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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 timeódepending on the era and the senatoróthat 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 cherished 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.