This section is from the book "The National Capitol. Its Architecture Art And History", by George C. Hazelton, Jr. Also available from Amazon: The National Capitol Its Architecture Art and History.
The answer to this letter is not among my father's papers here. It was transmitted by him to Congress, with a message, dated 8th January, 1800, which is upon the Journals of both Houses on that day. There is in the message itself an intimation, expressing, as I understand it, my father's opinion, all that he could give, upon the subject to which your letter refers. I find no second letter from him, nor any paper showing that any thing further had passed between them on this occasion. I cannot imagine that there should be any question among those who incline to perform the promise of Congress at all, in what manner they ought to perform it.
The request of Congress was not that one-half of General Washington's remains should be transferred to the Capitol.
I am, dear sir, respectfully,
John Quincy Adams.
Wood Lawn, February 24, 1830.
My dear Sir : I observe the resolutions of Congress, of the 23d December, 1799, and the message of President Adams, of the 8th January, 1800, respecting the entombment in the Capitol of the remains of General Washington, are, by a resolution of Mr. Mitchell, again before Congress.
Mr. Hayner stated, that, in order to obviate any objection which might possibly arise, he would inform the House he was authorized to state, that the resolution, if adopted, could be carried into effect without any opposition on the part of the family of General Washington.
Nothing is said of the remains of Mrs. Washington ; assuredly they do not mean to separate the bodies.
These resolutions will be submitted to a Select Committee of one member from each State in the Union. I think this committee ought to be informed that the family of Washington will not consent to a separation of the bodies. I am sure your venerable grand parent expressed her views and wishes on this subject to President Adams.
I am, my dear sir, truly and sincerely,
To George W. P. Custis, Esq. of Arlington.
It thus appears that the family of General George Washington have consented, and now expect, that his remains, united with those of his beloved consort, may be entombed in the city distinguished by his name ; and that the American people do intend to erect and consecrate to his memory some monumental memorials, appropriate to the endeared and venerated character of the illustrious Father of his Country. The sub-committee do, therefore, after full advisement, and the most mature consideration, recommend that it be, Resolved, That the leaden coffin, containing the remains of General George Washington, be removed from the family vault at Mount Vernon, and that the same be deposited in a marble sarcophagus, and entombed in the vault heretofore prepared for that purpose, under the central dome of the Capitol ; that building, erected by the people for the accommodation of their Government, being the most appropriate mausoleum for the great founder of it. The remains of Mrs. Washington, now united with those of her illustrious consort in the repose of the tomb, shall at the same time be removed, and being deposited in another marble sarcophagus, shah be entombed by his side in the same national sepulchre. On the lid of each sarcophagus shall be inscribed the name, day of the birth, death, and entombment of each, respectively. Immediately over the centre of this tomb, and on the ground floor of the Capitol, shall be placed a marble cenotaph, in the form of a well proportioned sarcophagus, on the lid of which shall be sculptured, in large letters, the name, day of the birth, death, place and day of entombment, of that illustrious man. Immediately above this, in the centre of the Rotundo, a full length marble pedestrian statue of Washington, wrought by the best artist of the present time, shall be placed on a circular pedestal, formed from the same material, of such width and height, being not less than four feet, as will be proportionate to the dimensions of that appartment. This pedestal shall be finished in the most perfect style of workmanship, but without the ornament of any device, either of emblem or legend, other than the name of George Washington, to whose memory this monument is consecrated.
Your committee believe that these memorials, little costly and ostentatious as they may appear, will better accord with the feelings of this nation, and more appropriately commemorate the pure and elevated character of our Washington, than could any, the most expensive or splendid monument or mausoleum. When it is kept in mind that, although this age has produced the greatest statesman and captains known in all history, yet the high characters of those who have arisen in the world, either before or since his time, do but illustrate and render more eminent the distinguishing qualities of his worth and glory ; so that the American people can never be deprived of the most revered and enduring monuments of this venerated man, so long as they shall continue to cherish and preserve their Independence, Government, and National Union, achieved by his toil, valor, and wisdom.
For the Sub-committee.
The report of the sub-committee being read and considered, it was Resolved, That the select committee do approve of and adopt the said report ; and that their Chairman be directed to report the same to the House of Representatives, with the following resolutions conformable thereto, viz :
Joint resolutions providing for the national entombment of the remains of General George Washington, and for a pedestrian statue of that General.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United Stales of America in Congress assembled, That the remains of General George Washington be removed, with suitable funeral honors, from the family vault at Mount Vernon, conducted under the direction of a joint committee of both Houses of Congress, on the day of December next, and entombed in the national sepulchre to be prepared for that purpose under the centre dome of the Capitol in the city of Washington, according to a plan recommended by a report of a select committee, made to the House of Representatives on the day of March, 1830.