Dean of the
United States House of Representatives
Hal Rogers Official Photo 2010.JPG
Incumbent
Hal Rogers

since March 18, 2022 (2022-03-18)
United States House of Representatives
Member ofUnited States House of Representatives
SeatWashington, D.C.
First holderFrederick Muhlenberg
March 4, 1789

The Dean of the United States House of Representatives is the longest continuously serving member of the House. The current dean is Hal Rogers, a Republican Party U.S. Representative from Kentucky, who has served in the House since 1981. The dean is a symbolic post whose only customary duty is to swear in a speaker of the House after he or she is elected.[1] This responsibility was first recorded in 1819 but has not been observed continuously – at times, the speaker-elect was the current dean or the speaker-elect preferred to be sworn in by a member of his own party when the dean belonged to another party. The dean comes forward on the House Floor to administer the oath to the speaker-elect, before the new speaker then administers the oath to the other members.[2]

While deans perform the swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected speaker, they do not preside over the election of a speaker, as do the Father of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and the dean of the Canadian House of Commons.

Because of other privileges associated with seniority, the dean is usually allotted some of the most desirable office space, and is generally either chair or ranking minority member of an influential committee.

It is unclear when the position first achieved concrete recognition, though the seniority system and increasing lengths of service emerged in the early 20th century. As late as 1924, Frederick H. Gillett was dean, and also speaker, before becoming a Senator. Modern deans move into their positions so late in their careers that a move to the Senate is highly unlikely. When Ed Markey broke Gillett's record for time in the House before moving to the Senate in 2013 he was still decades junior to the sitting Dean.

The deanship can change hands unexpectedly. In the 1952 election, Adolph J. Sabath became the first Representative elected to a 24th term, breaking the record of 23 terms first set by former Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon, whose service had been non-consecutive, whereas Sabath's was not. North Carolina's Robert L. Doughton had not contested that election as he was retiring at the age of 89 years and two months, a House age record broken in 1998 by Sidney R. Yates, and again by Ralph Hall in 2012. Claude Pepper, who died early in his final term in 1989, held the record for oldest winner of a House election until Hall broke it in 2012. However, Sabath died before the new term began and Doughton was dean for the old term's final months before Speaker Sam Rayburn became dean in the new Congress.

In 1994, Texas Democrat Jack Brooks was defeated by Steve Stockman in the year he was expected to succeed Jamie Whitten as dean.[3]

List of deans of the House

Years as dean are followed by name, party, state, and start of service in Congress.

All the members of the First Congress had equal seniority (as defined for the purpose of this article), but Muhlenberg, as the speaker, was the first member to be sworn in. Muhlenberg, Hartley and Thatcher were among the 13 members who attended the initial meeting of the House on March 4, 1789.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some state delegations to the House were often not elected until after the term had begun. To avoid confusion, this fact is ignored in the list below.

