In order to allow for the installation of scaffolding and floor, statuary, and artwork protection in conjunction with the Dome Restoration Project, the Rotunda of the Capitol will be closed from Monday, July 27 through Monday, September 7. While the Rotunda is unavailable for tours, an alternate tour route will be provided. The Capitol Visitor Center is open during the closure of the Rotunda and will offer special activities which do not require advance reservations. You can also download our new U.S. Capitol Rotunda app.

Seizing the Power to Act

"... a slow-moving giant hulk of a barge ... a form dressed completely in black, out of whose collar rose an enormous round, clean-shaven baby face." A ghost haunting the House? No, that's how a colleague described Representative Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine.

Reed revered the House, dismissing the Senate as "a place where good Representatives go when they die." During the 1880s, he complained about the inability of any House majority to act. But as Speaker, Reed foiled long-established delaying tactics by calmly ruling against members trying to stall the proceedings. Members feared Reed's quick, acid tongue in debate. His rulings once provoked a near riot on the floor, but his efforts made the Speaker once again the House's moving force and allowed the House to act.

"In my opinion there never has been a more perfectly equipped leader in any parliamentary body at any period."
— Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, recalling House Speaker Thomas Reed, 1910

History of Congress and the Capitol

The House 1877-1913

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Speaker Thomas B. Reed, by John...
Image Caption

Speaker Thomas B. Reed, by John Singer Sargent, 1891

Unhappy with his work, Sargent confessed, "I could have made a better picture with a much less remarkable man."

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

 

Speaker Thomas B. Reed, by John Singer Sargent, 1891

Unhappy with his work, Sargent confessed, "I could have made a better picture with a much less remarkable man."

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

 

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