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Congress (U.S.)

Today’s budget wars would be unrecognizable to earlier generations of Americans. A veteran reporter on government looks at the history of shutdowns and battles over the budget. 

Crédit Mobilier, one of the worst outrages in the history of Congress, affected national elections and gave “the Gilded Age” its name.

Wit

Political leaders once agreed that the U.S. should borrow only for well-defined purposes. But in the last twenty years, we’ve ignored their guidance and added a staggering $25 trillion to the federal debt.

Editor’s Note: Pres.

Distinguished historians have written extensively on the misconduct in presidential administrations since George Washington.

In 1974, a team of other historians and I assisted the impeachment investigation of Richard Nixon by documenting the “misdeeds” in each Presidential administration.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Histories written about the nation's greatest crisis focus on Lincoln and the military campaigns. But an intriguing group of characters in Congress also played a major role, advising and prodding the President.

America faced its greatest crisis in 1861 as the nation literally unraveled and the rest of the world wondered whether its experiment in self-determination would succeed. 

Members of the first Federal Congress had to create a new government almost from scratch.

The First Congress may have been the most important in American history, establishing how our new government would work based on principles that had been only broadly outlined in the Constitution.

An impetuous and sometimes corrupt Congress has often hamstrung the efforts of the president since the earliest days of the Republic

On a little-remarked, steamy day in late June 1973, a revolution took place in Washington, D.C., one that would transfer far more power and wealth than did the revolt against King George III in 1776.

LBJ passes comprehensive federal insurance for seniors with shrewd politics and a strong dose of compromise

In 1965, after winning in a landslide against Barry Goldwater and helping to carry Democratic supermajorities into both houses of Congress, President Lyndon Johnson set out to enact a battery of Great Society reforms, including Medicare, government insurance for seniors. Despite his political mandate, 60 years of conservative opposition to such a measure meant proceeding with caution. Later, California Governor Ronald Reagan, for example, would characterize the Medicare bill as the advance wave of a socialism that would “invade every area of freedom in this country.” Reagan predicted that this reform would compel Americans to spend their “sunset years telling our children and our grandchildren what it was like in America when men were free.”

Compromise upon compromise whittled FDR’s dreams down considerably but enabled him to pass his Social Security Act, perhaps the most sweeping social reform of the 20th century

Not long after Franklin D.

Suppose they could go on "Meet The Press"...

What do you need to build the only national museum dedicated to World War II? The same things we needed to fight the war it commemorates: faith, passion, perseverance—and a huge amount of money.

The head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee explains why it has always frustrated Presidents—and why it doesn’t have to

I have occasionally been referred to as “Senator No,” and I’m proud of the title. But when it comes to saying no, I’m not even in the same ballpark with the first North Carolinian to serve as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Nathaniel Ma¡on.

American self-interest was involved, of course, but the Marshall Plan remains what some have referred to as a rare example of “power used to its best end.”

And how it grew, and grew, and grew…

The federal government was still in the process of establishing itself in 1792 and did not have a good year financially. Total income was only $3,670,000, or 88 cents per capita. Outlays were $5,080,000. The budget deficit therefore amounted to fully 38 percent of revenues.

We tend to see the Constitution as permanent and inviolable—but we’re always wild to change it

Six weeks into the 104th Congress, the balanced budget amendment (hereinafter BBA) that had passed the House almost made it through the trickier procedural shoals of the Senate with the two-thirds majority needed to propel it on to the state legislatures.

The naturalist ALDO LEOPOLD not only gave the wilderness idea its most persuasive articulation; he offered a way of thinking that turned the entire history of land use on its head

The trouble began at midmorning on Wednesday, April 21, 1948, when a neighboring farm’s trash fire got out of control.

A scholar searches across two centuries to discover the main engine of our government’s growth—and reaches a controversial conclusion

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that America had no neighbors and hence no enemies.

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off.

The two-party system, undreamt of by the founders of the Republic, has been one of its basic shaping forces ever since their time

An hour and a half of growing astonishment in the presence of the President of the United States, as recorded by a witness who now publishes a record of it for the first time

How Creek Indian number 1501 repaid a debt

In August 1902 a twelve-year-old farm boy named Thomas Gilcrease, being one-eighth Creek Indian on his mother’s side, received a 160-acre allotment in the land of the Creek Nation, one of the Five Civilized Tribes, which occupied what yet remained of Indian Territory in America

So big was the leak that it might have caused us to lose World War II. So mysterious is the identity of the leaker that we can’t be sure to this day who it was…or at least not entirely sure.

Blazoned in huge black letters across page one of the December 4, 1941, issue of the Chicago Tribune was the headline: F.D.R.’S WAR PLANS! The Times Herald, the

For more than two hundred years, Americans have tried to change the weather by starting fires, setting off explosions, cutting trees, even planning to divert the Gulf Stream. The question now is not how to do it, but whether to do it at all.

RAIN MADE TO ORDER: PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTS IN TEXAS PROVE SUCCESSFUL . The headline might be yesterday’s, but in fact it appeared in August 1891.

A former Department of Defense adviser—one of Robert S. McNamara’s Whiz Kids—explains why we tend to overestimate Russian strength, and why we underestimate what it will cost to defend ourselves

Twenty years ago Alain C. Enthoven was one of America’s most controversial intellectuals in the field of military affairs. He had gone to the Pentagon in 1961 to act as a civilian adviser to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

The National Archives, America’s official safe-deposit box, is only fifty years old—but it is already bulging with our treasures and souvenirs

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES has been called variously the nation’s memory, storehouse, attic, and soul.

In which a President fails to fulfill his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” And a reluctant Congress acts.

EXACTLY TEN YEARS AGO this August, the thirty-seventh President of the United States, facing imminent impeachment, resigned his high office and passed out of our lives. “The system worked,” the nation exclaimed, heaving a sigh of relief.

Banking as we’ve known it for centuries is dead, and we don’t really know the consequences of what is taking its place. A historical overview.

For the last several years congressional committees and presidential task forces have been nattering back and forth about what should be done to change the legal order that establishes and specifically empowers and regulates the nation’s banks.
A FEW YEARS AGO, writing in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the distinguished historian Henry Steele Commager charged that while civil-military relations had been healthy during most of the nation’s history, the relationship had suddenly taken a turn for t

… on its 200th anniversary. It took six years and seven tries—by such men as Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams—to come up with the official symbol of the United States. But what in the world does it mean?

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