Kenneth R. Harding

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Kenneth R. Harding
Kenneth R. Harding.jpg
Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives
In office
October 1, 1972 – February 29, 1980
Preceded by Zeake W. Johnson Jr.
Succeeded by Benjamin J. Guthrie
Personal details
Born (1914-03-28)March 28, 1914
Medina, New York
Died October 3, 2007(2007-10-03) (aged 93)
Ormond Beach, Florida
Alma mater George Washington University

Kenneth R. Harding (March 28, 1914 – October 3, 2007) served as Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives from October 1, 1972 until February 29, 1980.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Harding was born on March 28, 1914, in Medina, New York. His parents were Victor Hunt Harding and Edith Falk Harding. He graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1937. He married his first wife, Jane Wedderburn Harding, in 1938. The couple were married for 68 years until her death in 2005.


Harding served in the U.S. Navy for three years and the U.S. Air Force Reserves for ten years. He retired from the Reserves as a full Colonel. He went on to become executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1954, which he held for 18 years.[1]

Harding worked in some capacity on Capitol Hill for over thirty years.

October 1, 1972 - February 29, 1980 Harding served as Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives. During this time he worked closely with President Nixon (1969-1974), President Gerald Ford (1974-1977), and President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981).

As the chief law enforcement officer of the House, the Sergeant at Arms is responsible for security in the House wing of the United States Capitol, the House office buildings, and on adjacent grounds. Under the direction of the Speaker of the House or other presiding officer, the Sergeant at Arms plays an integral role in maintaining order and decorum in the House chamber.

The Sergeant at Arms is also responsible for ensuring the safety and security of members of Congress, congressional staff, visiting dignitaries, and tourists. Toward this mission, the Sergeant at Arms works in concert with the Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the Architect of the Capitol. These three officials, along with the Chief of the Capitol Police in an ex officio status, comprise the Capitol Police Board.

Through custom and precedent, the Sergeant at Arms performs a number of protocol and ceremonial duties. Among these duties are to lead formal processions at ceremonies such as presidential inaugurations, joint sessions of Congress (such as the State of the Union address, prior to 2007), formal addresses to the Congress, greeting and escorting visiting foreign dignitaries, and to supervise congressional funeral arrangements. In this capacity, the Sergeant at Arms is most famous for announcing the arrival of the President, a responsibility that he took over from the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives when the latter position was abolished in 1995. Custom dictates that he announce the arrival of the Supreme Court, the President's cabinet, and finally the President by saying, "Mister (or Madam) Speaker, the President of the United States!"

For daily sessions of the House, the Sergeant at Arms carries the silver and ebony Mace of the United States House of Representatives in front of the speaker in procession to the rostrum. When the House is in session, the mace stands on a pedestal to the speaker's own right. When the body resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, the Sergeant at Arms moves the mace to a lowered position, more or less out of sight. In accordance with the Rules of the House, on the rare occasions when a Member becomes unruly, the Sergeant at Arms, on order of the Speaker, lifts the mace from its pedestal and presents it before the offenders, thereby restoring order.[1]

He moved to Ormond Beach, Florida, upon his retirement.[1]


Kenneth R. Harding died of pneumonia at Ormond Beach Memorial Hospital in Florida on October 3, 2007, at the age of 93.[1] He was survived by his second wife, Ruth Campbell Harding, four sons, Kenneth (Honolulu), Richard (Savannah), Bruce (New York), and Victor (Orlando), and thirteen grandchildren, including actor and television host, Zay Harding.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Kenneth R. Harding". Associated Press. 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Zeake W. Johnson Jr.
Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives
October 1, 1972 – February 29, 1980
Succeeded by
Benjamin J. Guthrie