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House History

Speakers of the House

“. . . I venture to say that, taken as a whole, the House is sound at heart; nowhere else will you find such a ready appreciation of merit and character, in few gatherings of equal size is there so little jealousy and envy. . . The men who have led the House, whose names have become a splendid tradition to their successors, have gained prominence not through luck or by mere accident. They had ability, at least in some degree; but more than that they have had character.”
Speaker Joseph G. Cannon of Illinois, (1903–1911)

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers.” And when Congress first convened in 1789, the House chose Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg as its Speaker. The Speaker acts as leader of the House and 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. The Speaker of the House is second in line to succeed the President, after the Vice President. Information on the current Speaker, the Honorable John Boehner of Ohio, is available at the web site of the Speaker of the House. Speaker Boehner serves as the 53rd Speaker of the House.

More information and teaching resources regarding the Speaker of the House:

The first Speaker of the House

Speaker Muhlenberg

Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the House on April 1, 1789.
Oil on canvas, Samuel B. Wright after Joseph Wright, 1881, Collection of U.S. House of Representatives

Congress Speaker State Date Elected
1st Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg Pennsylvania Apr 01, 1789
2nd Jonathan Trumbull Connecticut Oct 24, 1791
3rd Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg Pennsylvania Dec 02, 1793
4th Jonathan Dayton New Jersey Dec 07, 1795
5th Jonathan Dayton New Jersey May 15, 1797
6th Theodore Sedgwick Massachusetts Dec 02, 1799
7th Nathaniel Macon North Carolina Dec 07, 1801
8th Nathaniel Macon North Carolina Oct 17, 1803
9th Nathaniel Macon North Carolina Dec 02, 1805
10th Joseph B. Varnum Massachusetts Oct 26, 1807
11th Joseph B. Varnum Massachusetts May 22, 1809
12th Henry Clay Kentucky Nov 04, 1811
13th Henry Clay  1 Kentucky May 24, 1813
13th Langdon Cheves South Carolina Jan 19, 1814
14th Henry Clay Kentucky Dec 04, 1815
15th Henry Clay Kentucky Dec 01, 1817
16th Henry Clay  2 Kentucky Dec 06, 1819
16th John W. Taylor New York Nov 15, 1820
17th Philip P. Barbour Virginia Dec 04, 1821
18th Henry Clay  3 Kentucky Dec 01, 1823
19th John W. Taylor New York Dec 05, 1825
20th Andrew Stevenson Virginia Dec 03, 1827
21st Andrew Stevenson Virginia Dec 07, 1829
22nd Andrew Stevenson Virginia Dec 05, 1831
23rd John Bell Tennessee Jun 02, 1834
24th James K. Polk Tennessee Dec 07, 1835
25th James K. Polk Tennessee Sep 04, 1837
26th Robert M.T. Hunter Virginia Dec 16, 1839
27th John White Kentucky May 31, 1841
28th John W. Jones Virginia Dec 04, 1843
29th John W. Davis Indiana Dec 01, 1845
30th Robert C. Winthrop Massachusetts Dec 06, 1847
31st Howell Cobb Georgia Dec 22, 1849
32nd Linn Boyd Kentucky Dec 01, 1851
33rd Linn Boyd Kentucky Dec 05, 1853
34th Nathaniel P. Banks Massachusetts Feb 02, 1856
35th James L. Orr South Carolina Dec 07, 1857
36th William Pennington New Jersey Feb 01, 1860
37th Galusha A. Grow Pennsylvania Jul 04, 1861
38th Schuyler Colfax Indiana Dec 07, 1863
39th Schuyler Colfax Indiana Dec 04, 1865
40th Schuyler Colfax Indiana Mar 04, 1867
40th Theodore M. Pomeroy  4 New York Mar 03, 1869
41st James G. Blaine Maine Mar 04, 1869
42nd James G. Blaine Maine Mar 04, 1871
43rd James G. Blaine Maine Dec 01, 1873
44th Michael C. Kerr  5 Indiana Dec 06, 1875
44th Samuel J. Randall Pennsylvania Dec 04, 1876
45th Samuel J. Randall Pennsylvania Dec 04, 1876
46th Samuel J. Randall Pennsylvania Mar 18, 1879
47th J. Warren Keifer Ohio Dec 05, 1881
48th John G. Carlisle Kentucky Dec 03, 1883
49th John G. Carlisle Kentucky Dec 07, 1885
