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1788

United States Constitution

June 25

Virginia ratified the U.S. Constitution, becoming the 10th state to join the Union.

1789

Drawing of Federal Hall, with horse and carriage in front.

March 4

The Senate convened for the first time at Federal Hall in New York City. Because only eight senators were present, there were not enough to constitute a quorum until April 6, when Virginia's first senator, Richard Henry Lee of Westmoreland County arrived and was sworn into office. Lee was the 12th senator out of the eligible 22, and his arrival allowed the Senate to begin its work.

1789

Richard Henry Lee (Anti-admin-VA)

May 15

The Senate drew lots to determine the three classes of senators. Richard Henry Lee was assigned to Class 2, with a four-year term set to expire in 1793. Virginia's second senator, William Grayson of Prince William County, who had not yet taken his seat, was assigned to Class 1, with a two-year term set to expire in 1791.

1789

William Grayson (Anti-admin-VA)

May 21

William Grayson presented his credentials and took his Senate seat.

1789

John Blair, Jr.

September 26

The Senate confirmed the nomination of John Blair, who was born in Williamsburg, as one of the first associate justices of the United States Supreme Court.

1790

March 12

Senator William Grayson became the first senator to die while in office. Grayson, who attained the rank of colonel during the Revolutionary War, died at age 50 halfway through the First Congress.

1792

PPT Seal

April 18

Richard Henry Lee was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, a position he held until October 8, 1792.

1795

Henry Tazewell (Anti-admin/R-VA)

February 20

Henry Tazewell of Brunswick County was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, a position he held until December 8, 1795.

1797

Thomas Jefferson

March 4

Thomas Jefferson of Albemarle County presided over the Senate as the second vice president of the United States. Jefferson and President John Adams belonged to different political parties--a situation that would prove to be unique in all the nation's history. Jefferson served as vice president until 1801, when he became the third president of the United States.

1798

Bushrod Washington

December 20

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Bushrod Washington, who was born in Westmoreland County and lived in Alexandria and Richmond, as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

1801

John Marshall

January 27

The Senate confirmed the nomination of John Marshall as chief justice of the United States. Marshall, who was born in Germantown and later lived in Richmond, served as chief justice for 34 years, the longest tenure of any chief justice.

1816

James Barbour (R/CRR-VA)

December 13

James Barbour of Barboursville became chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a position he held until 1818 and again from 1820 to 1821, and 1822 to 1825.

1817

James Monroe (Anti-admin-VA)

March 4

Former Virginia senator James Monroe of Westmoreland County took office as the fifth president of the United States. In 1820 President Monroe was unopposed and won a second term.

1818

John W. Eppes (R-VA)

November 20

John W. Eppes of Charles City became chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, a position he held until 1819.

1819

PPT Seal

February 15

James Barbour was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, a position he held until December 26, 1819.

1825

March 7

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Senator James Barbour as secretary of war under President John Quincy Adams. Barbour resigned his Senate seat the same day.

1828

Littleton Tazewell (JR/J-VA)

December 8

Littleton W. Tazewell of Norfolk became chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a position he held until 1832.

1832

George Washington (Patrae Pater)

July 2

The Senate passed a resolution authorizing the secretary of the Senate to purchase artist Rembrandt Peale's masterpiece Patriae Pater for $2,000. The porthole portrait of George Washington hangs in the Old Senate Chamber.

1832

PPT Seal

July 9

Littleton W. Tazewell was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, a position he held until December of that year.

1835

John Tyler (R/J/AJ-VA)

March 3

John Tyler of Gloucester was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, a position he held until December 6, 1835.

1836

John Marshall

February 12

The Joint Committee on the Library was instructed to commission a marble bust of the late Chief Justice John Marshall to be placed in the chamber of the Supreme Court of the United States. The committee gave the commission to artist Hiram Powers, who completed the work in 1839.

1836

Philip P. Barbour

March 15

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Philip P. Barbour, who was born in Orange County, as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

1839

"Harrison and Tyler" campaign emblem

December 7

The Whig Party's national convention, held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, nominated John Tyler for vice president of the United States, on the ticket with William Henry Harrison. Harrison and Tyler, under the campaign slogan of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," won the 1840 election.

1841

Peter V. Daniel

March 2

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Peter V. Daniel, who was born in Stafford County, as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

1841

Engraving of Tyler receiving news of Harrison's death.

