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“The House of Representatives, in some respects, I think, is the most peculiar assemblage in the world,” Speaker Joe Cannon of Illinois once observed. Behind the legislation and procedure, House Members and staff have produced their own institutional history and heritage. Our blog, Whereas: Stories from the People’s House, tells their stories.

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Displaying 1–12 of 211 results

“Here will I hold my stand”: James Tallmadge Jr. and the Fight to Stop the Spread of Slavery

As a young man, James Tallmadge of New York challenged policymakers to uphold the principles of equality in the Declaration and make real a world devoid of slavery. Two decades later, when Tallmadge was one of those policymakers, he turned away from idealism of his youth and toward the legal might of the Constitution to limit slavery’s spread.
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Edition for Educators—First Federal Congress

This Edition for Educators celebrates Independence Day with a look back at the First Federal Congress, first convened on March 4, 1789.
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An Interbranch Brawl

In 1915, a year after World War I engulfed the European continent, Democrat Frank Buchanan of Illinois declared that he was willing to go to any length to stop the United States from getting drawn into the conflict. Within months, however, the Congressman found himself in a little war of his own, not against a foreign adversary but with his own Justice Department.
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Edition for Educators—Resident Commissioners from the Philippine Islands

As the only American territory with representation in Congress to ever achieve its independence, the Philippines’ transition from colonial status to freedom is intertwined with the history of the archipelago’s Resident Commissioners to Congress. This Edition for Educators highlights Filipino Resident Commissioners, who represented the territory as Members of Congress during the first half of the twentieth century.
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Bums, Beatniks, and Birds: The House Responds to Anti-Vietnam War Protests

Setting draft cards on fire may have sparked outrage on Capitol Hill in 1965, but within a matter of years a new generation of lawmakers offered a far more sympathetic audience.
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Categories: Legislation, Committees, War

The Fight for Fair Housing in the House—Part I:
A “Long, Tortuous and Difficult Road”

Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson, in his 1966 State of the Union Address, called for additional legislation to “prohibit racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.” Over the next two years, Johnson’s new housing measure—known as the Fair Housing Act—traveled what he called a “long, tortuous and difficult road,” exposing the limits of his Great Society agenda and forcing Congress to consider more expansive civil rights protections.
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The First Resource

Debuting the week of November 9, 1998, the Online Biographical Directory of the United States Congress combined three key components to help users discover more about every Member of Congress: biographical information, the location and scope of known research collections, and a list of published material in a bibliography. Now the “Bioguide” is entering the 21st Century at long last.
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Categories: Announcements

Too Fast Too Furious: Uncle Joe Gets Driven Out

On March 15, 1910, House Speaker Joe Cannon of Illinois suffered a rare legislative setback when 14 of his fellow Republicans joined Democrats to cut funding for the routine maintenance of his official government automobile. By all appearances, it seemed like a minor, personal rebuke. But in this case, it foreshadowed a much larger problem for one of the most powerful Speakers in American history.
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Edition for Educators—Through the Glass Ceiling

For Women’s History Month, this Edition for Educators highlights some of the women who have broken glass ceilings in the House of Representatives.
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Fast and Furious I: Danville Drift

In 1909 Congress appropriated money specifically to purchase automobiles for the President; only months later, it considered providing the Speaker and the Vice President with similar funding. But not every Member believed the government should spend public money on what would essentially be a private car, and not every Member wanted to give Joe Cannon such a generous perk.
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Edition for Educators—Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina

For Black History Month, this Edition for Educators celebrates the life and career of Representative Joseph Hayne Rainey.
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Thanking the Troops

When the first cannon shots of the Civil War landed on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, the Abraham Lincoln administration confronted a rebellion against the United States and an urgent security problem in the nation’s capital. When Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, only the Potomac River separated Washington from the hostile ambitions of the Confederacy. In those anxious April days the city was—in President Lincoln’s own words—“put into a condition of siege.”
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