The Speaker of the House: House Officer, Party Leader, and Representative
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is widely viewed as symbolizing the power and
authority of the House. The Speaker’s most prominent role is that of presiding officer of the
House. In this capacity, the Speaker is empowered by House rules to administer proceedings on
the House floor, including the power to recognize Members on the floor to speak or make
motions and the power to appoint Members to conference committees. The Speaker also oversees
much of the non-legislative business of the House, such as general control over the Hall of the
House and the House side of the Capitol and service as chair of the House Office Building
Commission. The Speaker’s role as “elect of the elect” in the House also places him or her in a
highly visible position with the public.
The Speaker also serves not only as titular leader of the House but also as leader of the majority
party conference. The Speaker is often responsible for airing and defending the majority party’s
legislative agenda in the House.
The Speaker’s third distinct role is that of an elected Member of the House. Although elected as
an officer of the House, the Speaker continues to be a Member as well. As such the Speaker
enjoys the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges of all Representatives. However, the
Speaker has traditionally refrained from debating or voting in most circumstances, and does not
sit on any standing committee of the House.
Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Selection of the Speaker..................................................................................................................1
The Speaker as Leader of the House...............................................................................................3
The Speaker as Party Leader...........................................................................................................4
The Speaker as a Member of the House..........................................................................................7
Appendix A. Speakers of the House of Representatives, 1789-2007..............................................9
Appendix B. Select Bibliography..................................................................................................12
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................13
Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “The House of Representatives shall chuse their 1
Speaker and other Officers.” The position of Speaker combines several roles: the institutional
role of presiding officer and administrative head of the House, the partisan role of leader of the
majority party in the House, and the representative role of an elected Member of the House. As
the “elect of the elect” the Speaker has perhaps the most visible job in Congress. By statute, the 2
Speaker is also second in line, behind the Vice President, to succeed to the presidency.
The Constitution does not describe the office of the Speaker or its duties, nor was there any
significant discussion of the office during the Constitutional Convention. The use of the title
“Speaker” probably has its origins in the British House of Commons, where the presiding officer
acted as the chamber’s spokesman to the Crown, but any assumptions the authors of the
Constitution had for the office undoubtedly also drew upon their own experiences in colonial
legislatures and the Continental Congress. There does not seem to have been any grand plan or
specific expectation as to how the Founding Fathers envisioned the speakership. Rather, the
speakership has been largely shaped by the various individuals who have held the post, the
circumstances in which they have operated, formal obligations that have been assigned to the
office by House rules and by statute, the character of the House as a political and constitutional
institution, and traditions and customs that have evolved over time.
When the House of Representatives convenes at the beginning of a new Congress, its first order
of business is to elect a Speaker. Because the House dissolves at the end of a Congress and must
start anew at the beginning of each new Congress, the clerk of the House presides over the House
under general parliamentary law until a Speaker is elected. For its first 50 years, the House
elected the Speaker by ballot. In 1839, this method was changed to election by vive voce,
meaning that each Member names aloud whom he or she favors for Speaker. Tellers then record
the result. In modern practice, each party places the name of a single Member in nomination for
the position, but otherwise virtually the same vive voce method is used to elect the Speaker.
Because the election of the Speaker typically takes place before the House adopts its rules of
procedure, the election process is defined by precedent and practice rather than by any formal
1 The other officers of the House are not specified in the Constitution. Currently, under House Rule II, the clerk,
sergeant-at-arms, chief administrative officer, and chaplain are identified as officers to be elected by the House,
although the rule also states that the clerk, sergeant-at-arms, and chief administrative officer may be removed either by
the House or the Speaker. Rule II also identifies additional officers, the historian of the House, the general counsel, and
the inspector general, to be appointed by the Speaker.
2 The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (P.L. 80-199, 61 Stat. 380) provides that if “there is neither a President nor
Vice President to discharge the powers and duties of the office of the President, then the Speaker of the House of
Representatives shall, upon his resignation as Speaker and as Representative in Congress, act as President.” To succeed
to the presidency a Speaker would also need to qualify under the terms of Article II, Section 5 of the Constitution,
which requires that the President be a “natural-born citizen,” at least 35 years of age, and a resident within the United
States for 14 years.
3 For more on elections of the Speaker, see CRS Report RL30857, Speakers of the House: Elections, 1913-2007, by
Richard S. Beth and James V. Saturno.
