The filibuster in American history

Thurs., April 1 * 10 PM ET / 7 PM PT on Clubhouse

This week in History Club, we’ll be talking about the filibuster.

The filibuster is once again a partisan talking point and a major news story (see here, here, here, here and here).

What is the filibuster? What role has it played in American democracy? Is it a “racist relic” of the American past, as some allege? Is it necessary, or should it be eliminated?

Join us on Clubhouse Thursday night at 10 PM ET. We’ll do opening comments, followed by Q&A. (Add to calendar.)


  • The filibuster is the ability of any U.S. Senator to speak indefinitely on the Senate floor about a subject—usually to stall or kill a bill.

  • The first recorded stalling practice dates back to 1790, when two Southern Senators opposed Congress meeting in Philadelphia (they wanted to meet closer to home).

  • The term “filibuster” became popular in the decades before the U.S. Civil War, a period when Congress was bitterly divided.

  • The term derived from the Dutch word “vrijbuiter,” in Spanish “filibustero,” meaning a plunderer or a pirate.

  • Since 1900 the filibuster has been used to oppose currency bills, arming U.S. merchant ships, coal mining companies, Civil Rights legislation, the Vietnam War and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Hollywood icon Jimmy Stewart romanticized the filibuster in the 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (an image from the film is below).

See you on Clubhouse, Thursday, April 1 at 10 PM ET.

P.S. - Missed a past History Club? Catch up at