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

“Issue the Order, Sir, and I’ll Storm Hell!”

Anthony Wayne
On July 4, 1809, an unusual reburial ceremony took place at the Wayne family burial grounds in Radnor, Pennsylvania. For 12 years, the remains of “Mad” Anthony Wayne, the Revolutionary War hero and former congressman, had rested 400 miles away on the shores of Lake Erie. But on that early summer day, Mad Anthony’s remains were going home—well, most of them were going home.

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Categories: People, Holidays

Edition for Educators—Elections

Nathaniel Banks
Constitutionally mandated to be the “People’s House,” the House of Representatives has always been elected directly by the voters bienially.

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Categories: Education, People, Institution

Plastic Fantastic

Bakelite Desks
Stylish! Modern! Sturdy! And cheap! In the 1930s, Bakelite, an early plastic, was touted as “The Material of a Thousand Uses.” What uses, exactly? In one instance, desks for Congress.

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Leave No Forwarding Address: When Congress Almost Abandoned D.C.

Admiral George Cockburn
It was a low moment. When the 13th Congress (1813–1815) trickled into Washington, D.C., in September 1814 for a third session, they found a terrorized community, most public buildings destroyed, and a humiliated army on retreat. Once the grandest building in North America, the unfinished Capitol resembled a charcoal briquette. And though the invading British forces had departed more than three weeks previously, the damage they inflicted—both physical and emotional—very nearly convinced the shocked legislators to abandon Washington for good.

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Categories: Institution

Take a Seat

For more than a century, a desk in the House Chamber was a Member’s office. He stowed his hat beneath his chair, wrote and stored papers in the writing desk, and occasionally propped his feet up to listen to debate. Why did picking one's desk matter?

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“Harry Needs a Rest”

Harry Parker
In an institution still largely segregated and even unwelcoming to its African-American Members in the 1930s, Harry Parker’s six decades of loyal service to the House engendered respect and affection. The New York Times described the House Chamber’s 1937 celebration of Parker's retirement as the “most extraordinary tribute ever paid” to an African-American in the House up to that point.

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Categories: People