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Who Is the Distinguished Man of Mystery?

The following is a guest post by Taru Spiegel, Reference Specialist in the European Division.

Whenever I enter the Law Library offices, I see a nice grouping of items on the north wall.

The large image features S. 68 which established the Law Library of Congress in 1832.  The image on the right is of Senator William Learned Marcy from the Committee on the Judiciary who reported the bill.

The subsequent Act of July 14, 1832 created a separate “Law Department” of the Library of Congress.  The Law Library moved into its own room in the Capitol Building adjacent to the Main Library where it was largely controlled by the justices of the Supreme Court.  In 1833, Charles Henry Wharton Meehan was appointed “assistant at law,” becoming the first Law Librarian of Congress.

C.H.W. Meehan was the son of the then Librarian of Congress, John Silva Meehan, and he “was the only survivor of the political changes made in the Library during the first days of the Lincoln administration in 1861.   C.H.W. Meehan remained at his post until his death on July 5, 1872.”

Looking up S. 68 in the Library’s American Memory database, it was fairly easy to determine that Senator William Learned Marcy is the gentleman on the right side of the grouping.

WHO is the person on the left?

He does not look like John Silva Meehan, Librarian of Congress…

Not quite Chief Justice John Marshall

Perhaps he is Charles Henry Wharton Meehan, the political survivor, but I have not been able to find a picture of him.

Someone please identify the mystery man.  Inquiring minds want to know, or for the Twitter crowd, IMWTK.


  1. Julie
    November 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Do you have a larger/better photo? I’ll send this to AskMetafilter and see what they think.

  2. Scott
    November 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Fascinating! How long has the image been hanging there? Did you take it out of the frame?

  3. mrs scoones
    November 9, 2010 at 12:55 am

    lets know so he stops being a mystery man with same surnames you got to look in another countrys…..

  4. Andrew Weber
    November 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

    The Man of Mystery has now been revealed!

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