Sunday, September 18, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2073


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Two centuries and twenty-three years ago today, September 18, 1793, a cornerstone was laid for the Capitol Building of the United States here in Washington, D.C.

In the only known account published in The Columbia Mirror and Alexandria Gazette, the ceremony began at 10 a.m. with President George Washington and a company of artillery from Alexandria crossing the Potomac River a mile and a half from the Capitol site.

In the first large public event held in Washington, D.C., the President was joined by Masonic lodges from Maryland and Virginia in a march "with music playing and colors flying."

At the building site, a trench had been dug and a silver metal plate*, in the Masonic tradition, had been prepared.  The President laid the silver plate in the trench and lowered the cornerstone onto it.

After a speech by Joseph Clark, a 500 pound ox was barbecued and enjoyed by those in attendance.  A painting of the ceremony is on display in the House wing of the Capitol Building.

In 1991, an attempt to locate the silver plate with metal detectors proved unsuccessful.

*The inscribed silver plate was the work of Caleb Bentley of Georgetown, a clockmaker & silversmith.  The inscription on the plate read...

"The South East corner stone of the Capitol of the United States of America in the City of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial as his Military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry 5793, by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge 22, from Alexandria, Virginia."

Thomas Johnson, David Stuart and Daniel Carroll, Commissioners
Joseph Clark, R.W.G.M.--P.T.
James Hoban and Stephan Hallate, Architects
Collen Williamson, M. Mason


"Capitol Cornerstone is Laid,"

"The First Cornerstone," Architect of the Capitol,

Jennifer Leigh White
At the Capitol Visitors Center
Photo by John White (2011)