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Art & History

The Opening of the 2nd Session of the 46th Congress

December 01, 1879

On this date, the 2nd 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 outside the south wall of 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 at the turn of the century.

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Office of History and Preservation, Office of the Clerk, http://clerk.house.gov/art_history/highlights.html?action=view&intID=310, (December 03, 2010).

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The House arrived for the second session of the 46th Congress (1879–1881) in 1879 to improved ventilation in the House Chamber. Chamber, House of Representatives (detail of a stereo photograph), c. 1880, by E. Wallach, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

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Provide students with a list of terms commonly associated with the House of Representatives, such as: Speaker; Clerk; mace; rostrum; chamber; Joint Session or Joint Meeting; Capitol; gavel; Statuary Hall. Ask students to locate a highlight date for each of these terms and to create an interactive timeline that includes each of the dates.

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