My experience is that if I had my time to go over again I never would enter the Senate as a page, messenger, or an officer. I have spent my whole life in its service, and the consequence is that I have had a very limited education. Could only go to school during the recess of the Senate and then only for a short time, [for I] was compelled to come and fold speeches in the folding room of the Senate. I have tried to do my duty and act honestly. Consequently I have very little of this world’s goods. In my long service have had many opportunities to make money. Frequently have had money offered to me. Not only that but at the door of the Senate when I had charge of the center door men and I must say women has put twenty dollar gold pieces in my hand and insisted on me receiving it. It was on the days that Mr. Clay, Calhoun, Webster were to speak. I always returned it with the remark that I was paid by the government for doing my duty, and could not receive it. On one occasion a distinguished officer in the army went to the then sergeant at arms of the Senate (I was then a messenger) and told him that I was the most conscientious man that he had ever come across, that he had ordered Mr. Todd a hatter on the Avenue to make me one of his best hats, and that Mr. Todd sent to me for my number, that I refused to give it to him and would not receive the hat. I have been asked time without number in the later days what was the cause of my being retained through all administrations. The only reason that I can give is that I tried to mind my own business and let other people’s alone. [1A5-1A6]
In 1829 the Senate hired a young boy, Grafton Hanson, as the first page of the U.S. Senate. Two years later, at the request of Daniel Webster, 12-year-old Isaac Bassett was appointed the second page. There are now up to 30 pages working in the Senate, responsible for preparing the Senate Chamber for sessions, serving as messengers, and carrying bills and amendments to the clerk’s desk. Today, the Senate pages come from all over the United States and live in a dormitory and attend classes at the U.S. Senate Page School. In Bassett’s day, the Senate employed local boys and made no provisions for housing or schooling.
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