Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The man who designed the Capitol Building

Thornton's design for the Capitol Building. Inset, William Thornton.
It is the birthday of British-American architect William Thornton (1759), who designed the United States Capitol Building. His plan was the winner in a design competition. He won $500 and a lot in the city. Thornton also served as the first Architect of the Capitol and the first Superintendent of the United States Patent Office. He also was a physician, inventor, and painter, and was considered a Renaissance man of vast knowledge. He was born in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, where his family had sugar plantations and slaves. In fact, as a young man he had inherited 70 slaves, an event that troubled him greatly. He subsequently became an abolitionist, and tried unsuccessfuly to lead a group of American Free Black Americans to Sierra Leone to join a British colony there.

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