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Senate Chamber Desks

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Desk 73 (LXXIII)

TitleDesk, Senate Chamber, 73 (LXXIII)
Artist/Makerafter T. Constantine & Co. (1817 - 1826) 
Date19th or early 20th century
MediumMahogany and mahogany veneer (primary)
Dimensions h. 35.75 x  w. 27.5 x  d. 20.25 in. ( h. 90.8 x  w. 69.85 x  d. 51.43 cm)
Credit LineU.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number66.00073.001

  • 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
    1CurtisCharles CurtisKansasR Republican
    2LenrootIrvine L. LenrootWisconsinR Republican
    3HarreldJohn W. HarreldOklahomaR Republican
    4PepperGeorge W. PepperPennsylvaniaR Republican
    5CouzensJames CouzensMichiganR Republican
    6FrazierLynn J. FrazierNorth DakotaR Republican
    7BinghamHiram BinghamConnecticutR Republican
    8du PontThomas C. du PontDelawareR Republican
    9BlaineJohn J. BlaineWisconsinR Republican
    10GreeneFrank L. GreeneVermontR Republican
    11ThomasJohn ThomasIdahoR Republican
    12CuttingBronson M. CuttingNew MexicoR Republican
    13WalcottFrederic C. WalcottConnecticutR Republican
    14KeanHamilton F. KeanNew JerseyR Republican
    15RadcliffeGeorge L. P. RadcliffeMarylandD Democrat
    16EllenderAllen J. EllenderLouisianaD Democrat
    17HughesJames H. HughesDelawareD Democrat
    18SchwartzHenry H. SchwartzWyomingD Democrat
    19SmathersWilliam H. SmathersNew JerseyD Democrat
    20BerryGeorge L. BerryTennesseeD Democrat
    21DowneySheridan DowneyCaliforniaD Democrat
    22StewartArthur T. StewartTennesseeD Democrat
    23SlatteryJames M. SlatteryIllinoisD Democrat
    24BurtonHarold H. BurtonOhioR Republican
    25BallJoseph H. BallMinnesotaR Republican
    26MooreEdward H. MooreOklahomaR Republican
    27CooperJohn S. CooperKentuckyR Republican
    28MundtKarl E. MundtSouth DakotaR Republican
    29BennettWallace F. BennettUtahR Republican
    30ButlerJohn M. ButlerMarylandR Republican
    31PotterCharles E. PotterMichiganR Republican
    32CaseClifford P. CaseNew JerseyR Republican
    33YarboroughRalph W. YarboroughTexasD Democrat
    34McCarthyEugene J. McCarthyMinnesotaD Democrat
    35StevensTed StevensAlaskaR Republican
    36BellmonHenry L. BellmonOklahomaR Republican
    37StaffordRobert T. StaffordVermontR Republican
    38GarnJake GarnUtahR Republican
    39WallopMalcolm WallopWyomingR Republican
    40D'AmatoAlfonse M. D'AmatoNew YorkR Republican
    41SantorumRick SantorumPennsylvaniaR Republican
    42MenendezRobert MenendezNew JerseyD Democrat
    43CarperThomas R. CarperDelawareD Democrat
    44CapitoShelley Moore CapitoWest VirginiaR Republican
    45SullivanDan SullivanAlaskaR Republican
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