Monday, Mar. 11th: The Business History Forum at Columbia University

“The Business of Building the United States Capitol” with Guy Gugliotta, the author of Freedom's Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War


From its nine-million-pound cast-iron dome to the dazzling opulence of the President’s Room and the Senate corridors, the U.S. Capitol is a triumph of both engineering and design. But its history is also the history of America’s most tumultuous years. In Freedom’s Cap, Guy Gugliotta recounts the history and broader meaning of the Capitol building through the lives of the three men most responsible for its construction: Jefferson Davis, who remained the Capitol’s staunchest advocate up until the week he left Washington to become president of the Confederacy; Davis’s protégé and the Capitol’s lead engineer, Captain Montgomery C. Meigs, who became quartermaster general of the Union Army and never forgave Davis for his betrayal of the nation; and the Capitol’s brilliant architect and Meigs’s longtime rival, Thomas U. Walter, who defended slavery at the beginning of the war but eventually turned fiercely against the South.

The Business History Forum at Columbia University highlights the relationship between Columbia University and the city through the history of city, national, and global businesses. The Forum features speakers who address the past, present and future of industries that have been and, in many cases, continue to be important to the development of New York City, including accounting; communications, finance; law; media; real estate/development; theater; and trade. It brings together academic experts, industry practitioners, students, and the public. The Forum also provides examples of how the university acquires, preserves, and provides access to business collections through its Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Questions? E-mail Eric Wakin.


All events are free and open to the public but require registration at

All sessions take place in 523 Butler Library, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Co-Sponsors: Rare Book & Manuscript Library; Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History