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Chair used by Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate from 1831 to 1852

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention envisioned the relationship between the president and Congress as both cooperative and antagonistic. They struggled over how to create the proper balance. Governor Morris from Pennsylvania, summing up their challenge, stated: "Make him [the president] too weak: the Legislature will usurp his power. Make him too strong: he will usurp on the Legislature." Over the years the balance of power has shifted back and forth as strong individuals in each branch of government dominated the political arena.

 Gavel presented to the Speaker of the House
After seeing their carefully crafted programs defeated, presidents must feel that at times Congress wields a gavel as large as this one. It was presented to Joseph W. Martin Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives (1947-49 and 1953-55) by the Republican County Central Committee, San Francisco, in 1952.
 "Daniel Webster Addressing the U.S. Senate on the Compromise Measures, March 7th 1850," by Eliphant Brown Jr.

Lent by National Portrait Gallery


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