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VERIFY: Has the US Capitol ever been attacked before?

It's been more than 200 years since an attack at the Capitol like Wednesday's riot by Trump supporters, but there have been other incidents at the building since.

Soon after President Donald Trump finished speaking to a crowd of his supporters in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, the crowd marched to the U.S. Capitol and stormed the building.

As the crowd broke through police barricades and clashed with law enforcement, Congress was counting Electoral College votes and debating the first of several objections that Republicans had planned. 

The riot left one woman dead after she was shot inside the Capitol. Lawmakers were forced to evacuate or shelter-in-place. Items in the Capitol were vandalized and stolen as the rioters 

Some saw the scene and said it was the first time the U.S. Capitol had been breached since the British did so in 1814.

THE QUESTION

Has the U.S. Capitol ever been attacked before? Would this be the first time since 1814?

THE ANSWER

While this is the first large-scale occupation of the U.S. Capitol since 1814, there have been several other instances of violence at the U.S. Capitol, particularly in the 20th century.

WHAT WE FOUND

The 20th century saw several instances where the U.S. Capitol was bombed, but no one was injured or killed. However, there were two instances during that time where there were casualties during attacks.

According to the U.S. House online archive, there was an attack by four people of the Puerto Rican Nationalist party in 1954. At the time, U.S. Capitol security was more lax and the four individuals were able to walk into the visitor’s gallery overlooking the chamber with their handguns. They opened fire and wounded five members of Congress. No one was killed.

In a 1998 attack, an armed assailant stormed past a Capitol security checkpoint and killed one Capitol police officer. He then exchanged gunfire with a Capitol detective protecting a Congressperson and fatally wounded the detective. The exchange allowed other officers to subdue the assailant.

However, 1814 was the last time the U.S. Capitol fell to such a large-scale insurrection as what occurred on Wednesday. 

During the War of 1812, the British invaded Washington, D.C. and were able to breach and burn down the U.S. Capitol building. A Senate history page says the Senate did not meet in the historic Old Senate Chamber of the building again until 1819.

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