Dr. William Thornton

Dr. William Thornton was an amateur architect who is honored as the "first Architect of the Capitol" because his design for the Capitol was accepted by President George Washington in 1793. He received $500 and a building lot in the city of Washington for his composition. He held no government position as a result of winning the architectural competition. Thornton was born on May 20, 1759, in the British West Indies, and received a medical degree from the University of Aberdeen. He became an American citizen in 1787 and moved to Washington in 1794, when President Washington appointed him one of the city’s commissioners. In 1802 President Jefferson appointed him head of the Patent Office, an office he held until his death in 1828.