House History Timeline, 1800–1899


November 17

Per the conditions of the 1790 Residence Act, the House moves to the city of Washington in the District of Columbia. The House Chamber was temporarily established within the North Wing—designed for the Senate—the only completed part of the Capitol.


February 17

To break a tie in the Electoral College between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the House, voting by state delegations, elects Jefferson as President and Burr as Vice President after 36 ballots. The event spearheads the Twelfth Amendment reforms to the Electoral College.


March 3

The House occupies its new Chamber in the completed South Wing. The chamber was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe with the extensive advice of President Thomas Jefferson.

October 26

On the opening day of the 10th Congress (1807–1809), the House first met in its new chamber in the completed South Wing. The chamber was designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe with the extensive advice from President Thomas Jefferson.


November 4

Henry Clay of Kentucky, one of the 19th century’s most influential Speakers of the House, was elected to that office on his first day in the House. Clay greatly enhanced the Speaker’s power. A popular presiding officer, he served five intermittent terms as Speaker before resigning the position in 1824.


August 24

British troops occupied Washington, D.C., and badly damaged much of the Capitol. They also destroyed the President’s House and other public buildings. Five years later, the House returned to a rebuilt chamber in the South Wing of the Capitol, the site of the present-day Statuary Hall.


March 1

The House passed the Missouri Compromise which stipulated that new states and territories north of the 36'30 boundary were free of slavery. The measure helped to stave off sectional conflict for a generation.


September 30

Joseph Marion Hernandez, a Delegate from the Florida Territory, became the first Hispanic American to serve in Congress.


December 10

Marquis de Lafayette—the French general who aided the Continental Army in the American Revolution—became the first foreign dignitary to address the House.


February 9

The House, voting by state delegations, elected John Quincy Adams as President after the electoral count determined that no one had received a majority. Under the provisions of the 12th Amendment, the House chose the President from the top three candidates.


April 22

The House passed its highest protective tariff to date—labeled the “Tariff of Abominations” by opponents. The steep tax on foreign imports lowered the relative value of southern agricultural products in the international market, inspiring South Carolina to defy the federal law. The ensuing sectional crisis served as prelude to the Civil War.


February 21

Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, former President and ardent abolitionist, suffered a fatal stroke at his desk on the House Floor. He died two days later on February 23, 1848, in the Speaker’s room just off the Hall of the House.


December 16

The House convened for the first time in its new chamber in the recently extended South Wing of the Capitol, the site of the present-day chamber.


February 28

The House passed the Homestead Act which granted up to 160 acres of western public land to any citizen who would occupy and improve it for five years, further spurring settlement in the western United States.


January 31

The House passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. The states ratified the amendment in December 1865.


June 6

The House passed the 14th Amendment to protect the civil rights of freed slaves. Ratified in 1868, it asserted that states could not deny the rights of any citizen without due process of law, providing the basis for future expansions of civil rights.


February 24

The House impeached President Andrew Johnson for violating the Tenure of Office Act. The Senate acquitted him on May 26, 1868.


December 12

Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first African American sworn in as a House Member.


March 4

Romualdo Pacheco of California became the first Hispanic American to serve as a full-fledged U.S. Representative.


December 2

The House elected Representative Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine Speaker of the House for the first time. "Czar" Reed ruled the House for three non-consecutive terms with an iron fist, streamlining the legislative process by blocking the minority’s ability to stall legislation.


December 4

Speaker David Henderson selected Representative Sereno Payne of New York as the first Majority (Republican) Floor Leader. Minority candidate for Speaker James Richardson of Tennessee served as the first Minority (Democratic) Floor Leader. Their new positions signified an increased interest in enforcing party unity on the House Floor.