A senator from Connecticut and third chief justice of the United States, Oliver Ellsworth practiced law and was politically active during the war for independence. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he helped to shape the "Connecticut Compromise" that asured each state equal representation in the Senate and population-based representation in the House of Representatives. After ratification of the Constitution, Ellsworth was elected to the first United States Senate; he served from 1789 to 1796, when he resigned after being appointed chief justice of the United States. He held the post until 1800, when he retired due to ill health.
By authority of the Joint Committee on the Library, a bust of Oliver Ellsworth was modeled by American sculptor Hezekiah Augur between 1834 and 1837, and installed in the Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol in 1838. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Augur was the son of a carpenter-joiner, who discouraged the boy from undertaking a manual occupation. Instead, he directed his son to the dry goods trade. Later pursuing woodcarving on his own, Augur began sculpting in marble after his father's death. The sculptor is known for his portrait busts and classical groups, and he designed bronze medals for the bicentennial of New Haven's settlement.