Today in History: Library of Congress Is Established

| April 24, 2017

170424_news_219x365If you happen to stroll along First Street in our nation’s capitol, you will stop dead in your tracks to admire the Thomas Jefferson Building, a grand example of the Beaux Arts; marble, granite, gold, bronze, and mahogany are among the fine materials used in a lead design by 19th century Washington architects, John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz; the plan included a rotunda, bookstacks, four courtyards, corner and central pavilions, Corinthian columns, and monumental staircase. Described by Architect of the Capitol as “a style perfectly suited to a young, wealthy, and imperialistic nation in its Gilded Age”, the Library of Congress is a building to behold, but, more importantly, a symbol of our national heritage which speaks to the role of intellectual endeavor and pursuit of learning across the lifespan.

The Library of Congress, our nation’s oldest federal institution, was established on April 24, 1800, when President John Adams signed an Act of Congress. The legislation provided for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington, D.C. Within, Adams appropriated $5,000 “for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress …, and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them….” Thomas Jefferson signed into law the position of Librarian of Congress, first held by John James Beckley, and a Joint Committee on the Library, to administer and manage the collection. Jefferson donated his own personal collection when the Library of Congress was burnt to the ground by British troops in 1814.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

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