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WC vs. History: Capitol Domes

While the 200th anniversary for the Burning of Washington is still two years off, I figured why not get it in early. So for the CIC's 14th birthday WC vs History turns to the US Capitol Building and the Hall of the Great Assembly. The legislative hearts of the United States and Terran Confederation respectively, they are brought together in Wing Commander IV. Happy Birthday Wingnuts and enjoy!

The United States Capitol Building, located in Washington, D.C., houses the legislative branch of the American government. Comprised of the House of Representatives and Senate, the legislative branch is tasked with making law in the United States. The building itself began construction in September 1793, with construction lasting for a fair number of years. The Senate building was completed in 1800. The House of Representatives building was first occupied by the House in 1807, although the structure was not finished until 1811.

Construction on the Rotunda had not started, the two wings only being connected by a crude wooden hallway, when the United States went to war against Great Britain for a second time on 18 June 1812. The current dome was authorized in 1855 and completed during the American Civil War in December 1863 when the statue Freedom was placed atop the Dome.

The incomplete Capitol Dome in March 1861 during Lincoln's first inauguration and the statue Freedom atop the completed Dome.

The War of 1812 has been a little remembered conflict in the two primary adversaries for a number of years, although interest in the United States has ticked up with bicentennial celebrations starting this year. I’m sure our Canadian wingnuts are well-versed in the war. It’s one thing they can certainly be proud of.

The defeat of Napoleon by Spring 1814 allowed the British to divert a large number of ground forces to the war against the United States. British forces conducted an invasion of the United States in August 1814 on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The British easily defeated American forces in the Battle of Bladensburg on 24 August, nearly capturing the entire American federal government which was present at the battle, before marching onto Washington itself. The battle later became known as the “Bladensburg Races” for the panicked retreat of American forces. As the Americans fled the field, President James Madison sent word to his wife, Dolley, at the White House. She was to evacuate the White House immediately! The Red Coats were coming, again!

Dolley Madison, First Lady of the United States, was already a well-known entity to the American public. Considerably junior to her husband in years, she transformed the White House into the center of the Washington social scene. Her public profile was to grow considerably when word of her actions on the night of 24 August became known.

Dolley Madison and the portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuartt she ordered saved.

Mrs. Madison had the servants and slaves gather various important and valuable items from around the White House. As the British advanced into the city and closed on the seat of Executive power, Mrs. Madison called for the frame to be broken on the portrait of George Washington and had the picture cut from it. Loaded with the painting and various valuables, she as one of the last people to flee the city before the British entered it in force.

Rear Admiral George Cockburn led the British forces in their attack on Washington, D.C.

The British force, of over four thousand men and led by Rear Admiral George Cockburn (actually no, it's not pronounced that way) entered the American capital and began burning government buildings. This was not in retaliation for the Revolution, instead it was in retaliation for the American burning of the Canadian city of York in April 1813. The US Capitol Building, the White House, the Library of Congress, the Treasury and other public buildings were put to the torch by the British. The US Patent Office was actually saved from the torch by William Thornton, then Superintendent of Patents, by convincing the British not to destroy the building and patents within.

A sketch of Washington burning along with images of the US Capitol and White House following the fires that consumed their interiors.

Before being burned, the White House was looted by British forces. Dinner was still sitting on the table in the East Room. The soldiers helped themselves to a meal. Various objects were taken, including a jewelry box which was returned by a Canadian man to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 who claimed it was taken by his grandfather.

The Capitol Building continues to stand into the 27th century. At some intervening point in time, a new structure was built on the eastern side of the building, roughly in an area just beyond the location of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Hall of the Great Assembly was a massive construction. Housing thousands of senators and spectators, the Hall had a large dome enclosing the entire structure. Those in the speaking well had a view of the Capitol dome along with the numerous flags of Confederation worlds.

On 2654.148, the Hall of the Great Assembly suffered a Pilgrim terrorist bombing that killed a large number of people, Pilgrim Truth explains:

"We interrupt this recorded broadcast to bring you a special report from CNH, Vega and Sol sectors." The news hub emblem faded into the grim countenance of a young captain in dress blues. "This just confirmed from CNNH Sol sector: Three days ago CST, Pilgrim saboteurs gained access into the Hall of the Great Assembly, where they detonated a CF-three-two-seven-A explosive device, killing two hundred and twenty-nine senators, including the Assembly Master himself, Pequin Gydideron, and three representatives from the Pilgrim enclave Triune. The facility has been declared a disaster area by President Vasura, and as per the constitution, Vice-president Harold Rodham will assume the duties of Assembly Master until a new master is elected. Rodham has called for an emergency meeting of the surviving senators. Not since the first Pilgrim War have so many of our leaders been killed in one event." President Vasura appeared in the holograph, standing behind a podium before throngs of reporters. "The Confederation we will mete out punishment to those behind this act of cowardice. The saboteurs themselves were merely instruments and gave their lives for their cause. Believe me when I say that those who sent them will make the same sacrifice."

With the public outraged, Bellegarde expected that the surviving senators and interim senators would whole-heartedly support the destroying of all Pilgrim systems and enclaves by one-five-eight. Anything to make their constituents happy.

The US Capitol Building has suffered several terrorist attacks, including two on 1 March of different years. In 1954, four Puerto Rican separatists fired 30 rounds from semi-automatic pistols into the House chamber before being arrested. Five members of the House of Representatives were injured in the attack. The Weather Underground, a 1960’s far-left political organization, staged a bombing of the Building in March 1971 to protest of the US invasion of Laos. The Capitol also saw a terrorist attack on 7 November 1983. The US Senate Building was bombed by a group claiming to be called the “Armed Resistance Unit”. Six people were later arrested and tried in the “Resistance Conspiracy” case with also bombing the Washington Navy Yard and Fort McNair. The Capitol Building was also the likely target of United Flight 93 on 11 September 2001. The passengers of United 93 fought back against the Al Qaeda terrorists who crashed the plane rather than allow the passengers to succeed in retaking control.

Washington, D.C. next appears in the Wing Commander III losing endgame. We are treated to the crushing sight of a Kilrathi fleet cruising over the Capitol Building, while looking at the building’s East Front, and the remains of D.C. itself. It seems that at some point in the next six hundred years the construction height ban is abolished by the various skyscrapers scene.

The first view of the Hall of the Great Assembly comes in Wing Commander IV. The Hall appears to be sunken into the ground off the East Front of the Capitol Building. The top half of the Capitol Dome is visible through the Hall’s own transparent ceiling, along with a empty space between the skyscrapers which is most likely the National Mall. During the endgame, Colonel Christopher Blair flies a commandeered F-104 Lance heavy fighter towards the Capitol Building from the Lincoln Memorial side of the Mall, swinging to the left to avoid the Washington Monument, before heading towards a landing near the Capitol Building. The camera cuts away before we are able to see what must surely be a massive dome over the Hall of the Great Assembly.


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