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.
This Court room is one of the most historic rooms in the Capitol. Here, before its restoration, Thomas Jefferson, the first President to be inaugurated at the Capitol, delivered his address and took the oath of office in the presence of Chief Justice Marshall. John Adams had rudely left the city before the ceremonies. He had, however, convened the Senate by proclamation, and it met at ten o'clock a.m., when Mr. Hillhouse administered the oath to the Vice-President-elect, and he to the new Senators. The President-elect entered the chamber accompanied by the Heads of Departments, the Marshal of the District, officers and other gentlemen, and took the seat usually occupied by the Vice-President. The latter sat upon his right; the Chief Justice upon his left. This inauguration is interesting in spite of the fact that the romantic story of the democratic way in which Jefferson rode to the Capitol alone, tied his horse to the paling, took the oath of office and rode away, has been proven to be a fabrication. In a dispatch to Grenville, Foreign Secretary in Pitt's administration, Edward Thornton, who was in charge of the British Legation at Washington, reports officially that Jefferson " came from his own lodgings to the house where Congress convenes, and which goes by the name of the Capitol, on foot, in his ordinary dress, escorted by a body of militia artillery from the neighboring State, and accompanied by the Secretaries of the Navy and the Treasury, and a number of his political friends in the House of Representatives".
Henry Adams, to whose historical research we owe this authority, says that " Jefferson was then living as Vice-President at Conrad's boarding-house, within a stone's throw of the Capitol. He did not mount his horse only to ride across the square and dismount in a crowd of observers. Only the North wing of the Capitol had then been so far completed as to be occupied by the Senate, the Courts and the small library of Congress. The centre rose not much above its foundations; and the South wing, some twenty feet in height, contained a temporary oval brick building, commonly called the ' Oven,' in which the House of Representatives * sat in some peril of their lives, for had not the walls been strongly shored up from without, the structure would have crumbled to pieces. Into the north wing the new President went, accompanied by the only remaining Secretaries, Dexter and Stoddert, and by his friends from the House. Received by Vice-President Burr and Marshall, after a short pause, Jefferson rose, and in a somewhat inaudible voice began his Inaugural address".
In the same chamber, at twelve o'clock on March 4, 1805, Congress having adjourned the day before, Jefferson delivered his second inaugural and was again sworn into office by Marshall, in the presence of both Houses and a concourse of citizens. The Chief Justice administered the oath of office to George Clinton, also, who had been elected to succeed Burr as Vice-President.
Here, in October, 1803, the Senate confirmed the treaty with Napoleon the First, by which we acquired the vast area of territory known as the " Louisiana Purchase." In the same month, Congress submitted to the Legislatures of the several States for ratification the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution. The Senate occupied this chamber when war was declared for the second time with Great Britain, and later, with Mexico. Here the Senate sat when, on December 2, 1823, President Monroe sent to Congress the " Monroe Doctrine " : 11 We owe it, therefore, to candor, and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers, to declare, that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety." Here, in 1830, occurred the famous debate between Webster of Massachusetts and Hayne of South Carolina, when the great speech of the Southern advocate lost much of its brilliant effect by being overshadowed by a greater. It was in the course of this debate that Webster uttered the immortal words: " Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable." It is so unusual as to be worthy of mention that here the Senate, on December n, 1832, elected a Catholic, Rev. Charles Constantine Pise, as its Chaplain.
* The House did not occupy "the oven" until the First Session of the Seventh Congress.
Since the chamber has been the home of the Supreme Court, for many days in February, 1877, following the approval on January 29th of " An act to provide for and regulate the counting of votes for President and Vice-President, and the decisions of questions arising thereon, for the term commencing March 4, a.d. 1877," the Electoral Commission occupied the bench. These walls, therefore, virtually first heard the announcement of the election of Hayes as President. On this occasion the small gallery was opened for the only time since the departure of the Senate. Jury trials have occurred in several instances in the Supreme Court, and, no doubt, will occur again in cases of original jurisdiction, a fact interesting and not often noted.