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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 97–108 of 195 results

Rediscovering Rainey's Reign

It’s unclear what prompted Representative Luke Poland of Vermont to leave the rostrum that day and yield the gavel, as the 43rd Congress (1873–1875) debated an Indian appropriations bill. But what is clear is that he set in motion a series of events that seemed the very culmination of the Civil War. When Poland stepped down, Joseph Hayne Rainey of South Carolina—a former slave who had once been impressed into service by the Confederacy before escaping to Bermuda—mounted the Speaker’s rostrum, grasped the gavel, and set Capitol Hill abuzz.
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Edition for Educators—Supreme Court

Chief Justice Fred Vinson Throws out the First Ball of the Congressional Baseball Game
This edition for educators highlights some of the shared history and personalities that have shaped the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. Beginning with the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the court, and the selection of Continental Congress Member, John Jay, as the first Chief Justice, these co-equal branches of government have a unique history.
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Edition for Educators - Women in Congress in their Own Words

The history of women who served in Congress is one shaped by changes in American society and in the House. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we invite you to learn more about these Members in their own words.
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Edition for Educators—Black Americans in Congress in their Own Words

Since 1870, more than 130 African Americans have served in the House. Some, like Joseph Rainey of South Carolina or Adam Clayton Powell of New York, left an enduring mark on the institution through historic firsts and groundbreaking legislation.
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Edition for Educators—Black History Month: African-American Congressmen in Committee

The institution of Jim Crow laws in the late 1800s sharply limited the number of African Americans elected to Congress until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. As voting reforms led to greater black political participation and more African-Americans being elected to Congress, Black Members began to establish seniority sufficient to attain chairmanships and better committee assignments.
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(Congress)Men without Hats

British traveler Henry B. Fearon cast a critical gaze from the House Gallery across the frothy sea of nearly 200 Representatives of the 15th Congress (1817-1819). "Spitting boxes are placed at the feet of each member, and, contrary to the practices of the [Senate], members and visitors wear their hats."
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Edition for Educators—Bon Appétit

This month’s Edition for Educators features epicurean culture in the House of Representatives, both the mouth-watering and the gut-wrenching.
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A “Troublesome and Greatly Derided Custom” — Answering the Annual Message

During the presidencies of George Washington and John Adams, the process of the State of the Union and its responses was more genteel and singular, but no less contentious than it is today. In the 1790s, both houses of Congress drafted, debated, and marched en masse to the President’s mansion to deliver a formal, unified response, addressing the important issues raised by the executive. That is, until one volatile Member of the House dared to wonder aloud what the fuss was all about.
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Best of the Blog in 2015

As December draws to a close, there’s a tendency to review the efforts of the year. Here’s just a few of our favorites from 2015.
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Categories: Announcements

We Can’t Make This Stuff Up . . .

Research on the most benign topics can uncover a gem or two when least expected. Sometimes it’s just a random piece of trivia that adds a little bit of detail to the rich history of the institution. And then there are the other times . . . the times when you question the validity of the material and think to yourself, “This is so good it’s better than fiction.” Here are a few examples that fall into the “believe it or not” category.
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Categories: Members of Congress

I Can Vote for War

Declaration of War Against Germany
Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman elected to Congress, gained notoriety through the accidents of history. A confirmed pacifist, her two widely separated terms in the House put her in the position of voting against U.S. participation in both World War I (April 6, 1917) and World War II (December 8, 1941). But there was another vote...
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Edition for Educators – Thanksgiving Holiday

Ready for some turkey and taters? Thanksgiving Day has officially been around as long as the House of Representatives, and it’s seen some congressional attention since it was first declared more than 200 years ago.
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