Bridge of Spies:

The Capture of Francis Gary Powers &

the Current State of U.S.-Russia Relations

(Webinar) Thursday, Nov. 3, from 12-1 pm ET

In 1960—during the heart of the Cold War—CIA U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers flew his aircraft on a spy mission “deeper into Russia” than any U.S. pilot had flown before. Over Soviet territory he was shot down, captured, and incarcerated at Lubyanka prison in Moscow. On November 3, Powers’ son—historian Francis “Gary” Powers, Jr.—will join the U.S. Capitol Historical Society to detail the harrowing story of his father’s imprisonment and interrogation, trial for espionage, and the U.S.-Soviet prisoner exchange depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Bridge of Spies” — which Gary consulted on.

During our webinar, Gary—founder of The Cold War Museum in Virginia—will also discuss the role of President John F. Kennedy in bringing his father home, the U.S. media firestorm, and the Congressional hearings that investigated the circumstances of Powers’ mission and capture. Joining him for this important and timely conversation will be Dr. Andrew Hammond, Historian & Curator at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. During our webinar, Dr. Hammond—a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars—will connect our conversation to current U.S.-Russian relations, including Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and President Biden’s negotiations to bring Brittney Griner and other American prisoners in Russia home. 

Register Here!

Native Warrior: A Conversation with One

of the Last Living Navajo Code Talkers

(Webinar) Thursday, Nov. 17, from 12-1 pm ET

On November 17, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society will host a special webinar featuring hero and World War II and Korean War veteran, Lance Corporal Thomas Begay, one of three living Navajo Code Talkers. During our event to honor Veterans Day and National Native American Heritage Month, LCpl Begay—recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal—will reflect on his service in the United States Marines during the Battles of Iowa Jima and Chosin Reservoir, the reception that he and his fellow Navajos received from fellow Americans, and why he believed then, just as he does now, “No matter what nationality. No matter what tribe. I think there’s one flag, one nation, one of us all.”

Our event will also feature Hopi journalist, Patty Talahongva, who produced the documentary film, The Power of Words: Native Languages as Weapons of War, for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She will detail the history of Indian code talkers during the First and Second World Wars, their recruitment, training, and treatment in the U.S. Army, and why the details of their involvement remained hidden for decades.

Finally, we will discuss how the Code Talkers transmitted more than 800 messages, without error, to help the Allies win the Battle of Iowa Jima and World War II; and the importance of honoring their sacrifice—and that of every veteran—so that America remains free.

Register Here!

How Thanksgiving Became a Holiday:

From the Wampanoag & Pilgrims

to Washington & Lincoln

(Webinar) Tuesday, Nov. 22, from 12-1 pm ET

American lore says that Thanksgiving began in Plymouth Colony under a veil of friendship between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621. While this event is steeped in our national history—and mythology—what many Americans do not know is that Thanksgiving was not recognized across the USA until 1789 under George Washington. Or that it would take nearly a century until Thanksgiving became an annual holiday during the Civil War. Before you travel to visit your friends and family this holiday season, we encourage you to join us for a webinar about the history of Thanksgiving and how it became a national holiday. Sharing this story will be historian Diana Muir Appelbaum, the author of Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History.

During our event, we’ll discuss the harvest days that predate Plymouth Colony and why our understanding of the “First Thanksgiving” is complicated. We’ll also discuss Washington’s “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” to unite the nation in its first year under the Constitution; and why Abraham Lincoln sought an annual Thanksgiving while battlefields raged during the Civil War. Finally, we’ll discuss the fascinating story of how Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving to boost the economy during the Great Depression and the legacy of Thanksgiving today, our nation's most popular holiday.

Register Here!

Party Wars:

Jefferson vs. Adams, Hamilton vs. Burr,

and the Need for the 12th Amendment

(Webinar) Thursday, Dec. 1, from 12-1 pm ET

After the Election of 1796, President John Adams served in the White House while Vice President Thomas Jefferson retired to Monticello. Why? Then, during the Election of 1800, Congress had to break a tie between Jefferson and his own running-mate, Aaron Burr. Again, why? On December 1 the U.S. Capitol Historical Society continues our series on the Constitution by exploring the history—and necessity—of the 12th Amendment. Before its ratification, the presidential candidate who finished first, became president, while the candidate who finished second, became vice president. This not only led to divided cabinets, but a divided nation. More importantly, while the Founding Fathers agreed on independence, they didn't agree on what independence meant.

Our featured guest to share this history will be Yale professor, Dr. Joanne Freeman, whose recent book, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, won the Best Book award from the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic.

During our webinar, we'll discuss the Party Wars of the 1790s, the precedent set when Jefferson and Adams chose politics over friendship, and why Alexander Hamilton lobbied Congress in support of Jefferson, his rival, instead of Burr, whom he thought “wicked enough to scruple nothing.” Finally, we'll discuss how the politics of the late-18th century mirror our politics of today.


Dr. Freeman is the co-host of the popular history podcast, "Now & Then." Her edited volume, Alexander Hamilton: Writings was one of the Atlantic Monthly’s “best books” of 2001. A fellow of the Society of American Historians, Freeman won fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Dirksen Congressional Research Center, the American Historical Association, and the Library of Congress. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. The U.S. Capitol Historical Society is proud that she sits on our Council of Scholars.

