Dan Quayle - 44th Vice President of the United States, 1989 - 1993


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The Old Senate Chamber
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The United States Senate met inthis historic chamber from 1810 until 1859.

During its residence in the room, the Senate grew from a small advisory council to the primary forum for the nation's great issues. Here, Senators Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun fiercely debated the issues affecting the new nation. They struggled with territorial expansion, economic policy, and slavery, which resulted in such historic milestones as the Missouri Compromise, the Webster-Hayne debates of 1830, and the Compromise of 1850.

By the mid-19th century, the Union had grown to 31 states, and the Senate was outgrowing its accommodations. During the 1850s, the new Senate and House extensions were designed and constructed, more than doubling the amount of space in the Capitol. On January 4, 1859, the Senate, with great pomp and ceremony, took leave of its historic meeting place and proceeded to the present Senate chamber. This room was then occupied by the United States Supreme Court until 1935, and later used occasionally for congressional committee meetings. It also served as the Senate's temporary home during repairs and reconstruction of the present Senate chamber in 1940, 1949, and 1950.

Of the furniture and decorations in the chamber, three pieces are significant.

Located above the vice president's dais hangs a portrait of George Washington, which is among the Senate's first and most splendid fine art acquisitions. American artist Rembrandt Peale created the work in 1823, basing it on his earlier life studies of the former president.

Suspended above the vice president's chair is a carved gilded eagle and shield, a symbol of strength and unity of the young American republic. The piece was planned for the chamber by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. While the date of the actual installation is unknown, an 1829 guidebook describes the vice president's chair as "canopied by crimson drapery, richly embossed and held by talons of an 0' er hovering eagle." Below the dais is a small curved table with ornately carved legs surmounted by a star detail. Faced with a red "modesty curtain," this desk was used by every president of the Senate from George Clinton to John Breckinridge.

Under the direction of the u.S. Senate Commission on Art, the Old Senate chamber was restored to its mid-19th century appearance in time for our nation's bicentennial.

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