There’s a funny-looking push button on desks that sat in the House Chamber from 1877 to 1913. Why would a Member of Congress need to ring a doorbell at his desk?
During the Reconstruction Era, African Americans gained elective office and the U.S. House of Representatives was forever changed. Americans know the narrative that describes Reconstruction as the “Second American Revolution”—one in which basic political and citizenship rights were conferred upon freed slaves (at least the men). Congressional Reconstruction imposed in the South also changed the face of the membership of the House. Until recently, however, we knew very little about the changes that Reconstruction wrought at the staff level in the House.