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Senate Chamber Desks

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Desk 22 (XXII)

TitleDesk, Senate Chamber, 22 (XXII)
Artist/Makerafter T. Constantine & Co. (1817 - 1826) 
Date19th or early 20th century
MediumMahogany and mahogany veneer (primary)
Dimensions h. 35 x  w. 28.25 x  d. 19.93 in. ( h. 88.9 x  w. 71.75 x  d. 50.64 cm)
Credit LineU.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number66.00022.001

  • 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
    1AshurstHenry F. AshurstArizonaD Democrat
    2BinghamHiram BinghamConnecticutR Republican
    3BursumHolm O. BursumNew MexicoR Republican
    4EdwardsEdward I. EdwardsNew JerseyD Democrat
    5KeanHamilton F. KeanNew JerseyR Republican
    6GoldsboroughPhillips L. GoldsboroughMarylandR Republican
    7BairdDavid Baird, Jr.New JerseyR Republican
    8MorrowDwight W. MorrowNew JerseyR Republican
    9PartridgeFrank C. PartridgeVermontR Republican
    10LewisJames H. LewisIllinoisD Democrat
    11O'MahoneyJoseph C. O'MahoneyWyomingD Democrat
    12SchwellenbachLewis B. SchwellenbachWashingtonD Democrat
    13ChavezDennis ChavezNew MexicoD Democrat
    13DonnellForrest C. DonnellMissouriR Republican
    14AndrewsCharles O. AndrewsFloridaD Democrat
    15HitchcockGilbert M. HitchcockNebraskaD Democrat
    16LeeJoshua B. LeeOklahomaD Democrat
    17HillJoseph L. HillAlabamaD Democrat
    18TunnellJames M. TunnellDelawareD Democrat
    19SpencerGeorge L. SpencerArkansasD Democrat
    20EastlandJames O. EastlandMississippiD Democrat
    21O'DanielWilbert L. O'DanielTexasD Democrat
    22DoxeyWall DoxeyMississippiD Democrat
    23MaybankBurnet R. MaybankSouth CarolinaD Democrat
    24LangerWilliam LangerNorth DakotaR Republican
    25RobertsonEdward V. RobertsonWyomingR Republican
    27McCarthyJoseph R. McCarthyWisconsinR Republican
    28CaseFrancis H. CaseSouth DakotaR Republican
    29GriswoldDwight P. GriswoldNebraskaR Republican
    30BowringEva K. BowringNebraskaR Republican
    31PotterCharles E. PotterMichiganR Republican
    32BeallJ. Glenn BeallMarylandR Republican
    33WilliamsHarrison A. Williams, Jr.New JerseyD Democrat
    34SmithBenjamin A., II SmithMassachusettsD Democrat
    35BayhBirch E. BayhIndianaD Democrat
    36BidenJoseph R. Biden, Jr.DelawareD Democrat
    37WilliamsHarrison A. Williams, Jr.New JerseyD Democrat
    38WilsonPete WilsonCaliforniaR Republican
    39QuayleJ. Danforth QuayleIndianaR Republican
    40D'AmatoAlfonse M. D'AmatoNew YorkR Republican
    41McConnellMitch McConnellKentuckyR Republican
    42GortonSlade GortonWashingtonR Republican
    43GramsRod GramsMinnesotaR Republican
    44EnziMichael B. EnziWyomingR Republican
    45BayhEvan BayhIndianaD Democrat
    46StabenowDebbie StabenowMichiganD Democrat
    47PryorMark L. PryorArkansasD Democrat
    48BayhEvan BayhIndianaD Democrat
    49CoatsDaniel CoatsIndianaR Republican
    50YoungTodd YoungIndianaR Republican
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