Capitol Slave Labor Studied

AP, June 1

The U.S. Capitol was built with the labor of slaves who cut the logs, laid the stones and baked the bricks. Two centuries later, Congress has decided the world should know about this.

Congressional leaders yesterday announced the creation of a task force to study the history of slave labor in the construction of the Capitol and suggest how it can best be commemorated.

“It is our hope that the work of the task force will shed light on this part of our history, the building of our nation’s greatest symbol of democracy,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican; and Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

Historians say slaves were the largest labor pool when Congress in 1790 decided to create a new national capital along the Potomac surrounded by the two slave-owning states of Maryland and Virginia.

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