Register Here!

Victory or Death: How Washington

Saved America on Christmas Night

(Webinar) Tuesday, Dec. 20, from 12-1 pm ET

On Christmas night, 1776, George Washington led a harrowing mission across the Delaware to save the American cause for liberty. His soldiers' password was “Victory or Death.” Our featured guest to share this remarkable story will be Dr. David Hackett Fischer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his definitive history, Washington’s Crossing.


After America declared its independence, the “spirit of ‘76” soon subsided to the realities of war. The U.S. Army was undermanned and over-matched; and one horrific defeat followed another as a smallpox outbreak ravaged the American ranks. Morale waned, trust in Washington plunged, and nearly 5 of every 6 soldier's enlistments were set to expire. Without a show of strength—or even hope—the army would disband, leaving the revolution dead in its womb. It is in this context that Washington's men crossed the half-frozen Delaware against snow, sleet, and rain, in the dead of night, to route the Hessians during “the times that try men’s souls.”

During our webinar, we will separate fact from fiction regarding one of the most important events in American history and discuss why U.S. troops feared the brutality of the Hessian mercenaries, Washington’s heartfelt plea that kept the U.S. Army intact, and his leadership that reignited the American flame of freedom in our nation's darkest hour.


Dr. Fischer is the Warren Professor of History emeritus at Brandeis University and the author of several books about America's founding, including Washington’s Crossing, Paul Revere's Ride, and his most recent work, African Founders: How Enslaved People Expanded American Ideals. In 2015, Dr. Fischer received the Pritzker Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. In 2006, he was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Society of the Cincinnati. And in 1990, Dr. Fischer was awarded the Carnegie Prize as Massachusetts Professor of the Year. He received his A.B. from Princeton and his PhD from Johns Hopkins.

Register Here!

Free Advance Movie Screening of

"Armageddon Time" in Washington, D.C. 

(In-Person Movie) Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 7 pm ET

The U.S. Capitol Society is proud to partner with Focus Features to offer our supporters a free advance screening of ARMAGEDDON TIME. We have 50 free tickets available, first come, first serve, to supporters who wish to redeem either 1 or 2 passes. 

Set in 1980s New York, the film is a reflection on the strength of family, the complexity of friendship, and the realities of class and privilege, as seen through the eyes of a young Jewish boy growing up in Queens. Directed by filmmaker James Gray, the movie stars Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong, and new-comers Banks Repeta and Jaylin Webb.

You can check out the trailer HERE!

Please note that we have not yet seen this movie; all political beliefs reflected in it are those of the writer/director and not the Society.

  • When: Wednesday, October 26, at 7:00 pm ET

  • Where: Landmark E Street Cinema (555 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20004)
Redeem Ticket(s) Here!

Capitol Kids! Dr. Joseph Bruchac on "Rez Dogs"

Video Available!

From America's foremost indigenous children's author comes a middle grade verse novel set during the COVID-19 pandemic about a Wabanaki girl's quarantine on her grandparents' reservation and the local dog that becomes her best friend.

Malian was visiting her grandparents on the reservation when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Now she's staying there, away from her parents and her school in Boston. Everyone is worried about the pandemic, but on the reservation, everyone protects each other, from Malian caring for her grandparents to the local dog, Malsum, guarding their house. They always survive together.

Malian hears stories from her grandparents about how it has always been this way in their community: Stories about their ancestors, who survived epidemics of European diseases; about her grandfather, who survived a terrible government boarding school; and about Malian's own mother, who survived and returned to her Native community after social services took her away to live in foster care as a child. With their community and caring for one another, Malian and her family will survive this pandemic, too.

This event was presented primarily for a classroom and youth audience.

Watch Video Here!

States’ Rights vs. Federal Power:

The USA’s Most Enduring Debate

Video Available!

James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers that “The powers” granted by the Constitution to “the federal government are few and defined,” while those granted to “the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” Yet Article VI of the Constitution also established the supremacy of U.S. laws over those of the states. On October 20, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society continued our series on the Constitution with a history of our 9th, 10th, and 11th Amendments. Not only do they continue to impact the rights of our citizens and states today—they are at the heart of the United States’ enduring debate over sovereignty. Our featured speaker for this necessary and timely conversation was Michael W. McConnell, J.D., the Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School.

We discussed why Madison and Hamilton initially thought a Bill of Rights would infringe on liberty, not protect it; why the Framers couldn’t agree on Federal authority—and how this ultimately led to the Civil War—and the impact of Federalism on today’s most important policies effecting gun laws, immigration, civil rights, and health care.


Professor McConnell is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. From 2002-2009, he served as a Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. He was nominated by Pres. George W. Bush, a Republican, and confirmed by a Democratic Senate by unanimous consent. He argued 16 cases in the Supreme Court and served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. He was Assistant General Counsel of the Office of Management & Budget, Assistant to the Solicitor General of the Justice Department, and a member of the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board. His latest book is “The President Who Would Not Be King: Executive Power Under the Constitution.”

Watch Video Here!
Purchase Here!

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Makes it Possible!

Enjoying our webinars? How about our We the People video series? The Capitol Stories web feature? Our extensive (and growing) collection of online educational resources is made possible thanks to contributions from people who choose to make a gift of financial support. If your circumstances allow, please consider making a membership contribution to the USCHS today.

Thank you!

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