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The Evolution of Income Tax:

Understanding the 16th Amendment

(Webinar) Thursday, February 8, 2024

from 12 pm to 1 pm ET

Join us for the next installment in our Amendment Series with Dr. James Ely, a renowned legal historian and property rights expert. Dr. Ely's award-winning scholarship has examined American legal culture and Supreme Court history, including his 2023 article "One of the Safeguards of the Constitution: The Direct Tax Clauses Revisited." Together, we'll explore the historical context of the 16th Amendment, explaining its significance at the time of its ratification in 1913 and its impact on the American economy and society.

Ratified in 1913, the 16th Amendment granted Congress the authority to issue an income tax without determining it based on population. This Amendment fundamentally changed how the federal government is funded, moving from domestic and international tariffs to an income tax system. Following the Civil War, Congress struggled to bridge the growing economic gap between southern and western farmers and eastern industrial growth. Several income taxes were passed but repealed until 1909, when conservatives proposed a constitutional amendment that was eventually ratified in 1913.

Dr. Ely will explain why the 16th Amendment was needed and how it continues to influence modern tax policy and legal debates. Understanding its origins and implications can provide insight into current fiscal policies in the U.S.

Register Here!

Dr. James Ely is a renowned legal historian and property rights expert whose career accomplishments were recognized with both the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize and the Owner Counsel of American Crystal Eagle Award in 2006.

He is the author of several books that have received widespread critical acclaim from legal scholars and historians, including The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights, The Chief Justiceship of Melville W. Fuller, Railroads and American Law, in which he systematically explores the way that the rise of the railroads shaped American legal culture, and The Contract Clause: A Constitutional History. He also served as an editor of both the second edition of the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court and the second edition of the Oxford Guide to Supreme Court Decisions. Professor Ely received the Tennessee History Book Award in 2002 for A History of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Between 1987 and 1999, he served as an associate editor of the American Journal of Legal History.

Professor Ely joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1972 and is currently the Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law, Emeritus, and Professor of History, Emeritus.

Mansfield and Dirksen:

Bipartisan Giants of the Senate

Video Available!

We invite you to watch our recent webinar featuring historian and author Marc C. Johnson where we discussed his latest book, Mansfield and Dirksen: Bipartisan Giants of the Senate.

Watch Here!

The U.S. Senate is so sharply polarized along partisan and ideological lines today that it’s easy to believe it was always this way. But in the turbulent 1960s, even as battles over civil rights and the war in Vietnam dominated American politics, bipartisanship often prevailed. One key reason: two remarkable leaders who remain giants of the Senate—Republican leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Democratic leader Mike Mansfield of Montana, the longest-serving majority leader in Senate history.

Working together, with the Democrat often ceding public leadership to his Republican counterpart, Mansfield and Dirksen passed landmark civil rights and voting rights legislation, created Medicare, and helped bring about a foundational nuclear arms limitation treaty. The two leaders could not have been more different in personality and style: Mansfield, a laconic, soft-spoken, almost shy college history professor, and Dirksen, an aspiring actor known for his flamboyance and sense of humor, dubbed the “Wizard of Ooze” by reporters. Drawing on extensive Senate archives, Johnson explores the congressional careers of these iconic leaders, their intimate relationships with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and their own close professional friendship based on respect, candor, and mutual affection.

This book is a study of politics but also an analysis of different approaches to leadership, this is a portrait of a U.S. Senate that no longer exists—one in which two leaders, while exercising partisan political responsibilities, could still come together to pass groundbreaking legislation—and a reminder of what is possible.

Buy the Book!

Marc C. Johnson is a fellow at the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana and the author of three books on US Senate history all published by the University of Oklahoma Press. His latest book – Mansfield and Dirksen: Bipartisan Giants of the Senate – explores the personal and political relationship between two towering Senate figures in the 1960s.

Marc Johnson’s writing on politics and history has appeared in numerous regional and national publications, including the New York Times, TIME, The Washington Post, the California Journal of Politics and Policy, The Bulwark, Montana – The Magazine of Western History, Indiana Magazine of History, and The Blue Review, the policy journal of Boise State University. His blog and podcast on history and politics is entitled Many Things Considered.

Johnson served as press secretary and chief of staff to Idaho’s longest-serving governor, Cecil D. Andrus, and is a graduate of South Dakota State University. He lives in Manzanita, Oregon.

The CIA, FBI, Mafia, and the Kennedys:

A Discussion with a Pulitzer Winner and Journalist about One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy

(Webinar) Thursday, March 7, from 12 pm to 1 pm ET

Join us on Thursday, March 7th, for a webinar featuring journalist Thomas Risen and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen, co-authors of "The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys―and One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy." Drawing upon hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of recently declassified documents, and reams of unpublished letters, notes, and memoirs, some of which remain sensitive today, "The Last Honest Man" tells the gripping, untold story of truth and integrity standing against unchecked power—and winning.

For decades now, America's national security state has grown ever bigger, ever more secretive and powerful, and ever more abusive. Only once did someone manage to put a stop to any of it.

