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It has been more than 200 years since the US Capitol was invaded

The Capitol building in Washington, D.C.Bloomberg/Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomber

A majestic building at the heart of the nation, the US Capitol was invaded by troops of an enemy country more than 200 years ago. In the ensuing years, it has been the scene of other isolated incidents of violence.

President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the building in 1793, and portions of the building were first occupied in 1800.

During the War of 1812, the British invaded Washington, D.C., and set fire to the building, which was still being completed, and only a sudden rainstorm prevented its complete destruction, according to an official history of the building.


Most of the population had fled, leaving the city vulnerable as the British approached, fresh from a victory in a battle at Bladensburg, Maryland.

In 1835, President Andrew Jackson was leaving a funeral in the Capitol when a man made the first assassination attempt on a sitting president. The man fired a pistol, but no one was hit.

In 1954, four Puerto Rican nationalists entered the visitor’s gallery above the House chamber and opened fire onto the House of Representatives chamber floor. Five Congressmen were wounded. All recovered and returned to service. The four nationalists were captured and convicted, receiving sentences ranging from 16 to 75 years in federal prison. More than two decades later, President Jimmy Carter granted them clemency, according to a House website.

Bombs were planted in the building over the years, in 1915, 1971, and 1983, but no one was injured in the explosions.

In more recent years, in 1998, two Capitol Police officers were killed when a gunman entered the Capitol and opened fire.

In 2016, Capitol Police shot a man after he pulled out a spring-loaded BB gun and pointed it at an officer at the Capitol Visitor Center.


Other incidents have taken place near the building. Police fatally shot a woman in 2013 who had tried to drive through a White House checkpoint and was then chased to the Capitol.

Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.