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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 Adopts the Holman Rule
January 17, 1876
On this date, by a vote of 156 to 102, the House first adopted the Holman Rule, named for the “watchdog of the Treasury,” Indiana Representative William S. Holman. The rule sought to institutionalize reductions in government spending through changes in House rules of operation.
President Thomas Jefferson Sends Secret Letter to Congress
January 18, 1803
On this date, President Thomas Jefferson sent a secret letter to Congress that requested financing for a transcontinental exploration that became the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804–1806.
House Passes Legislation to Establish the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
January 21, 1802
On this date, the House passed H.R. 7, which created a military academy for U.S. soldiers in West Point. Introduced by Joseph Varnum, a veteran of the American Revolution who assisted in suppressing Shays’ Rebellion in 1786, the bill passed 77 to 12.
Clerk Staff Discover “Lost” Records of Early Congresses
January 22, 1939
On this date, the Washington Post published a front-page story featuring Clerk of the House South Trimble, whose staff had unearthed 19th century House documents long believed to have been lost. Among the documents was the original 1812 declaration of war against Great Britain.