50th John G. Carlisle Kentucky Dec 05, 1887
51st Thomas B. Reed Maine Dec 02, 1889
52nd Charles F. Crisp Georgia Dec 08, 1891
53rd Charles F. Crisp Georgia Aug 07, 1893
54th Thomas B. Reed Maine Dec 02, 1895
55th Thomas B. Reed Maine Mar 15, 1897
56th David B. Henderson Iowa Dec 04, 1899
57th David B. Henderson Iowa Dec 02, 1901
58th Joseph G. Cannon Illinois Nov 09, 1903
59th Joseph G. Cannon Illinois Dec 04, 1905
60th Joseph G. Cannon Illinois Dec 02, 1907
61st Joseph G. Cannon Illinois Mar 15, 1909
62nd James Beauchamp Clark Missouri Apr 04, 1911
63rd James Beauchamp Clark Missouri Apr 07, 1913
64th James Beauchamp Clark Missouri Dec 06, 1915
65th James Beauchamp Clark Missouri Apr 02, 1917
66th Frederick H. Gillett Massachusetts May 19, 1919
67th Frederick H. Gillett Massachusetts Apr 11, 1921
68th Frederick H. Gillett Massachusetts Dec 03, 1923
69th Nicholas Longworth Ohio Dec 07, 1925
70th Nicholas Longworth Ohio Dec 05, 1927
71st Nicholas Longworth Ohio Apr 15, 1929
72nd John N. Garner Texas Dec 07, 1931
73rd Henry T. Rainey  6 Illinois Mar 09, 1933
74th Joseph W. Byrns  7 Tennessee Jan 03, 1935
74th William B. Bankhead Alabama Jun 04, 1936
75th William B. Bankhead Alabama Jan 05, 1937
76th William B. Bankhead  8 Alabama Jan 03, 1939
76th Sam Rayburn Texas Sep 16, 1940
77th Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 03, 1941
78th Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 06, 1943
79th Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 03, 1945
80th Joseph W. Martin, Jr. Massachusetts Jan 03, 1947
81st Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 03, 1949
82nd Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 03, 1951
83rd Joseph W. Martin, Jr. Massachusetts Jan 03, 1953
84th Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 05, 1955
85th Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 03, 1957
86th Sam Rayburn Texas Jan 07, 1959
87th Sam Rayburn  9 Texas Jan 03, 1961
87th John W. McCormack Massachusetts Jan 10, 1962
88th John W. McCormack Massachusetts Jan 09, 1963
89th John W. McCormack Massachusetts Jan 04, 1965
90th John W. McCormack Massachusetts Jan 10, 1967
91st John W. McCormack Massachusetts Jan 03, 1969
92nd Carl B. Albert Oklahoma Jan 21, 1971
93rd Carl B. Albert Oklahoma Jan 03, 1973
94th Carl B. Albert Oklahoma Jan 14, 1975
95th Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Massachusetts Jan 04, 1977
96th Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Massachusetts Jan 15, 1979
97th Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Massachusetts Jan 05, 1981
98th Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Massachusetts Jan 03, 1983
99th Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Massachusetts Jan 03, 1985
100th James C. Wright, Jr. Texas Jan 06, 1987
101st James C. Wright, Jr.  10 Texas Jan 03, 1989
101st Thomas S. Foley Washington Jun 06, 1989
102nd Thomas S. Foley Washington Jan 03, 1991
103rd Thomas S. Foley Washington Jan 05, 1993
104th Newt Gingrich Georgia Jan 04, 1995
105th Newt Gingrich Georgia Jan 07, 1997
106th J. Dennis Hastert Illinois Jan 06, 1999
107th J. Dennis Hastert Illinois Jan 03, 2001
108th J. Dennis Hastert Illinois Jan 07, 2003
109th J. Dennis Hastert Illinois Jan 04, 2005
110th Nancy Pelosi California Jan 04, 2007
111th Nancy Pelosi California Jan 06, 2009
112th John Boehner Ohio Jan 05, 2011

Source: Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

1 Resigned from the House of Representatives, January 19, 1814. 2 Resigned on October 28, 1820. 3 Resigned from the House of Representatives, March 6, 1825. 4 Elected Speaker, March 3, 1869, and served one day. 5 Died in office, August 19, 1876. 6 Died in office, August 19, 1934. 7 Died in office June 4, 1936. 8 Died in office, September 15, 1940. 9 Died November 16, 1961. 10 Resigned from the House of Representatives, June 6, 1989.

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