March 4

John Tyler presided over the Senate as the 10th vice president of the United States. Just one month later, Tyler was at his home in Williamsburg, Virginia, when he received news of the death of President William Henry Harrison from Robert Beale of Virginia, the assistant doorkeeper of the Senate, and Fletcher Webster, chief clerk of the State Department. Tyler took the oath of office as president of the United States on April 6, 1841.

1841

William C. Rives (J/D/W-VA)

December 14

William C. Rives of Lindseys Store became chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a position he held until 1842.

1842

William S. Archer (W-VA)

December 12

William S. Archer of Elk Hill became chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a position he held until 1845.

1845

December 9

Robert Beale of Virginia was elected sergeant at arms and doorkeeper of the Senate and was administered the oath. Beale served until March 17, 1853.

1850

Robert M. T. Hunter (D-VA)

December 4

Robert M. T. Hunter of Lloyds became chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, a position he held until 1861.

1851

James M. Mason (D-VA)

December 8

James M. Mason of Winchester became chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a position he held until 1861.

1857

PPT Seal

January 6

James M. Mason was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, a position he held until March 4, 1857.

1858

John Rutledge

April 

Artist Alexander Galt, a native of Norfolk, reported to the Senate from Florence, Italy, that he had completed the bust of Chief Justice John Rutledge which he had been commissioned to execute. The piece was shipped to the U.S. Capitol, and is currently displayed in the building's Old Supreme Court Chamber.

1859

Engraving titled "The Harper's Ferry insurrection"

December 15

The Senate established its first investigating committee, the Select Committee to Inquire into the Facts of the Recent Invasion and Seizure of the United States Armory at Harper's Ferry. The committee was chaired by Senator James M. Mason, who introduced the resolution to form the committee.

1861

April 17

Virginia seceded from the Union. On March 28, Senators James M. Mason and Robert M. T. Hunter withdrew from the Senate. They were later formally expelled by the Senate.

1861

Waitman T. Willey (U/R-VA)

July 9

Waitman T. Willey of Monogalia County and John S. Carlile of Winchester were elected by Virginia's pro-Union legislature to fill the Senate vacancies caused by the withdrawal of Senators James M. Mason and Robert M. T. Hunter. On July 13 the Senate overwhelmingly rejected a motion by Senator James A. Bayard Jr. of Delaware challenging the pro-Union legislature's authority to elect, and the two were seated. Carlile remained in the Senate until March of 1865. Willey served until 1863 and was subsequently elected to be one of the first U.S. senators from the state of West Virginia.

1865

March 9

The Senate postponed consideration of the credentials of Joseph E. Segar and John C. Underwood, who were elected to the Senate by Virginia's pro-Union legislature. Senate Republicans had challenged the legitimacy of the Virginia state legislature, despite the fact that the state had maintained loyalist representation in the Senate throughout the Civil War. Virginia remained unrepresented in the Senate until the state was formally readmitted to representation in 1870.

1879

John W. Johnston (D-VA)

March 19

John W. Johnston of Abingdon became chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture (today's Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry), a position he held until 1881.

1881

William Mahone (RA/R-VA)

October 13

William Mahone of Petersburg became chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture (today's Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry), a position he held until 1883.

1886

Thomas Jefferson

July 21

Virginia sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel accepted a commission to execute a bust of Thomas Jefferson. The bust is one of the first secured by Architect of the Capitol Edward Clark to be part of the Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection.

1890

John Paul Jones by George Bagby Matthews

September 26

The Senate passed legislation for the purchase of the portrait of naval hero John Paul Jones by artist George Bagby Matthews of Tappahannock. The Senate later acquired an additional Matthews portrait of revolutionary leader Patrick Henry of Hanover County.

1897

John W. Daniel (D-VA)

February 22

Senator John W. Daniel of Lynchburg read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate, a tradition dating to 1862.

1899

Pocahontas by Unknown after an unidentified artist, English School, after the 1616 engraving by Simon van de Passe (1595 ca.-1647)

February 28

Henry S. Wellcome presented to the Senate a portrait of Pocahontas, the daughter of Powhatan, chief of a large Algonquian confederacy based in the tidewater region of Virginia. The portrait, by an unidentified artist, is a copy of an oil painting that originally hung in the English ancestral home of the Rolfes, the family of Pocahontas' husband.

1909

Zachary Taylor

March 4

Congress appropriated funds for the purchase of a bust of President Zachary Taylor of Orange County from the widow of President Taylor's grandson, John Taylor Wood. The artist of the piece is unknown.

1911

Thomas S. Martin (D-VA)

April 7

Senate Democrats elected Thomas S. Martin of Charlottesville as their Conference chairman, despite the fact that three-time Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan came to the Capitol to oppose the conservative Martin's election. Martin served as chairman until 1913, when he stepped aside after conceding to likely defeat by the progressive John Worth Kern of Indiana.

