Petitioning Congress

Although we associate petitions most frequently with the nineteenth century, citizens continued to send them well into the 20th century. Thomas Hart Benton, one of the most famous American regionalist artists of the mid-20th century, sent every Member of Congress a petition with a unique twist in 1951. The artist urged federal aid after disastrous flooding in the Kansas-Kaw River valley—affecting Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. But along with the usual written request, he added a piece of his artwork that illustrated the devastation more eloquently than words.

Homecoming-Kaw Valley Lithograph/tiles/non-collection/S/ServingthePeople_petitions_homecomingkawvalley_2016_124_000.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Although the solution Benton particularly advocated for—national flood insurance for residents of high-risk areas—did not become law until the 1960s, relief funds were appropriated for flood victims the following year.

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