To be elected Speaker, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes cast, which may
be less than a majority of the full membership of the House because of vacancies, absentees, or 4
Members voting “present.” Although the major parties nominate candidates for the position of 5
Speaker, there is no limitation on whom Members may vote for. In fact, there is no requirement 6
that the Speaker be a Member of the House. None of the other officers of the House is a Member.
If no candidate receives the requisite majority, the roll call is repeated until a Speaker is elected.
Again, Members may continue to vote for any individual, and no restrictions, such as eliminating
minority candidates or prohibiting new candidates from being named, are imposed. For example, th
at the beginning of the 34 Congress in 1855, 133 ballots over a period of two months were 7
necessary to elect Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts as Speaker.
The last occasion on which multiple ballots were required to elect a Speaker was in 1923. At the th
beginning of the 68 Congress, the nominees from both major parties initially failed to receive a
majority of the votes because of votes cast for other candidates by Members from the Progressive
Party and from the “progressive wing” of the Republican Party. After the Republican leadership
agreed to accept a number of procedural reforms, the Progressives agreed to vote for the 8
Republican candidate on the ninth ballot, making Frederick Gillett of Massachusetts the Speaker.
If a Speaker dies or resigns during a Congress, the House immediately elects a new Speaker.
Although it was an earlier practice of the House to elect a new Speaker under these conditions by
adopting a resolution to that effect, the modern practice is to use the same practice as employed at st
the beginning of a Congress. The most recent example of this occurred during the 101 Congress
when Thomas Foley of Washington was elected Speaker following the resignation of Jim Wright 9
In the 19th century, longevity of House service was not as important a criterion in selecting the
Speaker as it is today. It was not unusual for a Member to be elected Speaker with only a few
years service. From 1789 to 1899, the average length of House service before a Member was
elected Speaker was 7.1 years. In fact, Henry Clay of Kentucky (in 1811) and William
Pennington of New Jersey (in 1860) were each elected Speaker as freshmen (the first Speaker,
Frederick A. Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania, was obviously a third, albeit special, case).
The 19 Speakers elected between 1899 (David B. Henderson) and 2007 (Nancy Pelosi) served an
average of 22.9 years in the House prior to their first election as Speaker. The longest pre-
speakership tenure in this period belonged to Jim Wright who served for 17 terms before being
4 The controlling precedent dates to Mar. 18, 1879, when in response to an inquiry, the clerk, while presiding over the
House, stated: “It requires a majority of those voting to elect a Speaker, as it does to pass a bill.” Asher Hinds, Hinds’
Precedents of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington: GPO, 1907), vol. 1, sec. 216. (Hereafter
cited as Hinds’ Precedents.)
5 However, a provision was added (currently House Rule I, clause 9) at the start of the 104th Congress limiting a
Speaker to service for four consecutive Congresses.
6 For example, in the election of the Speaker at the beginning of the 105th Congress, two former Members of the House
(Robert H. Michel and Robert Walker) each received one vote. Congressional Record, vol. 143, Jan. 7, 1997, p. 117.
7 On the 133rd ballot, Nathaniel Banks received 103 votes while his four opponents received a total of 111. Since this
was not a majority, the House subsequently adopted a resolution, by majority vote, confirming the election. thst
Congressional Globe, vol. 25, 34 Cong., 1 sess., Feb. 2, 1856, pp. 337-342.
8 Congressional Record, vol. 65, Dec. 3-5, 1923.
9 Congressional Record, vol. 135, June 6, 1989, p. 10800.
elected as Speaker. Sam Rayburn of Texas served longer as Speaker than any other Member: a
tenure of 17 years (interrupted twice by Republican majorities). Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. of
Massachusetts holds the record for the longest continuous service as Speaker: 10 years. The
record for the shortest tenure belongs to Theodore M. Pomeroy of New York who served one day.
(Appendix A lists all the Speakers of the House as well as their party affiliations, home state, and
their dates of service in that office.)
Although the office of the Speaker is mentioned in the Constitution, that document is silent on its
duties. Today, the Speaker possesses substantial powers under House rules. Among the duties
• administering the oath of office to Members (the Act of 1789 (2 U.S.C. 25)
provides that, on the organization of the House, the oath shall be administered by
any Member, traditionally the Member with the longest continuous service, to the
Speaker and by the Speaker to the other Members);
• calling the House to order (Rule I, clause 1);
• preserving order and decorum within the chamber and in the galleries (Rule I,
• recognizing Members to speak and make motions (Rule XVII);10
• deciding points of order (Rule I, clause 5);
• counting a quorum (Rule XX, clause 7(c));
• presenting the pending business to the House for a vote (Rule I, clause 6);
• appointing Speakers pro tempore (Rule I, clause 8) and chairs of the Committee 11
of the Whole (Rule XVIII, clause 1);
• certifying various actions of the House, including signing all acts and joint
resolutions, writs, warrants, and subpoenas of (or issued to) the House (Rule I, 12
• appointing select and conference committees (Rule I, clause 11);
10 This provision is augmented by the provision in Rule XVI, clause 1, which states that the Speaker shall not entertain
any dilatory motions.
11 By tradition, the Speaker does not preside over the Committee of the Whole, but instead names a party colleague as
chair. According to historian DeAlva Stanwood Alexander, this tradition has its roots in Stuart England when conflicts
over taxation arrayed the Crown against the Commons, and suspicion assumed the Speaker to be a tale bearer to the
King. To avoid the Speaker’s espionage Commons met in secret, electing a chairman in whom it had confidence. Even
after any need for secrecy in its proceedings had passed, Commons continued to require that the Speaker withdraw
whenever the Committee of the Whole convened. DeAlva Stanwood Alexander, History and Procedure of the House of
Representatives (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1916), pp. 257-258. The American tradition does not require the
Speaker to withdraw from the deliberations of the Committee of the Whole, only that he not chair it.
12 Responses to subpoenas are also governed under Rule VIII.
• appointing certain House officers (such as the inspector general under Rule II,
clause 6, the historian of the House under Rule II, clause 7, and the general
counsel under Rule II, clause 8);
• referring measures to committee(s) (Rule XII, clause 2); and
• examining and approving the Journal of the proceedings of the previous day’s
session (Rule I, clause 1).
The Speaker’s powers offer him or her considerable latitude to exercise discretion. Under most
circumstances, the Speaker has the authority to ask Members who seek recognition, “For what
purpose does the gentleman (or gentlelady) rise?” The Speaker may then decide whether or not to
recognize that Member for the specific reason given. In this way the Speaker is able to assert
control over what motions may be made and therefore what measures will be considered and the
general flow of House floor proceedings. House Rule XV, clause 1 allows the Speaker to
entertain motions to suspend the rules on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, as well as during
the last six days of a session. Discretion over who may be recognized to make such motions gives
the Speaker virtually complete control over the suspension process.
The institutional role of the Speaker also extends beyond the duty to preside over the House. The
Speaker also exercises general control over the Hall of the House and the House side of the
Capitol (Rule I, clause 3), and serves as the chair of the House Office Building Commission. The
Speaker frequently is authorized in statute to appoint Members to various boards and
commissions, and it is typically the Speaker who is the formal recipient of reports or other
communications from the President, government agencies, boards, and commissions.
The role of the Speaker also extends to the requirement in House Rule V, clause 1 that he or she
administer a system for audio and video broadcasting of the proceedings of the House. Rule I,
clause 13 provides for the Speaker, in consultation with the minority leader, to devise a system of
drug testing in the House.
Finally, although it is not prescribed in any formal way, the elevated profile of the office of the
Speaker often means he must take a leading role in negotiations with the Senate or President.
Under both Republican and Democratic majorities, Speakers have played similar roles as leader
of their parties. A Speaker’s role as leader of the majority party is manifested in two ways: within
the party conference or caucus and on the House floor.
Under the rules of the House Democratic Caucus, the Speaker recommends to the Caucus
nominees for officers of the House. The Speaker’s prominence within the Caucus is reinforced
because she chairs the Steering and Policy Committee, and appoints two co-chairs, two vice-
chairs, and up to 15 of its Members. In addition, the Speaker is empowered to appoint one
Member to the House Budget Committee, as well as make appointments to joint and select
committees, and various boards and commissions, giving due consideration to spreading the
workload among qualified and interested Democrats. She nominates the Democratic membership
on the Committees on Rules and House Administration, and recommends to the Caucus a
nominee for chair of these committees. If a nominee is rejected, the Speaker may make another
nomination until the position is filled.
Within the Democratic Party, the Speaker serves as a member of the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee (DCCC) and also nominates the DCCC chair.
Previously, within the Republican Party conference, the Speaker acted as the chairman of the
party’s Steering Committee, and thus plays a major part in the committee assignment process
because Members are nominated to serve on or chair a committee by the Steering Committee.
These nominations are subject to approval by the full party conference, and subsequently by the th
House. In the 104 Congress, it appears that the Speaker exerted further influence in the process
of nominating Members to chair committees by naming a slate of candidates before the Steering
Committee had been formed. Although the Speaker’s choices required the approval of the
Steering Committee before they were placed before the full conference, his influence was 13
reported to have exceeded that of recent previous Speakers.
In addition, the Speaker was empowered to make nominations directly for the Republican
Conference’s consideration for membership (including chairs) on the Rules Committee and the
House Administration Committee, as well as the chair and one Member (to serve as the second
ranking Republican) on the Budget Committee.
House Republican Conference rules also provided for the Speaker to serve on the National
Republican Congressional Committee. Because the Speaker’s role as leader of the majority party
in the House is sometimes at odds with his role as presiding officer of the chamber, House
Republican Conference rules stated that:
A Member of the elected or designated Republican Leadership has an obligation, to the best
of his/her ability, to support positions adopted by the Conference, and the resources of the
Leadership shall be utilized to support that position.
The success of every person to hold the Speaker’s office since the late 20th century has been
judged, at least in part, on the basis of their ability to use personal prestige, and the powers of
persuasion and bargaining to enunciate and advance their party’s vision and legislative agenda, as
well as work to ensure majority control of the House. To accomplish these objectives modern
Speakers have used varying personal styles and engaged in a variety of activities, not just in 14
Congress or their party conference, but outside as well. For example, they publicize their party’s
policies and achievements (by giving speeches, appearing on radio and television, holding press
conferences, etc.); assist party members who are seeking reelection; consult with Presidents about
both Administration and congressional agendas and goals; and, when the majority in the House is
not the same party as the President, they act as a spokesman for the loyal opposition. In the words
of one commentator:
To an increasing degree, the way for a Speaker to win support among colleagues is to
influence public opinion ... [A] House leader now needs some credibility outside the 15
institution in order to win on the inside.
13 Karen Foerstel, “House Chairmen: Gingrich Flexes His Power in Picking Panel Chiefs,” Congressional Quarterly
Weekly Report, vol. 52, Nov. 19, 1994, p. 3326.
14 Jackie Koszczuk, “Master of the Mechanics Has Kept the House Running,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report,
vol. 57, Dec. 11, 1999, p. 2960.
15 Alan Ehrenhalt, “Speaker’s Job Transformed Under O’Neill,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 43, June
22, 1985, p. 1247.
Bringing coherence and efficiency to a decentralized and individualistic legislative body requires
a Speaker to use the entire range of tangible and intangible rewards that can be bestowed or
withheld. In an interview, Speaker O’Neill once described how he wielded these various minor
powers by saying:
You know, you ask me what are my powers and my authorities around here? The power to
recognize on the floor; little odds and ends—like men get pride out of the prestige of
handling the Committee of the Whole, being named Speaker for the day.... [T]here is a
certain aura and respect that goes with the Speaker’s office. He does have the power to pick
up the telephone and call people. And Members oftentimes like to bring their local political
leaders or a couple of mayors. And oftentimes they have problems from their area and they
need aid and assistance.... We’re happy to try to open the door for them, having been in the
town for so many years and knowing so many people. We do know where a lot of bodies are 16
and we do know how to advise people.
The power to schedule legislation for floor consideration can be used in ways that reflect both
institutional and partisan considerations. The Speaker is charged with ensuring that the House
processes its fundamental annual workload, but determining what, when, and in which order a
measure reaches the floor can help determine its fate. A week’s delay in scheduling a
controversial bill may work to enhance or minimize its chances for passage. According to
Speaker O’Neill, it was one of his most important powers because “if [a Speaker] doesn’t want a 17
certain bill to come up, it usually doesn’t.”
Similarly, the Speaker’s authority to appoint conferees can be a powerful tool for influencing the
final provisions of a bill. The Members appointed represent a complex balance of support for
House, committee, and party positions as determined by the Speaker, and are not subject to
Modern Speakers have also frequently had to act as mediators of conflicts within their parties. As
one leader put it, this involves:
Trying to mollify members who are angry with other members, trying to keep dangerous rifts
from developing within the party. Sometimes getting people together of opposite viewpoints
and letting them talk their problems out in a way that lets each understand that the other has a 18
problem. Sometimes you can come to a compromise.
