Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/162

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CHAPTER VII.

Such was the situation October 26, when Congress assembled in obedience to the President's call. An unusually large number of members attended on the opening day, when for the first time the House was installed in a chamber of its own. After seven years of residence at Washington, the government had so far completed the south wing of the Capitol as to open it for use. A covered way of rough boards still connected the Senate Chamber in the north wing with the Chamber of Representatives in the southern extension of the building, and no one could foresee the time when the central structure, with its intended dome, would be finished; but the new chamber gave proof that the task was not hopeless. With extraordinary agreement every one admitted that Jefferson's and Latrobe's combined genius had resulted in the construction of a room equal to any in the world for beauty and size. The oval hall, with its girdle of fluted sandstone columns draped with crimson curtains, its painted ceiling, with alternate squares of glass, produced an effect of magnificence which was long remembered. Unfortunately, this splendor had drawbacks. Many and