1950 3¢ United States Capitol
National Capital Sesquicentennial Issue
Issue Date: November 22, 1950
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
Color: Bright red violet
The four-stamp set honoring the 150th anniversary of the nation’s capital includes U.S. #992, which pictures the U.S. Capitol building.
When time came to build a structure to house the Legislative branch of government, Thomas Jefferson proposed a competition for a design in 1792. A $500 award was offered, and at least 10 submissions were received. All of the designs were considered too crude, with the most promising coming from French architect Stephen Hallet. However, Hallet’s design was heavily influenced by architectural style in France, and the young nation was cautious about mimicking a European power.
A late design by William Thornton was submitted and warmly received by Jefferson, George Washington, and the design committee. The design was approved, and as a consolation to Hallet, the committee invited him to review the plans and serve as superintendant of the project. Hallet tried to make major changes to Thornton’s design. To resolve the conflict, the commission brought in White House architect James Hoban to help the two men work together. A compromise was reached, and the project moved forward.
U.S. Capitol Building
The U.S. Capitol Building houses the legislative branch of the federal government in Washington, D.C. George Washington laid the cornerstone of the Capitol Building in 1793. The Senate wing was completed in 1800, and the House wing in 1811. President John Adams urged Congress to move to the new capital prematurely, in hopes that the move would influence the South in the upcoming presidential election. Congress held its first session in the new building on November 17, 1800.
National Capital Sesquicentennial
A set of four U.S. stamps was issued in 1950 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Washington, D.C., as the nation’s capital. The stamps portrayed the three branches of government (Executive, Judicial, Legislative), as well as the concepts of Liberty and Freedom.
The idea that the capital be a district that was not part of any state was first put forth by James Madison, in Essay No. 43 of the Federalist Papers. The Compromise of 1790 resulted in the federal government assuming the war debt of the individual states in return for the placement of the national capital in the South.
A provision in the U.S. Constitution allowed for an area like a square of 10-mile sides. The land was donated by both Maryland and Virginia. The City of Washington and the Territory of Columbia were originally two separate entities, but in 1801, both the territory and the city (as well as neighboring cities Georgetown and Alexandria) were placed under the direct control of Congress. The federal government officially moved into the District in 1800.