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Historical Highlights

The Shooting of Congressman William Taulbee on the Steps of the U.S. Capitol

February 28, 1890
The Shooting of Congressman William Taulbee on the Steps of the U.S. Capitol Image courtesy of Library of Congress In 1890, Klipper desks were used in the House Chamber. They were later replaced with more functional chairs to accommodate the growing size of the House of the Representatives.
On this date, Charles Kincaid, a newspaper correspondent, fatally shot former Congressman William Taulbee of Kentucky. The two men had a volatile history which began in 1887 when Kincaid wrote a story implicating Taulbee in an extramarital affair. Taulbee opted not to run for a third term, however, his work as a lobbyist kept him in close proximity to Kincaid who covered Congress for the Louisville Times. During the next few years Taulbee and Kincaid traded verbal insults. On the day of the shooting, House doorkeepers had to separate the two men. The “tall and sinewy” Taulbee allegedly warned the slight reporter—described in a contemporary account as “a little pint-of-cider fellow”—to arm himself. Kincaid later met up with Taulbee and shot the former Representative on the east staircase of the House Wing of the Capitol. The media widely covered the shocking event. “For the first time in the memory of man a gunshot was heard in the National Capitol today, and the marble steps of the staircase leading from the House floor to the restaurant below were stained with human blood.” Taulbee eventually succumbed to the gunshot wound and died on March 11, 1890. A jury later acquitted Kincaid on the grounds of self defense.

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