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[Detail] The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865

Art and Architecture

On January 4, 1863, Taft describes attending a religious service at the Capitol "…to not only hear the old Chaplin preach and Miss Rumsey sing. But to gaze on Leutz'[Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze] fine picture of the Emigrant Party which decorates the Western Stair Case of the South Wing." He also refers to the painting on January 18, remarking "The more I look at it the more I admire it." Find a reproduction of the mural, titled Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, on the Internet.

  • How did Taft describe Leutze's mural? Observe the painting closely and expand on Taft's description.
  • This painting was created in 1861-1862. How did it represent events or ideas of that time?
  • What appeared to be the reason for Taft's fascination with the mural?