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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 337–348 of 409 results

Lobbying in the Lobby

Buttonholing Members of Congress to tell them how you think they should vote—that’s as old as the republic itself. But calling it “lobbying”? Where does that come from?
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Congress Works It Out at the House Gym

Representatives Fred Britten and Dan Reed made a New Year’s resolution in 1920: Get in shape. But first, they had to build a gym for Members of Congress.
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A Tale of Two Vases

Sevres Vase blooms
Once upon a time, in 1918, the U.S. House of Representatives received a gift of two porcelain vases. They were exquisite. Commanding attention, standing nearly six feet tall, the attractive vessels were a gesture from France expressing gratitude for America’s role in World War I.
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Categories: Practice & Customs, Art

Edition for Educators—The House Votes for War

Declaration of War against Japan
On this day in 1941, the House of Representatives passed the Declaration of War against Japan following the attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii. This month’s Edition for Educators focuses on the House of Representatives votes on declarations of war.
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Categories: Edition for Educators, War

No Going Home for the Holidays

Representative Ralph Church
We’ve all been a part of those Thanksgiving dinners where nobody got along. On Thanksgiving Day, 1937, the House was no exception.
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The Last Will and Testament of a Lame Duck

Clifford K. Berryman Lame Duck Cartoon
It’s not a hunting term. Nor is it a cooking experiment gone wrong. It’s a phrase often bandied about after an election: the “lame duck,” or departing politician who returns to office for the remainder of his or her term after the November elections. It can be an awkward position, but one in which at least one woman Member found creative inspiration.
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Edition for Educators—Veterans and Congress

Speaker Sam Rayburn with War Veterans
This month's Edition for Educators focuses on the relationship between Congress and the men and women who have fought for the United States at home and abroad.
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“Issue the Order, Sir, and I’ll Storm Hell!”

Anthony Wayne
On July 4, 1809, an unusual reburial ceremony took place at the Wayne family burial grounds in Radnor, Pennsylvania. For 12 years, the remains of “Mad” Anthony Wayne, the Revolutionary War hero and former congressman, had rested 400 miles away on the shores of Lake Erie. But on that early summer day, Mad Anthony’s remains were going home—well, most of them were going home.
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Edition for Educators—Elections

Nathaniel Banks
Constitutionally mandated to be the “People’s House,” the House of Representatives has always been elected directly by the voters bienially.
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Plastic Fantastic

Bakelite Desks
Stylish! Modern! Sturdy! And cheap! In the 1930s, Bakelite, an early plastic, was touted as “The Material of a Thousand Uses.” What uses, exactly? In one instance, desks for Congress.
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Leave No Forwarding Address: When Congress Almost Abandoned D.C.

Admiral George Cockburn
It was a low moment. When the 13th Congress (1813–1815) trickled into Washington, D.C., in September 1814 for a third session, they found a terrorized community, most public buildings destroyed, and a humiliated army on retreat. Once the grandest building in North America, the unfinished Capitol resembled a charcoal briquette. And though the invading British forces had departed more than three weeks previously, the damage they inflicted—both physical and emotional—very nearly convinced the shocked legislators to abandon Washington for good.
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Take a Seat

For more than a century, a desk in the House Chamber was a Member’s office. He stowed his hat beneath his chair, wrote and stored papers in the writing desk, and occasionally propped his feet up to listen to debate. Why did picking one's desk matter?
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