This section is from the book "The National Capitol. Its Architecture Art And History", by George C. Hazelton, Jr. Also available from Amazon: The National Capitol Its Architecture Art and History.
As this chamber is occupied by the Representatives, in it originate, according to the Constitution, all bills for raising revenue and, by custom, most bills appropriating money out of the Treasury of the United States. Eulogies are held here in honor of Senators and Representatives who He while in Congress; the proceedings are not only printed in the Record, but for distribution.
The memorial address on the life and character of Abraham Lincoln was delivered by George Bancroft in the chamber of the House on the 12th of February, 1866, at the request of both Houses of Congress. The assemblage, both official and civil, as well as the historian-orator, was an honor to the nation's greatest dead. The Marine Band occupied the ante-room behind the reporters' gallery, and discoursed appropriate music.
On Tuesday evening, April 16, 1872, a large number of distinguished people assembled here to do the last honor to the scientist, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, LL.D. The memorial services were conducted under the direction of the National Telegraph Memorial Monument Association and of a committee appointed by the House. His portrait, painted by Bendan of Baltimore, framed in black and wreathed with evergreens, looked down from the parapet of the gallery facing the Speaker. On it were the words : " What hath God wrought!" Immediately behind was the Marine Band. The " Choral Society " were upon the floor in front. On the Speaker's right sat Vice-President Colfax. President Grant and his Cabinet, several members of the deceased's family and the Supreme Court of the United States and of the District of Columbia occupied the front row of seats before the Speaker. At the Clerk's desk, telegraphic instruments ticked ceaselessly another and yet more vivid tribute to the mute but ever-living dead. James A. Garfield and S. S. Cox were among those who addressed the reverent throng. After the prayer, Mr. Speaker Blaine opened the ceremonies with the words : " Less than thirty years ago a man of genius and learning was an earnest petitioner before Congress for the small pecuniary aid that enabled him to test certain occult theories of science which he had laboriously evolved. To-night the Representatives of forty millions of people assemble in their legislative hall to do homage and honor to the name of Morse".
Seven years later, at eight o'clock on Thursday evening, January 16th, the Senate and House assembled in the same chamber to perform a similar mournful duty in honor of another scientist dead. Samuel J. Randall, as Speaker, called the body to order, and then presented the gavel to Vice-President Wheeler, who was to preside with his support. President Hayes with members of his Cabinet occupied the front seats to the right, the Chief Justice and associate justices corresponding seats to the left. To more fully bespeak the honor thus conferred upon the memory of Joseph Henry, late Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, we have but to remember that William T. Sherman, James A. Garfield, S. S. Cox and Asa Gray, the botanist, added to the occasion the tribute of their words. The eulogium of Hannibal Hamlin, because of his unavoidable absence, was read by the Vice-President.
Here, on Monday, the 27th of February, 1882, occurred the exercises in commemoration of the life and character of James A. Garfield, the eulogium being pronounced at the special invitation of Congress by James G. Blaine. John Sherman was chairman of the committee on the part of the Senate ; William McKinley, Jr., on the part of the House. The assemblage, which filled to their capacity the floor and galleries, was among the most notable ever gathered within the walls of the Capitol. The Senators attended in a body, as well as justices of the Supreme Court of the United States and many distinguished in the army, the navy and civil life, out of respect to the martyred President.
One of the most impressive funeral ceremonies which have taken place at the Capitol was that in honor of Chief Justice Waite, in the Hall of Representatives, March 28, 1888. At twelve o'clock, the casket was borne through the east doors into the rotunda, where it was placed upon two stools awaiting the formation of the procession to the House. There the heavy chairs of Russia leather from the Speaker's lobby had been arranged before his desk about the spot reserved for the casket. President Cleveland and his Cabinet, the Lieutenant-General of the army, Rear-Admiral Porter, diplomats and others distinguished in law, legislation, letters and war filled the hall in tribute to the departed. Mr. Ingalls, President pro tempore of the Senate, sat upon the Speaker's right. Bishop Paret and six assistants in Episcopal robes entered the door and stood silently in the aisle while the cortege formed behind them. ** I am the Resurrection and the Life," rang out again and again through the great legislative hall in the impressive voice of the Bishop as the procession moved down the aisle. The Congressional committee wore white sashes with crape rosettes. The casket was borne by messengers of the Court. Behind it came members of the bereaved family, followed by the justices. The choir of Epiphany Church sang the funeral chant, " Lord, let me know mine end," as the casket was placed upon the bier. The Episcopal funeral service was pronounced from the Clerk's desk. As the Bishop read the " Apostles' Creed," the vast audience upon the floor and in the galleries arose, many uniting their voices in the solemn service. The hymn, " Abide with Me," was sung during the ceremony, and as the cortege left the chamber at the completion of the exercises, a lfttle before one o'clock, the words of " Asleep in Jesus " reverberated softly through the great hall.