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Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

position

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the leader of the United States House of Representatives. The Speaker is elected by the current members of the House. The person with the most votes becomes Speaker. The current Speaker is Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Seal of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.svg
Seal of the Speaker
Nancy Pelosi 2012.jpg
Incumbent
Nancy Pelosi

since January 3, 2019
StyleMister or Madam Speaker
(Informal and within the House)
The Honorable
(Formal)
AppointerElected by the U.S. House of Representatives
Inaugural holderFrederick Muhlenberg
April 1, 1789
FormationU.S. Constitution
March 4, 1789
SuccessionSecond
WebsiteSpeaker of the House

Contents

DutiesEdit

The Speaker has always been a member of the majority party (the party with the most members) but does not have to be an elected member of the House (this has not happened yet). The job of the Speaker is to keep the House in order and to assign committee memberships and chairmanships. It is an important and powerful position in government.

BackgroundEdit

Sam Rayburn is the only person to have served as Speaker of the House for more than ten years.

Theodore M. Pomeroy served as Speaker of the House for one day after Speaker Schuyler Colfax resigned to become Vice President of the United States; Pomeroy's term as a Member of Congress ended the next day.

Sam Rayburn, Henry Clay, Thomas Brackett Reed, Joseph William Martin, Jr., Frederick Muhlenberg, John W. Taylor, and Nancy Pelosi are the only Speakers of the House to have ever served in non-consecutive Congresses (i.e. another Speaker served in between each tenure).

Order of successionEdit

The Speaker of the House is third in line for the Presidency of the United States. If the President of the United States dies or steps down, the Vice President of the United States becomes President. If there is no vice president, the Speaker of the House automatically becomes acting president. This has never happened.

List of Speakers of the United States House of RepresentativesEdit

It includes the congressional district and political affiliation of each speaker as well as the number of their Congress and time they spent in the position.

