Days of Political Civility?

U.S. Capitol Old Senate Chamber
Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol

One of the best tours I’ve had in Washington, D.C. was recent at the U.S. Capitol.  It’s always nice to go back and hear of the efforts, struggles and successes of our democracy. 

U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I especially enjoyed seeing the legislative seats from the past.  I tend to ponder how civil they were back years ago compared to the debates (mostly bickering and arguing) of today.  I’m sure there were some heavy discussions back then but maybe they accomplished a lot, ensuring the best interest of the nation.

Old Senate Chamber in U.S. Capitol

To me, there is something special about the old senate chamber.  Can you imagine the conversations and debates in this respected meeting place? 

During the senate’s residence in this chamber from 1810 to 1859, it grew from a small advisory council to the primary forum for the great national debates of the mid-19th century—an era known as the Senate’s “Golden Age.” Here the “Great Triumvirate” of Senators Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina fiercely debated the issues of slavery, territorial expansion, and economic policy affecting the new nation. The Senate became the sounding board for the nation, and its galleries were packed with visitors hoping to witness these memorable proceedings. In this chamber senators forged a series of compromises that held the Union together in the four decades prior to the Civil War.  (Check out more of the history at

A good video of the senate chamber is provided by C-Span at

Do you think the debates in the old senate chamber were different from the debates in the current senate in the U.S. Capitol?

Blessings and love along the way,


11 thoughts on “Days of Political Civility?

    1. Thanks Michael. Excellent insight. It seems like they can’t see to disagree enough to eventually agree on legislation that benefits the nation today. I can envision the 1800s in this old senate chamber, where great debates took place – with tobacco smoke filling the air, stuffy air, floor stains from the chew and all the other environmental trappings. It certainly wasn’t civil when Senator Sumner of Massachusetts was beat with a cane by Congressman Brooks of South Carolina, in response to the disparaging comments Sumner made about his fellow Senator Butler, also from South Carolina. Butler was Brooks’ uncle so there was more to it than just legislative arguments when blood kin was involved. I hope current legislative bodies do not resort to violence these days, but debate until legislation is passed for the benefit of our future. 🙂

  1. I think the people in office back then took more seriously, their responsibility to the people who they were representing. I’m sure debates were hot, and opinions divided, but it seems they knew how to reach a compromise. That seems to be an unreachable goal today.

  2. I enjoyed visiting this chamber, also. I would have loved to have seen the interactions of these men, for they valued being gentlemen, not winning a debate.

  3. I tend to believe they may have gotten heated at times but without the childish element we are seeing so often these days. Wouldn’t you love to have video of those times? Would be so interesting I think, to see how different (or alike) their conduct was then compared to today.

    (LT, that shot of our Capitol Building against that blue sky is breathtaking)

    1. I think so too. Imagine being in there debating without air condition or modern conveniences. Maybe our current legislators have too many conveniences. 🙂

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