The Senate

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Corn Capital, by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1809

Mon, 2013-02-18 11:44 -- administrator

Architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe designed six sandstone columns for the vestibule of the original Senate Chamber. He depicted stalks, husks, cobs, and kernels of corn to create a unique column style—“corn order.” Installed in 1809, the columns are among the few architectural features that survived Britain’s 1814 burning of the Capitol.

First image: Collection of the U.S. Senate

Second image: Architect of the Capitol

Journal of the First Session of the Senate, 1789

Mon, 2013-02-18 11:42 -- administrator

Since its first session, the Senate has kept a day-to-day summary of its activities in accordance with the Constitution. The journals, however, do not record debate in the Senate Chamber. These entries show 19 rules adopted on April 16, 1789, for conducting business in the Senate Chamber.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Behind Closed Doors 1789–1795

Why meet in closed session? The Constitution does not require Congress to meet in public. The House of Representatives, elected directly by voters, immediately opened its doors to the public and press. Senators, originally chosen by state legislators, decided to meet in private, believing they could work more efficiently without public scrutiny and interference.

Jay's Treaty: Sharing Power 1794-1795

Winning independence from Britain did not end disputes between the two nations. Issues of trade and territory remained. To resolve these, President Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to London in 1794. Even before Jay returned to America, angry rumors circulated speculating that the treaty he negotiated favored the British at the expense of American interests.

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