Balancing parliamentary and partisan roles is not always easily accomplished. At the start of the th
The Speaker ... is not only allowed, but expected to use his position to advance party
interests. It must not be supposed, however, that this implies gross partisanship on the part of
our Speakers. They neither attempt to use every inch of power to be conjured out of the rules,
nor guide the House entirely from party motives. Their office has on the whole been 19
administered with justness and fairness ...
16 Michael J. Malbin, “House Democrats Are Playing With a Strong Leadership Lineup,” National Journal, vol. 9, June
18, 1977, p. 942.
17 Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., Man of the House (New York: Random House, 1987), p. 273.
18 The unidentified leader was quoted in Barbara Sinclair, Majority Leadership in the U.S. House (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1983), p. 38.
19 Mary P. Follett, The Speaker of the House of Representatives (New York: Longmans Green, 1902), p. 300.
Another assessment states that:
Tradition and unwritten law require that the Speaker apply the rules of the House
consistently, yet in the twilight zone a large area exists where he may exercise great
discrimination and where he has many opportunities to apply the rules to his party’s 20
Although elected as an officer of the House, the Speaker continues to be a Member of the House
as well. Accordingly, the Speaker continues to have the same rights, responsibilities, and
privileges as all Members. However, because of the Speaker’s position as leader, it may be
notable or even controversial when he or she exercises the powers granted to other Members,
such as debating, voting, and sitting as a member of a standing committee of the House.
Under the principles articulated in Jefferson’s Manual,21 the Speaker is typically only heard on
matters of order, and it is highly irregular to speak on any other matter while presiding. The
Speaker, however, may speak from the floor (as would any other Member), and the precedents of
the House include examples of the Speaker leaving the chair to speak from the well, make 2223
motions or debate a point of order. However, in most periods in the history of the House these
privileges were infrequently exercised.
Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey was the first Speaker to speak out on a matter in Committee of
the Whole (during the Fourth Congress), and it was not until Henry Clay of Kentucky became
Speaker that this practice became generally accepted. As late as 1850, Chauncy Cleveland of
Connecticut, then a Member of the House, questioned whether it would:
be right or just by the power of party to place a man in the Speaker’s chair, and then compel
him to use the influence of the chair when he had defined his position.... It was utterly
impossible that the Speaker, after having taken his side upon the floor, could go back to the 24
chair, and award the floor with the same impartiality as if he had never spoken.
Even today it is not commonplace for the Speaker to participate in debate on the floor, although
the Speaker may do so when he or she feels it necessary to highlight or rally support for the 25
majority party’s agenda.
20 Floyd M. Riddick, The United States Congress: Organization and Procedure (Washington: National Capitol
Publishers, 1949), p. 67.
21 Prepared by Thomas Jefferson while serving as Vice President (and President of the Senate), the Manual was
adopted as a part of House rules beginning in 1837 to the extent that it is applicable and “not inconsistent with” the
standing rules of the House (Rule XXVIII).
22 On Apr. 4, 1864, Speaker Schuyler Colfax of Indiana came down from the chair to move a resolution to expel
Representative Alexander Long of Ohio. He justified his action on the basis of Henry Clay’s frequent speeches from
the floor while Speaker, but, according to Asher Hinds, Colfax evidently “confused” Clay’s actions in Committee of
the Whole with participation during sessions of the House itself. See Hinds’ Precedents, vol. 2, sec. 1367 and footnote.
23 Ibid., vol. 5, sec. 1607.
24 Congressional Globe, vol. 21, 31st Cong., 1st sess., Jan. 14, 1850, p. 144.
25 One such example occurred when Speaker Newt Gingrich claimed time in opposition to a motion to recommit the
Tax Relief Act of 1997. See the Congressional Record, vol. 143, June 26, 1997, p. 12827.
The right of the Speaker to vote has also evolved over time. The first rules of the House provided:
In all cases of ballot by the House, the Speaker shall vote; in other cases he shall not vote,
unless the House be equally divided, or unless his vote, if given to the minority, will make 26
the division equal, and in case of such equal division, the question shall be lost.
