Profs and Pints DC presents: “Death Comes to Congress,” a historical look at the ultimate term limit, with Marvin Overby, professor of political science at Penn State University-Harrisburg and director of Penn State’s School of Public Affairs.
Longtime fans of Profs and Pints know that it delights in the lead-up to Halloween. This year it kicks off Spooky Season with the perfect talk for a DC crowd: A look at various members of Congress who left office feet first, escorted out by the Grim Reaper.
Since the first Congress, nearly 10 percent of those who have served died while in office. That’s not as many as left office via electoral defeat or voluntary retirement, the two means of legislative turnover that have received the most attention from scholars and the public. But death still deserves its due as a key driver of Congressional change.
Join Marvin Overby, an authority on American politics, for a look at Senators and Representatives who left office by shuffling off this mortal coil. He’ll examine how the prevalence of deaths on Capitol Hill and their chief causes have changed over time, and he’ll discuss the political importance of some of the passings (including shifting control of the House to the Democrats in 1931 and triggering a major GOP leadership struggle in 1969). He’ll also relate the particulars of the more interesting cases of congressional demise, including deaths that came about via accident, duel, assassination, participation in battle, poisoning, suicide, and the Soviet Union’s Cold War takedown of a loaded passenger jet.
Some of the names of the recently deceased will be familiar. Others are important to historians. All of them will help us better understand and appreciate this inevitable source of political transition. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: Original photo by Martin Falbisoner. Subsequently edited. (Wikimedia Commons.)