Historical Highlights

The Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Addressed a House Reception

October 13, 1949
The Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Addressed a House Reception Image courtesy of Library of Congress Representative Frances Bolton of Ohio (second from right) joined the Indian Prime Minister on a tour of President George Washington’s Mount Vernon home the day before the House Reception.
On this date, Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of India addressed a House Reception. As part of a multi-week goodwill tour of the United States, Nehru first met with President Harry S. Truman and then with Congress. India proclaimed itself neutral in the developing Cold War and America officials sought to remain on close terms with the nation which had just emerged from British colonial rule. With the House Chamber under renovation, the reception was held in the Ways and Means Committee room in the New House Office Building (later renamed Longworth). The Prime Minister spoke to the crowded room for 15 minutes. Discussing the similarities between the United States and India, he stated, “I have come here, therefore, on a voyage of discovery of the mind and heart of America and to place before you our own mind and heart. Thus we may promote that understanding and cooperation which, I feel sure, both our countries earnestly desire.” At the conclusion of his speech, he quickly left the House Chamber and headed to the Senate (temporarily meeting in the Old Supreme Court Chamber) to give the exact same address to a Senate Reception. Following the two addresses, the Prime Minister enjoyed a lunch reception in the Capitol with the House and Senate Foreign Affairs committees. Among the attendees was Representative Frances Bolton of Ohio, who joined the Prime Minister on a tour of President George Washington’s Mount Vernon home the day before. Prior to World War II, the standard manner in which both the House and the Senate received addresses by foreign leaders was to invite dignitaries to a one-chamber reception. This practice slowly changed in the postwar period, and more dignitaries were received by both the House and Senate in the form of a Joint Meeting.

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