Dean of the United States House of Representatives
|Dean of the|
United States House of Representatives
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of||United States House of Representatives|
|First holder||Frederick Muhlenberg|
March 4, 1789
The Dean of the United States House of Representatives is the longest continuously serving member of the House. The current Dean is Don Young, a Republican Party U.S. Representative from Alaska, who has served since 1973 and is the first Republican Dean in more than eighty years, as well as the first from Alaska. Additionally, with the death of John Conyers, Young is currently the only living Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Dean is a symbolic post whose only customary duty is to swear in a Speaker of the House after they are elected. This responsibility was first recorded in 1819 but has not been observed continuously – at times, the Speaker-elect was the current Dean or the Speaker-elect preferred to be sworn in by a member of his own party when the Dean belonged to another party. The Dean comes forward on the House Floor to administer the oath to the Speaker-elect, before the new Speaker then administers the oath to the other members.
While the Dean does swear in newly elected Speakers, they do not preside over the election of a Speaker, as do the Father of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and the Dean of the Canadian House of Commons.
Because of other privileges associated with seniority, the Dean is usually allotted some of the most desirable office space, and is generally either chair or ranking minority member of an influential committee.
It is unclear when the position first achieved concrete recognition, though the seniority system and increasing lengths of service emerged in the early 20th century. As late as 1924, Frederick H. Gillett was Dean, and also Speaker, before becoming a Senator. Modern deans move into their positions so late in their careers that a move to the Senate is highly unlikely. When Ed Markey broke Gillett's record for time in the House before moving to the Senate in 2013 he was still decades junior to the sitting Dean.
The Deanship can change hands unexpectedly. In the 1952 election, Adolph J. Sabath became the first Representative elected to a 24th term, breaking the record of 23 terms first set by former Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon, whose service had been discontinuous, whereas Sabath's was not. North Carolina's Robert L. Doughton had not contested that election as he was retiring at the age of 89 years and two months, a House age record broken in 1998 by Sidney R. Yates, and again by Ralph Hall in 2012. Claude Pepper, who died early in his final term in 1989, held the record for oldest winner of a House election until Hall broke it in 2012. However, Sabath died before the new term began and Doughton was Dean for the old term's final months before Speaker Sam Rayburn became Dean in the new Congress.
List of deans of the House
Years as Dean are followed by name, party, state, and start of service in Congress.
All the members of the First Congress had equal seniority (as defined for the purpose of this article), but Muhlenberg, as the Speaker, was the first member to be sworn in. Muhlenberg, Hartley and Thatcher were among the 13 members who attended the initial meeting of the House on March 4, 1789.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some state delegations to the House were often not elected until after the term had begun. To avoid confusion, this fact is ignored in the list below.
|Became Dean||Left House||Dean||Party||State||Seniority date||Speaker(s)|
|March 1789||March 1797||Frederick Muhlenberg[A]||Federalist||Pennsylvania||March 4, 1789||Frederick Muhlenberg (PA-PA) – 1789|
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (PA-CT) – 1791
