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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 48 results

Edition for Educators—Watergate

Fifty years ago, on June 17, 1972, officers with the Metropolitan police department apprehended five men during a break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee located in the Watergate complex along the Potomac River in Washington, DC. The arrests set off a chain of events that ended with the resignation of Richard M. Nixon as President in August 1974. This Edition for Educators highlights the role of the House of Representatives during the Watergate scandal and its aftermath.
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Maps in the Archives: A Pop of Color

Detail of Map of Florida Everglades Drainage District
It’s easy to be engrossed by a detailed map, especially when that map is bursting with color! It’s not unusual to find these colorful documents tucked away in an archival box of the House’s official records. Examine a selection of the eye-catching maps maintained in House records.
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Edition for Educators—Transportation and Infrastructure

Since the First Continental Congress, America’s national legislature has taken responsibility in different ways for the transportation, communication, and trade networks necessary to a functioning society. To bolster the nation’s defenses and develop the country’s commerce, lawmakers used public resources to fund the construction of military installations, postal routes, lighthouses, and ports and harbors. This Edition for Educators highlights the House’s role in transportation and infrastructure.
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Maps in the Archives: Dark Graphics

“Single Bullet Theory” Trajectory Diagram
The following maps capture three of the nation’s darkest moments with striking and sometimes shocking images.
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A Marvel among Swindles: The Louisiana State Lottery Company and the Post Office Department

Advertisement for the Louisiana State Lottery
Records of the House Committee on Post Office and Post Roads and congressional sources help tell the dramatic story of congressional intervention into the 19th-century Louisiana State Lottery Company.
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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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Space Oddity

Don Fuqua
Five paintings in the House Collection show how Science Committee chairs shared national enthusiasm for extraterrestrial exploration and embedded allusions to America’s space program in their portraits.
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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

Starring Hazel Scott as Herself

Hazel Scott and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. on the Cover of Jet
Civil rights, Congress, and the performances of jazz pianist Hazel Scott coincided in the late 1940s and early 1950s. “I’ve been brash all my life, and it’s gotten me into a lot of trouble,” Scott said. “But at the same time, speaking out has sustained me and given meaning to my life.”
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“By Any Fair Means”: Joseph H. Rainey’s Contested Elections

Joseph Rainey Certificate of Election
When Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina served in the House of Representatives from 1870 to 1879 as its first Black Representative, the political inroads made during Reconstruction by Blacks in the South started to disintegrate rapidly. The contested election was weaponized as a method of excluding African Americans from representation in Congress.
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The Fallout

Medical Kit C
In 2015, House curators carefully unpacked water purification tablets, surgical soap, gauze pads, and a toothache remedy from Medical Kit C. The large cardboard box and the basic medical supplies it contained are artifacts of Cold War–era Washington, when the threat of nuclear attack hung over the country, and officials stockpiled emergency food, water, and medicine across the Capitol complex.
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“Which Side Are You On?”

On July 14, 1955, John F. Pickett, a deputy U.S. Marshall for the Southern District of New York, traveled to Beacon, New York. The town had been founded in the early eighteenth century and later grew into a bustling commercial port. During the American Revolution, lookouts lit bonfires atop the surrounding hills to signal the approach of British troops—beacons, for which the town was later named. In the summer of 1955, Pickett made his way north in the shadow of those same hills to deliver a far different message to a resident of Beacon.
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Categories: Committees