Researchers often ignore the House Journal
in favor of its flashier cousin, the Congressional Record
. If laws were sausages, the Congressional Record
would report the grinding process of making them. The House Journal
by contrast has—with a few minor formatting adjustments—remained a constant over the span of House history, as a simple recapitulation of House actions as required by the Constitution.
Ribbons that declared "The Winner." Ribbons for the "Peter J. Dooling Association." Ribbons mourning a dead Speaker of the House. Once, they were all the rage. Then, in the 1890s, a single innovation changed everything. Political ribbons went from reigning supreme as the most portable, wearable, and popular campaign decoration to being a deposed monarch of politicking, exiled to conventions and party dinners. What happened?
Were African Americans in attendance to witness the legislative debates that shaped their freedom? Well, yes and no. The nation barred them from citizenship and service as Members of Congress until the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868, but barring African Americans, slave or free, from the Capitol has a murkier history.