Frederick Muhlenberg (AA-PA) – 1793
Jonathan Dayton (F-NJ) – 1795
|March 1797||December 1800||Thomas Hartley[B][C]||Federalist||Pennsylvania||March 4, 1789||Jonathan Dayton (F-NJ) – 1797|
Theodore Sedgwick (F-MA) – 1799
|March 1801||George Thatcher||Federalist||Massachusetts|
|March 1801||March 1803||William B. Grove[C]||Federalist||North Carolina||March 4, 1791||Nathaniel Macon (DR-NC) – 1801, 1803, 1805 |
Joseph Bradley Varnum (DR-MA) – 1807, 1809
Henry Clay (DR-KY) – 1811, 1813
Langdon Cheves (DR-SC) – 1814
|March 1807||Andrew Gregg[C]||Democratic-Republican||Pennsylvania|
|December 1815||Nathaniel Macon[D]||Democratic-Republican||North Carolina|
|December 1815||April 1816||Richard Stanford[B]||Democratic-Republican||North Carolina||March 4, 1797||Henry Clay (DR-KY) – 1815|
|April 1816||March 1817||John Davenport||Federalist||Connecticut||March 4, 1799|
|March 1817||March 1830||Thomas Newton, Jr.||Democratic-Republican;
|Virginia||March 4, 1801||Henry Clay (DR-KY) – 1817, 1819|
John W. Taylor (DR-NY) – 1820
Philip P. Barbour (DR-VA) – 1821
Henry Clay (DR-KY) – 1823
John W. Taylor (NR-NY) – 1825
Andrew Stevenson (D-VA) – 1827, 1829
|March 1830||March 1833||William McCoy||Jacksonian||Virginia||March 4, 1811||Andrew Stevenson (D-VA) – 1831|
|March 1833||February 1842||Lewis Williams[B]||National Republican;
|North Carolina||March 4, 1815||Andrew Stevenson (D-VA) – 1833|
John Bell (W-TN) – 1834
James K. Polk (D-TN) – 1835, 1837
Robert M. T. Hunter (W-VA) – 1839
John White (W-KY) – 1841
|February 1842||March 1843||Horace Everett[C]||Whig||Vermont||March 4, 1829||John Winston Jones (D-VA) – 1843|
|April 1844||Dixon H. Lewis||Democratic||Alabama|
|April 1844||February 1848||John Quincy Adams[C]||Whig||Massachusetts||March 4, 1831||John Wesley Davis (D-IN) – 1845|
Robert Charles Winthrop (W-MA) – 1847
|March 1849||James I. McKay||Democratic||North Carolina|
|March 1849||March 1855||Linn Boyd[E]||Democratic||Kentucky||March 4, 1839||Howell Cobb (D-GA) – 1849|
Linn Boyd (D-KY) – 1851, 1853
|March 1855||March 1859||Joshua Reed Giddings||Republican||Ohio||May 5, 1842||Nathaniel Prentice Banks (A-MA) – 1856|
James Lawrence Orr (D-SC) – 1857
|March 1859||March 1863||John S. Phelps||Democratic||Missouri||March 4, 1845||William Pennington (R-NJ) – 1860|
Galusha A. Grow (R-PA) – 1861
|March 1863||March 1869||Elihu B. Washburne||Republican||Illinois||March 4, 1853||Schuyler Colfax (R-IN) – 1863, 1865, 1867|
Theodore Medad Pomeroy (R-NY) – 1869
|March 1869||March 1875||Henry L. Dawes||Republican||Massachusetts||March 4, 1857||James G. Blaine (R-ME) – 1869, 1871, 1873|
Joseph H. Rainey (R-SC) – 1874
James G. Blaine (R-ME) – 1874
|March 1875||January 1890||William D. Kelley[B]||Republican||Pennsylvania||March 4, 1861||Michael C. Kerr (D-IN) – 1875|
Samuel J. Randall (D-PA) – 1876, 1877, 1879
J. Warren Keifer (R-OH) – 1881
John Griffin Carlisle (D-KY) – 1883, 1885, 1887
Thomas Brackett Reed (R-ME) – 1889
|January 1890||April 1890||Samuel J. Randall[B]||Democratic||Pennsylvania||March 4, 1863|
|April 1890||March 1891||Joseph G. Cannon[C]||Republican||Illinois||March 4, 1873||Charles Frederick Crisp (D-GA) – 1891, 1893|
|March 1892||Roger Q. Mills[C]||Democratic||Texas|
|March 1893||James H. Blount[C]||Democratic||Georgia|
|March 1895||Richard P. Bland||Democratic||Missouri|
|March 1895||March 1897||David B. Culberson||Democratic||Texas||March 4, 1875||Thomas Brackett Reed (R-ME) – 1895|
|March 1897||September 1899||Thomas Brackett Reed[F]||Republican||Maine||March 4, 1877||Thomas Brackett Reed (R-ME) – 1897|
|September 1899||March 1912||Henry H. Bingham[B]||Republican||Pennsylvania||March 4, 1879||David B. Henderson (R-IA) – 1899, 1901|
Joseph Gurney Cannon (R-IL) – 1903, 1905, 1907, 1909
Champ Clark (D-MO) – 1911
|March 1912||March 1913||John Dalzell||Republican||Pennsylvania||March 4, 1887|
