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The central image shows Congressman Elliott speaking from the floor of the House of Representatives. Hanging from the ceiling is a banner with a quotation from his speech: "What you give to one class you must give to all. What you deny to one class. You deny to all." Above are two Civil War scenes of black troops in action. On the left is a full-length statue of Abraham Lincoln, holding a bundle of arrows and his Emancipation Proclamation, standing before the U.S. Capitol.
The Shackle Broken – By the Genius of Freedom. Pub. E Sachse & Col. 1874. Lithograph. New, Tip, and Top – June 2023

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In the previous release, Andrew mentioned that the Bound Congressional Record on now provides coverage dating back to December of 1873. In this release, we have added labels to help the user distinguish between historical documents and historical bill texts.

Search Tip

Since the Bound Congressional Record now provides coverage dating back to December of 1873, that means you can now research debates concerning historic legislation, such as the 1875 Civil Rights Act.

That act, among other things, desegregated public accommodations. The U.S. Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional in a case known as the Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883). The desegregation of public accommodations was later revived, almost a century later, in Title 2 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That provision was also challenged in Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964), but this time the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it.

I decided to see if I could locate content in the Bound Congressional Record that would illustrate the debates surrounding the 1875 Civil Rights Act. I used the drop down menu on the homepage to select “Congressional Record.” Next, I typed in “civil rights” and clicked search. I placed civil rights in quotation marks to search for it as an exact phrase. Next, I used the Congress filter on the left to select the 43rd Congress (1873-1875). Finally, I went up to the top of the screen, and underneath the search box, I selected “show keywords in context” so I could preview my search terms as they appear underneath each search result so that I could quickly decide if the result is relevant to me before clicking on it.

As you can see from this list of search results, there is plenty of relevant content to explore, including this debate, starting on page 407, that occurred on January 6th, 1874, and which featured Rep. Robert Elliott, a formerly enslaved person, debating Rep. Alexander Stephens, the former Vice President of the Confederacy, on the subject of civil rights.

You can learn more about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 1875 Civil Rights Act, from the Library’s 1964 Civil Rights Act Exhibit.

Most-viewed Bills

These are the most-viewed bills for the week beginning on May 28, 2023.

1. H.Res.420 [118th] Impeaching Joseph Robinette Biden, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
2. H.Res.57 [117th] Impeaching Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States, for abuse of power by enabling bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
3. H.R.2811 [118th] Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023
4. H.R.467 [118th] HALT Fentanyl Act
5. S.686 [118th] RESTRICT Act
6. H.R.82 [118th] Social Security Fairness Act of 2023
7. S.596 [117th] Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2021
8. H.R.2617 [117th] Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023
9. H.R.6637 [117th] DIGNIDAD (Dignity) Act
10. H.R.5376 [117th] Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

Comments (4)

  1. Thank you for the work on additional features.

    Could you improve our ability to filter bills by committee activity?

    Currently we can only (a) search by (1) committee or (2) final reporting, and (b) not filter out all the referrals of bills to committees.

    A daily list of committee action, like (b), means that a list of committee action is about as not useful as a list of bills introduced (since bill introductions and bill referrals are far more common than anything else).

    It would be very helpful to have a way to see a daily list of all bills that had committee action, beyond the step of bills getting referred to committee.

    Currently the Congressional Actions list shows Reported bills each day. Something that gets more granular to show all actions each day except for referrals would work well in a list like that.

    Thank you,
    16,805 days

    • Thanks. I will pass this feedback along to our developers.

  2. I found a way through your Advanced Search to get specific daily committee activity without all the referrals.

    I’ve incorporated this into my Weekly Digest of the Congressional Record.

    You’re welcome and encouraged to add native support for this kind of specific information.

    I would also suggest adding a way to get bill counts for each of these categories or Action Codes into your API.

    Thank you,
    16,878 days

    • Thanks for your feedback. I will pass it along to the Team.

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