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Senate Traditions

The U.S. Senate relies heavily on tradition and precedent. Change comes slowly. Many of its current rules and procedures date from the First Congress in 1789. In conducting late 20th-century Senate impeachment trials, the Senate closely followed procedures established in the 1790s and updated in the 1860s. Senate officials still carry 18th-century titles such as “secretary,” “clerk,” “keeper of the stationery,” and—until recently—“wagon-master.”