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The assembly of senators and representatives of the people of a nation, especially of a republic, for the purpose of enacting laws, and considering matters of national interest, and constituting the chief legislative body of the nation. In the Congress of the United States members of the Senate are elected for six years, but the members of the house of Representatives are chosen for two years only. Hence the united body of senators and representatives, for the two years during which the representatives hold their seats, is called one Congress. Thus we say the first or second session of the Sixteenth Congress. A Congressman is a representative of the United States Congress. — Webster, 1882

In response to a telegram asking him to make a speech here on Saturday evening, ‘Congressman Jim’ says “Harrison and two Dakotas! Thank heaven! Will try to be with you Saturday. G.A. Mathews.” – Kingsbury County News, November 9, 1888

Congress is the legislative branch of our government, the branch that makes our laws. The body of Congress is made up of two houses: the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. In the Little House books, the first mention of Congress is when Laura, Carrie, and Pa hear the Declaration of Independence read at a Fourth of July celebration. Wilder doesn’t tell the name of the man who reads it. A portion of George Washington’s copy of the Declaration is shown here.

It’s an unnamed Congressman who reads the Declaration of Independence at the Fourth of July celebration in Farmer Boy, but if the year Wilder describes is 1866 (based on Almanzo Wilder celebrating his ninth birthday that year in the book), the Malone Palladium for July 5, 1866, reported that Rev. J.O. Skinner had performed that duty the previous day.

One mention of Congress is in connection with Laura’s recitation of half of United States history (Ida Wright did the other half) at the school exhibition in Little Town on the Prairie. Although not taken verbatim from the history book used by Laura as in other examples, it is easily located in Edward Taylor’s The Model History: A Brief Account of the American People; for Schools (Chicago: George Sherwood & Co., 1878). Congress of Confederated Colonies… This refers to the Second Colonial Congress, which met in Philadelphia in 1775, beginning on page 101 in Laura’s history book.

The other is part of the statements by There is one word which I approve / disapprove… that is the word Congress. This refers to the statements made by John Dickinson of Philadelphia, who hoped for a reconciliation with the mother country, followed by Benjamin Harrison’s reply. The text can be found in Thomas Jefferson’s notes taken “while these things were going on,” and published in many sources.

Laura is merely going over parts of her presentation in her head, while the story continues around her, with recitations by other classmates and her sister Carrie. The reader is probably not intended to stop and think about historical events, just that Laura is worried over correctly presenting the facts, a feeling anyone who has spoken in front of a crowd can well relate to!


Congress (LTP 8, 24), see also Capitol
     Congress of Confederated Colonies (LTP 24)
     Congressman (FB 16)