special activities which do not require advance reservations. You can also download our new U.S. Capitol Rotunda app.

The End of an Era 1867-1872

Priorities changed quickly after the Civil War and during Reconstruction. The generation that had fought against slavery now turned its attention to the nation’s economic growth. Deals involving the transcontinental railroad, however, illustrated the potential for corruption as the nation rapidly grew.

The Union Pacific Railroad had created the fraudulent Crédit Mobilier Company to build its stretch of the cross-country line at inflated cost. To ensure political support for the venture, Representative Oakes Ames, an agent for Crédit Mobilier, gave shares in the company to members of Congress. Ames later reported back to the company that he had distributed this stock “where it will produce most good to us.” Press reports exposed the scandal in 1872, ruining several political careers.

History of Congress and the Capitol

The House 1851-1877

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Thomas Nast cartoon, Harper’s...
Image Caption

Thomas Nast cartoon, Harper’s Weekly, March 15, 1873

In this cartoon, the figure of Justice accuses the press, which exposed congressmen bribed with Crédit Mobilier stock, of hypocrisy.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Thomas Nast cartoon, Harper’s Weekly, March 15, 1873

In this cartoon, the figure of Justice accuses the press, which exposed congressmen bribed with Crédit Mobilier stock, of hypocrisy.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress