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Letter from Thomas U. Walter to Charles Fowler, March 2, 1859

Walter often confided in his close friend Charles Fowler, a partner in the foundry that supplied ironwork for the Capitol extension and dome. In this letter, the architect informed Fowler that he had completed revisions to the dome design and that he was irritated by the fighting in Congress over appropriations.

Thomas Ustick Walter Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Letter from Thomas U. Walter to Charles Fowler, March 2, 1859

Images of the Era: 1851-1877

Unprecedented growth in the 1850s strained the fragile agreements that had kept the nation united, but had also kept it part slave, part free. The addition of each new state to the Union rattled the delicate political balance carved out by compromises in Congress. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed residents of each of these new territories, rather than Congress, to decide whether to permit slavery. While intending to keep the nation together, this act inflamed sectional tensions, producing open warfare between pro- and antislavery forces in Kansas, and led directly to the Civil War.