Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A non-Senator's view of the Senate

Issac Basset started his service as a a 12-year old page in the Senate, he served the Senate for the next 64 years rising in rank to assistant doorkeeper.

As assistant doorkeeper one of his tasks was to assign Senator's seats (now seats are assigned by party). He describes this task: It has been the custom from the formation of the Senate that when a seat becomes vacant the first senator that speaks for that seat is entitled to it ... With what effort some senators make to obtain seats, when vacant, they have called on me at my house before sunrise in the morning and late at night to speak for a seat that they thought had not been spoken for. When I tell them they are too late they are surprised" (http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/art/special/Bassett/tdetail.cfm?id=23).

Basset discusses in these pages many of the issues of his 64 years from 1831-1895. You can access the manuscript via a timeline or themes (including a section on adventures and anecdotes).

Want to learn more about Congress? Check out the library's guide.

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