Independence Day, also referred to as the 4th of July or July 4th, is one of the United States’ most important national holidays. It commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. On that date, America’s thirteen colonies declared themselves a new nation, independent of the British Empire. Celebration of the holiday often involves fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, baseball games, family reunions as well as political ceremonies celebrating the founding of the nation. Two of the largest fireworks celebrations take place in New York City and at the United States Capital in Washington, D.C. The fireworks displays are accompanied by patriotic music and are televised for everyone across the nation to see.
In other words, House members can be born in the United States or in any other country. They can be as young as 25 years old, or — as some members have been — into their 90s. They do not have to be rich. And they do not have to belong to any religion.
However, in reality, for many years only free white men were permitted to serve as lawmakers. Women and other groups had limited legal rights, to say the least. However, as laws changed over time, members of the House also changed.
The website of the U.S. House of Representatives notes, “The House’s first African-American member was elected in 1870. The first Hispanic member took office in 1877, the first woman member in 1917, the first Asian-American member in 1957, and the first African-American woman member in 1969.”
The country’s Constitution-writers also made the terms for House members short, compared to the president and senators – only two years. One reason is so House members would have to stay in close contact with the people who live in the area they represent. Otherwise, voters would soon have a chance to push them out of office.
Many news stories about the United States government tell about Congress and American lawmakers. The U.S. Congress is the nation’s legislature. It is made of two parts: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives is called “the House” for short. And sometimes it is called “the People’s House.”
That term was chosen as a nickname because the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution in 1787 set few restrictions on who could serve there. They wanted the House to be as close as possible to everyday Americans.
One of the writers of the Constitution, James Madison, wrote about the House years later. He noted, “The door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.”