The Rising Sun Armchair
(George Washington's Chair)
Rising Sun Armchair
George Washington used this chair for nearly three months of the Constitutional Convention's continuous sessions. Benjamin Franklin is credited with immortalizing the chair at the close of the convention, observing:
I have often looked at that picture behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.
This is the most well-known version of the sentiments regarding the sun chair, but this well polished version only dates to the 1987 State of the Union address by President Ronald Reagan, who was paraphrasing James Madison, who in turn was reporting the commentary he heard Franklin express. The original text, as written into the federal record by Madison, appeared as follows:
Whilst the last members were signing it [i.e., the Constitution] Doct FRANKLIN looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.
Made by John Folwell in 1779
Mahogany, height: 153.5 cm, width: 77.5 cm, depth: 58.2 cm
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA
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