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5 stamps honoring Congress members

Lawmakers honored on stamps include, from left, Sen. Everett Dirksen, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Sen. Richard Russell and Rep. Sam Rayburn.

To help mark the start of the 117th Congress, which began Jan. 3, here’s a look at five stamps honoring notable lawmakers.

1. Rep. Shirley Chisholm. In 1968, Chisholm (1924-2005), a New York Democrat, became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served until 1983. She also sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972, becoming the first Black candidate to seek a major party nomination and the first woman to run for the role of Democratic standard-bearer. The Forever stamp in her honor, released in 2014, was part of the Black Heritage series.

2. Sen. Everett Dirksen. An Illinois Republican, Dirksen (1896-1969) was elected Senate minority leader in 1959 and served until his death a decade later. He played a crucial role in several major legislative achievements during the 1960s, including the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The 15-cent stamp in his honor was released in January 1981 on the anniversary of his birth.

3. Rep. Sam Rayburn. Rayburn (1882-1961), a Democrat, served in the Texas House of Representatives, eventually becoming speaker. In 1913, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served for almost 49 years, including serving three stints as speaker between 1940 and 1961 — giving him the longest tenure as speaker in history. The 4-cent stamp honoring him was issued in 1962.

4. Sen. Richard Russell. A Democrat, Russell (1897-1971) was the son of a Georgia Supreme Court justice and became the youngest governor in the state’s history in 1930. Three years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming its youngest member, and was reelected six times. The 10-cent Russell stamp was released in May 1984.

5. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith. Smith (1897-1995) was the first woman to serve in both chambers of Congress, having served in the House from 1940-1949 and then as a senator from Maine from 1949-1973. When the Republican left the Senate, she held the record for longest-serving female senator, which lasted until 2011, when she was surpassed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat. The 58-cent Smith stamp, issued in 2007, was part of the Distinguished Americans series.


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