History, Art & Archives of the U.S. House of Representatives

We Can’t Make This Stuff Up Either

A pianist, a professor, and an anthropologist walk into the Capitol. It sounds like the set up for a bit joke. However, in researching the institution, we occasionally stumble upon a few stories that prove once again that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. This edition features a well-known Member and his lesser known musical career; a tenthidean cephalopod on the House Floor; and the weight of a Members’ brain.

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Categories: People, Institution

Father Knows Best

Shortly after noon on an unseasonably mild Thursday in late February 1842, a hush fell over the House as the venerable John Quincy Adams creakily arose from his chair. Just weeks earlier, the House had considered censuring the gray-haired Massachusetts Congressman whom many knew as Old Man Eloquent to punish him for manufacturing a crippling debate about the evils of slavery. But on this day Adams eulogized North Carolina’s Lewis Williams, whom colleagues revered as the “Father of the House”—the Member with the longest continuous service.

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Edition for Educators—The Olympics

From track and field to judo to basketball, the Summer Olympics is a quadrennial event that captures the attention of imagination of people worldwide. This month’s Edition for Educators features the stories of the many Olympians who have served in the House of Representatives.

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Categories: Education, People

Rising up in the House—Part II:
The House Debates the “Irish Question”

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress to denounce German aggression. Dramatically abandoning his commitment to neutrality, he urged Congress to declare war on Imperial Germany to “make the world safe for democracy.” Wilson emphasized that the United States must undertake a principled intervention in the war in order to protect the right of self-determination for small nations. When Congress passed a war declaration on April 6, Members seized the moment to revive the issue of Irish independence, which had failed to gain traction in the House a year earlier when Missouri Representative Leonidas C. Dyer insisted that Congress support the Easter Rising.

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Categories: Institution, Legislation, War

Rising up in the House—Part I:
Rep. Dyer and the Irish Rebellion of 1916

On April 24, 1916, Irish republicans took up arms against the British government in what became known as the Easter Rising. They seized the General Post Office in Dublin and distributed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, which affirmed the right of the Irish people to form an independent government and claimed the support of Ireland’s “exiled children in America.” The Irish insurgency, and the British response to it, both captivated and appalled the U.S. public—including Congress.

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Categories: Institution, Legislation, War

Edition for Educators—The Grand Old Flag

A 1916 presidential proclamation first designated national Flag Day on June 14—the date the Continental Congress approved the design of the national flag in 1777. In 1949, the House and Senate passed a joint resolution declaring June 14 as Flag Day and authorizing the President to issue a proclamation that flags be displayed at government buildings and, further, that the President urge all citizens to observe the anniversary. This edition for educators is devoted to the American flag.

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Categories: Education, Holidays