DC, Day 6: Capitol Capstone

CCU’s Washington Week was capped off perfectly on Friday, May 15, as eminent Coloradan Hank Brown treated us to a six-hour roving seminar through public and private areas of the United States Capitol, where he served as a congressman and senator from 1981 to 1997. In the Senate Brown succeeded Bill Armstrong, who is now President of CCU. After retiring from public office he served as president of both UNC and CU, and he continues today as a faculty member at Boulder, where he teaches a political science course on American history and government as brought to life in the US Capitol’s art treasures. A short version of that course highlighted the final day of our study trip. Here are five snapshots.

(1) Things began with breakfast in the Senate Dining Room under George Washington’s gaze from the 1910 stained glass window where the General is seen conferring with Lafayette and Von Steuben. Hank Brown is at right in blue shirt. Seated clockwise from him are CCU delegates Sarah Shibley, Maria Katz, Callista Clark, Dean Bill Saxby, Mike Wheelis, and Natasha Starceski.

(2) Sen. Brown explains the filibuster rule in the ornate Senate Reception Room as Renee Hunt, Samantha Scoggins, and Maria Katz listen. Portraits of Henry Clay (R) and John C. Calhoun keep watch.

(3) Here the Missouri Compromise was forged in 1820 and Sumner was caned by Brooks in 1856, Brown tells CCU history professor Stan Dyck in the Old Senate Chamber, replaced when the Capitol’s north wing was added in 1859. Our conservative crew had no trouble obeying the “Keep Right” sign.

(4) Brown provided in-depth commentary on each of the monumental paintings that line the Capitol rotunda, including Trumbull’s famous “Signing of the Declaration of Independence.” Sacrifices later made by many of the signers bore out their expressed pledge of “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” in the American cause, he noted. (Boy in yellow, center, must have been told that gumdrops periodically rain from the dome.)

(5) Painting of the 1787 Constitutional Convention on a stairwell below the House Chamber occasions another of Hank’s history lessons. After lunch with him in the House Dining Room, we headed out for a last bit of sightseeing and shopping before vacating our dorm and boarding the Metro for Dulles Airport and a late flight to Denver. What a way to finish our week!

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