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Model of Tobacco Capital

The English-born Benjamin Henry Latrobe was the first professional architect to work in America. Hired as Surveyor of Public Buildings in 1803, Latrobe was soon summoned to oversee the construction of the Capitol, a project which would preoccupy him for much of the rest of his life. In addition to redesigning the north-wing interiors, including the Supreme Court and Senate, Latrobe incorporated a uniquely American symbolism in his designs for the "American orders"—columns with load-bearing ornaments that rest atop the shaft called capitals; that adorned the building. The capital shown here, earlier sketched and sent to Thomas Jefferson for approval, takes the shape of a tobacco leaf in honor of the one of the early nation's most important staple crops.

Source | Benjamin Henry Latrobe, executed by Francisco Iardella, Tobacco capital, 1817, sandstone, Monticello/Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., Charlottesville, VA; from the Library of Congress, Temple of Liberty: Building the Capitol for a New Nation, http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/us.capitol/s4.html.
Creator | Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Item Type | Artifact
Cite This document | Benjamin Henry Latrobe, “Model of Tobacco Capital,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 18, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/576.

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