Historical Highlights

The Opening of the Second Session of the 46th Congress

December 01, 1879
The Opening of the Second Session of the 46th Congress Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
The House arrived for the second session of the 46th Congress (1879–1881) in 1879 to improved ventilation in the House Chamber.
On this date, the second session of the 46th Congress (1879–1881) convened. Speaker Samuel Randall of Pennsylvania gaveled in the House at noon and began to conduct a number of congressional housekeeping tasks. First the Clerk called the roll call and a quorum of the 293 Members answered present. The House continued its business by swearing in six new Members: two from special elections (Waldo Hutchins of New York and William Thompson of Iowa) and the four Members from the California delegation who were elected in September (C.P. Berry, Horace Davis, H. F. Page, and Romualdo Pacheco). As was tradition, Congress received the annual message, submitted in writing, from President Rutherford B. Hayes. The House then adjourned for the day. While Congress had taken recess after the first session, the Architect of the Capitol made improvements to the ventilation in the House Chamber and created what is now known as the Speaker’s Lobby and Members’ Retiring Room. Multiple walls and offices were removed from the area behind the south side of the House Chamber (behind the Speaker’s rostrum) to create one large, open room. Portraits of Speakers of the House were first formally displayed in the lobby in the early 1900s.

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