The Old Supreme Court Chamber is the room on the ground floor of the North Wing of the United States Capitol. From 1800 to 1806, the room was the lower half of the first United States Senate chamber, and from 1810 to 1860, the courtroom for the Supreme Court of the United States.
Construction on the North Wing began in 1793 with the laying of the cornerstone by President George Washington. Although interior work was unfinished, the Senate relocated from its 1791 Philadelphia location, Congress Hall, in November 1800. The interior of the chamber, including an upper level public gallery, was finally completed early in 1805, just in time for the start of the Samuel Chase impeachment trial.Its completion allowed the Federal government to move to Washington, D.C.. The North Wing, as the only completed section of the Capitol, originally hosted both houses of the United States Congress, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.
In addition to the Chase trial, the chamber was the location of President Thomas Jefferson's inauguration in 1801. However, by 1806, the North Wing was already deteriorating from heavy use and required repairs. The Architect of the Capitol at the time, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, decided that the repairs would provide an opportunity to expand room space in the Capitol by dividing the chamber in half. The upper half would serve as a new chamber for the Senate (that area is now known as the Old Senate Chamber), and the lower half would be used for the Supreme Court.
In 1844, Samuel Morse sent the first Morse coded message—which read "What hath God wrought?"—from this room.
The size and structure of Latrobe's vaulted, semicircular ceiling were virtually unprecedented in the United States. 50 feet (15 m) deep and 74 feet 8 inches (22.76 m) wide. Construction began in November 1806 with the gutting of the former two-story Senate Chamber and rooms above it, and lasted until 1810. The process was not without tragedy, when an assistant to Latrobe, John Lenthall, Clerk of the Works, was killed upon removing a center wooden ceiling support prematurely against Latrobe's advice. The result was that the unfinished masonry ceiling collapsed crushing Lenthall in the process. Lenthall's death was a setback, not only to construction, but to Latrobe's reputation as an architect, which he struggled to rebuild for the rest of his career.The room is
The Supreme Court barely had the opportunity to hear cases in the chamber, before the justices were forced to leave Washington by the threat of British invasion during the War of 1812. On August 24, 1814, the British successfully took the city, and set fire to many of the recently completed buildings of the fledgling capital, including the North and South wings of the Capitol building. Despite the disaster which left much of the North Wing gutted, the chamber with its vaulted ceiling survived. With safety in mind, however, Latrobe ordered the ceiling broken down and rebuilt for the final time in 1815. Latrobe resigned two years later, and it was under his successor, Charles Bulfinch, that the chamber was completed in 1819, in time for the next session of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court resided in the chamber for the next forty-one years, until 1860. In that time period, the court heard arguments on such landmark cases as McCulloch v. Maryland , Gibbons v. Ogden , Dred Scott v. Sandford , and United States v. The Amistad . Two Chief Justices—John Marshall and Roger Taney—presided over the Supreme Court in the chamber.
Upon the departure of the Supreme Court to the Old Senate Chamber upstairs in 1860, the chamber was put to use as the Law Library of Congress until 1941. After the Supreme Court vacated the Capitol building itself for their present-day quarters in the Supreme Court building, the room was used as a reference library, and later as a committee room for the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy from 1955 to 1960. From 1960 to 1972, the chamber was given the rather mundane purpose of being a storage room, until Congress voted to restore the chamber to its antebellum appearance where everyday citizens can come and visit the historic site.
An 1854 diagram of the chamber was used to establish the layout and positioning of furniture in the chamber, and a portrait of John Marshall provided clues towards a mahogany railing and the carpet pattern. Still existing furnishings in the possession of the United States Capitol were sent to the chamber, as well as donated items such as Roger Taney's chair. By 1975, the chamber was opened to the public and has served as a museum ever since.
There are several notable pieces of artwork in the Old Supreme Court Chamber. There are four marble busts of the first four Chief Justices of the Supreme Court: John Jay, John Rutledge, Oliver Ellsworth, and John Marshall. A bust of Roger Taney, as well his original robe on display, is found in the adjacent robing room, which serves as the entrance for visitors into the chamber. Above one fireplace is a clock that is said apocryphally to be ordered by Roger Taney and set five minutes forward under his direction to promote promptness on the court proceedings. [ further explanation needed ] Justice looks to the document with her unblinded eyes. An eagle seen protecting law books and an owl beneath Justice, two symbolic birds, are featured in the sculpture. The relief was the work of Carlo Franzoni in 1817.Above the clock is a plaster relief of Lady Justice, notable for a lack of blindfold. She is accompanied by America, depicted as a winged youth, holding the United States Constitution as a star overhead shines light upon the document. Although never specified by the artist,
On July 22, 2020, in the midst of the George Floyd protests, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 305–113 to remove a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (as well as statues honoring figures who were part of the Confederacy during the Civil War) from the U.S. Capitol and replace it with a bust of Justice Thurgood Marshall. The bill called for removal of Taney's bust within 30 days after the law's passage. The bust had been mounted in the old robing room adjacent to the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol Building. The bill (H.R. 7573) also created a "process to obtain a bust of Marshall ... and place it there within a minimum of two years." After the bill reached the Republican-led Senate on 30 July 2020 (S.4382) it was referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration, but no further action on it was taken.
The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Though no longer at the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol forms the origin point for the district's street-numbering system and the district's four quadrants.