The Speaker was thus prevented from voting on legislative matters, although the precedents of 27
the House record several examples of Speakers voting contrary to this rule. The Speaker was
allowed to vote in Committee of the Whole, but most early Speakers apparently refrained from
this practice as well. At least twice (in 1833 and 1837) the House debated proposals to compel the 28
Speaker to vote on all questions, but these proposals were defeated. It was not until 1850 that
the rule was amended to allow the Speaker to vote at his discretion, and the modern form of the
rule was not adopted until 1880. Rule I, clause 7 currently reads:
The Speaker is not required to vote in ordinary legislative proceedings, except when his vote
would be decisive or when the House is engaged in voting by ballot.
Unlike other Representatives, the Speaker does not sit on any standing committees of the 29
House. This was not always the case. The Rules Committee was for many years a select
committee authorized to report a system of rules at the beginning of a Congress, and later also to
report from “time to time.” Beginning in 1858, and continuing after the Rules Committee was
made a standing committee of the House in 1880, the Speaker served as chairman. This practice
continued through 1910 when the House adopted a rule prohibiting the Speaker from sitting on 30
the Rules Committee. The formal prohibition was removed from House rules by the Legislative 31
Reorganization Act of 1946, but the tradition has continued. Today, the Speaker does not sit on
the Rules Committee, but does nominate the majority members in the party conference,
effectively making the Rules Committee an integral part of the leadership structure.
26 Annals of Congress, vol. 1, 1st Cong., 1st sess., Apr. 7, 1789, p. 99. The House customarily uses balloting only for the
election of its officers, not for resolving legislative questions.
27 Hinds’ Precedents, vol. 5, secs. 5966-5967.
28 Ibid., vol. 5, sec. 5964.
29 However, the Speaker is designated as an ex officio member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
under House Rule X, clause 11(a)(2).
30 This restriction was adopted as a part of the so-called revolt against Speaker Joseph Cannon of Illinois at the
beginning of the 61st Congress. See the Congressional Record, vol. 45, Mar. 15-19, 1910.
31 P.L. 79-601, 60 Stat. 812.
Speaker Party/State Congress Dates
1st Apr. 1, 1789-Mar. 3, 1791 Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg [NKPA] - PA
3rd Dec. 2, 1793-Mar. 3, 1795
Jonathan Trumbull [NKPA] - CT 2nd Oct. 24, 1791-Mar. 3, 1793
Jonathan Dayton [NKPA] - NJ 4th-5th Dec. 7, 1795-Mar. 3, 1799
Theodore Sedgwick [NKPA] - MA 6th Dec. 2, 1799-Mar. 3, 1801
Nathaniel Macon [NKPA] - NC 7th-9th Dec. 7, 1801-Mar. 3, 1807
Joseph B. Varnum [NKPA] - MA 10th-11th Oct. 26, 1807-Mar. 3, 1811
12th-13th Nov. 4, 1811-Jan. 19, 1814a
14th-16th Dec. 4, 1815-Oct. 28, 1820b Henry Clay R (DR) - KY
18th Dec. 3, 1823-Mar. 6, 1825c
Langdon Cheves R (DR) - SC 13th Jan. 19, 1814-Mar. 3, 1815
16th Nov. 15, 1820-Mar. 3, 1821 John W. Taylor R (DR) - NY
19th Dec. 5, 1825-Mar. 3, 1827
Philip Barbour R (DR) - VA 17th Dec. 4, 1821-Mar. 3, 1823
[NKPA] - VA 20th Dec. 3, 1827-Mar. 3, 1829 Andrew Stevenson
Jacksonian - VA 21st-23rd Dec. 7, 1829-June 2, 1834d
John Bell [NKPA] - TN 23rd June 2, 1834-Mar. 3, 1835
James K. Polk Jacksonian - TN 24th-25th Dec. 7, 1835-Mar. 3, 1839
Robert M.T. Hunter W - VA 26th Dec. 16, 1839-Mar. 3, 1841
John White W - KY 27th May 31, 1841-Mar. 3, 1843
John W. Jones D - VA 28th Dec. 4, 1843-Mar. 3, 1845
