Mace of the United States House of Representatives

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The Mace of the US House of Representatives

The Mace of the United States House of Representatives, also called the Mace of the Republic is a ceremonial mace and one of the oldest symbols of the United States government. It symbolises the governmental authority of the United States, and more specifically, the legislative authority of the House of Representatives.

History[edit]

In one of its first resolutions, the U.S. House of Representatives of the 1st Federal Congress (April 14, 1789) established the Office of the Sergeant at Arms. The resolution stated "a proper symbol of office shall be provided for the Sergeant at Arms, of such form and device as the Speaker shall direct." The first Speaker of the House, Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania, approved the mace as the proper symbol of the Sergeant at Arms in carrying out the duties of this office.[1]

The current mace has been in use since December 1, 1842. It was created by New York silversmith William Adams, at a cost of $400 (equivalent to $10,000 in 2016[2]), to replace the first one that was destroyed when the Capitol Building was burned on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812. A simple wooden mace was used in the interim.[3]

Description[edit]

The design of the mace is derived from an ancient battle weapon and the Roman fasces. The ceremonial mace is 46 inches (120 cm) high and consists of 13 ebony rods—representing the original 13 states of the Union—bound together by silver strands criss-crossed over the length of the pole. Atop this shaft is a silver globe on which sits an intricately cast solid silver eagle.[4]

Sitting above the ebony rods of the mace is a cast-silver globe, which holds an eagle with spread wings. The continents are etched into the globe, with North America facing front. The eagle, the national bird, is cast in solid silver.

Procedure[edit]

For daily sessions of the House, the Sergeant carries the silver and ebony mace of the House in front of the Speaker, in procession to the rostrum. When the House is in session, the mace stands on a cylindrical pedestal of green marble to the Speaker's right. When the House is in committee, it is moved to a lowered position on a pedestal next to the Sergeant at Arms' desk, more or less out of sight.[5] Thus, members entering the chamber know immediately whether the House is in session or in committee.

Disciplinary usage[edit]

In accordance with the House Rules, on the rare occasion that a member becomes unruly, the Sergeant at Arms, upon order of the Speaker, lifts the mace from its pedestal and presents it before the offenders, thereby restoring order.

Since the members are able to edit the Congressional Record before it goes to print, there is no mention of the actual use of the mace in this capacity.[citation needed] A recent recorded threat to present the mace was on July 29, 1994, when Rep. Maxine Waters interrupted Rep. Peter T. King on the floor of the House, although the mace was ultimately not presented.[6][7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Proper Symbol of Office". history.house.gov. US House of Representatives, Office of the Historian. December 4, 2017. Retrieved November 20, 2018. In 1789, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that established the role of the Sergeant at Arms. The resolution stipulated that “a proper symbol of office shall be provided for the Sergeant at Arms, of such form and device as the Speaker shall direct.” The first Speaker of the House, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, chose a symbol with a long legislative tradition and an even longer tradition as an implement of war. In the Middle Ages, the mace was widely used in Europe as a weapon. However, by 1789, the mace was commonly used as a ceremonial symbol of legislative power. For example, maces were used in the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom and the general assembly in colonial Virginia.
  2. ^ Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2018). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved January 5, 2018. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  3. ^ "Mace of the U.S. House of Representatives". history.house.gov. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Hunter, Marjorie (March 18, 1982). "THE HOUSE MACE SYMBOLIZES ORDER". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2018. The present mace, in use since 1842, was made by William Adams of New York. It is 46 inches tall and consists of 13 thin ebony rods, representing the 13 original states, bound together by bands of silver and topped with a silver globe bearing an eagle. The mace was originally used as a war club, primarily in Europe as late as the 16th century. It also was used by medieval bishops, by consuls of the Roman Republic and by provincial magistrates; eventually, it became a symbol of authority in the British House of Commons and the House of Lords.
  5. ^ "Historical Artifacts, Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives". Archived from the original on January 7, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
  6. ^ Manegold, Catherine S. (July 30, 1994). "Sometimes the Order of the Day Is Just Maintaining Order". The New York Times. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Controversy on House floor - request to present mace. c-span.org. July 29, 1994. Retrieved November 21, 2018.

External links[edit]