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King lone vote against recognizing role of slaves in Capitol construction
Iowa Rep. Steve King of Kiron was the only member of Congress on Tuesday to vote against a bill recognizing the use of African American slaves to construct the U.S. Capitol and ordering the placement of a marker paying tribute to their efforts.
From the Associated Press:
“This physical and permanent marker will pay tribute to the blood, sweat and tears of the African-American slaves who helped build this magnificent building and ensure that their story is told and never, never, ever forgotten,” said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. The vote was 399-1, with Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, the lone dissenter. The Senate is considering a similar measure. …
… Historians have discovered that slaves worked 12-hour days, six days a week on the construction of the Capitol. The federal government rented the slaves from local slave owners at a rate of $5 per person per month. The slaves were not paid.
In addition to working on the building, slaves worked in quarries where they extracted the stone for the Capitol. Other slaves provided carpentry skills, still others for sawing stone and timber.
Slave women and children were used to mold clay in kilns.
Why King decided to stand in opposition to the bill is unknown, as he has released no public statement regarding the legislation and his spokesman, Matt Lahr, has not responded to a request for comment.