The Basics

Oil on Canvas

Meeting in New York at Federal Hall, the first federal Congress initiated the committee system, levied taxes and imposts, and enacted a judicial system. The Senate exercised its powers of advice and consent. Most important, the Congress passed the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which became known as the Bill of Rights. Shown in the mural are (from left to right) James Madison (standing), speaker Frederick Muhlenberg (seated), Elbridge Gerry (standing, foreground), and Fisher Ames (standing, rear).

Left: A preacher conducts an open-air service, symbolizing the freedom of religion that is assured by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Right: A printer at work represents another First Amendment right, freedom of the press.

About the Cox Corridors Murals

The first floor of the U.S. Capitol's House wing is elaborately decorated with wall and ceiling murals by artist Allyn Cox. The central east-west corridor is referred to as the Great Experiment Hall because it chronicles in 16 murals the legislative milestones of three centuries, from the signing of the Mayflower Compact in 1629 to the enactment of women's suffrage in 1920.