Congresses in the years leading up to the Civil War often had tortuously long Speaker elections. This print illustrates one of 44 ballots that led to William Pennington’s single term in the post. The bench seating visible in this view held an even shorter tenure. After Members complained about the desks and chairs that had come in to use in 1857 with the opening of the new Chamber, the benches were introduced in 1859. This seating arrangement, however, was even more objectionable, and the original furniture returned the following year.
History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “Balloting for a Speaker in the House of Representatives at Washington, December, 1859,” https://history.house.gov/Collection/Listing/2003/2003-033-006/ (November 27, 2022)
Office of the Historian
Office of Art and Archives
Attic, Thomas Jefferson Building
Washington, D.C. 20515