Speaker of the House

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The Speaker of the House is the presiding officer of the U.S. House of Representatives, a position created by the Constitution:

The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

The Constitution makes no further statement as to the powers or responsibilities of the Speaker of the House, save that the Speaker (and the President pro tempore of the Senate) must be notified in writing if the President is unable to fulfill his duties. Federal law makes the Speaker the second in line of Presidential succession, after the Vice President.

Because the Speaker is elected by majority vote of the House, he (and it has always been a "he," though most (but not all) House Democrats would like Nancy Pelosi to change that in 2005) is almost certain to be a member of the majority party in the House.

The power that the Speaker of the House wields depends as much on the personality and persuasiveness of the office-holder as on the office itself, but in general the Speaker is considered one of the most influential members of the U.S. Government, often surpassing the Vice President and, in some memorable matchups, rivaling the President himself.


The current (June 2004) Speaker of the House is Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Illinois.

Previous Holders of the Speakership

  1. Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg (Pro-Administration), of Pennsylvania, 1st Congress
  2. Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut, 2nd Congress
  3. Frederich A.C. Muhlenberg (Anti-Administration), 3rd Congress
  4. Jonathan Dayton (Federalist), of New Jersey, 4th - 5th Congress
  5. Theodore Sedgwick (Federalist), of Massachusetts, 6th Congress
  6. Nathaniel Macon (Jacksonian), of North Carolina, 7th - 9th Congress
  7. Joseph B. Varnum, of Massachusetts, 10th - 11th Congress
  8. Henry Clay (Republican), of Kentucky, 12th-13th Congress
  9. Langdon Cheves (Republican), of South Carolina, 13th Congress
  10. Henry Clay (Republican), 14th - 16th Congress
  11. John W. Taylor (Republican), of New York, 16th, 19th Congress
  12. Philip P. Barbour (Jacksonian), of Virginia, 17th Congress
  13. Henry Clay (Republican), 18th Congress
  14. John W. Taylor (Republican), 19th Congress
  15. Andrew Stevenson (Jacksonian), of Virginia, 20th - 23rd Congress
  16. John Bell (American (Know-Nothing)), of Tennessee, 23rd Congress
  17. James K. Polk (Democrat), of Tennessee, 24th - 25th Congress
  18. Robert M.T. Hunter (Democrat), of Virginia, 26th Congress
  19. John White (Whig), of Kentucky, 27th Congress
  20. John W. Jones (Democrat), of Virginia, 28th Congress
  21. John W. Davis (Democrat), of Indiana, 29th Congress
  22. Robert C. Winthrop (Whig), of Massachusetts, 30th Congress
  23. Howell Cobb (Democrat), of Georgia, 31st Congress
  24. Linn Boyd (Democrat), of Kentucky, 32nd - 33rd Congress
  25. Nathaniel P. Banks (American), of Massachusetts, 34th Congress
  26. James L. Orr (Democrat), of South Carolina, 35th Congress
  27. William Pennington (Republican), of New Jersey, 36th Congress
  28. Galusha A. Grow (Republican), of Pennsylvania, 37th Congress
  29. Schuyler Colfax (Republican), of Indiana, 38th - 40th Congress
  30. Theodore M. Pomeroy (Republican), of New York, 40th Congress
  31. James G. Blaine (Republican), of Maine, 41st - 43rd Congress
  32. Michael C. Kerr (Democrat), of Indiana, 44th Congress
  33. Samuel J. Randall (Democrat), of Pennsylvania, 44th - 46th Congress
  34. J. Warren Keifer (Republican), of Ohio, 47th Congres
  35. John G. Carlisle (Democrat), of Kentucky, 48th - 50th Congress
  36. Thomas B. Reed (Republican), of Maine, 51st Congress
  37. Charles F. Crisp (Democrat), of Georgia, 52nd - 53rd Congress
  38. Thomas B. Reed (Republican), 54th - 55th Congress
  39. David B Henderson (Republican), of Iowa, 56th - 57th Congress
  40. Joseph G. Cannon (Republican), of Illinois, 58th - 61st Congress
  41. James Beauchamp Clark (Democrat), of Missouri, 62nd Congress - 65th Congress
  42. Frederick H. Gillett (Republican), of Massachusetts, 66th - 68th Congress
  43. Nicholas Longworth (Republican), of Ohio, 69th - 71st Congress
  44. John Nance Garner (Democrat), of Texas, 72nd Congress
  45. Henry T. Rainey (Democrat), of Illinois, 73rd Congress
  46. Joseph W. Byrns (Democrat), of Tennessee, 74th Congress
  47. William B. Bankhead (Democrat), of Alabama, 75th - 76th Congress
  48. Sam Rayburn (Democrat), of Texas, 77th - 79th Congress
  49. Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (Republican), of Massachusetts, 80th Congress
  50. Sam Rayburn (Democrat), 81st - 82nd Congress
  51. Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (Republican), 83rd Congress
  52. Sam Rayburn (Democrat), 84th - 87th Congress
  53. John W. McCormack (Democrat), of Massachusetts, 87th - 91st Congress
  54. Carl Albert (Democrat), of Oklahoma, 92nd - 94th Congress
  55. Tip O'Neill (Democrat), of Massachusetts, 95th - 99th Congress
  56. Jim Wright (Democrat), of Texas, 100th - 101st Congress
  57. Tom Foley (Democrat), of Washington, 101st - 103rd Congress
  58. Newt Gingrich (Republican), of Georgia, 104th - 105th Congress
  59. Dennis Hastert (Republican), of Illinois, 106th - Present
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