U.S. Capitol has had violent incidents in the past - a historical review

ByDavid Ono KABC logo
Friday, January 8, 2021
A history of violence at the U.S. Capitol
The Capitol has never been stormed by an angry mob before, but there have been shootings, bombings, even a president who used a cane to fight off an assailant.

WASHINGTON -- In more than 220 years, the U.S. Capitol had seen nothing like what happened this week.

A violent mob forced its way past the Capitol's majestic marble columns, disrupting the passage of power, and desecrating the seat of the world's greatest democracy.

A woman was fatally shot by police, three people died from medical emergencies and a Capitol Police officer died of injuries sustained in the melee.

But this was far from the first time the Capitol has been scarred by violence:

1814: British forces in the War of 1812 tried to burn the Capitol down, along with the White House. The building was badly damaged but a sudden rainstorm prevented total destruction.

1835: A deranged house painter tried to shoot two pistols at President Andrew Jackson outside the Capitol building but the guns misfired and Jackson caned his assailant into submission.

1856: Congressman Preston Brooks attacked abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate after the senator gave a speech criticizing slavery. It took Sumner three years to recover and return to Congress. Brooks resigned - but was then re-elected.

RELATED: Cal State historian discusses how history will regard the storming of the U.S. Capitol

1915: A German man who'd been a Harvard professor detonated a bomb inside the Capitol in an attempt to deter the United States from entering World War I. The bomber also murdered his pregnant wife and shot financier J.P. Morgan, Jr.

1954: Puerto Rican nationalists unleashed a barrage of shots from the Visitor's Gallery, wounding five congressmen, before unfurling the island's flag.

1971: The radical militant group known as The Weather Underground set off an explosive to protest the U.S. bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War.

1983: A Communist group bombed the Senate in response to the U.S. invasion of Grenada.

1998: A mentally ill man fired at a checkpoint and killed two Capitol Police officers. One of the dying officers managed to wound the gunman, who was arrested and later institutionalized.