Skip Content
U.S. Flag

Senate Chamber Desks

Overview    |    Seating Plans    |    Desk Occupants    |    The Desks    |    Traditions    |    Timeline

Desk 21 (XXI)

TitleDesk, Senate Chamber, 21 (XXI)
Artist/Makerafter T. Constantine & Co. (1817 - 1826) 
Date19th or early 20th century
MediumMahogany, mahogany veneer and rosewood veneer (primary)
Dimensions h. 35.75 x  w. 26.75 x  d. 20.12 in. ( h. 90.8 x  w. 67.94 x  d. 51.11 cm)
Credit LineU.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number66.00021.001

  • Object Description
  • This mahogany writing desk was made specifically for use in the Senate’s legislative chamber in the U.S. Capitol, and is one of 100 desks that are similarly constructed and used daily by senators. It features two shaped and fluted legs, a bookshelf supported by mahogany spindles, a drawer, a hinged writing top with storage, and a removable wooden tray for writing tools. Decorative enhancements, including figured mahogany veneers and circular roundels, reflect the designs of the original 48 desks created for the Senate in 1819 by the New York cabinetmaking firm T. Constantine & Co. Over the years, many senators have inscribed their names in the interior of the desk drawers, making each drawer a unique way of linking current and past desk users. Desk occupants can change every two years with a new Congress, and are based on seniority.

  • Artist/Maker
  • Thomas Constantine (1791–1849) was born in Derbyshire, England, and he and his family immigrated to New York City when he was two. Between 1806 and 1812, Constantine apprenticed with New York City cabinetmaker John Hewitt, and then served as a journeyman in the same shop between 1812 and 1814. Thomas opened his own cabinet shop in 1815, and in 1817 his firm, T. Constantine & Co., began competing with some of the city’s most notable furniture manufacturers.

    Constantine received his most celebrated commissions as Congress prepared to reoccupy the U.S. Capitol after it had been damaged by fires set by British soldiers in August 1814. In 1818, Constantine received a contract to provide the House of Representatives Chamber with carpets, wall hangings, lamps, 192 chairs, and 51 tables. The following year, Constantine was awarded a contract to furnish the Senate Chamber with 48 mahogany armchairs and desks, as well as other furnishings, lighting, and textiles. Constantine’s brother, John (1796–1845) is known to have assisted with the upholstery of the chairs made for both chambers.

    Although scholars consider Constantine’s work for the House and Senate to be the apex of his relatively brief career, T. Constantine & Co. produced furniture into the 1820s. He closed his furniture store in the summer of 1824 and furniture manufactory in 1826. Today furnishings by T. Constantine & Co. are represented in various collections, including the National Park Service, National Museum of American History, North Carolina Museum of History, U.S. House of Representatives, and Winterthur Museum.

    For more information on Thomas Constantine, see Matthew A. Thurlow, “Aesthetics, Politics, and Power in Early-Nineteenth-Century Washington: Thomas Constantine & Co.’s Furniture for the United States Capitol, 1818-1819" in American Furniture (Chipstone Foundation, 2006).

  • Desk Occupants
  • The senators' names listed in this table include both names inscribed in the desk drawer and, beginning with the 99th Congress, the names of all senators who occupied this desk.

    Order Senator State Party
    1SpencerSelden P. SpencerMissouriR Republican
    2McCormickJoseph M. McCormickIllinoisR Republican
    3OddieTasker L. OddieNevadaR Republican
    4GreeneFrank L. GreeneVermontR Republican
    5SteiwerFrederick SteiwerOregonR Republican
    6VandenbergArthur H. VandenbergMichiganR Republican
    7BurtonTheodore E. BurtonOhioR Republican
    8AllenHenry J. AllenKansasR Republican
    9SullivanPatrick J. SullivanWyomingR Republican
    10DavisJames J. DavisPennsylvaniaR Republican
    11SchuylerKarl C. SchuylerColoradoR Republican
    12HatchCarl A. HatchNew MexicoD Democrat
    13BilboTheodore G. BilboMississippiD Democrat
    14AndrewsCharles O. AndrewsFloridaD Democrat
    15MurdockOrrice A. Murdock, Jr.UtahD Democrat
    16MillerJohn E. MillerArkansasD Democrat
    17AikenGeorge D. AikenVermontR Republican
    18FergusonHomer S. FergusonMichiganR Republican
    19CordonGuy CordonOregonR Republican
    20MorseWayne L. MorseOregonR, I, D
    21YoungMilton R. YoungNorth DakotaR Republican
    22SchoeppelAndrew F. SchoeppelKansasR Republican
    23ButlerJohn M. ButlerMarylandR Republican
    24BushPrescott S. BushConnecticutR Republican
    25BenderGeorge H. BenderOhioR Republican
    26MartinEdward MartinPennsylvaniaR Republican
    27RandolphJennings RandolphWest VirginiaD Democrat
    28PellClaiborne de Borda PellRhode IslandD Democrat
    29StevensonAdlai E. Stevenson, IIIIllinoisD Democrat
    30McIntyreThomas J. McIntyreNew HampshireD Democrat
    31FlandersRalph E. FlandersVermontR Republican
    32WelkerHerman WelkerIdahoR Republican
    33HarrisFred R. HarrisOklahomaD Democrat
    34DurkinJohn A. DurkinNew HampshireD Democrat
    35ZorinskyEdward ZorinskyNebraskaD Democrat
    36DixonAlan J. DixonIllinoisD Democrat
    37BingamanJeff BingamanNew MexicoD Democrat
    38HarkinTom HarkinIowaD Democrat
    39GrahamBob GrahamFloridaD Democrat
    40SchumerCharles E. SchumerNew YorkD Democrat
    41StabenowDebbie StabenowMichiganD Democrat
    42HaganKay R. HaganNorth CarolinaD Democrat
    43HeinrichMartin HeinrichNew MexicoD Democrat
  • Related Objects