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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 95 results

The Commencement Stand-In

Page School Graduation Ceremony Record (Parts 1 and 2)
The Capitol Page School’s 1954 commencement ceremonies included an unexpected speaker. Listen to newly digitized audio recordings of this unusual graduation.
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Signed and Sealed

Seal Detail of A Celebration of the Life of The Honorable Robert T. Matsui Program
In 1794, the House amended its rules to include the stipulation that an official seal be used for “all writs, warrants, or subpoenas, issued by the order of House.” More than two centuries later, the Clerk of the House continues to impress the House Seal, whose use is protected by law, on the House’s official documents.
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Edition for Educators—The Congressional Black Caucus

This Edition for Educators highlights material on the Congressional Black Caucus.
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License to Legislate

Detail of a 1972 Congressional License Plate
Congressional license plates may have been just thin strips of metal affixed to the top of a regular license plate, but the plates ended up giving Members of Congress motoring superpowers.
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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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Bathing the Capitol

Firefighters Hose Down the Capitol in 1910
In November 1899, Washington, DC, loaned the Architect of the Capitol a fire engine, along with its firemen, for a special task: to give the Capitol a bath. As House Collection photographs show, the custom continued for more than 60 years.
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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—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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The Parliamentarian’s Scrapbook

Detail View of the Parliamentarian's Scrapbook
The Parliamentarian's index finger rests on one precise spot in his scrapbook of precedents—the important reference file of a man known for his influence.
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Congress and the Case of the Faithless Elector

On January 6, 1969, Representative James O’Hara of Michigan took a seat on the House Floor for what seemed like a routine day of business. Since the late nineteenth century, the Electoral College count had occurred every four years without incident. This year, however, would be different.
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How Gallery Tickets Were Born

Gallery Visitors
On February 21, 1868, a one-sentence resolution in the House of Representatives brought thousands running to the Capitol: “That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors.” Alongside the national consequences of impeachment, massive public interest caused a smaller development: the introduction of gallery passes.
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Where the Seats Have No Name

New Seats in 1913
The year 1913 dawned with a conundrum. There were 401 desks and chairs in the crowded House Chamber and 440 people who needed a seat when Congress convened in the spring. How could each Member of Congress claim a chair?
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