1913

March 15

Thomas S. Martin became chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, a position he held until 1919.

1914

Cover of the Farewell Address Notebook

February 23

Senator Claude Augustus Swanson of Chatham read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate, a tradition dating to 1862.

1916

Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

November 7

Claude A. Swanson became the first directly elected senator following adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.

1923

Cover of the Farewell Address Notebook

February 22

Senator Carter Glass of Lynchburg read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate, a tradition dating to 1862.

1932

Statue of George Washington, National Statuary Hall Collection

April 29

Congress accepted a bronze statue of Robert E. Lee, by artist Edward V. Valentine, and a bronze statue of George Washington, by artist Jean Antoine Houdon, as Virginia's two contributions to the National Statuary Hall Collection.

1933

Claude Swanson (D-VA)

March 3

Claude Swanson resigned from the Senate to become secretary of the navy under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate the next day.

1933

Carter Glass (D-VA)

March 9

Carter Glass became chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, a position he held until 1946.

1933

Edwin A. Halsey

March 9

Edwin A. Halsey of Lynchburg, a long-time Senate employee who began his Senate career as a page in the Senate press gallery, was elected secretary of the Senate. During his tenure as secretary, Halsey demonstrated a keen interest in preserving the history of the Senate, spearheading the production of several history-based reference books and arranging for the first transfer of Senate records to the newly opened National Archives in 1937. Halsey served as secretary until his death on January 29, 1945.

1941

Harry Flood Byrd (D-VA)

January 23

Harry Flood Byrd of Berryville became chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules (today's Committee on Rules and Administration), a position he held until 1947.

1941

PPT Seal

July 10

Carter Glass was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, a position he held until January 2, 1945.

1955

January 11

Harry Flood Byrd became chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, a position he held until 1965.

1959

A. Willis Robertson (D-VA)

February 6

A. Willis Robertson of Lexington became chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency (today's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs), a position he held until 1966.

1959

June 29

Harry Flood Byrd became Virginia's longest-serving senator, surpassing the record of 26 years, 3 months, and 27 days set by Carter Glass. Byrd went on to serve a total of 32 years, 8 months, and 7 days.

1971

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.

December 6

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Lewis F. Powell Jr. of Richmond as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

1977

Stan Kimmitt

April 1

Stanley Kimmitt of Virginia became secretary of the Senate, a position he held until January 4, 1981.

1979

John W. Warner (R-VA)

February 19

Senator John W. Warner of Alexandria read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate, a tradition dating to 1862.

1981

Howard S. Liebengood

May 1

Howard S. Liebengood of Virginia became the Senate sergeant at arms, a position he held until September 12, 1983.

1982

Golden Gavel

May 18

Senator John Warner received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the Senate for 100 hours in a single session.

1983

Paul S. Trible, Jr. (R-VA)

February 21

Senator Paul S. Trible Jr. of Alexandria read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate Chamber, a tradition dating to 1862.

1983

Larry E. Smith

September 13

Larry E. Smith of Virginia became Senate sergeant at arms, a position he held until June 2, 1985.

1985

Jo-Anne L. Coe

January 3

Jo-Anne L. Coe of Virginia became the first woman to serve as the secretary of the Senate, a position she held until January 6, 1987.

1986

Antonin Scalia

September 7

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Antonin Scalia of Virginia as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

1986

Golden Gavel

October 3

Senator Paul Trible received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the Senate for 100 hours in a single session.

1989

Cover of the Farewell Address Notebook

February 22

Senator John Warner read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate for the second time.

1990

Charles S. Robb (D-VA)

February 22

Senator Charles S. Robb of McLean read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate Chamber, a tradition dating to 1862.

1990

November 14

Senate Democrats elected Charles S. Robb chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 102nd Congress (1991 to 1993).

1995

September 12

John Warner became chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, a position he held until 1999.

1999

Senate Committee on Armed Services, 2004

January 7

John Warner became chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, a position he held until 2001, and again from 2003 to 2007.

2001

George Allen (R-VA)

February 26

Senator George Allen of Chesterfield County read George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address on the floor of the Senate, a tradition dating to 1862.

2001

Jeri Thomson

July 12

Jeri Thomson of Virginia became the 30th secretary of the Senate, a position she held until January 6, 2003.

2002

November 14

Senate Republicans elected George Allen as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 108th Congress (2003-2005).