Image courtesy of U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office
One of the more colorful personalities on Capitol Hill, William "Fishbait" Miller devoted more than 40 years of his life to the House of Representatives.
On this date, the longtime Doorkeeper
, William “Fishbait” Miller was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi. In 1933, Miller began his career at the Capitol as a clerk in the House Post Office. He worked his way up the ranks serving as Minority Doorkeeper in 1947. Two years later Miller was elected House Doorkeeper overseeing a sprawling operation which included more than 350 employees—doormen, telephone operators, Pages
, and barbers—and a budget of more than $3 million. Miller, who retained his boyhood nickname of Fishbait (given to him because of his small stature), held the position of Doorkeeper from the 1949 to 1953, and from 1955 to 1974; he served as Minority Doorkeeper during the 83rd Congress
(1953–1955) when the Republicans controlled the chamber. As Doorkeeper, Miller focused on meeting the many needs of Members ranging from acquiring extra tickets to highly anticipated Joint Sessions
to repairing broken eyeglasses. Well-known for his flamboyant personality and affinity for the public spotlight, Miller also gained national fame for his distinctive announcement of, “Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States,” during the annual State of the Union address. In December 1974, Miller’s long tenure as Doorkeeper ended when the Democratic Caucus voted 150 to 77 to replace him with James Molloy, a disbursing clerk from the House Finance Office. “I have lived a good life, a full life,” Miller remarked after his defeat. “I have enjoyed every minute of it and as I leave I have no regrets and no axes to grind.” Shortly after his retirement, he authored a tell-all book entitled, Fishbait: the Memoirs of the Congressional Doorkeeper
, which chronicled his more than four decades on the Hill. Miller died on September 12, 1989, in Greensboro, North Carolina.