Architectural Photography

Travel Photography: Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

While I was back east visiting family, my father and I took a day trip to Washington, D.C. With Congress out of session and  President Obama on vacation, Our Nation’s Capital seemed a bit empty.

On the other hand, if you prefer to leave the people out of your photos, Capitol Hill was a great place to be…

Travel photography - U.S. Capitol Dome, Washington, D.C.

If it wasn’t for a few tourists braving below-freezing temperatures, Washington, D.C. would have been a ghost town…

Travel photography - Tourists passing by U.S. Capitol near reflected dome, Washington, D.C.

Time wasn’t too long ago when you could challenge your buddies to a footrace up the Capitol Steps. Can’t do that anymore — see that discreet little fence? Don’t you even think of venturing past it. Unless you care to run your silly little hurdling story past the U.S. Capitol Police…

Travel photography - Steps of U.S. Capitol

When I first ventured into the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, I thought, “Oh, goodie, another federal museum full of boring exhibits.” (Yours Truly tends to avoid museums, federal or otherwise, like the plague.)

But, since it was so much warmer than the Great Outdoors, I decided to give the place a chance. First thing that got my attention was the full-sized replica of the statue that’s on top of the Capitol Dome. Much bigger up close than off in the distance…

Travel photography - replica of statue atop U.S. Capitol Dome

Much of the exhibit space was devoted to the history of the United States Congress. I was impressed with the honesty that was on display. We talk about partisan bickering these days, but the 1800s were downright vicious.

The Visitor Center took that on, including a detailed account of the 1856 caning attack on Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, an outspoken Abolitionist. This incident happened on the Senate floor, and the attacker was Sumner’s fellow Congressman, Preston Brooks of South Carolina. Three days earlier, Sumner made an anti-slavery speech that disparaged Brooks’ uncle, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler.

Brooks took umbrage and set upon Sumner in the almost-empty Senate chamber. Sumner was so badly injured that he didn’t return to the Senate for three years.

I was thinking that, of all the Congressional history topics that wouldn’t be mentioned, the Sumner caning would be at the top of the list. But it was there.

Then there was the political cartoon that showed Andrew Jackson having his mouth sewn shut. Much nastier than anything I’ve seen recently.

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