Dress of Senators in Olden Times and the Present
They wore ruffled shirts and ruffled wristbands. Their vests was embroidered, their stockings were of fine silk. Very few of the senators appeared on the floor in any other style of coat than a swallowtail. They wore blue or brown clothes and Senator Webster’s coat was always adorned with brass buttons. Henry Clay always came to the Senate in a black swallowtail coat and his shirt collar was very large. I have heard ladies say to each other, “Why does Mr. Clay wear his collar so high?” In these later days, there are very few senators that come in to the Senate wearing a swallowtail coat.
The favored dress of senators in these days are black broadcloth frock coats and high standing collars. [10A8-10A9]
The two images included here capture the difference between the senators Bassett served during the first half of his career and those from the later years. In the 1846 print of the Old Senate Chamber, Senator Clay, with his high collar, is shown standing in the back of the room on the left side.
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