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

John Marshall, One of a Kind?

Chief Justice John Marshall, the man who single-handedly shaped the constitutional role of the judicial branch of the U.S. government, was one of a kind. But his portrait in the U.S. Capitol? Not so much. The imposing painting, more than 10 feet tall, is based on an earlier Marshall portrait. It’s a painted copy. A copy of a copy of a copy, in fact.

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Sit and Stay for a Portrait

A Capitol dome, an American flag, and a “part bichon frise and part some other things?” Such symbols of leadership and personality occupy prominent positions in House committee chairman portraits.

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Rolling Billboards

It started simply enough, a hundred years ago. Americans bought cars. Americans loved cars. And Americans loved politics. So, it seemed almost inevitable that automobiles became rolling billboards for their owners’ favorite candidates. Representatives cheerfully provided different auto accessories, which became a favorite method for taking the campaign on the road.

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Categories: Art & Artifacts, Elections

Absorbing Constituent Needs

Representative Herbert Drane with a Sponge
A Member of Congress represents and assists constituents. So when a Representative served a district known for one of the largest natural sponge markets in the world . . . well, that Member advocated for the absorbent product.

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Hawaii Four-9

Samuel King with a 49-Star U.S. Flag
Samuel Wilder King stands tall, looking directly into the camera. The Hawaiian Delegate’s eyes twinkle with pride. His open hand gestures to one star on the U.S. flag behind him—the 49th star. This unofficial flag, made by Hawaiian women in 1935, showed the territory’s aspiration to become a state, including it as a star. In the 20th century, flags became symbols of Hawaii’s status in the offices of its Territorial Delegates.

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Congressional Bicycles

Group Ride up Capitol Hill
“The latest fad among our national statesmen is the Congressmen’s Bicycle Club,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle in 1892. Ever since, Representatives have gone from teetering atop high-wheeled penny-farthings to racing on road bikes. Members of Congress have spun gleefully around the capital, mixing both politics and fun into the ride.

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