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Senate Chamber

The Senate moved into its current chamber when the north wing of the Capitol was completed in 1859. Since the Civil War era, Senators have deliberated, voted on legislation, and advised on and consented to treaties and nominations in this chamber.


Visiting the Senate Chamber

The Senate visitor gallery (within the Senate chamber) is open whenever the Senate is in session. Please visit your Senator's office to obtain tickets to enter the gallery.


In 1819, the Senate ordered 48 new desks at a cost of $34 each from New York cabinetmaker Thomas Constantine to replace those burned by the British during the War of 1812.  All the original "Constantine" desks remain in use in the Senate chamber today. As new states entered the Union, additional desks of similar design were built by other cabinetmakers.

Desks: Photo and Background

Desk History

Daniel Webster Desk

Jefferson Davis Desk

The Candy Desk

Guide to Individuals Seated on the Senate Dais (pdf)

Senate Donates Historic Desk, September 22, 1950

Historical Events in the Senate Chamber

Learn the stories behind some historical (and sometimes dramatic) events that took place in the Senate chamber.

Bitter Feelings in the Senate Chamber, April 3, 1850

The Caning of Senator Charles Sumner, May 22, 1856

Soldiers Occupy the Senate Chamber, April 19, 1861

A Dramatic Session, July 4, 1861

The Senate Chamber During the Civil War, 1861-1865

A Presidential Visitor, January 22, 1917

Radio Days, May 2, 1924

Churchill Addresses Congress, December 26, 1941

Escaping the Summer's Heat, July 27, 1956

Smile:  Photographing the Senate in Session, September 24, 1963

Loud and Clear,  January 25, 1971

Constructing the Senate Chamber

The Senate chamber has changed its looks and locations over the years. Learn more about construction in the chamber by reading these essays from the Office of the Senate Historian.

President Selects Location for New Senate Chamber, May 1, 1851

Constructing a Senate Theater, November 1857

The Senate's New Chamber, January 4, 1859

Senators Vote to Knock Out Walls, May 11, 1928

Historical Meeting Places of the Senate

The current Capitol building is not the only place in which the Senate has convened. These essays will tell you more.

Meeting Places and Quarters

Senate Moves to Philadelphia, December 6, 1790

Senate Moves to Washington, November 17, 1800

Senate Convenes in Emergency Quarters, September 19, 1814

The Nine Capitals of the United States (book feature)

The Old Senate Chamber

The Senate met in this chamber from 1810 until 1859. During this time period, the Senate grew from a small advisory council to the primary forum for the great national debates of the mid-19th century.  After the Senate moved to its present location, the old room was occupied by the Supreme Court from 1860 to 1935.

Virtual Tour

Brochure on the Old Senate Chamber (pdf)

The Florida Case, February 5, 1877

A Shrine Restored, June 16, 1976

Related Items

Interested in related materials? Take a look at these Virtual Reference Desk subjects for more information.

Art in the Senate



House of Representatives

Senate Office Buildings