Securing the Blessings of Liberty in the Wake of the Jan. 6 Insurrection

Issued 1/14/21

Visitors to the U.S. Capitol learning about history, art, architecture, and civics from guides and staff in the majestic rotunda.

In the wake of the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, the security of the building and the Congress is front and center in the public consciousness. The United States Capitol Historical Society urges all involved in reviewing the breach and future protocols to ensure that security does not mean building a fortress inaccessible to all but the privileged few.

The United States Capitol is the aspirational embodiment of American democracy. It has always been a point of pride that this magnificent structure is both a working building and a public attraction. From sightseers to citizens wishing to petition their representatives, the Capitol Complex welcomes all. There is no better reflection of the American ideal than the fact that anyone—anyone—is welcome in the very heart of our national government.

The United States Capitol Historical Society urges lawmakers to take all measures necessary to preserve the great national treasure of public access to the U.S. Capitol.

There must be accountability for the inexcusable failure to protect our temple of democracy on January 6, 2021. We share the concerns of many that, despite the extremely public nature of this planned breach of the Capitol, security precautions appeared to be less stringent than those deployed during regularly scheduled events such as the State of the Union address. The security precautions established for such events are appropriately bold and temporary.

For the protection of our Congress, visitors, and Capitol Hill staff, the physical safety of the Capitol must be protected.

For the protection of our democracy and our way of life, the American people must never be excluded from the United States Capitol.

The insurrection must not be rewarded with the destabilization it was intended to create.

Our Capitol, like our nation, is great and flawed. But, as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” America stands ready to regroup, rebuild, and meet again in our Capitol.