The Senate

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Robert Taft 1889–1953, Ohio

Wed, 2013-04-24 12:32 -- administrator

Taft was known as "Mr. Republican." One observer noted, "Congress now consists of the House, the Senate, and Bob Taft." Despite his influence, Taft preferred working behind the scenes, resisting the role of majority leader until late in his career. He finally accepted the position in 1953 but died seven months later.

Robert A. Taft, photograph by C.F. Townsend, 1940
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Rebecca Felton 1835–1930, Georgia

Wed, 2013-04-24 12:28 -- administrator

Appointed to fill a vacancy, Felton became the first woman senator—at the age of 87! In her only Senate speech, she predicted: "When the women of the country come in and sit with you ... you will get ability ... integrity of purpose ... exalted patriotism, and ... unstinted usefulness."

Rebecca Felton served just two days in the Senate, as her successor had already been elected. In her only floor speech, Felton anticipated the election of more women.

Joseph Robinson 1872–1937, Arkansas

Wed, 2013-04-24 12:18 -- administrator

Admirers and enemies likened Robinson to a bull elephant that could trample his foes into submission. As Senate majority leader, Robinson used his powerful personality to drive President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal agenda through the Senate. His sudden death in 1937 robbed the president, the Democratic Party, and the Senate of his unifying force.

Senators Joseph T. Robinson (center), Carter Glass (left), and Cordell Hull (right), photograph by Underwood & Underwood, 1924
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Senate chamber, ca. 1949

Tue, 2013-04-23 17:05 -- administrator

In 1940, a steel framework was erected in the Senate Chamber to support the unstable 1850s ceiling. Supported by beams visible along the gallery level, the framework was removed when the new ceiling was built in 1949.

Prints and Photographs Division, Theodore Horydczak Collection, Library of Congress

Dennis Chavez

Tue, 2013-04-23 16:53 -- administrator

The first Hispanic elected to both houses of Congress, Dennis Chavez chaired the Senate Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, and the Committee on Public Works, where he promoted the building of the interstate highway system and an international highway to link the United States with Latin America.

Photograph by Harris and Ewing, February 28, 1949
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Hattie Caraway 1878–1950, Arkansas

Tue, 2013-04-23 16:34 -- administrator

Hattie Caraway became the first woman elected to the Senate. She was appointed to her husband's seat after his death in 1931. But to everyone's surprise, she won a special election and a general election in 1932. She was also the first woman to chair a Senate committee and to preside over the Senate.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Bible Given to Reporters of Debates

Tue, 2013-04-23 16:31 -- administrator

In 1934, Senator Huey P. Long donated this King James Bible to the official Reporters of Debates, so that they could accurately attribute the passages he used in his Senate floor speeches. Reporters traditionally sign this Bible as seen in the photograph below.

Second image: Eight Reporters of Debates work a 10-minute shift each on the Senate floor.

Collection of the U.S. Senate

Senate Chamber, 1992

Tue, 2013-04-23 14:39 -- administrator

Modernized in 1950, this chamber became increasingly familiar to Americans after 1986, when the Senate agreed to provide full television coverage of its floor proceedings.

Photograph © 1993 Fred J. Maroon


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