First Meeting of the Senate in Washington

On November 21, 1800, the Senate met for the first time in the unfinished north wing of the Capitol. Its chamber, located on the first floor, was semicircular and two-stories high. A one-story arcade supported the visitor's gallery and a row of 16 Ionic columns. The room had a wooden floor, six windows, and was heated by two fireplaces. The Senate was supposed to have convened on November 17, but only 15 of the 32 members managed to show up on that day. A quorum was achieved on November 21, and the Senate notified President John Adams that it was ready to conduct business. The next day the president came to the Capitol and spoke to both houses of Congress assembled in the Senate chamber. While he realized the city was far from finished and there were discomforts to endure, Adams welcomed Congress to its permanent capital, a "residence not to be changed." Still, senators like Grouverneur Morris of New York grumbled about the city that only needed "houses, cellars, kitchens, well informed men, amiable women, and other little trifles of this kind" to make it perfect.