225th Anniversary of the First Congress: We’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution through March 2016.
As recorded in the first House Journal, only eleven representatives were present on March 4, 1789, the first day of the First Congress under the Constitution. Neither the House nor the Senate had enough members present to attain a quorum, so they adjourned from day to day until they could proceed with official business.
The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia has been hosting a series of public programs to spotlight the traveling exhibit, Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow:Living with the Atomic Bomb, 1945-1965. The exhibit explores the ways that Americans experienced the atomic threat of the mid-twentieth century as part of their everyday lives. The exhibit was curated by Michael Scheibach and ExhibitsUSA.
This week wraps up the public program series for Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow with four programs including panel discussions with scholars, oral history interviews, and a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Today kicks off our commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the First Congress. Over the next two years (and in addition to our regular content), we’ll be posting documents and stories highlighting the establishment of the new government under the Constitution.
The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate met for the first time in New York City on March 4, 1789 in Federal Hall. As representatives and senators arrived at the start of the First Congress under the Constitution, members presented their credentials, also known as certificates of election, to their respective chamber to show they were the person duly elected to represent their home state. Above are the credentials of Senator William Few of Georgia, one of eight senators to arrive at the start of the First Congress.
It’s awards season for ACSC!
If you are a graduate student interested in conducting research at any of our member institutions, consider applying for the Richard A. Baker Graduate Student Travel Grant.
The Baker Award is named after ACSC founding member and U.S. Senate Historian Emeritus Richard A. Baker. The grant is awarded annually to support graduate-level research for up to $1000 which may be used for travel, lodging, copying, and other research expenses incurred. To find out more information about the Baker Award and other awards supported by ACSC, please visit our website.
The application deadline for the Baker Award is April 1, 2014.
We hope everyone is enjoying the winter Olympics in Sochi! Senator Robert Dole’s service in Congress spanned 20 Olympic games, from the 1960 winter games in Rome, Italy, to the 1996 summer games held in Atlanta. As part of the debate over the 1980 Moscow summer Olympics – whether to boycott or move the games altogether – Senator Dole put out a press release showcasing his trademark tongue-in-cheek humor. In Moving the Olympics: a Modest Proposal, he satirically suggests getting a jump on the primary elections by locating different events in key states around the United States.
From the Dole Archive and Special Collections, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas
Not only was Shirley Temple Black a child movie star and ambassador to Czechoslovakia, but she also had a connection to Senator Bob Dole of Kansas. While on a 22-state campaign tour for Richard Nixon in 1968, Temple Black stopped in Kansas, where she helped Dole with his first Senate race – which he later won. Here she is pictured with Dole and Congressman Larry Winn in October 1968 on a campaign stop in Kansas City, Kansas, and then later shaking hands with Dole in her role as ambassador during a February 1990 visit to the U.S. Capitol by Czechoslovakia President Vaclav Havel.
From the Dole Archive and Special Collections, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas. http://dolearchives.ku.edu/
Congressman Everett M. Dirksen commented on the new National Archives in his February 6, 1937 newsletter to his Illinois constituents, “The Congressional Front.” Noting that “One problem constantly before the Archivist is the matter of economizing on space,” Dirksen explained how a new technology—microfilming—was providing a low-cost solution “that may have big value in the future in commercial work.”
Congressman Dirksen’s papers are available at the Dirksen Congressional Center in Pekin, Illinois.
In 1836, President Jackson accepted 1,400-pound wheel of cheese from Col. Thomas Meacham, a dairy farmer near Sandy Creek, NY. The cheese was mammoth, and it sat, ripening, in the White House for over a year. Eventually, Jackson invited everyone in Washington, DC, to stop by and help consume the massive wheel. He threw the doors open, and in just two hours, the cheese was gone.Even members of Congress went crazy for cheese and were absent from their seats. From the Vermont Phoenix, March 3, 1837:
Mr. Alford opposed the motion for a recess. He said it was time, if they intended to do any public business this session, that they forthwith set about it, for they had wasted enough time already. As for the battle with the great cheese at the White House, he was for leaving it to those whose tastes led them there, and to-morrow they might receive a full account of the killed and slain. The gentleman from Maine, (Mr Jarvis) could as well finish the speech he was making to the few members present, as not.
