Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
W.H. Bartlett’s steel engraving featured a view of the U.S. Capitol from the White House balcony in 1839.
On this date in the 25th Congress
(1837–1839), a funeral in the Old House Chamber
(present day Statuary Hall
) was held for Representative Joab Lawler
of Alabama. Serving just two terms in the House, the Congressman died unexpectedly on May 8, 1838. Alabama Representative Francis Lyon
notified the House of Lawler’s death and then introduced a resolution to honor his colleague. The resolution also included the appointment of a group of Members to handle funeral arrangements as well as directions for Members to wear a black crape arm band for 30 days. Before the House adjourned out of respect for the Congressman, it sent a message to the Senate informing them of Representative Lawler’s death. The chamber subsequently passed a resolution to attend the funeral and to observe the practice of wearing black arm bands. After the funeral, the Congressman was laid to rest in Congressional Cemetery. A few months later, George Crabb
of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, won the special election to succeed Lawler. The practice of House Chamber funerals
ended with the funeral of Speaker of the House William Bankhead
of Alabama in 1940.