Congress

In 1951, mobster Frank Costello (seated, center) testified in front of the Kefauver Committee during a televised congressional hearing on organized crime that captivated the country.

History of Now

A Brief History of Televised Congressional Hearings

From a 1951 investigation into organized crime to the Watergate scandal, the ongoing January 6 hearings are part of a lengthy political tradition

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion stands at attention during an inspection in England in 1945.

All-Black, All-Woman WWII Unit Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion cleared a six-month backlog of mail while stationed in Europe in 1945

On March 15, the Senate unanimously passed legislation calling for year-round daylight saving time.

History of Now

What Happened the Last Time the U.S. Tried to Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent?

A 1974 switch to year-round DST proved unpopular, with Americans expressing "distaste" for the long, dark winter mornings

The exploration and preservation of Yellowstone in 1871 and 1872 has long been recognized as a central moment in the history of American conservation. Less well known is its role in shaping Lakota history and U.S. Indian policy.

How Sitting Bull's Fight for Indigenous Land Rights Shaped the Creation of Yellowstone National Park

The 1872 act that established the nature preserve provoked Lakota assertions of sovereignty

Crowds outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 protest its landmark decision in the Citizens United case, which removed limitations on corporate donations to political figures. Zuckerman would later issue his own protest by creating a custom postage stamp with controversial political imagery in response to the ruling. 

Artist Wins Legal Battle With Post Office Over Custom Postage Stamp

Federal judge cites violation of First Amendment by USPS in deciding not to print custom postage for customer that contained a political message

Houdini exposed fake Spiritualist practices by having himself photographed with the "ghost" of Abraham Lincoln.

For Harry Houdini, Séances and Spiritualism Were Just an Illusion

The magician spent years campaigning against fraudulent psychics, even lobbying Congress to ban fortune-telling in D.C.

Since the 1920s, this unique piece of history has only been displayed publicly three times.

This Civil War–Era Eagle Sculpture Was Made Out of Abraham Lincoln's Hair

The unusual artifact also contains tresses from First Lady Mary Lincoln, members of the president's cabinet and senators

Early Juneteenth celebrations featured picnics, rodeos, horseback riding and other festivities.

Juneteenth, the U.S.' Second Independence Day, Is Now a Federal Holiday

June 19, 1865, marked the end of slavery in Texas and, by extension, the Confederate states

As part of the nation's westward expansion motives, some Midwesterners wanted to move the capital to St. Louis

The Ill-Fated Idea to Move the Nation's Capital to St. Louis

In the years after the Civil War, some wanted a new seat of government that would be closer to the geographic center of a growing nation

Rioters enter the U.S. Capitol's rotunda as chemical irritants fill the corridor on January 6, 2021.

History of Now

Curators Seek $25,000 to Repair Artworks Damaged in U.S. Capitol Attack

Rioters vandalized six sculptures and two paintings, in addition to smashing windows, breaking furniture and spraying graffiti

Local commissioners approved a resolution calling for the memorial's creation on January 26.

Memorial to Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Will Replace Confederate Monument in Georgia

A tribute to the congressman and activist will stand in a DeKalb County square once occupied by a Confederate obelisk

An illustration of the British burning Washington in 1814

History of Now

The History of Violent Attacks on the U.S. Capitol

While the building has seen politically motivated mayhem in the past, never before has a mob of insurrectionists tried to overturn a presidential election

Rainey’s “polite and dignified bearing enforces respect,” an 1871 newspaper report said before disparaging him as unequal to the “best men of the House.”

Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman

Born enslaved, he was elected to Congress in the wake of the Civil War. But the impact of this momentous step in U.S. race relationships did not last long

“We look forward to building two world-class museums to further amplify these stories and help our country learn more about the impact that women and Latinos have had on the fabric of our nation,” says a Smithsonian spokesperson.

Congress Approves Smithsonian Museums Honoring Women and Latino Americans

The legislative body's year-end spending bill authorized the creation of two much-anticipated museums

The election of 1800 didn't invent the idea of a peaceful transition of power from one set of ideals to another, but it did engrave the United States into history as a democracy.

Inauguration History

How John Adams Managed a Peaceful Transition of Presidential Power

In the election of 1800, for the first time in U.S. history, one party turned the executive office to another

A march in support of the Vote 18 movement in Seattle in 1969 and buttons advocating for youth enfranchisement in the Smithsonian's collections.

100 Years of Women at the Ballot Box

How Young Activists Got 18-Year-Olds the Right to Vote in Record Time

In 1971, more than 10 million 18– to 20-year-olds got the right to vote thanks to an amendment with bipartisan support

“When you’re up in space looking down at the round blue ball we call Earth, it becomes pretty clear that we’re all in this together," said Mark Kelly on Twitter.

A Brief History of Astronauts in Congress

This year, Arizona elected Mark Kelly to the Senate, making him the fourth astronaut elected to Congress

Singer Jenny Lind was widely known as the "Swedish Nightingale."

When Opera Star Jenny Lind Came to America, She Witnessed a Nation Torn Apart Over Slavery

Born 200 years ago, the Swedish soprano embarked on headline-grabbing tour that shared the spotlight with a political maelstrom

Thomas Jefferson, who had suffered great criticism for his religious beliefs, once said that the care he had taken to reduce the Gospels to their core message should prove that he was in fact, a “real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

Why Thomas Jefferson Created His Own Bible

In a new book, Smithsonian curator of religion Peter Manseau tells of how <em>The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth</em> first sparked hot controversy

Read excerpts from women senators' testimonials below.

100 Years of Women at the Ballot Box

Women Senators Reflect on the 100th Anniversary of Suffrage

Twenty-four lawmakers shared testimonials with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

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