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The United States Senate, A.D. 1850.

Title The United States Senate, A.D. 1850.
Artist/Maker Robert E. Whitechurch
after Peter Frederick Rothermel
William Smith
Date 1855
Medium Engraving, hand-colored
Dimensions h. 28.25 x w. 33.5 in. (h. 71.755 x w. 85.09 cm)
Credit Line U.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number 38.00029.001

  • Object Description
  • The United States Senate, A.D. 1850, depicts the Golden Era of the Senate in the Old Senate Chamber, site of many of the institution’s most historic debates and deliberations. It was in this Chamber that Henry Clay of Kentucky, the "Great Compromiser,"engaged in his last significant act as a senator by introducing the Compromise of 1850. In a desperate attempt to prevent war from erupting, the "Great Triumvirate" of Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, and Clay struggled to balance the interests of the North, South, and West. This image shows all three men: Clay is at center stage presenting the compromise to the Senate, Calhoun stands third from the right, and Webster, head-in-hand, sits at the left. Peter F. Rothermel, who painted the work that served as the basis for Robert Whitechurch’s engraving, used daguerreotypes to produce highly accurate portraits of the senators. By working from photographs, Rothermel produced an image with an immediacy almost as real as the event. Whitechurch attained the same quality in the engraving, which captures the spirit of the 19th-century Senate as no other print does.