|March 1913||December 1914||Sereno E. Payne[B]||Republican||New York||March 4, 1889||Champ Clark (D-MO) – 1913|
|December 1914||April 1918||William A. Jones[B]||Democratic||Virginia||March 4, 1891||Champ Clark (D-MO) – 1915, 1917|
|April 1918||March 1919||Henry Allen Cooper[B][C]||Republican||Wisconsin||March 4, 1893||Frederick H. Gillett (R-MA) – 1919, 1921, 1923|
|March 1925||Frederick H. Gillett[G]||Republican||Massachusetts|
|March 1925||May 1928||Thomas S. Butler[B]||Republican||Pennsylvania||March 4, 1897||Nicholas Longworth (R-OH) – 1925, 1927|
|May 1928||March 1933||Gilbert N. Haugen||Republican||Iowa||March 4, 1899||Nicholas Longworth (R-OH) – 1929|
John Nance Garner (D-TX) – 1931
|March 1933||April 1934||Edward W. Pou[B]||Democratic||North Carolina||March 4, 1901||Henry T. Rainey (D-IL) – 1933|
|April 1934||November 1952||Adolph J. Sabath[B]||Democratic||Illinois||March 4, 1907||Joseph W. Byrns (D-TN) – 1935|
William B. Bankhead (D-AL) – 1936, 1937, 1939
Sam Rayburn (D-TX) – 1940, 1941, 1943, 1945
Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) – 1947
Sam Rayburn (D-TX) – 1949, 1951
|November 1952||January 1953||Robert L. Doughton||Democratic||North Carolina||March 4, 1911|
|January 1953||November 1961||Sam Rayburn[H][B]||Democratic||Texas||March 4, 1913||Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-MA) – 1953|
Sam Rayburn (D-TX) – 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961
|November 1961||January 1965||Carl Vinson[I]||Democratic||Georgia||November 3, 1914||John W. McCormack (D-MA) – 1962, 1963|
|January 1965||January 1973||Emanuel Celler||Democratic||New York||March 4, 1923||John W. McCormack (D-MA) – 1965, 1967, 1969|
Carl Albert (D-OK) – 1971
|January 1973||March 1976||Wright Patman[B]||Democratic||Texas||March 4, 1929||Carl Albert (D-OK) – 1973, 1975|
|March 1976||January 1979||George H. Mahon||Democratic||Texas||January 3, 1935||Tip O'Neill (D-MA) – 1977|
|January 1979||January 1995||Jamie Whitten[I]||Democratic||Mississippi||November 4, 1941||Tip O'Neill (D-MA) – 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985|
Jim Wright (D-TX) – 1987, 1989
Tom Foley (D-WA) – 1989, 1991, 1993
|January 1995||January 2015||John Dingell[J][I]||Democratic||Michigan||December 13, 1955||Newt Gingrich (R-GA) – 1995, 1997|
Dennis Hastert (R-IL) – 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – 2007, 2009
John Boehner (R-OH) – 2011, 2013
|January 2015||December 2017||John Conyers||Democratic||Michigan||January 3, 1965||John Boehner (R-OH) – 2015|
Paul Ryan (R-WI) – 2015, 2017
|December 2017||Incumbent||Don Young[I]||Republican||Alaska||March 6, 1973||Paul Ryan (R-WI) – 2017|
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – 2019, 2021
- Served as Speaker 1789–1791 and 1793–1795.
- Died in office.
- Never held sole deanship due to tie.
- Served as Speaker 1801–1807.
- Previously served in House 1835–1837; Served as Speaker 1851–1855.
- Served as Speaker 1889–1891 and 1895–1899.
- Served as Speaker 1919–1925.
- Served as Speaker 1955–1961.
- Entered House to fill unexpired term.
- Longest serving House member ever and held the longest deanship.
- Oldest living United States president
- President pro tempore of the United States Senate
- Dean of the United States Senate
- List of members of the United States Congress by longevity of service
- Father of the House, the international equivalent in many countries. Originally coined in the United Kingdom's House of Commons
- List at House official site that records the Dean (originally called "Father") and who swore in the Speaker for each Congress
- "Oath of Office - US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". History.house.gov. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- Ron Hutcheson (July 25, 1994). "Texan in line as House dean – Jack Brooks has reputation as in-your-face politician". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. 1.