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Isaac Bassett’s Ebony Walking Stick, 1862

On December 25, 1862, Assistant Doorkeeper Bassett's fellow employees presented him with this walking stick.

Collection of the U.S. Senate

Isaac Bassett’s Ebony Walking Stick, 1862 Isaac Bassett’s Ebony Walking Stick, 1862

Eyewitness to History 1831-1895

Isaac Bassett walked the Senate halls for 64 years. Appointed a page in 1831 by Daniel Webster, Bassett served later as messenger and then as Assistant Doorkeeper before his death in 1895. In his later years, reporters and visitors often sought out the old man, eager to hear stories of the Senate's "golden era."

Bassett is famed for turning back the clock—literally—to let senators pass last-minute laws. His true legacy, however, is on paper. Planning to write a memoir, Bassett kept careful notes, clipped news items, and wrote short vignettes of people he'd met and events he'd seen. Bassett died before finishing it. Fortunately, the manuscript survives, a rare firsthand account of the 19th-century Senate.