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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 207 results

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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Edition for Educators—Impeachment

In response to many reference inquiries received about the history of impeachment, this Edition for Educators highlights some of the resources available on the History, Art & Archives website.
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Edition for Educators—Opening Day

Each Opening Day in the House of Representatives is an exciting, often historic, event. Recently elected Members, often accompanied by their families, swear their oaths of office and snap pictures with new colleagues and congressional leaders. Special furniture and House artifacts are brought out of storage for an event that happens only once every two years. This Edition for Educators throws the House Chamber doors wide open for Opening Day!
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Best of the Blog in 2020

This year, the Office of the Historian and the Office of Art and Archives published 44 blog posts on a range of topics, including congressional nicknames, stamp collecting, the apportionment process, and the 1870 election of Joseph Hayne Rainey, the first Black Member of the House of Representatives. As we reflect on a tumultuous and difficult year, we’ve selected eight of our favorite and most discussed posts for readers to revisit.

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Categories: Announcements

Joseph Rainey and Reconstruction’s Promise

On December 12, 1870, newspapers across the nation heralded the swearing in of Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina as the first African-American Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Rainey not only represented his South Carolina district. He also represented, he said, “the outraged and oppressed negro population of this country, those I may strictly call my constituency.”
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