# Speaker Party District Congress Tenure
1   Frederick Muhlenberg Pro-Administration Pennsylvania-AL 1st April 1, 1789 —
March 4, 1791
2   Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. Pro-Administration Connecticut-4th 2nd October 24, 1791 —
March 4, 1793
3   Frederick Muhlenberg Anti-Administration Pennsylvania-AL 3rd December 2, 1793 —
March 4, 1795
4   Jonathan Dayton Federalist New Jersey-AL 4th December 7, 1795 —
March 4, 1797
5th May 15, 1797 —
March 4, 1799
5   Theodore Sedgwick Federalist Massachusetts-1 6th December 2, 1799 —
March 4, 1801
6   Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican North Carolina-5 7th December 7, 1801 —
March 4, 1803
North Carolina-6 8th October 17, 1803 —
March 4, 1805
9th December 2, 1805 —
March 4, 1807
7   Joseph Bradley Varnum Democratic-Republican Massachusetts-4 10th October 26, 1807 —
March 4, 1809
11th May 22, 1809 —
March 4, 1811
8   Henry Clay Democratic-Republican Kentucky-3 12th November 4, 1811 —
March 4, 1813
Kentucky-2 13th May 24, 1813 —
January 19, 1814
9   Langdon Cheves Democratic-Republican South Carolina-1 January 19, 1814 —
March 4, 1815
10   Henry Clay Democratic-Republican Kentucky-2 14th December 4, 1815 —
March 4, 1817
15th December 1, 1817 —
March 4, 1819
16th December 6, 1819 —
October 28, 1820
11   John W. Taylor Democratic-Republican New York-11 November 15, 1820 —
March 4, 1821
12   Philip Pendleton Barbour Democratic-Republican Virginia-11 17th December 4, 1821 —
March 4, 1823
13   Henry Clay Democratic-Republican Kentucky-3 18th December 1, 1823 —
March 4, 1825
14   John W. Taylor National Republican New York-17 19th December 5, 1825 —
March 4, 1827
15   Andrew Stevenson Democratic Virginia-9 20th December 3, 1827 —
March 4, 1829
21st December 7, 1829 —
March 4, 1831
22nd December 5, 1831 —
March 4, 1833
Virginia-11 23rd December 2, 1833 —
June 2, 1834
16   John Bell Whig Tennessee-7 23rd June 2, 1834 —
March 4, 1835
17   James Polk Democratic Tennessee-9 24th December 7, 1835 —
March 4, 1837
25th September 4, 1837 —
March 4, 1839
18   Robert M. T. Hunter Whig Virginia-9 26th December 16, 1839 —
March 4, 1841
19   John White Whig Kentucky-9 27th May 31, 1841 —
March 4, 1843
20   John Winston Jones Democratic Virginia-6 28th December 4, 1843 —
March 4, 1845
21   John Wesley Davis Democratic Indiana-6 29th December 1, 1845 —
March 4, 1847
22   Robert Charles Winthrop Whig Massachusetts-1 30th December 6, 1847 —
March 4, 1849
23   Howell Cobb Democratic Georgia-6 31st December 22, 1849 —
March 4, 1851
24   Linn Boyd Democratic Kentucky-1 32nd December 1, 1851 —
March 4, 1853
33rd December 5, 1853 —
March 4, 1855
25   Nathaniel Prentice Banks American/Republican* Massachusetts-7 34th February 2, 1856 —
March 4, 1857
26   James Lawrence Orr Democratic South Carolina-5 35th December 7, 1857 —
March 4, 1859
27   William Pennington Republican New Jersey-5 36th February 1, 1860 —
March 4, 1861
28   Galusha A. Grow Republican Pennsylvania-14 37th July 4, 1861 —
March 4, 1863
29   Schuyler Colfax Republican Indiana-9 38th December 7, 1863 —
March 4, 1865
39th December 4, 1865 —
March 4, 1867
40th March 4, 1867 —
March 3, 1869
30   Theodore Medad Pomeroy Republican New York-24 March 3, 1869 —
March 4, 1869
31   James G. Blaine Republican Maine-3 41st March 4, 1869 —
March 4, 1871
42nd March 4, 1871 —
March 4, 1873
43rd March 4, 1873 —
May 13, 1874
31.1 [1] [2]   Joseph H. Rainey Republican South Carolina-1 May 13, 1874
31   James G. Blaine Republican Maine-3 May 14, 1874 —
March 4, 1875
32   Michael C. Kerr Democratic Indiana-3 44th December 6, 1875 —
August 19, 1876
33   Samuel J. Randall Democratic Pennsylvania-3 December 4, 1876 —
March 4, 1877
45th October 15, 1877 —
March 4, 1879
46th March 18, 1879 —
March 4, 1881
34   J. Warren Keifer Republican Ohio-8 47th December 5, 1881 —
March 4, 1883
35   John Griffin Carlisle Democratic Kentucky-6 48th December 3, 1883 —
March 4, 1885
49th December 7, 1885 —
March 4, 1887
50th December 5, 1887 —
March 4, 1889
36   Thomas Brackett Reed Republican Maine-1 51st December 2, 1889 —
March 4, 1891
37   Charles Frederick Crisp Democratic Georgia-3 52nd December 8, 1891 —
March 4, 1893
53rd August 7, 1893 —
March 4, 1895
38   Thomas Brackett Reed Republican Maine-1 54th December 2, 1895 —
March 4, 1897
55th March 15, 1897 —
March 4, 1899
39   David B. Henderson Republican Iowa-3 56th December 4, 1899 —
March 4, 1901
57th December 2, 1901 —
March 4, 1903
40   Joseph Gurney Cannon Republican Illinois-18 58th November 9, 1903 —
March 4, 1905
59th December 4, 1905 —
March 4, 1907
60th December 2, 1907 —
March 4, 1909
61st March 15, 1909 —
March 4, 1911
41   Champ Clark Democratic Missouri-9 62nd April 4, 1911 —
March 4, 1913
63rd April 7, 1913 —
March 4, 1915
64th December 6, 1915 —
March 4, 1917
65th April 2, 1917 —
March 4, 1919
42   Frederick Gillett Republican Massachusetts-2 66th May 19, 1919 —
March 4, 1921
67th April 11, 1921 —
March 4, 1923
68th December 3, 1923 —
March 4, 1925
43   Nicholas Longworth Republican Ohio-1 69th December 7, 1925 —
March 4, 1927
70th December 5, 1927 —
March 4, 1929
71st April 15, 1929 —
March 4, 1931
44   John Nance Garner Democratic Texas-15 72nd December 7, 1931 —
March 4, 1933
45   Henry T. Rainey Democratic Illinois-20 73rd March 9, 1933 —
August 19, 1934
46   Joseph Wellington Byrns Democratic Tennessee-5 74th January 3, 1935 —
June 4, 1936
47   William B. Bankhead Democratic Alabama-7 June 4, 1936 —
January 3, 1937
75th January 5, 1937 —
January 3, 1939
76th January 3, 1939 —
September 15, 1940
48   Sam Rayburn Democratic Texas-4 September 16, 1940 —
January 3, 1941
77th January 3, 1941 —
January 3, 1943
78th January 6, 1943 —
January 3, 1945
79th January 3, 1945 —
January 3, 1947
49   Joseph W. Martin, Jr. Republican Massachusetts-14 80th January 3, 1947 —
January 3, 1949
50   Sam Rayburn Democratic Texas-4 81st January 3, 1949 —
January 3, 1951
82nd January 3, 1951 —
January 3, 1953
51   Joseph W. Martin, Jr. Republican Massachusetts-14 83rd January 3, 1953 —
January 3, 1955
52   Sam Rayburn Democratic Texas-4 84th January 3, 1955 —
January 3, 1957
85th January 3, 1957 —
January 3, 1959
86th January 7, 1959 —
January 3, 1961
87th January 3, 1961 —
November 16, 1961
53   John W. McCormack Democratic Massachusetts-12 January 10, 1962 —
January 3, 1963
Massachusetts-9 88th January 9, 1963 —
January 3, 1965
89th January 4, 1965 —
January 3, 1967
90th January 10, 1967 —
January 3, 1969
91st January 3, 1969 —
January 3, 1971
54   Carl Albert Democratic Oklahoma-3 92nd January 21, 1971 —
January 3, 1973
93rd January 3, 1973 —
January 3, 1975
94th January 14, 1975 —
January 3, 1977
55   Tip O'Neill Democratic Massachusetts-8 95th January 4, 1977 —
January 3, 1979
96th January 15, 1979 —
January 3, 1981
97th January 5, 1981 —
January 3, 1983
98th January 3, 1983 —
January 3, 1985
99th January 3, 1985 —
January 3, 1987
56   Jim Wright Democratic Texas-12 100th January 6, 1987 —
January 3, 1989
101st January 3, 1989 —
June 6, 1989
57   Tom Foley Democratic Washington-5 June 6, 1989 —
January 3, 1991
102nd January 3, 1991 —
January 3, 1993
103rd January 5, 1993 —
January 3, 1995
58   Newt Gingrich Republican Georgia-6 104th January 4, 1995 —
January 3, 1997
105th January 7, 1997 —
January 3, 1999
59   Dennis Hastert Republican Illinois-14 106th January 6, 1999 —
January 3, 2001
107th January 3, 2001 —
January 3, 2003
108th January 7, 2003 —
January 3, 2005
109th January 3, 2005 —
January 3, 2007
60   Nancy Pelosi Democratic California-8 110th January 4, 2007 —
January 3, 2009
111th January 6, 2009 —
January 3, 2011
61   John Boehner Republican Ohio-8 112th January 5, 2011 —
January 3, 2013
113th January 3, 2013 —
January 3, 2015
114th January 6, 2015 —
October 29, 2015
62   Paul Ryan Republican Wisconsin-1 114th October 29, 2015 —
January 3, 2017
115th January 3, 2017 —
January 3, 2019
63   Nancy Pelosi Democratic California-8 116th January 3, 2019 —
Present

