Statue of Freedom

freedom_2[1]The Statue of Freedom, which sits atop the U.S. Capitol Building, was erected in 1863 at the height of the Civil War. The dignified proceedings of the installation included a 35-gun salute -- one volley for each state in existence at the time -- rejoined, in turn, by each of the 12 forts that then protected Washington, D.C. The statue's completion and installation demonstrated to a war-torn nation the immutability of personal freedom, and Union: inscribed upon her cast-iron globe base are the words "E Pluribus Unum" -- Out of many, one.

Senator Akaka believes these important sentiments, particularly that of personal freedom, resonate around the world.  They demonstrate the country's role in perpetuating freedom and democracy throughout the globe. freedom_3[1]

"As our country continues to lead the world in the universal pursuit of freedom and democracy, we look to Lady Freedom for her constant inspiration - to bolster us in our mutual efforts toward these great ideals," said Senator Akaka. "She stands as a noble reminder to the world of the fundamental principles that make our country great."

Senator Akaka has worked to foster greater understanding of Lady Freedom's significance by leading the restoration and display of the Statue's original plaster model. The model had been cut into pieces and left in storage for decades until, at Senator Akaka's urging, Congress authorized the Architect of the Capitol to accept donations for its restoration and display. 

The pieces of the model were moved to the Capitol complex and put back together. The plaster surface was repaired and repainted by Architect of the Capitol craftsmen with consultation from a sculpture conservator. In 1993, the model became available for public viewing in the Russell Senate Office Building. In 2008, the model was moved to a prominent location in the new Capitol Visitor Center.

Physical Form

By artist ThStatue of Freedom omas Crawford, the Statue of Freedom is one of America's most enduring and poignant symbols of democratic government. She stands 19'6" tall above its base on the Capitol dome and weighs an impressive 14,985 pounds. 

She features classically Greek and Roman elements: Her left hand, which rests upon the shield of the United States, holds a laurel wreath, symbolizing triumph and honor. A sheathed sword, representing peace, lies grasped in her right, ready to be drawn if needed. The pedestal is embellished with wreaths and fasces, which are bundles of rods symbolizing governmental authority.

The Statue's headdress is perhaps her most controversial feature. It is a Roman helmet ringed by stars, and a crest consisting of an eagle's head, feathers and talons. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, who oversaw the design of Freedom, objected to Crawford's model of the Statue wearing a liberty cap, the symbol of French revolutionaries and freed slaves in ancient Rome. On the matter, he wrote: "...history renders it inappropriate to a people who were born free and would not be enslaved." A re-design by Crawford complied with the Secretary's wishes for a helmet to represent strong defense.

For more information on the Statue of Freedom and other Capitol attractions, please visit the Architect of the Capitol's website.

Akaka Gets Tour of the Capitol Visitor Center

On May 16,Statue of Freedom 2005, Senator Akaka received a guided tour led by Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman of the construction site for the new Capitol Visitor Center on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The CVC, which opened in 2008, added 580,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space to the Capitol Complex. This represents the largest expansion of the Complex in our country's long history. 

Senator Akaka viewed the new entrance and screening areas, orientation theaters, the Emancipation Hall, Congressional auditorium, and extensive exhibition space for educational and historical materials.

While inspectStatue of Freedom ing the future site of the Emancipation Hall, Mr. Hantman showed Senator Akaka a central location that was structurally reinforced to accommodate the plaster model of the majestic Statue of Freedom. The relocation of the model from its old space in the Russell Senate Office Building marked the fulfillment of a vision that Senator Akaka pursued for years.  

Today thousands of visitors each day are able to view it up close and understand the significance of the Statue of Freedom.

Mr. Hantman also identified space in the Emancipation Hall which now accommodates the statue of King Kamehameha. The King's statue, one of Hawaii's two statues in the Capitol Building, used to be located in a corner of Statuary Hall because more prominent areas of the Capitol Building cannot support the statue's weight. 

Plaster Model on Display


The plaster model of the Statue of Freedom, which Senator Akaka helped to rescue from deterioration in storage, sits in its new prominent location in the Captiol Visitor Center's Emancipation Hall.  

Photo taken at the CVC's official opening on December 2, 2008.


The Architect of the Capitol -- Statue of Freedom:

U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

Allen, William C. History of the United States Capitol: A Chronicle of Design, Construction, and Politics

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