The path to prominence: Nationalism and the Library of Congress, 1835-1897
Basic components of nineteenth century American nationalism influenced the creation of a national library in the United States. Manifest destiny, mission, nativism, and cultural nationalism provided the impetus to build an institution that preserved, symbolized, and spread national thought and ideals.
Five major congressional acts made the Library of Congress the national library. The expansion of the Library's rooms in the Capitol (1865), the transfer of the Smithsonian Institution library (1866), purchase of the Peter Force collection of Americana (1867), the copyright law of 1870, and approval of a new library building (1886), made the Library the center of literary deposit, and the cultural, intellectual representative of the United States.