Senators Lying in State in the U.S. Capitol

On August 31, 2018, Senator John McCain, who died on August 25, will lie in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Traditionally an honor bestowed upon American statesmen and military leaders, 30 individuals (not including Senator McCain) have lain in state or honor in the Capitol Rotunda. Additionally, unknown soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and from the Vietnam era have also lain in state.

Individuals who served as a government official (e.g., Member of Congress, President, Vice President) and as military leaders have traditionally lain in state, while private citizens have lain in honor. The most recent individual to lie in state was Senator Daniel Inouye on December 20, 2012. The most recent individual to lie in honor was the Reverend Billy Graham on February 28 and March 1, 2018. Prior to Senator McCain lying in state, a total of 12 Senators have received that honor (see Table 1). Figure 1 shows Senator John Alexander Logan lying in state from December 30 to 31, 1886.

Figure 1. Lying in State of Senator John Alexander Logan

December 30-31, 1886

Source: Library of Congress, "John Alexander Logan, 1826-1886: His Coffin in Capitol Rotunda," at https://www.loc.gov/item/2006679098/.

Since President Abraham Lincoln's death in 1865, the caskets of most individuals who have lain in state or honor have rested on the Lincoln catafalque. The Lincoln catafalque is a platform constructed in 1865 "to support the casket of Abraham Lincoln while the president's body lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda."

Authorization Process

The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is jointly controlled by the House of Representatives and the Senate. As a shared space, the use of the Rotunda often involves a concurrent resolution, agreed to by both the House and Senate, to authorize an individual lying in state or honor. For example, two concurrent resolutions were agreed to authorizing Senator McCain lying in state:

  • S.Con.Res. 43 authorized the use of the Lincoln catafalque for Senator McCain's memorial service in the Capitol Rotunda; and
  • S.Con.Res. 44 authorized the use of the Capitol Rotunda for Senator McCain to lie in state.

For more information on the use of the Capitol Rotunda, see CRS Report RL34619, Use of the Capitol Rotunda, Capitol Grounds, and Emancipation Hall: Concurrent Resolutions, 101st to 115th Congress, by [author name scrubbed].

When an individual lies in state or honor in the Rotunda, the Architect of the Capitol and the U.S. Capitol Police may issue special instructions about public access to the Capitol, public viewing hours, and other protocols. For example, for the lying in state of Senator McCain, access to the Capitol building will be restricted in the morning prior to a congressional service at 11 a.m. Following that service, the Capitol Rotunda will be open to the public from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, August 31.

Senators Lying in State

To date, 12 Senators have lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda, not including Senator McCain. Senator Henry Clay, who had also served as a Member of the House of Representatives, Speaker of the House, and Secretary of the State, was the first Senator to lie in state (July 1, 1852). The most recent Senator to lie in state, prior to Senator McCain, was Senator Daniel Inouye on December 20, 2012. Table 1 lists the Senators who have lain in state.

Table 1. Senators Who Have Lain in State

(not all individuals were sitting Senators at the time of their death)

Senator

Date of Death

Date of Lying in State

Henry Clay (Kentucky)

June 29, 1852

July 1, 1852

Charles Sumner (Massachusetts)

March 11, 1874

March 13, 1874

Henry Wilson (Massachusetts)a

November 22, 1875

November 25-26, 1875

John Alexander Logan (Illinois)

December 26, 1886

December 30-31, 1886

Warren G. Harding (Ohio)b

August 2, 1923

August 8, 1923

Robert A. Taft (Ohio)

July 31, 1953

August 2-3, 1953

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (Massachusetts)c

November 22, 1963

November 24-25, 1963

Everett McKinley Dirksen (Illinois)

September 7, 1969

September 9-10, 1969

Lyndon Baines Johnson (Texas)d

January 22, 1973

January 24-25, 1973

Hubert H. Humphrey (Minnesota)e

January 14, 1978

January 14-15, 1978

Claude Denson Pepper (Florida)

May 30, 1989

June 1-2, 1989

Daniel K. Inouye (Hawaii)

December 17, 2012

December 20, 2012

John S. McCain (Arizona)

August 25, 2018

August 31, 2018

Source: Compiled by CRS from U.S. Congress, Architect of the Capitol, "Those Who Have Lain in State or in Honor in the Rotunda," February 2018, at https://www.aoc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/basic-page/lain_state_honor_2018.pdf.

a. Henry Wilson also served as Vice President to President Ulysses S. Grant from March 1873 until his death.

b. Warren G. Harding also served as President from March 1921 until his death.

c. John F. Kennedy also served as President from January 1961 until his death.

d. Lyndon Baines Johnson also served as Vice President to President John F. Kennedy from January 1961 until November 1963 and as President from November 1963 to January 1969.

e. Hubert H. Humphrey also served as Vice President to President Lyndon Johnson from January 1965 until January 1969.