List of living former SpeakersEdit

Since Nancy Pelosi became Speaker on January 3, 2019 there are four former living speakers.

Speaker Years in office   Date of birth (and age)
Newt Gingrich 1995–1999 (1943-06-17) June 17, 1943 (age 75)
Dennis Hastert 1999–2007 (1942-01-02) January 2, 1942 (age 77)
John Boehner 2011–2015 (1949-11-17) November 17, 1949 (age 69)
Paul Ryan 2015–2019 (1970-01-29) January 29, 1970 (age 48)

ReferencesEdit

  1. 11.Congressional Globe, House, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess. (13 May 1872): 3383.
  2. 12.The date Joseph Rainey was Speaker pro tempore is not known. Most sources claim Representative Rainey presided over the House during an Indian appropriations debate in May 1874. See, for example, an early secondary work, Samuel Denny Smith, The Negro in Congress: 1870–1901 (Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, Inc., 1940): 47–48. Most subsequent sources cite Smith. Yet the New York Herald published an article reporting that Rainey served as Speaker pro tempore on April 29; see “A Liberated Slave in the Speaker’s Chair,” 30 April 1874, New York Herald: 9. Similar accounts exist in the Baltimore Sun, the Charleston News and Courier, and the African-American newspaper The New National Era, though these reports cite April 29 and April 30. There is no mention of Rainey’s presiding in the Congressional Record or the House Journal for either date: Congressional Record, House, 43rd Cong., 1st sess. (29–30 April 1874): 3457–3476, 3490–3507; House Journal, 43rd Cong., 1st sess. (29–30 April 1874): 877–885.