Thurgood Marshall was an American lawyer and civil rights activist who served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court's first African-American justice. Prior to his judicial service, he successfully argued several cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education.
The National Statuary Hall is a chamber in the United States Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans. The hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House, is a large, two-story, semicircular room with a second story gallery along the curved perimeter. It is located immediately south of the Rotunda. The meeting place of the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 50 years (1807–1857), after a few years of disuse in 1864 it was repurposed as a statuary hall; this is when the National Statuary Hall Collection was established. By 1933 the collection had outgrown this single room, and a number of statues are placed elsewhere within the Capitol.
The Maryland State House is located in Annapolis, Maryland as the oldest U.S. state capitol in continuous legislative use, dating to 1772 and housing the Maryland General Assembly, plus the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. In 1783 and 1784 it served as the capitol building of the United States Congress of the Confederation, and is where Ratification Day, the formal end of the American Revolutionary War, occurred.
The National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol is composed of statues donated by individual states to honor persons notable in their history. Limited to two statues per state, the collection was originally set up in the old Hall of the House of Representatives, which was then renamed National Statuary Hall. The expanding collection has since been spread throughout the Capitol and its Visitor's Center.
The Russell Senate Office Building is the oldest of the United States Senate office buildings. Designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, it was built from 1903 to 1908 and opened in 1909. It was named for former Senator Richard Russell Jr. from Georgia in 1972. It occupies a site north of the Capitol bounded by Constitution Avenue, First Street, Delaware Avenue, and C Street N.E.
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is the federal agency responsible for the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of the United States Capitol Complex, and also the head of that agency. The Architect of the Capitol is in the legislative branch and is accountable to the United States Congress and the Supreme Court.
The Vermont State House, located in Montpelier, is the state capitol of the U.S. state of Vermont. It is the seat of the Vermont General Assembly. The current Greek Revival structure is the third building on the same site to be used as the State House. Designed by Thomas Silloway in 1857 and 1858, it was occupied in 1859.
The Kentucky State Capitol is located in Frankfort and is the house of the three branches of the state government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Virginia State Capitol is the seat of state government of the Commonwealth of Virginia, located in Richmond, the third capital city of the U.S. state of Virginia. It houses the oldest elected legislative body in North America, the Virginia General Assembly, first established as the House of Burgesses in 1619.
The Supreme Court Building houses the Supreme Court of the United States. Completed in 1935, it is in Washington, D.C. at 1 First Street, NE, in the block immediately east of the United States Capitol. The building is managed by the Architect of the Capitol. On May 4, 1987, the Supreme Court Building was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Pennsylvania State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. state of Pennsylvania located in downtown Harrisburg which was designed by architect Joseph Miller Huston in 1902 and completed in 1906 in a Beaux-Arts style with decorative Renaissance themes throughout. The capitol houses the legislative chambers for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Harrisburg chambers for the Supreme and Superior Courts of Pennsylvania, as well as the offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. It is also the main building of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex.
The United States Capitol Complex is a group of about a dozen buildings and facilities in Washington, D.C., that are used by the U.S. Federal government. The buildings and grounds within the complex are managed and supervised by the Architect of the Capitol.
The United States Capitol rotunda is the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., built 1818–1824. It is located below the Capitol dome, built 1857–1866; the later construction also extended the height of the rotunda walls. It is the tallest part of the Capitol and has been described as its "symbolic and physical heart".
The Old Senate Chamber is a room in the United States Capitol that was the legislative chamber of the United States Senate from 1810 to 1859 and served as the Supreme Court chamber from 1860 until 1935. It was designed in Neoclassical style and is elaborately decorated. Restored in 1976 as part of United States Bicentennial celebrations, it is preserved as a museum and for the Senate's use.
The Marshall Court refers to the Supreme Court of the United States from 1801 to 1835, when John Marshall served as the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall served as Chief Justice until his death, at which point Roger Taney took office. The Marshall Court played a major role in increasing the power of the judicial branch, as well as the power of the national government.
The Taney Court refers to the Supreme Court of the United States from 1836 to 1864, when Roger Taney served as the fifth Chief Justice of the United States. Taney succeeded John Marshall as Chief Justice after Marshall's death in 1835. Taney served as Chief Justice until his death in 1864, at which point Salmon P. Chase took office. Taney had been an important member of Andrew Jackson's administration, an advocate of Jacksonian democracy, and had played a major role in the Bank War, during which Taney wrote a memo questioning the Supreme Court's power of judicial review. However, the Taney Court did not strongly break from the decisions and precedents of the Marshall Court, as it continued to uphold a strong federal government with an independent judiciary. Most of the Taney Court's holdings are overshadowed by the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the court ruled that African-Americans could not be citizens. However, the Taney Court's decisions regarding economic issues and separation of powers set important precedents, and the Taney Court has been lauded for its ability to adapt regulatory law to a country undergoing remarkable technological and economic progress.
Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He delivered the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), ruling that African Americans could not be considered citizens and that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories of the United States. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Taney served as the United States Attorney General and United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson.
The United States Senate Chamber is a room in the north wing of the United States Capitol that serves as the legislative chamber of the United States Senate, since January 4, 1859. The Senate first convened in its current meeting place after utilizing Federal Hall, Congress Hall, and the Old Senate Chamber in the Capitol building for the same purpose.
There are 19 works of art in the United States Capitol honoring former leaders of the Confederate States of America and generals in the Confederate States Army, including 9 statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection, busts and portraits.