John W. Davis D - IN 29th Dec. 1, 1845-Mar. 3, 1847
Robert C. Winthrop W - MA 30th Dec. 6, 1847-Mar. 3, 1849
Howell Cobb D - GA 31st Dec. 22, 1849-Mar. 3, 1851
Linn Boyd D - KY 32nd-33rd Dec. 1, 1851-Mar. 3, 1855
Nathaniel P. Banks American Party - MAe 34th Feb. 2, 1856-Mar. 3, 1857
James L. Orr D - SC 35th Dec. 7, 1857-Mar. 3, 1859
William Pennington R - NJ 36th Feb. 1, 1860-Mar. 3, 1861
Galusha A. Grow R - PA 37th July 4, 1861-Mar. 3, 1863
Schuyler Colfax R - IN 38th-40th Dec. 7, 1863-Mar. 3, 1869f
Theodore M. Pomeroy R - NY 40th Mar. 3, 1869g
James G. Blaine R - ME 41st-43rd Mar. 4, 1869-Mar. 3, 1875
Michael C. Kerr D - IN 44th Dec. 6, 1875-Aug. 19, 1876h
Samuel J. Randall D - PA 44th-46th Dec. 4, 1876-Mar. 3, 1881
Speaker Party/State Congress Dates
J. Warren Keifer R - OH 47th Dec. 5, 1881-Mar. 3, 1883
John G. Carlisle D - KY 48th-50th Dec. 3, 1883-Mar. 3, 1889
51st Dec. 2, 1889-Mar. 3, 1891 Thomas B. Reed R - ME
54th-55th Dec. 2, 1895-Mar. 3, 1899
Charles F. Crisp D - GA 52nd-53rd Dec. 7, 1891-Mar. 3, 1895
David B. Henderson R - IA 56th-57th Dec. 4, 1899-Mar. 3, 1903
Joseph G. Cannon R - IL 58th-61st Nov. 9, 1903-Mar. 3, 1911
James B. (Champ) Clark D - MO 62nd-65th Apr. 4, 1911-Mar. 3, 1919
Frederick H. Gillett R - MA 66th-68th May 19, 1919-Mar. 3, 1925
Nicholas Longworth R - OH 69th-71st Dec. 7, 1925Mar. 3, 1931
John Nance Garner D - TX 72nd Dec. 7, 1931Mar. 3, 1933
Henry T. Rainey D - IL 73rd Mar. 9, 1933-Aug. 19, 1934i
Joseph W. Byrns D - TN 74th Jan. 3, 1935-June 4, 1936j
William B. Bankhead D - AL 74th-76th June 4, 1936-Sept. 15, 1940k
76th-79th Sept. 16, 1940-Jan. 3, 1947
81st-82nd Jan. 3, 1949-Jan. 3, 1953 Sam T. Rayburn D - TX
84th-87th Jan. 5, 1955-Nov. 16, 1961l
80th Jan. 3, 1947-Jan. 3, 1949 Joseph W. Martin, Jr. R - MA
83rd Jan. 3, 1953-Jan. 3, 1955
John W. McCormack D - MA 87th-91st Jan. 10, 1962-Jan. 3, 1971
Carl B. Albert D - OK 92nd-94th Jan. 21, 1971-Jan. 3, 1977
Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. D - MA 95th-99th Jan. 4, 1977-Jan. 3, 1987
James C. Wright Jr. D - TX 100th-101st Jan. 6, 1987-June 6, 1989m
Thomas S. Foley D - WA 101st-103rd June 6, 1989-Jan. 3, 1995
Newt Gingrich R - GA 104th-105th Jan. 4, 1995- Jan. 3, 1999
J. Dennis Hastert R - IL 106th-109th Jan. 3, 1999- Jan. 4, 2007
Nancy Pelosi D - CA 110th- Jan. 4, 2007 -
Notes: Party affiliations are indicated by initials:
[NKPA] - No Known Party Affiliation
R (DR) - Republican or Democratic-Republican Party (the Jeffersonian precursor of the Democratic Party)
W - Whig Party
D - Democratic Party
R - Republican Party
a. Resigned from office, January 19, 1814, to serve on the negotiating team that produced the Treaty of Ghent,
ending the War of 1812.
b. Resigned from the speakership, October 28, 1820.
c. Resigned from office, March 6, 1825, to serve as Secretary of State.
d. Resigned from office, June 2, 1834.
e. Speaker Banks served in the House three separate times under three different party designations. In the th
34 Congress, he served as a member of the American Party.
f. Resigned from office, March 3, 1869, to serve as Vice President.
g. Elected Speaker, March 3, 1869, and served one day.
h. Died in office, August 19, 1876.
i. Died in office, August 19, 1934.
j. Died in office, June 4, 1936.
k. Died in office, September 15, 1940.
l. Died in office, November 16, 1961.
m. Speaker Wright resigned the speakership on June 6, 1989, and subsequently resigned from the House on
June 30, 1989.
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James V. Saturno
Section Research Manager