Became dean End date Dean Party State Seniority from Speaker(s)
March 4, 1789 March 4, 1797 Frederick Muhlenberg[A] Federalist PA March 4, 1789 Frederick Muhlenberg
(1789–1791)
Jonathan Trumbull Jr.
(1791–1793)
Frederick Muhlenberg
(1793–1795)
Jonathan Dayton
(1795–1799)
March 4, 1797 December 21, 1800 Thomas Hartley[B][C] Federalist PA
Theodore Sedgwick
(1799–1801)
March 4, 1801 George Thatcher Federalist MA
March 4, 1801 March 4, 1803 William B. Grove[C] Federalist NC March 4, 1791 Nathaniel Macon
(1801–1807)
March 4, 1807 Andrew Gregg[C] Democratic-Republican PA
December 13, 1815 Nathaniel Macon[D] Democratic-Republican NC Joseph Bradley Varnum
(1807–1811)
Henry Clay
(1811–1814)
Langdon Cheves
(1814–1815)
December 13, 1815 April 9, 1816 Richard Stanford[B] Democratic-Republican NC March 4, 1797 Henry Clay
(1815–1820)
April 9, 1816 March 4, 1817 John Davenport Federalist CT March 4, 1799
March 4, 1817 March 4, 1830 Thomas Newton Jr. Democratic-Republican
(1817–1825)
VA March 4, 1801
John Taylor
(1820–1821)
Philip P. Barbour
(1821–1823)
Henry Clay
(1823–1825)
National Republican
(1825–1830)
John Taylor
(1825–1827)
Andrew Stevenson
(1827–1834)
March 4, 1830 March 4, 1833 William McCoy Jacksonian VA March 4, 1811
March 4, 1833 February 23, 1842 Lewis Williams[B] National Republican
(1833–1837)
NC March 4, 1815
John Bell
(1834–1835)
James K. Polk
(1835–1839)
Whig
(1837–1842)
Robert M. T. Hunter
(1839–1841)
John White
(1841–1843)
February 23, 1842 March 4, 1843 Horace Everett[C] Whig VT March 4, 1829 John Winston Jones
(1843–1845)
April 22, 1844 Dixon H. Lewis Democratic AL
April 22, 1844 February 23, 1848 John Quincy Adams[C] Whig MA March 4, 1831 John Wesley Davis
(1845–1847)
Robert Charles Winthrop
(1847–1849)
March 4, 1849 James I. McKay Democratic NC
March 4, 1849 March 4, 1855 Linn Boyd[E] Democratic KY March 4, 1839 Howell Cobb
(1849–1851)
Linn Boyd
(1851–1856)
March 4, 1855 March 4, 1859 Joshua Reed Giddings Republican OH May 5, 1842 Nathaniel P. Banks
(1856–1857)
James Lawrence Orr
(1857–1860)
March 4, 1859 March 4, 1863 John S. Phelps Democratic MO March 4, 1845 William Pennington
(1860–1861)
Galusha A. Grow
(1861–1863)
March 4, 1863 March 4, 1869 Elihu B. Washburne Republican IL March 4, 1853 Schuyler Colfax
(1863–1869)
Theodore M. Pomeroy
(1869)
March 4, 1869 March 4, 1875 Henry L. Dawes Republican MA March 4, 1857 James G. Blaine
(1869–1875)
March 4, 1875 January 9, 1890 William D. Kelley[B] Republican PA March 4, 1861 Michael C. Kerr
(1875–1876)
Samuel J. Randall
(1876–1881)
J. Warren Keifer
(1881–1883)
John G. Carlisle
(1883–1889)
Thomas Brackett Reed
(1889–1891)
January 9, 1890 April 13, 1890 Samuel J. Randall[B] Democratic PA March 4, 1863
April 13, 1890 March 4, 1891 Joseph G. Cannon[C] Republican IL March 4, 1873 Charles Frederick Crisp
(1891–1895)
March 1892 Roger Q. Mills[C] Democratic TX
March 4, 1893 James H. Blount[C] Democratic GA
March 4, 1895 Richard P. Bland Democratic MO
March 4, 1895 March 4, 1897 David B. Culberson Democratic TX March 4, 1875 Thomas Brackett Reed
(1895–1899)
March 4, 1897 September 4, 1899 Thomas Brackett Reed[F] Republican ME March 4, 1877
September 4, 1899 March 22, 1912 Henry H. Bingham[B] Republican PA March 4, 1879 David B. Henderson
(1899–1903)
Joseph G. Cannon
(1903–1911)
Champ Clark
(1911–1919)
March 22, 1912 March 4, 1913 John Dalzell Republican PA March 4, 1887
March 4, 1913 December 10, 1914 Sereno E. Payne[B] Republican NY March 4, 1889
December 10, 1914 April 17, 1918 William Jones[B] Democratic VA March 4, 1891
April 17, 1918 March 4, 1919 Henry Allen Cooper[B][C] Republican WI March 4, 1893 Frederick H. Gillett
(1919–1925)
March 4, 1925 Frederick H. Gillett[G] Republican MA
March 4, 1925 May 26, 1928 Thomas S. Butler[B] Republican PA March 4, 1897 Nicholas Longworth
(1925–1931)
May 26, 1928 March 4, 1933 Gilbert N. Haugen Republican IA March 4, 1899
John Nance Garner
(1931–1933)
March 4, 1933 April 1, 1934 Edward W. Pou[B] Democratic NC March 4, 1901 Henry T. Rainey
(1933–1935)
April 1, 1934 November 6, 1952 Adolph Sabath[B] Democratic IL March 4, 1907 Jo Byrns
(1935–1936)
William B. Bankhead
(1936–1940)
Sam Rayburn
(1940–1947)
Joseph W. Martin Jr.
(1947–1949)
Sam Rayburn
(1949–1953)
November 6, 1952 January 3, 1953 Robert L. Doughton Democratic NC March 4, 1911
January 3, 1953 November 16, 1961 Sam Rayburn[H][B] Democratic TX March 4, 1913 Joseph W. Martin Jr.
(1953–1955)
Sam Rayburn
(1955–1962)
November 16, 1961 January 3, 1965 Carl Vinson[I] Democratic GA November 3, 1914 John W. McCormack
(1962–1971)
January 3, 1965 January 3, 1973 Emanuel Celler Democratic NY March 4, 1923
Carl Albert
(1971–1977)
January 3, 1973 March 7, 1976 Wright Patman[B] Democratic TX March 4, 1929
March 7, 1976 January 3, 1979 George H. Mahon Democratic TX January 3, 1935 Tip O'Neill
(1977–1987)
January 3, 1979 January 3, 1995 Jamie Whitten[I] Democratic MS November 4, 1941
Jim Wright
(1987–1989)
Tom Foley
(1989–1995)
January 3, 1995 January 3, 2015 John Dingell[J][I] Democratic MI December 13, 1955 Newt Gingrich
(1995–1999)
Dennis Hastert
(1999–2007)
Nancy Pelosi
(2007–2011)
John Boehner
(2011–2015)
January 3, 2015 December 5, 2017 John Conyers Democratic MI January 3, 1965
Paul Ryan
(2015–2019)
December 5, 2017 March 18, 2022 Don Young[I][B] Republican AK March 6, 1973
Nancy Pelosi
(2019–present)
March 18, 2022 Incumbent Hal Rogers Republican KY January 3, 1981

Notes

  1. ^ Served as Speaker 1789–1791 and 1793–1795.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Died in office.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Never held sole deanship due to tie.
  4. ^ Served as Speaker 1801–1807.
  5. ^ Previously served in House 1835–1837; Served as Speaker 1851–1855.
  6. ^ Served as Speaker 1889–1891 and 1895–1899.
  7. ^ Served as Speaker 1919–1925.
  8. ^ Served as Speaker 1955–1961.
  9. ^ a b c d Entered House to fill unexpired term.
  10. ^ Longest serving House member ever and held the longest deanship.

See also

References

  1. ^ List at House official site that records the Dean (originally called "Father") and who swore in the Speaker for each Congress
  2. ^ "Oath of Office - US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". History.house.gov. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. ^ Ron Hutcheson (July 25, 1994). "Texan in line as House dean – Jack Brooks has reputation as in-your-face politician". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. 1.