Sunday, March 20, 2016

The State Capitol

On Wednesday, the Bair's Den and the other classes on Team 4A travelled to Harrisburg to tour the state capitol building and the Pennsylvania State Museum.

The capitol was VERY busy, so we didn't get to take the normal tour. We spent just a few minutes on the second level of the rotunda. Even though we were there a short time, it was very obvious that the building really is priceless. There was beautiful artwork, and everything is covered with gold leaf!

The ceiling of the rotunda from the steps - a good view of some of the original artwork and gold leaf
After we left the rotunda, we visited the House of Representatives. Even though they were getting ready to go into session, we were able to learn about how the house members conduct votes, the stained glass windows that represent Pennsylvania's industries and resources, and the GIANT lights! One large light weighs as much as an elephant!

A view of the 203 seats in the House 

An example of one of the stained glass windows in the House of Representatives ~ there are similar windows in the Senate

A man who is 6 foot tall can stand inside these large lights to change the bulbs.
After leaving the House we had just a moment to walk through the Senate chamber before they started their session. It was very beautiful, but we were not allowed to take any pictures. After we finished our tour we were able to visit the interactive welcome center and have lunch before we headed off to the museum.

While there were many exciting things to see in the museum as we completed our scavenger hunts, we were most excited to see the original Charter of 1681. King Charles II of England repaid a debt owed to William Penn's family by giving Penn land instead of money. The Charter of 1681 was the official document written by the King's representative that gave this land to Penn. While there is always a copy of the charter in the museum, this year the original Charter was on display to celebrate the 335th anniversary of PA becoming a colony. It was really cool to hear about the charter, feel the material it was written on (they had a sample), see an example of the King's official seal, and see how different English was written long ago.

The first page of the Charter of 1681 kept in a temperature and humidity controlled case
One of the middle pages of the Charter - there are 4 pages all together

The final page of the Charter - the only signature on the document is in the lower right corner - it is the signature of Pigott, the King's representative who actually wrote the document. The King's seal represented his official signature.
There were some other important documents from the archives as well. One was the actual document that abolished slavery, and the other was the land grant in which the Lenni Lenape tribe agreed to allow William Penn to live on the land that was given to him by the King of England.

Treat between the Native Americans and William Penn

While a busy capitol made for a short tour, we were very lucky to be able to see this incredible documents at the museum. The capitol building and museum are both open to the public to tour if you and your child would like to do more exploring!

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