List of Speakers of the United States House of Representatives
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The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The office was established in 1789 by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. The speaker is second in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president and ahead of the president pro tempore of the United States Senate.
Unlike some Westminster system parliaments, in which the office of speaker is considered non-partisan, in the United States, the Speaker of the House is a leadership position and the office-holder actively works to set the majority party's legislative agenda. The speaker is traditionally the majority party's leader in the chamber, although unlike other House leadership, there is no constitutional requirement that the speaker be an elected member of the House (every speaker to date has been an elected member of the House). The speaker usually does not personally preside over debates, instead delegating the duty to members of the House from the majority party. The speaker usually does not participate in debate and rarely votes. Aside from duties relating to heading the House and the majority political party, the speaker also performs administrative and procedural functions, and represents his or her Congressional district.
In the modern era, the speaker is elected at the beginning of each new Congress by a majority vote of the House membership from among candidates separately chosen by the conference of each party in the House. Members may vote for one of the nominated candidates (or for another individual). Members predominantly vote for the candidate nominated by their own party conferences, as the outcome of the election effectively determines which party has the majority and consequently will organize the House. In cases where a vacancy in the speakership arises during a Congress a new speaker is elected by a majority vote of the House from candidates previously chosen by the majority and minority parties. To be elected speaker a candidate must receive an absolute majority of all the votes cast for individuals (i.e. the number needed to win might be less than a majority of the full membership of the House due to vacancies, absentees, or members present but not voting). If no candidate wins such a majority, then the roll call is repeated until a speaker is elected. There have been 14 instances of Speaker elections requiring multiple ballots.
In most recent election for Speaker of the House, held January 3, 2019, the first day of the 116th Congress, members elected Nancy Pelosi to the office. Pelosi, who previously led the House from January 2007 to January 2011, is the only female to have served as speaker, and also the highest-ranking elected woman in American political history.
Since the office was created in 1789, 54 individuals, from 23 of the 50 states, have served as Speaker of the House. The number from each state are:
- One: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin;
- Two: Maine, New Jersey, New York, and South Carolina;
- Three: Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas;
- Four: Kentucky and Virginia;
- Eight: Massachusetts.
One speaker, James K. Polk, subsequently served as President of the United States, and two, Schuyler Colfax and John Nance Garner, later became vice president. The longest serving speaker was Sam Rayburn – 17 years, 53 days. Elected 10 times, he led the House: September 1940 to January 1947; January 1949 to January 1953; and January 1955 to November 1961. Tip O'Neill had the longest uninterrupted tenure as speaker – 9 years, 350 days. Elected five times, he led the House from January 1977 to January 1987. Theodore M. Pomeroy had the shortest tenure; elected speaker on March 3, 1869, he served one day.
List of Speakers
The House has elected a new Speaker 125 times since 1789. Of the 54 people who have served as Speaker of the House over the past 229 years, 32 served multiple terms (of which seven served nonconsecutive terms: Frederick Muhlenberg, Henry Clay, John W. Taylor, Thomas Brackett Reed, Joseph W. Martin Jr., Sam Rayburn, and Nancy Pelosi).
- The district listed is the district the speaker represented at the time they were in office, which may be different in different Congresses due to redistricting.
- Elected on 3rd ballot
- Elected on 2nd ballot
- Resigned from office and from Congress.
- Intra-term special election.
- Elected on 22nd ballot
- Elected on 12th ballot
- Elected on 10th ballot
- Elected on 11th ballot
- Elected on 63rd ballot
- Elected on 133rd ballot
- Elected on 44th ballot
- Died in office.
- Elected on 9th ballot
- As of March 2019 there are four living former speakers of the House: Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, John Boehner, and Paul Ryan. Current speaker Nancy Pelosi was also among this group prior to reassuming the office in January 2019.
- Frederick Muhlenberg served as speaker twice in the 1790s, before political factions coalesced into formal parties; initially he identified with the pro–administration faction, but later he aligned himself with the anti–administration faction.
- John Taylor served as speaker twice in the 1820s; initially he was as a member of the Democratic–Republican Party, and later, when the party began to fracture, he sided with its pro–Adams faction.
- During James K. Polk's tenure as speaker the Jacksonian bloc amalgamated into the modern Democratic Party.
Speakers by time in office
The length of time given below is based on the difference between dates; if counted by number of calendar days all the figures would be one greater. Also, as many speakers were elected multiple times, and to terms that were, in several instances, not consecutive, the length of time given for each speaker measures their cumulative length of incumbency as speaker. Further, time after adjournment of one Congress but before the convening of the next Congress is not counted. For example, Nathaniel Macon was Speaker in both the 8th and 9th Congresses, but the eight-month gap between the two Congresses is not counted toward his service. The exact dates of service for each individual speaker is shown in the Term of service column of the above table.
|Rank||Name||Time in office||TE||Year(s) in which elected|
|1||Sam Rayburn||17 years, 53 days||10||1940; 1941; 1943; 1945; 1949; 1951; 1955; 1957; 1959; 1961|
|2||Henry Clay||10 years, 196 days||6||1811; 1813; 1815; 1817; 1819; 1823|
|3||Tip O'Neill||9 years, 350 days||5||1977; 1979; 1981; 1983; 1985|
|4||John W. McCormack||8 years, 344 days||5||1962; 1963; 1965; 1967; 1969|
|5||Dennis Hastert||7 years, 359 days||4||1999; 2001; 2003; 2005|
|6||Champ Clark||6 years, 357 days||4||1911; 1913; 1915; 1917|
|7||Carl Albert||5 years, 337 days||3||1971; 1973; 1975|
|8||Joseph Gurney Cannon||5 years, 285 days||4||1903; 1905; 1907; 1909|
|9||Tom Foley||5 years, 209 days||3||1989; 1991; 1993|
|10||James G. Blaine||5 years, 93 days||3||1869; 1871; 1873|
|11||Frederick H. Gillett||4 years, 341 days||3||1919; 1921; 1923|
|12||John Boehner||4 years, 297 days||3||2011; 2013; 2015|
|13||Schuyler Colfax||4 years, 176 days||3||1863; 1865; 1867|
|14||Thomas Brackett Reed||4 years, 172 days||3||1889; 1895; 1897|
|15||Nicholas Longworth||4 years, 133 days||3||1925; 1927; 1929|
|16||William B. Bankhead||4 years, 102 days||3||1936; 1937; 1939|
|17||Andrew Stevenson||4 years, 83 days||4||1827; 1829; 1831; 1833|
|18||Nancy Pelosi||4 years, 79 days||3||2007; 2009; 2019|
|19||Joseph W. Martin Jr.||4 years||2||1947; 1953|
|20||Newt Gingrich||3 years, 361 days||2||1995; 1997|
|21||Nathaniel Macon||3 years, 317 days||3||1801; 1803; 1805|
|22||John G. Carlisle||3 years, 267 days||3||1883; 1885; 1887|
|23||Samuel J. Randall||3 years, 215 days||3||1876; 1877; 1879|
|24||Paul Ryan||3 years, 66 days||2||2015; 2017|
|25||Frederick Muhlenberg||3 years, 64 days||2||1789; 1793|
|26||Joseph Bradley Varnum||3 years, 49 days||2||1807; 1809|
|27||Jonathan Dayton||3 years, 14 days||2||1795; 1797|
|28||Charles Frederick Crisp||2 years, 295 days||2||1891; 1893|
|29||James K. Polk||2 years, 268 days||2||1835; 1837|
|Linn Boyd||2 years, 182 days||2||1851; 1853|
|David B. Henderson||2 years, 182 days||2||1899; 1901|
|32||Jim Wright||2 years, 151 days||2||1987; 1989|
|33||John White||1 year, 277 days||1||1841|
|34||Galusha A. Grow||1 year, 243 days||1||1861|
|35||John W. Taylor||1 year, 198 days||2||1820; 1825|
|36||Henry Thomas Rainey||1 year, 163 days||1||1933|
|37||Joseph W. Byrns Sr.||1 year, 153 days||1||1935|
|38||Jonathan Trumbull Jr.||1 year, 131 days||1||1791|
|39||John Wesley Davis||1 year, 93 days||1||1845|
|40||Theodore Sedgwick||1 year, 92 days||1||1799|
|Philip Pendleton Barbour||1 year, 90 days||1||1821|
|John Winston Jones||1 year, 90 days||1||1843|
|43||J. Warren Keifer||1 year, 89 days||1||1881|
|44||Robert Charles Winthrop||1 year, 88 days||1||1847|
|James Lawrence Orr||1 year, 87 days||1||1857|
|John Nance Garner||1 year, 87 days||1||1931|
|47||Robert M. T. Hunter||1 year, 78 days||1||1839|
|48||Howell Cobb||1 year, 72 days||1||1849|
|49||Langdon Cheves||1 year, 44 days||1||1814|
|50||William Pennington||1 year, 31 days||1||1860|
|51||Nathaniel P. Banks||1 year, 30 days||1||1856|
|52||John Bell||275 days||1||1834|
|53||Michael C. Kerr||257 days||1||1875|
|54||Theodore M. Pomeroy||1 day||1||1869|
- "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
- Heitshusen, Valerie (November 26, 2018). "Speakers of the House: Elections, 1913–2017" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- "Speaker Elections Decided by Multiple Ballots". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (January 2, 2019). "Nancy Pelosi, Icon of Female Power, Will Reclaim Role as Speaker and Seal a Place in History". The New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- Follett, Mary Parker (1909) [First edition, 1896]. The speaker of the House of Representatives. New York, New York: Longmans, Greene, and Company. Retrieved March 18, 2019 – via Internet Archive, digitized in 2007.
- House Document 108–204 – The Cannon Centenary Conference: The Changing Nature of the Speakership, History, nature and role of the Speakership
- "Speaker of the House of Representatives". Official Website, Information about role as party leader, powers as presiding officer