This section is from the book "The National Capitol. Its Architecture Art And History", by George C. Hazelton, Jr. Also available from Amazon: The National Capitol Its Architecture Art and History.
The main corridor of the ground floor of the House is much enriched by colonnades of semi-Corinthian columns carved from fine Italian marble. The crowning section of each capital is designed from the American tobacco plant. The general want of decoration, however, throughout the entire wing is very noticeable by contrast with the northern end of the Capitol.
The tradition is that during the construction of the south wing a lively fight occurred in committee over an appropriation bill for its completion. One of the clauses of the bill provided for the decoration of the House wing like the Senate wing and another for an increase of twenty per cent, in the salaries of the employes of the House. Mr. Humphrey Marshall, a Representative from Kentucky, who was a character in his way, as well as a man of force, was bitterly averse to enriching foreign artists, who would doubtless receive the majority of the contracts as they had in the Senate. He was a stanch friend of the American artists and aided them in securing the appointment of the Art Commission to control the decoration at the Capitol. He is said to have cleverly used, in the fight in committee, the proposed advance for the benefit of the employes as a lever with which to defeat the provision for decoration. This is especially interesting as he is still remembered as a principal figure at the collation, spread by the employes in one of the committee rooms to put the Members in good humor toward the increase, and as saying: " Boys, I'll eat your refreshments and drink your whiskey,—then vote against your compensation." And so the story goes that, if it had not been for Mr. Humphrey Marshall, the employes would have had their increase, and the panels and niches of the House wing, as well as those of the Senate, would have been enriched with frescoes, oils and marbles.