The Senate

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Robert La Follette 1855–1925, Wisconsin

Mon, 2013-04-22 13:46 -- administrator

La Follette's refusal to compromise his principles earned him the name "Fighting Bob." He insisted: "In legislation no bread is often better than half a loaf." La Follette–a skilled parliamentarian–used the filibuster to stand up to special interests and to push social reforms, such as workers' rights and child labor laws.

Robert La Follette, Sr., photograph by unidentified artist, 1906

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Charles Sumner 1811–1874, Massachusetts

Thu, 2013-04-18 14:03 -- administrator

Sumner spoke passionately for emancipation. But he paid dearly for his advocacy. A House member severely beat Sumner because of the senator's caustic references to pro-slavery members, including a relative of his assailant. After a lengthy recovery, Sumner returned to the Senate and sponsored the first law to secure the equal rights of all citizens.

1945-Present - The Senate

Wed, 2013-04-17 20:53 -- administrator

Facing New Fears and New Responsibilities

Before World War II, Congress spent less than half the year in session. With government increasingly active in meeting domestic and foreign challenges in the postwar years, Congress became a fully staffed, year-round legislative body.

1913-1945 - The Senate

Wed, 2013-04-17 20:46 -- administrator

Confronting Crises at Home and Abroad

World War I and the Great Depression presented new challenges to America, and to the Senate. To deal with these crises, Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt demanded more authority—which shook the balance of power between the branches. What was the Senate’s proper role?

1877-1913 - The Senate

Wed, 2013-04-17 20:36 -- administrator

Letting the Voters Choose

For Congress’s first 125 years, senators were elected by state legislatures. This system proved troublesome almost from the beginning. Political party conflicts frequently delayed the selection, causing some states to go without full representation in the Senate for extended periods.

1851-1877 - The Senate

Wed, 2013-04-17 20:09 -- administrator

All Compromise Fails

Secession of Southern states and the outbreak of war fostered unity among those who remained in Congress. Senators passed bills to meet wartime emergencies and spur economic development.

1815-1851 - The Senate

Wed, 2013-04-17 18:02 -- administrator

Regional Disputes

With an equal number of senators representing slave and free states, the Senate became the setting for explosive issues that increasingly divided the industrialized North, the agricultural South, and the rapidly expanding West.

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