Image courtesy of Library of Congress
President Calvin Coolidge addresses a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber early in his Presidency.
On this date, Congress held a Joint Session
to commemorate the birthday of George Washington
and to inaugurate elaborate planning of festivities for the 1932 bicentennial of the first President’s birth. Formed during the 69th Congress
(1925–1927), the Commission for the Celebration of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington organized the Joint Session which gathered some of Washington’s descendents. Clerk of the House
William Tyler Page served as the executive secretary of the joint commission which included four Representatives: Willis Hawley
of Oregon; Majority Leader John Tilson
of Connecticut; and two future Speakers of the House
, John Garner
of Texas and Joseph Byrns
of Tennessee. The Army Band played “Hail to the Chief” when President
Calvin Coolidge stepped into the House Chamber. President Coolidge addressed a large audience of Representatives, Senators, Cabinet members, diplomats, and military officers, as well as a packed audience in the galleries. “His was the directing spirit without which there would have been no independence, no Union, no Constitution, and no Republic,” Coolidge extolled during his lengthy speech on Washington’s illustrious career. The Joint Session was received with great fanfare in the United States and abroad as audiences tuned in to an extensive broadcast. Forty-two stations in North America and more than 200 radio operators made it possible for millions of people around the globe to listen in.