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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 385–396 of 471 results

The House’s Puzzling Pastime

Crossword puzzles became popular in America in the late 1920s, running as regular features in newspapers and published as compilations in puzzle books. Their popularity even led to a song: “Cross-word mamma, you puzzle me (But papa’s gonna figure you out).” In keeping with that history and in honor of December’s National Crossword Puzzle Day, we present to you a History, Art, & Archives puzzle to enjoy.
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Categories: Holidays, Announcements

The Last Hours of John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams Box Sofa
Representative John Quincy Adams knew he was nearing the end of his career. However, he likely did not suspect that his last hours in the Capitol would become a national media event, driven by brand-new technologies and nostalgia for the past that Adams represented.
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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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The Legacy of a Lie: Floor Fight and a Gunshot

On April 23, 1844, as the House sat in the Committee of the Whole to debate a tariff measure, the presiding officer recognized John White, a Whig from Kentucky, who had served as Speaker of the House in the prior Congress. White quickly veered off script, and the chamber quickly spun out of control. As chamber officials rushed to restore order, a gun shot rang out at the rear of the chamber and a Capitol Police officer was left gravely injured.
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The Life and Times of a Campaign Button

Each election cycle, campaign buttons bloom on voters’ lapels like flowers in spring. These bright badges come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and boast catchy slogans such as “We Love Lindy.” Campaign buttons made their debut on the trail in the late 1890s with the advent of a new material called celluloid.
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Categories: Elections, Artifacts

The Man in Black’s Tribute to the Ragged Old Flag

On June 14, 1977, the Man in Black strode into the House Chamber as if it were the stage of a country music hall. But music legend Johnny Cash wasn't about to belt out tunes for any ordinary concert. Rather, Cash delivered a moving poem to celebrate the bicentennial of the U.S. flag.
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The Man Who Kept Opening Doors Until He Became the Doorkeeper

A self-proclaimed “political creature,” James T. “Jim” Molloy left an enduring mark on the Capitol during his decades in Washington. Using a unique blend of scrappiness, charm, and his deep roots in New York state politics, Molloy created a network of allies who vaulted him to one of the most influential staff positions on the Hill. After little more than five years working for the House, he won a prized appointment as the House Doorkeeper by ousting a longtime incumbent. Molloy assumed office, he recalled, feeling “like a kid in a candy store,” perfectly at home in a position that seemed made for the affable South Buffalo native.
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The Many Depictions of Thomas Brackett Reed

On October 18th we wished Thomas Brackett Reed, accomplished and admired three-time Speaker of the House of Representatives, a happy 177th birthday!
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Categories: Speakers of the House, Art

The “Mayor of Washington” and the Unexpected Portrait

The story of Representative Mary Norton’s portrait commemorating her stint as “Mayor of Washington” reflects Norton’s guiding ethos throughout her career. Commissioned by a group of notables from the District, and painted by local artist Elaine Hartley, the Norton portrait was executed in a spirit of community in appreciation, and in support of a fellow professional woman.
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The Mediator

Representative Matthew Dunn Speaks to Striking Workers
Pennsylvania Representative Matthew A. Dunn stood in front of the strikers, wearing dark sunglasses inside the Pittsburgh plant. The Pennsylvania Association for the Blind workers’ strike had already slid into its second week in the late winter of 1937 when a whistle rang out, calling the room to order. Quieting the radio, the strikers turned toward the sound of Dunn’s voice. “I am with you on your strike,” the Representative said, “except I don’t think you are asking enough.”
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"The Most Gallant Lady from Massachusetts"

Edith Nourse Rogers’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs chairman portrait was unveiled on July 27, 1950. Rogers was exceptional in many ways, she was only the second woman—after her colleague Mary Norton of New Jersey—to have a chairman portrait hung in the House.
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The Most Important Congressional Source You’ve Never Heard Of

Chairman Don Fuqua of Florida
Open to the Foreword of the most recent Congressional Directory, and you’ll learn that it’s “one of the oldest working handbooks within the United States Government,” compiled unofficially from 1789 to 1847, and officially by Congress ever since. What it won’t tell you is that the Directory is a rich and multi-layered resource about the House, the Senate, and life on Capitol Hill. They’re yeoman-like and unassuming, but for historians and political scientists they provide a valuable means of studying the first branch of government.
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Categories: Records & Research