This map accompanied President James K. Polk’s annual message to Congress in December 1848. It represented Polk’s conception as a Southern Democrat of how to divide up the new territory acquired through the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. It became the starting point of debates in Congress over slavery and westward expansion.
Map of the United States Including Western Territories (2127339), 12/1848, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
The Twenty-First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 5, 1933. This amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, which had established prohibition.
This political cartoon by Clifford Berryman from 1932 portrays the opposing views of the Republican and Democratic parties on the the issue of prohibition.
"Oh So Tempting" by Clifford Berryman (6012119), 6/10/193, U.S. Senate Collection
On December 4, 1865 Representative Thaddeus Stevens introduced a resolution to create the Joint Committee on Reconstruction.
Resolution of the House of Representatives for the appointment of a Joint Committee of fifteen members to inquire into the condition of the States which formed the so-called Confederate States of America, and report whether they or any of them are entitles to be representative in either House of Congress.
Senate version of the Resolution to create the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, 12/5/1865, Records of the U.S. Senate
Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) caught the attention of the nation during a speech in West Virginia on February 9, 1950 in which he claimed he held in his a hand a list of 205 names of people who were Communists working in the State Department. While not everyone was convinced of McCarthy’s allegations, he remained unscathed by numerous Senate investigations into his various claims of communism in the government.
In 1952, McCarthy was made chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee and the Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. It was as chairman of these two committees that McCarthy waged his full-scale attack on communists in the government. He investigated the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the International Information Agency (IIA), and the U.S. Army. The nationally televised hearings of the U.S. Army eventually lead to McCarthy’s political demise. His brutal tactics and reckless questioning gave his colleagues in the Senate more than enough motivation and evidence to put an end to his attacks.
On July 20, 1954, Senator Ralph Flanders (R-VT) introduced a resolution for censure to the Senate. The resolution was referred to a six-member subcommittee. The subcommittee issued its recommendation of censure on September 27. The Senate began debate on the subcommittee’s recommendation on November 8. The Senate finally came to a vote on December 2. The resolution was passed, 67-22, to censure McCarthy for contempt and abuse contrary to senatorial traditions and ethics.
S Res 301, 11/9/1954, SEN 83A-B4, Records of the U.S. Senate (1157557)
We asked Senior Paper Conservator, Kathy Ludwig, about the most interesting project she’s worked on. The most intrinsically valuable document she has treated at the National Archives is the Monroe Doctrine. The document is the Senate version the 36-page text of President James Monroe’s seventh annual Message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, hand-written by an administrative assistant and signed by the President, was a defining moment in American foreign policy. We’ll explore its conservation treatment in the next few posts.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation stating that Thanksgiving would be the last Thursday of November. Prior to Lincoln’s Proclamation, Thanksgiving celebrations varied from year to year with the dates and months constantly changing. Then in 1939, when Thanksgiving fell on the last day in November, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned that a shortened Christmas shopping season would dampen the economic recovery. He issued a Presidential Proclamation changing the celebration to the second to last Thursday in November.
Not wanting to deviated from tradition, some states refused to move the date of celebration. For two years, the nation and some states celebrated Thanksgiving on the second to last Thursday of November while other states continued to celebrate on the last Thursday of the month.
To unite the nation and end confusion, Congress decided to fix the date of the holiday. On October 6, 1941, the House passed a joint resolution declaring that the last Thursday in November was a legal holiday. The Senate, however, amended the resolution establishing the holiday as the fourth Thursday, which would take into account those years when November has five Thursdays.
The House agreed to the amendment, and President Roosevelt signed the resolution on December 26, 1941, thus establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.
H.J. Res. 41, 10/6/1941, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
Senate Amendments to H.J. Res. 41, 12/9/1941, Records of the U.S. Senate
By the end of the 19th century, Thanksgiving Day has become an institution throughout New England and was officially proclaimed as a national holiday by President Lincoln in 1863…Traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday in November, it was changed by an act of Congress in 1941 to the fourth Thursday of that month.
Senator Robert C. Byrd speaking on the Senate floor, November 20, 2002
Congress is an institution filled from crypt to rotunda with traditions and few knew them better than Robert C. Byrd, the late Senator from West Virginia. Author of a four-volume compilation of Senate addresses, speeches, and statistics, Byrd appreciated great oration. Today we can give thanks that Byrd’s speeches, delivered throughout more than half a century of Senate service, are captured forever in the Congressional Record.
Our new Innovation Hub (archivesinnovation) tests out Vine with an #MST3K style screening of The Turkey Business:
Abe Lincoln & George Washington watching the newly digitized The Turkey Business
We’re testing out Vine here in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives and just happened to catch these two screening this vintage Thanksgiving film from the Department of Agriculture.
Recently digitized by our colleagues in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, you can see the complete film and more Thanksgiving footage on the U.S. National Archives’ YouTube Channel!