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Wednesday, May 31, 2023



President Thomas Jefferson's collection of 6,487 books is on display at the Library of Congress for tourists and researchers alike. 

On April 24, 1800, as part of an act of Congress providing for the removal of the new national government from Philadelphia to Washington, President John Adams approved an act of Congress providing $5,000 for books for the use of Congress—the beginning of the Library of Congress. 

A Joint Congressional Committee—the first joint committee—would furnish oversight. In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson approved a legislative compromise that made the job of Librarian of Congress a presidential appointment, giving the Library of Congress a unique relationship with the American Presidency. 

Jefferson named the first two Librarians of Congress, each of whom also served as the clerk of the House of Representatives. 

On August 24th, 1814, the Capitol Building, which at the time housed Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress, was the first building burned, with the White House soon to follow. The next morning the British planned to continue their arson and pyrotechnics through America’s capital when a violent storm extinguished the burning fires set by the British.

It was also former President Jefferson, retired to Monticello, who came to the new Library’s rescue during the War of 1812. In 1814, the British burned Washington, destroying the Capitol and the small congressional library in its north wing. Congress accepted Jefferson’s offer to sell his comprehensive personal library of 6,487 books to “recommence” its own library. 

Jefferson’s concept of universality is the rationale for the comprehensive collecting policies of today’s Library of Congress. 

For a TIMELINE of the Library of Congress CLICK HERE.  


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