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Classic Senate Speeches

Great Orators of the Senate's Past

The Golden Age of the Senate began with the Senate’s rise to national prominence around 1820 and ended with the breakdown of compromise in the 1850s, leading to the Civil War. The era brought to the chamber many of the greatest orators of the day.

The United States Senate, A.D. 1850.
Henry Clay: "The Great Compromiser"
Daniel Webster Addressing the United States Senate / in the great debate on the constitution and the union 1850.
Daniel Webster: "The Great Orator"

Visitors packed the galleries to hear eloquent oratory and impassioned debate over the nation's most pressing issues. Speeches stretched on for hours and even for days on such vital topics as westward expansion, national development, and the future of slavery. Newspapers often printed the complete texts of these speeches, bringing them national attention. Speakers of that era set a high standard against which future orations would be judged. Located on the Senate website are transcripts of some of the best known Classic Senate Speeches.

Today, the speeches given by senators on the Senate floor are recorded and printed in the Congressional Record.

Past Feature Articles