More District Citizens have died in wars protecting this country than the citizens of 20 other states, yet we have no vote in Congress, the body having the exclusive right to declare war.
History of the Shadow Senators of the United States
The position of "Shadow" U.S. Senator is not unique to the District of Columbia.
From the earliest days of the republic, those areas desirous of statehood have elected their United States Senators prior to their admission to the Union. Of the twelve Shadow Senators elected prior to their State's admission to the Union, all but one of them were eventually seated as full voting Senators.
In 1795, the settlers of the Southwest Territory, which eventually became the state of Tennessee, desired admission to the Union. The Territorial Governor William Blount and the members of the constitutional convention, which met in 1795, lacked a clear precedent setting forth the procedures for admitting a territory into the Union as a state. Accordingly, the convention authorized elections, which were held in March 1796, and the newly elected Tennessee legislature elected Blount and William Cocke to the Senate without any authority from the Senate to do so.
Historical records indicate that on May 9, 1796, the Senate received "a paper purporting to be the appointment" of the Tennessee senators-elect. On May 23, the Senate approved a resolution stating that "Mr. Blount and Mr. Cocke, who claim to be Senators of the United States, be received as spectators, and that chairs be provided for that purpose until the final decision of the Senate shall be given on the bill proposing to admit the Southwestern Territory into the Union." On June 1, 1796, the final day of the first session of the Fourth Congress, Tennessee became a state. Blount and Cocke were sworn in and took their seats on December 6, 1796. It is not known whether either man spoke on the Senate floor prior to that date.
Michigan's quest for statehood was delayed pending the settlement of boundary disputes with Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and by the opposition of Southern senators reluctant to admit another non-slave state. Michigan elected Lucius Lyon and John Norvell on November 10, 1835. When Sen. Thomas Hart Benton presented the credentials of Lyon and Norvell to the Senate a month later, his motion that they be assigned seats on the Senate floor "until the decision of the question of their admission as Senators" was tabled "with a view of looking into precedents." Benton subsequently called the Senate's attention to the courtesy it had extended to the Tennessee senators-elect in 1796, and submitted a motion similar to the one that had been formerly adopted in the Senate on a like occasion, that Lyon and Norvell "be received as spectators, and that chairs be provided for that purpose on the floor of the Senate, until the final decision of the Senate shall be given on the application to admit Michigan into the Union."
After heated debate, the Senate amended Benton's motion to provide that "the same privileges be extended to the Hon. John Norvell as is extended to Delegates from States or Territories to the House of Representatives in Congress generally." The amendment was offered by Sen. William Hendricks of Indiana, who explained that, as Michigan's territorial delegate to the House of Representatives, Lyon was already entitled to sit in one of the "privileged seats"; the amendment would extend similar privileges to Norvell. Benton opposed Hendricks' amendment on the grounds that "under the rule lately adopted, more were entitled to occupy the privileged seats than they would hold," and urged the Senate to accord Lyon and Norvell the "sole right" to assigned chairs on the floor. Notwithstanding Benton's argument, the Senate adopted the amended motion on December 16, 1835.
In the interim between Lyon's election in 1835 and his admission to the Senate in 1837, he served as an advocate of Michigan statehood. Historical records indicate that on January 26, 1936, the U.S. Senate received and considered a letter from "the honorable Lucius Lyon, on of the Senators-elect from Michigan, enclosing a memorial from the Legislature of that State on the subject of her admission into the Union."
13, 1850, Senator Stephan A. Douglas of Illinois laid Californias
petition for admission to the Union before the Senate, together with a
copy of the California constitution, and the credentials of Senators-elect
William M. Gwin and John C. Fremont, which the Senator ordered to lie
on the table and be printed. Californias petition sparked a bitter
and protracted debate, in which senators from slave states vehemently
opposed the admission of California as a free state.
25, 1858, John J. Crittenden of Kentucky presented the credentials of
James Shields, elected to Senate from Minnesota on December 19, 1857,
together with a letter from Shields which argued that, having satisfied
the terms of an 1857 enabling act, Minnesota was entitled to immediate
admission. Shields letter prompted a debate over the necessity of
a Congressional act of admission, and the Senate ultimately referred the
question of Shields admission to the Judiciary Committee with instructions
to inquire whether or not Minnesota is a State of the Union, under the
Constitution and laws. The committee reported on March 4, 1858 that Minnesota
was admitted and his colleague Henry M. Rice submitted his credentials.
When Albert Brown of Mississippi challenged Shields credentials
on the grounds that Minnesota had not been a state at the time of his
1857 election, Senator William Seward of New York dismissed the argument
as metaphysical. Crittenden then reminded the Senate that
Shields credentials had been some time ago presented
on the table, and urged that they be taken up and read. Senator Shields
took his seat on May 12, 1858.
legislature elected Joseph Lane and Delazon Smith to the Senate in July,
1858. Two months earlier. Alfred Iverson of Georgia, speaking in support
of Lylman Trumbulls motion to postpone consideration of Oregon statehood
until the following session, suggested that the state may, if she has
the requisite number of people, go on and elect her Senators and Representatives
to congress in advance of her admission, as Minnesota did, and has been
done here to for by other states, and we could finally admit the state
at the next session
and we could permit her Senators and Representatives
to take their seats. The election of Lane Smith occurred after the close
of the first session of the Thirty-fifth Congress, and they did not present
their credentials until Oregon joined the Union of February 14, 1859.
The admission of the senators elected from Oregon generated no apparent
controversy or debate, and took the oath of office the same day.
bill to admit Alaska as a state was introduced in Congress in 1912. More
than 40 years later, relying on the prior examples, Alaska also elected
its U.S. Senators prior to its admission to the Union, as well as a Shadow
U.S. Representative. Ernest Gruening and William A. Egan were elected
as Senators on October 6, 1956. Ralph J. Rivers was elected as the Shadow
U.S. Representative. Alaska's Shadow Senators were admitted to the diplomatic
gallery of the Senate as spectators on January 14, 1957, but were not
accorded the privilege of the floor.
Senator Hubert Humphrey speaking about his Alaska Senate colleagues commented
that "they have
behaved with tact, with consideration, of
the commitments of the Senators
never intruding or obtruding themselves
at inconvenient moments and qualifying themselves as fully worthy of the
posts to which they were elected."
New Columbia (1990-?)
Washington, D.C. voters approved the Statehood Initiative in 1979. Pursuant to that act, D.C. voters elected their first Shadow Congressional Delegation in 1990. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Florence Howard Pendleton were elected as United States Senators. Charles Moreland narrowly defeated Deairich Hunter to become the District's first Shadow U.S. Representative. Mr. Moreland was succeeded by John. J. Capozzi in that position, who served until January 2, 1997. In the 1996 general election, Rev. Jackson was succeeded by Paul Strauss, a Washington, D.C. attorney. Activist and author, Sabrina Sojourner succeeded Mr. Capozzi as Shadow U.S. Representative. Sojourner was succeeded in 1998 by Tom Bryant, Jr., and the present occupant of the position is Ray Browne.
US Senator Paul Strauss PaulStrauss@aol.com