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This Week in House History
The historical highlights featured in This Week in House History are written by the historians, archivists, and curators who preserve the history of the U.S House of Representatives. New highlights are added weekly. The collection, searchable by date or subject, includes more than 400 historical House events.
House Declares War against Japan
December 08, 1941
On this date, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, addressing the nation in a Joint Session in the House Chamber, asked Congress to declare war against Japan in response to the surprise attack against American naval facilities at Pearl Harbor a day earlier.
Clerk of the House Appoints William H. Smith as House Librarian
December 09, 1881
On this date, William Henry Smith—a prominent African-American Washingtonian—was appointed Librarian of the House. Smith became one of the highest-ranking African Americans in the federal government at a time when the hard-won rights of many freedmen in the South were being rolled back.
Marquis de Lafayette Becomes First Foreign Dignitary to Address the House
December 10, 1824
On this date, the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general and Revolutionary War hero, became the first foreign dignitary to address the House in its chamber. Lafayette met separately with the House and Senate during his visit to Washington, D.C.
House Declares War against Axis Powers Germany and Italy
December 11, 1941
On this date, the House approved declarations of war against Axis Powers Germany and Italy—just three days after Congress had declared war against Japan, adopting the war resolution against Germany 393–0, followed by a 399–0 vote to declare war on Italy.