United States Senate
United States Senate Senators HomeCommittees HomeLegislation & Records HomeArt & History HomeVisitor Center HomeReference Home
United States Senate
Origins & Development
Senate Stories
Art & History Exhibits
Decorative Art
Graphic Arts
Oral History Homepage

History of Maiden Speeches

From the Senate’s earliest days, new members have observed a ritual of remaining silent during floor debates for a period of time—depending on the era and the senator—that ranged from several months to several years. Some believed that by waiting a respectful amount of time before giving their so-called maiden speech, their more senior colleagues would respect them for their humility. Today, all that survives of this ancient Senate tradition is the special attention given to a member’s first major address. When university libraries organize a collection of a former senator’s papers, the chronology of that member’s career almost always includes the date of his or her maiden speech.


E-mail a Senate historian

Information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Questions about Senate History?
Email a Senate historian.