U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, right, signs over his congressional papers to Mississippi State University with university president Mark Keenum, left. Harper, who is stepping down from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this term, donated his papers during a Friday afternoon ceremony at the university's Mitchell Memorial Library. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
October 8, 2018 10:04:20 AM
A Friday afternoon ceremony at Mississippi State University was a chance to honor two things, according to U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy, a Republican representing California's 23rd Congressional District, said the event that saw U.S. Representative Gregg Harper present his congressional papers to the university, was a chance to honor both MSU and Harper.
"Mississippi State will be honored by the papers and the gift of those for many years to come," McCarthy said. "... Congressman Harper is being honored for his 10 years of service. You think of a decade and how fast it goes by. That decade in which he served will determine the next century of this country."
Harper, a Republican, has represented Mississippi's Third Congressional District for five terms since 2009. He is not seeking re-election to his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this term and announced last fall that he would donate his congressional papers to MSU.
Harper signed the papers over to the university during Friday's ceremony. They will be added to the MSU Libraries' Congressional and Political Research Center, which now houses the congressional papers of 10 former U.S. Congressmen, including former Third Congressional District reps G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery and Charles W. "Chip" Pickering.
"If somebody wants to come in and study what's happened in the Third Congressional District, they have my 10 years, Pickering's 12 and Sonny's 30," he said. "You've got 52 years of work out of the same office, basically, that you can see what the changes have been in Mississippi. And not just changes within the members, but we're the first donated papers that are digital."
Harper's papers, he said, will include his Facebook and Twitter posts. While the bulk of the material is digital, he said it also includes several dozen bound volumes of newspaper clippings and every handwritten letter he received from constituents while in office. The collection will also include legislation.
"It gives a good look at our district and what's happened in our state," he said.
MSU President Mark Keenum said the papers will provide invaluable insight into the decade that he served in the House of Representatives.
"Congressman Harper's papers will give us a unique perspective and view of a critical time in our nation's history," Keenum said.
Harper also said he hoped the papers would act as a teaching tool for the future.
"We're talking about a form of education for researchers, for students and those who have an interest in politics," Harper said. "And also, I'm the 10th federal elected official to donate papers to Mississippi State University. That's a pretty high number for a university to have, and I suspect that will continue to grow."
McCarthy, who called Harper an "unbelievable statesman," described his character in Washington D.C. as that of a leader, an advocate for the vulnerable and a Christian gentleman. McCarthy said Harper even drew praise from Democrats for his statesmanship.
"Those papers contain the full story of Congressman Harper's decade of public service," McCarthy said. "They are the truest record of his leadership, his advocacy and his character. Just like the bills that Congressman Harper helped to pass, these are a legacy that will extend beyond his life for many years to come. It is my hope that they will inspire generations of public service who are as devoted to their country and to their fellow man as Gregg Harper is."
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