Senator Frank Church of Idaho was an unlikely hero. He led congressional opposition to the Vietnam War and had become a scathing, radical critic of what he saw as American imperialism around the world. But he was still politically ambitious, privately yearning for acceptance from the foreign policy establishment he hated and eager to run for president. Despite his flaws, Church would show historic strength in his most significant moment, when in the wake of Watergate, he was suddenly tasked with investigating abuses of power in the intelligence community.

The dark truths that Church exposed—from assassination plots by the CIA to links between the Kennedy dynasty and the mafia to the surveillance of civil rights activists by the NSA and FBI—would shake the nation to its core and forever change the way that Americans thought about not only their government but also their ability to hold it accountable.

Register Here!

Thomas Risen is a journalist who has reported on U.S. politics, national security, the intelligence community, digital surveillance, and the War on Terror. His first book as a co-author is "The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, the Kennedys—and One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy." He contributed research and interviews for the books "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration" and "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War."

Jim Risen, a renowned author and former reporter for the New York Times, currently works as the Senior National Security Correspondent for The Intercept in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he holds the position of director at First Look Media's Press Freedom Defense Fund. This organization is committed to providing legal assistance to news agencies, journalists, and whistleblowers who are involved in cases that are of significant public interest, involve freedom of the press, or are related to human or civil rights.

Risen was himself a target of the U.S. government's crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers. He waged a seven-year battle, risking jail, after the Bush administration and later the Obama administration sought to force him to testify and reveal his confidential sources in a leak investigation. Risen never gave in, and the government finally backed down.

As a New York Times reporter, Risen won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his stories about the National Security Agency's domestic spying program. He was also a member of the reporting team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting coverage of the September 11 attacks and terrorism.

Risen began his career as a reporter at the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and later worked at the Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Los Angeles Times. He joined the New York Times in 1998 and remained there until the summer of 2017. 

He is the author of four books: "Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War, " "The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown With the KGB, " "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, " and "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War."

Honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day: 

A Reflection on Human Rights with the Daughter of a Congressman and Holocaust Survivor

Video Available!

Watch Here!

Watch our webinar to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27th) featuring Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, who shared her inspiring story. Her father, Congressman Tom Lantos, was the only Holocaust survivor elected to the U.S. Congress and the former chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Under Dr. Lantos Swett’s leadership, the Lantos Foundation has rapidly become a distinguished and respected voice on critical human rights concerns ranging from advancing the rule of law globally and fighting for Internet freedom in closed societies to combating the persistent and growing threat of antisemitism and Holocaust denial. Dr. Lantos Swett continues the legacy of her father, who served as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman Lantos founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and was widely acknowledged as one of our nation’s most eloquent and forceful leaders on behalf of human rights and justice.

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett serves as President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, established in 2008 to continue the legacy of her father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos. Under her leadership, The Lantos Foundation has rapidly become a distinguished and respected voice on key human rights concerns.

Dr. Lantos Swett is the former Chair and Vice-Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and teaches Human Rights and American Foreign Policy at Tufts University. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Board of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and the Budapest based Tom Lantos Institute. Dr. Lantos Swett also serves on the Advisory Board of UN Watch, the annual Anne Frank Award and Lecture, and The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Policy.

Dr. Lantos Swett earned a Political Science degree from Yale University at the age of 18, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and a PhD in History from The University of Southern Denmark.

The Morrill Family Establishes the

James Agrippa Morrill Memorial Fund to Support We the People Constitution Program

We are delighted to share that the Morrill family established the James Agrippa Morrill Memorial Fund in honor of our devoted volunteer, Jim Morrill. The Morrill family's annual fund will directly support the Society's civic education work, including the We the People Constitution Program, allowing us to expand our educational outreach and impact. Thanks to their generosity, students in Washington, D.C., will have the opportunity to engage in an immersive learning experience centered around the Constitution.

Our We the People Constitution Tours provide D.C. middle school students with a comprehensive and engaging educational experience, promoting civic awareness and encouraging active participation in the democratic process. The James Agrippa Morrill Memorial Fund will enable us to enhance the program's impact, ensuring that Jim Morrill's dedication to civic education and community engagement lives on.

Interview with Steve Drummond, Author of

“The Watchdog: How the Truman Committee Battled Corruption and Helped Win WWII”

The Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society are delighted to bring you an interview with author Steve Drummond discussing his current book “The Watchdog: How the Truman Committee Battled Corruption and Helped Win World War Two” with U.S. Senate Historian, Kate Scott.

Watch Here!

About the Book

The story of how a little-known junior senator fought wartime corruption and, in the process, set himself up to become vice president and ultimately President Harry Truman.


Months before Pearl Harbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt knew that the United States was on the verge of entering another world war for which it was dangerously ill-prepared. The urgent times demanded a transformation of the economy, with the government bankrolling the unfathomably expensive task of enlisting millions of citizens while also producing the equipment necessary to successfully fight—all of which opened up opportunities for graft, fraud and corruption.