Mr. Wise remarked that it was pretty well understood where the absent members had gone. There was a big cheese to be eaten at the White House to-day, and the appetites of members had driven them there to partake in the treat. To obtain a quorum he therefore moved that the Seargent-at-arms be directed to go to the President’s house, and invite the members there to return to their seats. [“Those that have done eating!”—exclaimed a member.] “Oh yes,” continued Mr. W. “those that have done eating their cheese, of course.” [“And let them bring a portion with them,” said a third.] “No, he did not want any of it—he had no wish to partake of any thing at the White House.”
A motion was again made that the House take a recess till 4 o’clock.
This true story is the basis for today’s first virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day” at the White House, which is hosting an online open house for citizens to ask questions. Sadly, there will be no physical cheese giveaway!
When we heard about the event, our archivists hunted through our records, but there are no official Federal documents relating to the cheese, probably because the cheese was a private gift. (In fact, we only turned up a handful of cheese-related records, including a recipe for making “loaf” from cottage cheese.)
However, we did find a mention of Jackson and cheese in this handwritten note (see page 4 and 5) from President Truman in 1952. The White House was being renovated, and Truman was thinking of previous Presidents and their treatment of the official furnishings.
Truman wrote, “Then old Andy Jackson and his rough, tough backwoods [illegible] walking on the furniture, with muddy boots and eating a 300-pound cheese, grinding it into the lovely Adams and Monroe carpets!”
Jackson was not the first President to receive a giant wheel of cheese as a gift. President Jefferson received on as well. There is even a monument in Cheshire, MA, to the cheese press used to make the cheese for Jefferson.
Alas, this cheese slicer was patented 30 years too late to help President Jackson get rid of his cheese more quickly….
Kansas Day commemorates the admission of the state as the 34th in the Union on January 29, 1861. For more information about Kansas Day, check out Kansas Historical Society’s Kansapedia entry: http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/kansas-day/16773
The Dole Institute is celebrating Kansas Day with a few treasures from the Dole Archives!
Freshman Congressman Dole discusses strategy with Republicans of the Kansas Congressional delegation as they prepare for Kansas Day; (L-R) Congressmen McVey, Ellsworth, Dole, Senator Frank Carlson, Congressmen Shriver and Avery. Photograph taken on January 18, 1962.
From the Dole Archive and Special Collections, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas. Dole Photograph Collection, finding aid: http://dolearchivecollections.ku.edu/?p=collections/controlcard&id=47
Kansas Congressmen Dole (L) and Ellsworth (R) discuss Kansas Day plans with Gerald Ford, then the newly-elected Republican Leader of the House, in a newsclipping from The Hugoton Hermes on January 14, 1965. Ford was the featured Kansas Day speaker in Topeka on January 29th, and would go on to choose Dole for his Vice Presidential running mate in 1976.
From the Dole Archive and Special Collections, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas. Dole House of Representatives Papers, finding aid: http://dolearchivecollections.ku.edu/?p=collections/controlcard&id=5
At the invitation of Mamie Boyd, Congressman Dole addressed the “News Hens” group of Topeka, as part of Kansas Day festivities on January 30, 1966. The first page of his remarks is a good example of Dole’s trademark personal delivery style and wit.
From the Dole Archive and Special Collections, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas. Dole Speeches Collection, finding aid not yet available.
Senator Dole’s 1973 Kansas Day remarks honored Astronaut Ron Evans, a St. Francis, Kansas, native, and Kansas POW/MIAs in Southeast Asia as the Distinguished Kansans of 1973. This original speech copy bears handwritten notes.
From the Dole Archive and Special Collections, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas. Dole Senate Papers – Press Related Materials, finding aid: http://dolearchivecollections.ku.edu/?p=collections/controlcard&id=14