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.

Preparing for Global War, 1941

Nazi Germany occupied Western Europe. Japanese forces were expanding across Asia. Many Americans became convinced that the United States faced grave threats. Were we ready? Early in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to extend the term of military service. But draftees, conscripted for one year, wanted to finish and go home. Could America afford to let them go?

"Things are changing fast," observed the new House Speaker, Sam Rayburn of Texas, "and matters are becoming more complicated and dangerous every day." As the Senate passed an 18-month extension for draftees, Rayburn lobbied House members to go along. That August, in a roll call vote, the extension squeaked through the House by one vote, 203–202. Four months later, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor. America was at war.

"The responsibility rests solely with the Congress."
—President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941

History of Congress and the Capitol

The House 1913-1945

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Selective service, or the draft,...
Image Caption

Selective service, or the draft, used a lottery to call up men for military duty. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watches Navy Secretary Frank Knox draw a number.

Selective service, or the draft, used a lottery to call up men for military duty. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watches Navy Secretary Frank Knox draw a number.

AP/Wide World Photos, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Selective service, or the draft, used a lottery to call up men for military duty. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watches Navy Secretary Frank Knox draw a number.

Selective service, or the draft, used a lottery to call up men for military duty. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watches Navy Secretary Frank Knox draw a number.

AP/Wide World Photos, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress