U.S. Senate Chamber on the second floor of Congress Hall, Philadelphia (Independence National Historical Park). Just a few paces from where this photograph was taken, on March 4, 1793, President George Washington raised his right hand and took the oath of office for a second time. Nearby, John Adams, the nation's vice president, presided over the Senate (as the Constitution prescribed) until March 4, 1797, when he in turn was inaugurated president (not in this chamber but downstairs where the U.S. House of Representatives met). Thus Congress Hall was the scene of momentous events and debates during the first years of the republic, from the Proclamation of Neutrality (1793) to Jay's Treaty (1795) to Pinckney's Treaty (1795). It was also the place where the XYZ Affair (1797) and Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) were thrashed out when John Adams was in office. John Marshall may have been questioned in this chamber after he was nominated to be chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Photos and text © Gleaves Whitney 2005