Current Auction
Lot 689
Current Auction

Proof Copy Engraving of the Senate Floor During the Compromise of 1850

"The United States Senate, A.D. 1850",

Subject: Prints - Politics

Period: 1855 (dated)


Color: Black & White

33.9 x 27.3 inches
86.1 x 69.3 cm
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This is a proof copy (as indicated at bottom left) of this remarkable engraving of the Senate chamber. It dramatizes the debates leading up to the Compromise of 1850, one of the most important junctures in the history of Congress. Senator Henry Clay, the architect of the compromise, takes center stage before his colleagues and presents his argument for a legislative package that would admit California as a free state, cede part of Texas's territorial claims in exchange for debt relief, establish New Mexico and Utah as territories (without declaring either as free or slave states), ban the slave trade in Washington, D.C., and strengthen the fugitive slave law. Clay's audience includes several notable politicians of the era, including Vice President Millard Fillmore, who is shown presiding over the chamber, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, John C. Calhoun, and Stephen A. Douglas. The gilded wood Eagle and Shield looms above Fillmore. Once adopted, the compromise temporarily eased tensions between slave and free states, preserving the imperiled Union until the Civil War began a decade later. This print captures a pivotal moment in American history with astonishing detail and clarity. Published in Philadelphia by John M. Butler and Alfred Long. Engraved by Robert Whitechurch, after Peter Frederick Rothemel. Printed by J.M. Butler.


Condition: A

An immaculate impression, with a small chip in the image at bottom right that has been professionally repaired. There are archival repairs to some small chips and edge tears in the margins, and remnants of hinge tape on verso.

Estimate: $1,500 - $1,800

Sold for: $750

Closed on 6/19/2024