Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
James K. Polk of Tennessee served as Speaker of the House during the 24th and 25th Congress (1835–1839).
On this date, the 29th Congress
(1845–1847) convened for a momentous two years dominated by war in the southwest. The session opened as tension escalated with Mexico after U.S. annexation of the disputed Texas Territory. Provoked by U.S. forces along the Rio Grande border, Mexican forces attacked in April 1846. Within weeks, the House overwhelmingly voted to declare war on Mexico by a vote of 174 to 14. Late in the Congress, the House passed an appropriations measure requested by President (and former Speaker of the House) James K. Polk
to broker peace with Mexico. But it included a controversial provision forbidding slavery in any territory acquired in the peace settlement (the so-called “Wilmot Proviso” introduced by David Wilmot
of Pennsylvania). Senate opponents, however, stripped the Wilmot Proviso from the final Appropriation to Secure Peace Bill in early 1847. Meanwhile, the country continued to expand with the additions of Iowa and Texas to the Union. With 230 House Members and more states entering the Union, congressional leaders began planning for larger accommodations, including new House and Senate chambers. Under the direction of one-term Speaker John W. Davis
of Indiana, the House also passed the Postage Stamp Act—authorizing the use of postage stamps in the U.S. for the first time.