When folks mention Everett Dirksen, I automatically think of marigolds. Every spring, Dirksen made a speech in the senate expounding the virtues of the marigold, and an impassioned campaign to make the marigold the national flower.
It is as sprightly as the daffodil, as colorful as the rose, as resolute as the zinnia, as delicate as the chrysanthemum, as aggressive as the petunia, as ubiquitous as the violet, and as stately as the snapdragon. It beguiles the senses and and ennobles the spirit of man... Since it is native to America and nowhere else int he world, and common to every state in the union, I present the American marigold for designation as the national floral emblem of our country."
But I am totally not doing this former Senate Minority Leader any service, especially in noting that he was instrumental in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But I digress. There is a great resource on teaching Congress for all us educators to use. They used to have workshops, but those have been suspended. However, the resources are up and ready for you to this day.
For instance, the Congressional Timeline lists 900 of the major pieces of legislation over the history of our nation in sequence with major historical happenings. What a great way to get context for particularly perplexing pieces of legislation.
If you want to highlight the informal bodies of power as well as leadership offices in Congress, you can check out their Anatomy of a Congressional Leadership Race resource, that discusses the debate over Republican leadership positions in the House in 1980. Chock full of primary resources, including tally sheets, interviews, and newspaper articles, this is a great way look at the political intrigue behind choosing leadership. Pretty topical, when considering the civil war between Boehner and Cantor.
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan