The history of the United States Senate is full of fascinating events and colorful characters. There have been moments of high drama on the Senate floor, such as the caning of Senator Charles Sumner on May 22, 1856, and Senator Margaret Chase Smith's courageous ”Declaration of Conscience” on June 1, 1950. There have been many less famous but equally intriguing moments such as the March 26, 1848, arrest and subsequent incarceration in the Capitol building of a reporter who refused to cooperate with Senate investigators.
This varied, yet interconnected history lends itself to being told through stories. For nearly ten years, Senate Historian Richard Baker has prepared brief vignettes to share the rich institutional history of the Senate. A new book prepared by the Senate Historical Office presents 200 of the ”historical minutes” featuring some of the Senate's most interesting and dramatic moments.
200 Notable Days: Senate Stories 1787-2002 includes essays about the landmark days that shaped the Senate as an institution. Arranged chronologically, this book of days collectively reveals the character of the "World's Greatest Deliberative Body." From the founders' debate about the creation of the Senate through the contentious legislative battles that have played out in the Senate Chamber for more than two centuries, these stories also reveal how the Senate's activities have influenced the larger landscape of history. This collection describes how the institution has evolved over time, explains how the organizational, administrative, and leadership structures have emerged, and describes the many traditions that give the Senate its distinct nature.
In this volume you will find some of the Senate's most influential members, notorious personalities, and even the more obscure senators. Among those featured are Henry B. Anthony and William Borah, whose names were synonymous with the institution during their years of service. There is the independent Senator Wayne Morse, who in April of 1953 filibustered for a record-setting 22 hours and 26 minutes, and Senator James Bayard, who resigned from the Senate on January 29, 1864, in protest of a newly mandated loyalty oath. Some impressive and dedicated individuals in Senate history have been long-serving employees. Two of the Senate's earliest administrators, Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper James Mathers and Secretary of the Senate Samuel Otis are described as devoted employees with service records unmatched by any of their successors. Frederick Brown Harris, elected as the Senate's 56th Chaplain on October 10, 1942, spent 24 years ministering to the Senate community.
These essays also reveal how the Senate has been influenced by outside forces, from technological advances such as radio and television to attacks upon the Capitol. Most notably, cultural changes have allowed for increased participation of women and minorities in government service. 200 Notable Days covers a range of topics and answers some commonly posed questions such as, "How were the first class assignments determined?" and "What is the history of the franked mail privilege?" Also incorporated into these essays is information about the art and architecture of the Capitol and the construction of the Senate office buildings.
This beautifully illustrated volume features a selection of photographs, portraits, engravings and manuscripts. Gathered from the collections of the Senate, the Architect of the Capitol and a number of other repositories including the Library of Congress and the National Archives, these visuals provide a powerful complement to each narrative. Each historical vignette also includes bibliographic sources.
Read collectively, these stories reveal a larger picture about the uniqueness of the Senate as an institution, providing readers with a more complete image of the modern Senate, and advancing Dr. Baker's belief that to understand today's Senate, one must explore this institution's rich history.
This book is available through GPO online. This book may also be available at a federal depository library in your state.