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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 361–372 of 409 results

Time Travel: Daylight Saving Time and the House

When first-term Representative Leon Sacks of Pennsylvania introduced H.R. 6546 on April 21, 1937, the Earth did not stop spinning. Time did not stand still.

But it almost did.

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Categories: Legislation, War

To Be a Gallery God

“To be a gallery god in the House of Representatives is to have a free seat at a unique performance.” So said one newspaper, and for two centuries Americans have agreed, with gusto. The House Collection contains some of the oldest (and newest) varieties of gallery tickets, from scribbled passes to high-tech printed ones.
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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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Topping Uncle Joe

Joseph Cannon in his topper
Just an accessory? Maybe not. At a time when men’s hats spoke volumes about their personalities and status, Speaker Joseph Cannon’s headwear, including slouch hats, straw hats, and an “ancient woolly topper,” proved a potent symbol of his iron power, strong personality, and folksy manner.
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Tour the Capitol from Home

Ordinarily, the U.S. Capitol in springtime bustles with visiting school groups and vacationing families from around the world. For visitors who cannot travel to Washington this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the History, Art, and Archives website has a number of resources that visitors can use to learn about some of the Capitol’s statues, landmarks, and art, as well as stories about the people, places, artifacts, and events that make Congress unique.
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Trading on the Capitol

The first trademark granted in the United States used an American eagle, and into the 21st century, marketing textbooks recommended using the Capitol to give products “borrowed interest” from patriotic consumers. Ambitious soap makers in the late 1800s used the iconic U.S. Capitol to give their wares a patriotic shine.

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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

Unbought and Unbossed

Shirley Chisholm
Trailblazer, committee member, presidential candidate. Photographs from the House Collection show the path of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman in Congress.
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Unique Circumstances: A Look at the House Journal on September 11, 2001

Eve Butler-Gee pulled up to the United States Capitol under a cobalt-blue sky early on the morning of September 11, 2001. It was well before the workday began, but she hoped to complete a stack of paperwork before the legislative session started at 9 a.m. As a House journal clerk, she had to proofread the prior day’s House Journal and then report to the floor to record a new day’s proceedings.
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Unprohibited

On February 20, 1933, Speaker Garner struggled to maintain order on the House Floor as Thomas Blanton, a “dry,” made a final stand in support of Prohibition. Garner impatiently tapped the inkstand on the rostrum as Representatives booed and shouted “Vote, vote!” After the House voted to repeal Prohibition, the galleries and halls overflowed with the applause of spectators. Yet dismantling the legislative trails of the 18th Amendment took nearly a year. Like a bar crawl, the end of Prohibition was full of awkward moments, fights, and beer.
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Ups and Downs in the Capitol

New Elevator in the Capitol
“The best ride in town may be on the Capitol Hill elevators,” the Washington Post reported in 1971. The story of elevators on the House side of the Capitol—involving money, death, and machinery—is a tale about the ups and downs of power.
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Vent Elation

Cooler Summers
“No good legislation comes out of Washington after June.” Speaker of the House John Nance Garner spent 30 years in Congress, and he knew to get out of town ahead of the wilting summer weather. Washington in July and August is a desperately swampy place. Then one day in 1928, “manufactured weather” arrived in the House of Representatives’ Chamber.
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Veteran-Artists in the House Collection

Two artists’ paths were different, but their careers converged in unlikely places—World War II combat and House committee hearing rooms. William Draper and Brummett Echohawk both served in the military during the war, and later completed chairman portraits for the House of Representatives. In honor of Veterans Day, we present their stories.
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Categories: Art, War