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On This Day: February 11, 1794

On This Day: February 11, 1794
Image of Federal Hall in New York City

Meeting at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, the Senate temporarily abandoned its practice of conducting business behind closed doors while it considered whether or not to seat one of Pennsylvania's senators. Albert Gallatin had already taken his Senate oath, but senators questioned whether the Swiss-born senator had been a U.S. citizen for the constitutionally required nine years. To avoid public criticism, senators determined on February 11, 1794, that the case should be resolved in full public view. On February 28, by a two-vote majority, the Senate denied Gallatin his seat. This open-door experiment prompted the Senate to permanently open its proceedings once a public gallery had been built.

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