Notable Ceremonies

The First Foreign Dignitary

In this Hall, on December 10, 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette became the first foreign dignitary to address the House of Representatives. A hero of the American Revolution, Lafayette visited all 24 states in the Union during his triumphal return in 1824–1825. Everywhere he went, he was greeted with parades and ceremonies, in recognition for his important contributions to the Revolution, which included work with George Washington as a strategist in the battle of Yorktown, and his successful diplomatic efforts in gaining the support of the French governments. 

This portrait was presented to the House on the occasion of Lafayette's address to Congress./tiles/non-collection/h/hc_lafayette_2005_018.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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This portrait was presented to the House on the occasion of Lafayette's address to Congress.
In his address, Lafayette stated:

“Sir, I have been allowed, forty years ago, before a Committee of a Congress of thirteen states to express the fond wishes of an American heart. On this day I have the honor, and enjoy the delight, to congratulate the Representatives of the Union, so vastly enlarged, on the realization of those wishes, even beyond every human expectation, and upon the almost infinite prospects we can with certainty anticipate.”

The portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette by French artist Ary Scheffer was presented to the House of Representatives as a gift commemorating the 1824 visit. A pendant portrait of George Washington, painted by American artist George Vanderlyn, was acquired soon thereafter. Both portraits hung in the old Hall of the House and were moved with the Congress to the new Chamber in 1858.


In addition to the business of lawmaking, the old Hall of the House was used for joint meetings with the Senate, ceremonies, funerals and public lectures. Today, the room is still used for ceremonies honoring foreign dignitaries and events traditionally held in Statuary Hall, such as the presidential inaugural luncheon. Six presidential inaugurations, those of James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and Millard Fillmore, were held in Statuary Hall.

James Madison
<em>James Madison</em>/tiles/non-collection/s/sh_notalbe_ceremonies_james_madison_2002_048_000.xml
A Member of the House in the first four Congresses, James Madison was inaugurated as President at the Capitol in 1809 and 1813. He was the last President inaugurated at the Capitol before the British burned it in 1814, necessitating a complete reconstruction of the Hall of the House. Ten thousand people gathered outside the Capitol for his first inauguration.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
James Monroe
<em>James Monroe</em>/tiles/non-collection/s/sh_notable_ceremonies_james_monroe_lc.xml
James Monroe’s second inauguration in 1821 was forced indoors by heavy snow and rain. Over two thousand people crowded into the Hall of the House, where, for the first time, a band played during the entrance and departure of the President. 
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
John Quincy Adams
<em>John Quincy Adams</em>/tiles/non-collection/s/sh_notable_ceremonies_john_quincy_adams_2002_047_000.xml
John Quincy Adams was inaugurated at the Capitol in 1825, scant months after his election was decided by the House of Representatives in the Hall of the Houes. Outgoing President James Monroe established the tradition of escorting the successor to the Capitol for the inauguration. After his time as President, Adams returned to the Hall of the House to serve as a Member in the 22nd–30th Congresses.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Andrew Jackson
<em>Andrew Jackson</em>/tiles/non-collection/s/sh_notable_ceremonies_andrew_jackson_lc.xml
Snow, freezing temperatures and high winds drove Andrew Jackson’s 1833 inauguration indoors to the Hall of the House. This inauguration marked the first time the President was received at the Capitol by the mayor of Washington and members of the city council. 
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Millard Fillmore
<em>Millard Fillmore</em>/tiles/non-collection/s/sh_notable_ceremonies_millard_fillmore_lc.xml
Millard Fillmore’s inauguration in 1850 was the last in a House Chamber, taking place after the sudden death of President Zachary Taylor. This swearing-in was conducted quickly and solemnly, befitting a nation in mourning.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress