The filibuster is a tool that members of a government can use to extend a debate on issues facing the governing body. The provisions for a filibuster that are written into the rules of our Senate do not require that those speaking during a filibuster remain on-topic and they can talk about whatever they feel like. This provision must have struck someone as a particularly good idea. It was, however, a theoretical option until the 18th in 1841, when the Democratic minority tried to block a bank bill favored by the Whig majority by using this political tactic. Senator Henry Clay, a promoter of the bill, threatened to change Senate rules to allow the majority to close debate. Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton (pictured) rebuked Clay for trying to stifle the Senate's right to unlimited debate and Clay was unsuccessful in eliminating the filibuster with a simple majority vote. The filibuster would last until March 11.