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For 200 years, US Capitol hasn’t seen violence like this

  • Published at 08:05 am January 7th, 2021
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump
Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, US January 6, 2021 Reuters

British troops attempted to burn the building down in the War of 1812, 14 years after the building opened in 1814

A roiling crowd, smashing its way past its magnificent columns of marble, threatening power's passage, desecrating the seat of the largest democracy in the world. The US Capitol has not seen anything like this, in more than 200 years.

Yet this was far from the first time that violence has scarred the Capitol, reports The Times Of India.

British troops attempted to burn the building down in the War of 1812, 14 years after the building opened in 1814.  

The attackers looted the building, then set the southern and northern wings ablaze, incinerating the Library of Congress. A sudden rainstorm halted its full demolition, but the house stood “a most magnificent ruin,” according to Architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe.

In the decades following, events have made a joke of the inscription on the House chamber rostrum. The building has repeatedly been bombed. There were shootouts. One legislator almost killed another.

In 1954, the most famous episode happened when four Puerto Rican nationalists unfurled the flag of the island and shouted “freedom for Puerto Rico," a barrage of about 30 shots was launched from the House Visitors’ Gallery. 

Five members of Congress have been wounded, one was seriously injured.

Pro-Trump protesters clash with Capitol police during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress, at the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021 | Reuters

The building has been a target both before and since the incident. In 1915, in the Senate waiting area, a German man planted three sticks of dynamite; it went off just before midnight when nobody was around.

The bomber—who had killed his pregnant wife by poisoning earlier and would go on to fire JP Morgan Jr – killed himself before he could be captured, and bombed a steamship loaded with explosives bound for Britain.

More recently, to condemn the US bombing of Laos, the Weather Underground set off an explosive in 1971 and in response to the invasion of Grenada the May 19th Communist Movement bombed the Senate in 1983. 

Neither caused any casualties or deaths, but both resulted in damage of hundreds of thousands of dollars and contributed to stricter protective measures.

Neither caused any casualties or deaths, but both resulted in damage of hundreds of thousands of dollars and contributed to stricter safety measures.

In 1998, a mentally ill man shot at a checkpoint and killed two Capitol police officers, this marked as the most violent assault to occur on the Capitol. 

The gunman, who was detained and later institutionalized, was wounded by one of the dying policemen.

In 2013, a dental hygienist attempted to travel to the White House grounds with her 18-month-old daughter in tow and was chased to the Capitol, where police shot her to death.

Other attacks

A deranged house painter attempted to shoot two pistols outside the building at President Andrew Jackson in 1835; the guns fired incorrectly, and Jackson caned his attacker into submission.

Notably, in 1856, with his cane on the floor of the Senate, Representative Preston Brooks struck abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner after the senator made a speech condemning slavery.

It took Sumner three years to recover enough to return to Congress, as he was beaten severely. 

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