In The Watchdog, Steve Drummond draws the reader into the fast-paced story of how Harry Truman, still a newcomer to Washington politics, cobbled together a bipartisan team of men and women that took on powerful corporate entities and the Pentagon, placing Truman in the national spotlight and paving his path to the White House.


Drawing on the largely unexamined records of the Truman Committee as well as oral histories, personal letters, newspaper archives and interviews, Steve Drummond—an award-winning senior editor and executive producer at NPR—brings the colorful characters and intrigue of the committee’s work to life. The Watchdog provides readers with a window to a time that was far from perfect but where it was possible to root out corruption and hold those responsible to account. It shows us what can be possible if politicians are governed by the principles of their office rather than self-interest.

Buy the Book!

USCHS in the News!

Electoral College Workshop Calling Teachers to Apply

FREMONT, OH—The U.S. Capitol Historical Society in partnership with the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums is inviting Ohio and Midwest teachers to apply for an Electoral College Workshop. The workshop is February 22-23 at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums in Fremont, Ohio.


The workshop aims to help clarify some of the finer points of the Electoral College with straightforward information for teachers and will help them find ways to teach those lessons to students in a compelling way.

“The Electoral College is one of the most important aspects of the American governmental system, yet one of the least understood,” added Jane Campbell, president and CEO of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. “Many adults don't fully understand the Electoral College—either how it works or why it even exists. If American adults have this issue, it's an even bigger challenge for their children.”

Campbell explained it is important for students to understand the Electoral College was one of the compromises that enabled the nation’s Framers to pass the Constitution and form the U.S. government, hence the Electoral College being ingrained in the Constitution.

On Feb. 22, the workshop will begin with a welcome reception and stage reading of "Electionland," an educational play about President Hayes and his 1876 election. Play tickets for the general public are available and free but must be reserved online here.

Then, on Feb. 23, the selected teachers will participate in hands-on sessions using primary sources from the Hayes Presidential collection and the National Archives and Records Administration to help them teach about the Electoral College and contested elections.

Read Full Article Here!

U.S. Capitol Historical Society Gives 2023 Freedom Award to Former House Clerk Cheryl L. Johnson

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society proudly presents its 2023 Freedom Award to Cheryl L. Johnson, the 36th Clerk of the House of Representatives. In light of this remarkable achievement, a reception in National Statuary Hall to honor Clerk Johnson is scheduled for mid-February.

The Society selected Johnson for her exceptional leadership during two of the most contentious events in Congressional history: after her appointment by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)—and following the events of January 6, 2021—Johnson organized Members while they certified the 2020 Presidential Election. Then—as acting presiding officer of the House—she maintained order and decorum during the longest Speaker race since before the Civil War. Afterward, she was reappointed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). 

“Throughout American history, Congress has seen disunity between, and within, its political parties. But our system endures because of the work of largely unsung heroes like the 36th Clerk of the House, Cheryl Johnson,” said Jane L. Campbell, President and CEO of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. “Our democracy not only depends on public servants who quietly keep our government functioning every day, month, and year. It requires officers like her who maintain orderliness in times of disorder; and who cross divides in times of overwhelming division. For her leadership during two of the most contentious events in Congressional history, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society is honored to award Cheryl Johnson our 2023 Freedom Award.” 

“The bravery and resilience of Clerk staff that I witnessed during my challenging tenure is a source of enduring pride for me and for our nation’s democracy,” said Cheryl L. Johnson, 36th Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. “It is on their behalf that I humbly accept this esteemed award.”

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Get Involved: Engage with USCHS Programs

Free Civic Education Resources

Empower your students with a deeper understanding of civic rights, responsibilities, and the Constitution. Explore our We the People Hub for free lesson plans, classroom activities, primary source analysis, and a forum to connect with fellow educators. We’re your free source for high-quality civic education!

Check out the Hub!

U.S. Capitol History Tours

The Society offers historian-led tours exclusively as part of our membership program. Discover our Capitol’s vast history as you explore the magnificent building where some of the most pivotal moments in American history took place. Led by our knowledgeable and passionate volunteers, this captivating experience offers an insider’s look at this world-famous building.

Book a Tour Guide!

Support the Society

Supporting our public history and civic education programs has never been easier. Whether you choose to join the Society as a Member or make a tax-deductible donation, your contribution promises a lasting influence. Your contribution helps us continue our mission of providing public history programs to history enthusiasts of all ages, offering free educational tours to DC public school students, and ensuring that our online We The People civic education hub can continue to grow and be accessible for future generations.

Donate Today!

Revisit Our Recent History Webinars

Missed one of our webinars? No worries! Simply head over to our YouTube channel, where we have recordings of each webinar readily available for your enjoyment.

While you can't interact with our expert speakers directly, you can still catch up on all the valuable insights they shared during the webinar. We invite you to join our live webinars for the opportunity to participate in dynamic Q&A sessions with our speakers.

Catch Up on Webinars!

Discover the heart of American history with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society! Founded in 1962, our mission is to inspire informed patriotism by educating you about the Capitol and the people who work there.

U.S. Capitol Historical Society

Visit: www.CapitolHistory.org

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