Historical Highlights

The Annual House Page Banquet at the Mayflower Hotel

July 25, 1937
The Annual House Page Banquet at the Mayflower Hotel Image courtesy of Library of Congress A six-term Representative from New Jersey, Donald McLean served as a United States Senate Page during his youth.
On this date, the House Pages met at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., for a banquet sponsored by Representative Joseph B. Shannon of Missouri. First organized in 1932, Congressman Shannon’s gathering honoring the House Pages became an annual event during his six terms in office. The social affairs—which included a variety of activities such as poetry readings and music—had a decidedly legislative tone. Pages debated topics (real and fictional) and discussed parliamentary procedures all while feasting on favorites like Maryland chicken and ice cream. In addition to recognizing the significant work of the Pages, Congressman Shannon used the dinners as an opportunity to impart advice. “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it,” the Missouri Representative warned the Pages at the 1936 dinner. A year later, the annual dinner took on an even more festive tone with the House Pages celebrating their shut-out victory against the Senate Pages in a recent baseball game. The banquet also included a series of short speeches by the Pages about House leaders and the inner workings of Congress. At one point it was estimated that the 48 Pages distributed approximately 36,000 packages during the first few months of the 75th Congress (1937–1939). After his death in 1943, Members of the Congress eulogized Representative Shannon and acknowledged his importance to the House Pages. “A man with such a heart is bound to leave behind a lot of good that he has done,” Donald McLean of New Jersey remarked. “His useful example will live in the hearts he leaves behind.”

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