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Church in the U.S. Capitol?

Many people are surprised to learn that the United States Capitol regularly served as a church building; a practice that began even before Congress officially moved into the building and lasted until well after the Civil War. Below is a brief history of the Capitol's use as a church, and some of the prominent individuals who attended services there.

The cornerstone of the Capitol was laid by President George Washington in 1793, but it was not until the end of 1800 that Congress actually moved into the building. According to the congressional records for late November of 1800, Congress spent the first few weeks organizing the Capitol rooms, committees, locations, etc. then, on December 4, 1800, Congress approved the use of the Capitol building as a church building.

The approval of the Capitol for church was given by both the House and the Senate, with House approval being given by Speaker of the House, Theodore Sedgwick, and Senate approval being given by the President of the Senate, Thomas Jefferson. Interestingly, Jefferson's approval came while he was still officially the Vice-President but after he had just been elected President.

Significantly, the Capitol building had been used as a church even for years before it was occupied by Congress. The cornerstone for the Capitol had been laid on September 18, 1793; two years later while still under construction, the July 2, 1795, Federal Orrery newspaper of Boston reported:

City of Washington, June 19. It is with much pleasure that we discover the rising consequence of our infant city. Public worship is now regularly administered at the Capitol, every Sunday morning, at 11 o'clock by the Reverend Mr. Ralph.

The reason for the original use of the Capitol as a church might initially be explained by the fact that there were no churches in the city at that time. Even a decade later in 1803, U. S. Senator John Quincy Adams confirmed: "There is no church of any denomination in this city." The absence of churches in Washington eventually changed, however. As one Washington citizen reported: "For several years after the seat of government was fixed at Washington, there were but two small [wooden] churches. . . . Now, in 1837 there are 22 churches of brick or stone." Yet, even after churches began proliferating across the city, religious services still continued at the Capitol until well after the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Jefferson attended church at the Capitol while he was Vice President and also throughout his presidency. The first Capitol church service that Jefferson attended as President was a service preached by Jefferson's friend, the Rev. John Leland, on January 3, 1802. Significantly, Jefferson attended that Capitol church service just two days after he penned his famous letter containing the "wall of separation between church and state" metaphor.


by David Barton - 11/10/2005

Let's remember our Heritage out there!

Timothy J. Kilkenny
Founder & CEO

Hard to Find Toll-Free Number Finder!

Waiting on hold for customer service or tech support is painful enough, so why do they have to make it so hard to find the toll-free 800 number in the first place?

Help is at hand. With Hard to Find 800 Numbers at www.hardtofind800numbers.com, you'll never have to scramble for contact information again. The site organizes companies and organizations alphabetically and displays phone numbers and hours of operation.

Happy Surfing From Your Friends at FullNet!

Roger Baresel

No Thank You!

Surfing the web can bring us entertainment, information and education ... it can also bring us viruses and unwanted dangers for our computers, so we scan our e-mails and run virus detecting software but can still manage to get infected. Individual web sites or links may be the culprit ... not everyone out there is careful about guarding their web pages against such things but now there is help.

In May of 2010 the NoVirusThanks Company developed and released http://www.Urlvoid.com which is a FREE service developed that allows users to scan a website address with multiple scanning engines such as Google Diagnostic, McAfee SiteAdvisor, Norton SafeWeb, and MyWOT to facilitate the detection of possible dangerous websites.

You should keep in mind that even if a site is listed as clean by all scanning engines, it does NOT guaranteed the harmlessness of the website analyzed, but it is an awesome tool. The reports are even cached for 5 days to avoid the scan of the same website for too many times in the same day and to not stress the engines in use.

Before scanning a website they check to see if the website exists and if it is actually active, in a case where the website is not active or does not exist you get a report that says the website is inaccessible or it does not exist and will not be scanned. If it is an active site there is a list of engines that are used in this service:

  • McAfee SiteAdvisor
  • McAfee Trusted Source
  • BrowserDefender
  • Norton SafeWeb
  • MyWOT
  • MalwareDomainList
  • hpHosts
  • ZeuS Tracker
  • Google Diagnostic
  • PhishTank
  • Project Honey Pot
  • ParetoLogic
  • Spamhaus
  • Malware Patrol
  • Malware Center
  • SpamCop
  • TrendMicro Web Reputation
  • Web Security Guard

Now that's a lot of protection to get for free!

Let's be safe out there!

John Secondi
FullNet Customer Service Manager

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